It is easy to feel helpless in the face of the torrent of information about environmental catastrophes the world over. In Soil and Soul, Scottish writer and campaigning academic Alastair McIntosh shows how it is still possible for individuals and communities to take on the might of corporate power and emerge victorious.
Alastair’s beliefs are rooted in his upbringing on the Isle of Lewis. The first part of his book explores how the old way of life in the Hebrides was threatened with extinction by global capitalism. He does not advocate returning to a preindustrial golden age, but balances the gains of modernity against what has been lost. In particular, he demonstrates how the rise of the modern era undermined communities governed by a sense of reverence and mutual responsibility. But right relationship can be restored, he suggests, by learning from the bardic tradition to create a new harmony of soil, soul and society. The second part of the book demonstrates how such principles of community empowerment can be successfully applied. As a founder of the Isle of Eigg Trust, Alastair helped the beleaguered residents of Eigg to become the first Scottish community ever to clear their laird from his own estate. In a campaign that earned worldwide renoun, the islanders raised sufficient funds to oust their landlord , very much against his will, and successfully galvanized political demands for land reform in Scotland. Similarly, plans to turn a majestic Hebridean mountain into a roadstone “superquarry” were overturned after Alastair persuaded Native American War Chief Sulian Stone Eagle Herney to visit the Isle of Harris and testify at the government inquiry.
This extraordinary book weaves together theology, mythology, economics, ecology, history, poetics and politics as the author journeys towards a radical new yet ancient philosophy of community, Spirit and place. His daring and imaginative responses to the destruction of the natural world make this an uplifting, inspirational and often richly humorous read.
ISBN: 978-1-85410-942-2 Paperbook