On Monbiot, Agas, and sustainable middle-class living

Atlantic Books might possibly be regretting using an Aga as the cover image for Andrew Price’s book Slow-Tech: Manifesto for an Overwound World, out this month. This is also the month in which George Monbiot chose to trash the reputation of the middle-classes’ favourite icon of the bucolic life – presumably in an effort to distance himself from accusations being a middle-class activist himself.

That’s not to say the image doesn’t sum up Andrew Price’s thesis pretty succinctly. The big disappointment with the book is not his demolition of the idea that “efficiency” has anything to do with social progress or environmental sustainability. That’s all good. But it starts to get a bit shaky when it turns out that his inspirations for the idea of slow-tech seem to be based more on nostalgia than any idea idea of sustainability. Aside from the now-reviled Aga, Price champions his father’s old petrol-glugging Bentley, and the old family sailing boat. As I say in the review on the main site, his idea of sustainable living soon starts to look a little like a rather jolly picnic in a BBC2 period drama rather than a real manifesto.

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