Top positive review
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Challenging and thoughtful....
on 8 February 2012
When I started to read this book the riots in London, Birmingham and Manchester had just kicked off. They only lasted a few days but brought with them fear, anger and alienation to be followed speedily by blame and retribution and much confusion and soul searching. Something was clearly amiss.....
Tony Judt's book is a little gem. He challenges the legacy of Reagan and Thatcher and their ideas on free market capitalism. Material self-interest dominated for thirty years but has led to a more unequal and less happy society. The trickle down effect has simply not trickled down enough.
For such a complex subject this book is brief and concise in its statements and arguments. This is both a plus and a minus. It is not a difficult read (though I needed the dictionary for "fungible"!) but I sometimes wanted to delve further into his arguments and tease out some of his ideas.
His ideas are based on the social democratic model - and he is willing to challenge many of the current political ideas. He is particularly interesting on what should be run by the state and what can be safely left to private individual. "Why are we so sure that some planning, or progressive taxation, or the collective ownership of public goods, are intolerable restrictions on liberty; whereas closed-circuit television cameras, state bailouts for investment banks `too big to fail', tapped telephones and expensive foreign wars are acceptable burdens for a free people to bear?"
By the time I finished reading Ill Fares the Land the Occupy Movement had started in New York and quickly spread round the world. These activists do not have all the answers but in highlighting the differences between the 1% and the 99% they are asking plenty of challenging questions. Tony Judt would have approved.