Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Not without its flaws
on 21 November 2014
This is a persuasively argued case for both British republican and political emancipation from the central state. As a polemic, it is tremendously well presented and very convincing. Since that's what it's clearly intended as, it's hard to fault on that basis. However, as a precision, evidence-based critique it has some failings. For one thing, what evidence is cited in the book is far from complete - it doesn't really get a fair hearing to the 'other side'.
Coupled to this is a very rose-tinted view of the outcomes of American democracy - while there is a section in each chapter talking about the areas in which the American model fails, much of where it is purported to succeed is simply unquestioned. We hear about, for example, how the American welfare state is better than would appear on international metrics, because much American welfare work is individualised and shorn of state interference - that Americans give much more to charity and so the difference is largely made up. All fine and well, but it's hard to square this with the obvious ineffectiveness of the American system for the squeezed people at the bottom of the meritocratic pyramid. It talks about how America has no fixed class system and position in life is not inherited. It then blithely ignores (save for a passing mention) the fact that for families like the Kennedys, the Clintons, the Bushes, the Rockefellers and so on position *is* inherited - a capitalist aristrocracy has replaced one from the nobility.
These problems aside, it's a very good read and I would recommend it.