|Thom Hartmann is a man of many voices. To many, he is the harbinger of optimism for those afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder. To others, he is a guide to conscious living in such books as The Greatest Spiritual Secret of the Century, The Prophet’s Way, and The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight. To more still, he is the radio talk show host and political analyst who penned What Would Thomas Jefferson Do?: A Return to Democracy and Screwed: The Undeclared War on the Middle Class. With his latest book, Hartmann has truly crossed the threshold to becoming one of the most lucid voices of the Progressive movement.
In many ways an amalgam of many of his previous books, Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture serves not only as a cautionary proclamation of our unsustainable lifestyles, but also a guide to getting us back on the right track toward environmental sustainability, working democracy, and social justice. Hartmann highlights three main areas where Western Culture and the Capitalist/Consumerist mentality have impacted the planet: the Environment, the Economy, and the Population. He then outlines the four mistakes which have led to the perils we face and how we can correct them. Hartmann postulates that the greatest detriment to our future is our way of thinking. If we can only change that and look at the world and our interaction with it from a different perspective, we can avoid what could possibly result in the extinction of mankind.
First, we need to stop thinking of humankind as something separate from nature. Though we like to classify ourselves as more than animals because of our opposable thumbs and ability to philosophize, it is imperative that we realize the planet is a living organism of which we are a part. It is not something that we can beat into submission, but a part of ourselves for which we must take care.
Secondly, we must unravel the myth that our free market economy is the natural order of things and the only way to run a democratic society. With the misguided acceptance of a corporation as a person though it needs no food, water, shelter or any other basic human need, America is coming perilously close to becoming completely “corporatized” and sacrificing the experiment of democracy for fascism. Hartmann demonstrates the truly natural order of democracy and the unfortunate plight of 95% of our wealth and decision-making being placed into the hands of .01% of the population.
Third, we need to validate the role of women throughout the world and empower them. Hartmann reveals the differences in societies that honor women and those that treat them as the property of man. By realizing the wisdom they offer and empowering them to make their own decisions, our population crisis could be averted, abortions would be largely minimalized, and balance could return to our society.
Lastly, we need to realize that we cannot bomb the world into democracy and force the world to like us through violence. Just as we need to realize our unity with nature, we as Americans need to realize our connection to the rest of the world. The ongoing tragedy of our fear-based reaction to terrorism is not only that we are depleting our financial and human resources, but that we are also disintegrating our souls and becoming exactly like the enemies we have sworn to rub out. To truly oppose the activity of terrorism and to gain allies around the world, our own activities must be those of creation and not destruction.
As an author and researcher, Hartman weaves a stunning array of information into an accessible page-turner that should be considered required reading for everyone in the Progressive movement. He pulls no punches in his disdain for the conservative ideology and the desire to trade democracy for the feudal “corporatocracy” of fascism. To those who continually decry the role of government and view it as an enemy to be fought against, Hartmann reminds us that in America our government is supposed to be comprised of the People, was created for the People, and must be reclaimed by the People.