PART I: Being Human in an Evolving World

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The Great Decline is an ambitious work offering a wholly fresh take on the multiple crises we face, both individually and collectively, in the 21st century. The central argument is that, after a period of qualified social progress in the mid-20th century, recent decades have resurrected social and economic arrangements that are toxic in terms of our fundamental needs, undermining the social and political stability of our societies as well as our individual mental and physical health in ways that have been poorly understood and which have now reached a crisis point. Across numerous established democracies, including the UK and the US, the neoliberal consensus principally advanced in the 1980s continues to tear apart the social fabric and destroy countless individual lives amid a growing climate of fear, anger and uncertainty. Amongst a range of consequences, we have witnessed the rise of populist politicians exploiting and further sowing social distress and division, while the ensuing polarization and undermining of established democracies has left us ill-equipped to deal with the huge challenges being presented by climate breakdown and rapid advances in digital technologies. While addressing these troubles of the present, this is also approached from a broad historical and to an extent evolutionary context advancing an original biosocial perspective, the social map, drawing on social science, political economy, neuroscience and epigenetics to present a radical reframing of where we are, how we understand our relationship to the social, economic and political environment, and how we relate to each other.

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The Great Decline
From the Era of Hope and Progress to the Age of Fear and Rage