Many of the individuals who feature in Jamie Bartlett’s Radicals appear to be in search of a spiritual home. They are, broadly speaking, men and women who live in liberal democracies that have satisfied the basic conditions of life. Yet collectively they find themselves staring into the void that might once have been filled by traditional religion or, more recently, surrogates for it in the form of materialist world-views such as Marxism – the ‘new light’ that seemed to ‘pour from all directions across the skull’, as Arthur Koestler put it.
Bartlett defines his subjects as ‘people who advocate social or political reform’ and who ‘think that something is desperately wrong with modern society, and believe that they have something better to offer’. The central premise of his book is that we, the latest generation to believe that it has arrived