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Mikhail Gorbachev, 'Manifesto for the Earth'

Clairview, 2006; ISBN 1 90557 002 3; 147pp; £8.99

With this manifesto, Gorbachev adds his voice to the growing roar of those calling for universal and lasting social justice, and does so in a manner that is both diplomatic and urgent. He describes with passion how poverty, environmental destruction and war are the inseparable consequences of endemic political failure, and laments the opportunity squandered by consecutive US governments to implement a new era of peace and disarmament following the end of the Cold War.

He finds rampant consumerism, a lack of democratic accountability and an undermining of international institutions to have created a world racing towards a bleak future, with insufficient political safeguards in place to steer global society away from catastrophe.

But what does Gorbachev bring to the table by way of solutions? He certainly brings optimism and energy, and is evangelical about the work of his primarily environmental NGO “Green Cross International”. Politically he describes himself as a Democratic Socialist, and he certainly believes that political institutions can, and must, save the day. At the heart of his proposals is a reformation of international bodies such as the UN, World Bank and IMF; a sort of perestroika for the key global political institutions.

On the specifics of how this is to be achieved Gorbachev is almost silent, and doesn't come close to the achievement of Monbiot's Age of Consent, which laid out in detail how to reclaim and reformulate these institutions for the common good. But what Gorbachev's manifesto lacks in detail, it makes up for in sentiment; personal accounts of his childhood in Nazi-occupied Russia, as well as his time in the Kremlin, occur throughout the book and paint a picture of a man genuinely committed to peace and disgusted by war and inequality.

Topics: Green