Thirty years ago, when I was a student at university, I presumed that if anyone was going to start an environmental and social revolution, it would be led by activists wearing tie-dye T-shirts and hippie bracelets - and waving political placards. After all, back in the 1980s - or the era shaped by the free-market ideas of Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan - the people pressing for social change tended to be people with a liberal, anti-establishment bent, and/or students studying social sciences. Students or young professionals who had embraced the Thatcherite dream were too busy polishing their resumes and trying to win jobs at management consultancies, investment banks or accountancy firms to have time to embrace activists' causes - or take part in a Greenpeace rally, say. There was, in other words, a quasi-tribal divide: well-meaning liberals and political or green activists seemed to sit in a different camp from hard-headed careerists who wanted to go into business, or handle ba...

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