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Reviews

In this section of Politics:bitesize you will find reviews of books, magazines and films that reflect the ethos of the Blog.


MammonMammon’s Kingdom: An Essay on Britain, Now

by David Marquand
The Bible tells us that ‘No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.’ (Matthew 6:24) Mammon is personified in the New Testament as a demon and sometimes included as one of the seven Princes of Hell (Mammon is to greed what Lucifer is to pride). Over the centuries his name has gained currency as a pejorative term to describe unjust worldly gain and is interchangeable with the Semitic word for money or riches. In David Marquand’s latest book, it is invoked to embody the destructive spirit of greed and the deification of money that has characterised our recent history. Mammon’s Kingdom is an essay about money worship in Britain since the inception of laissez-faire Capitalism in the 1800s. The book depicts the main intellectual players (or ‘clerisy’ as the author terms them) of the Victorian and post-war period, such as Thomas Carlyle, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, JM Keynes, EP Thompson, William Beveridge, RH Tawney and Friedrich Hayek …

(Read the rest on Review 31)

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5Days5 Days in May: The Coalition and Beyond
by Andrew Adonis
5 Days in May is written by the Labour Party peer, Lord Andrew Adonis, from the perspective of his party during the negotiations that followed the UK General Election of 2010. In the Introduction, written in April 2013, the sense of ‘historic importance’ of these five days in May 2010 is, in hindsight, given its full weight. The first half of the book was written in June 2010 in the style of a diary and catalogues the interactions between the ‘dramatis personae’ (listed at the start of the book) and the media. In the second half the reader is given the author’s reflections on the Clegg-Cameron coalition and ‘more broadly on the lessons for Labour’ …

(Read the rest on Review 31)

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Paper Promises: Money, Debt and the New World Order
by Phillip Coggan
On all British bank notes from £5 to £50 the words ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of …’ still appear. In eighteen-century Europe an experiment with paper money was begun by John Law, a Scottish mathematician and gambler, who moved to France toward the end of the reign of Louis XIV. The monarchy of France was, at this time, verging on bankruptcy and, as the successor to the King was still only an infant, the duc d’Orléans held the reins. John Law suggested to him that the creation of a bank that could issue paper money in lieu of gold and silver was the best way to get France out of debt. The Banque Générale was created and the duc d’Orléans decreed all taxes could be paid using Law’s new paper money. (Read the rest at Is Owed Unto)

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Cover of Liquid Modernity by Zygmunt BaumanLiquid Modernity
by Zygmunt Bauman
The riots that took place from 6th – 9th August 2011 made Britain sit up and take notice. What began as a peaceful protest in Tottenham, North London, over the police shooting of Mark Duggan soon descended into a free-for-all frenzy of theft and violence which resulted in the deaths of five people. The speed with which the riots spread across the country was shocking. Social networking sites and mobile phones aided those involved to communicate rapidly with each other and led to the … (Read the rest on Review 31)

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