Sunday, 29 April 2012

Ferdinand Mount - The New Few

From the reviews, Mount seems to echo exactly what this and similar blogs have been saying for the past few years; if consensus is now emerging on the cause of the sickness (and one will need to read Mount's book to see how he describes the effect of the EU) there is little will amongst the Big Three to do much about it. From John Cruddas' review in the Indie;
The New Few then races through some corrosive examples. The still-shocking £9bn HSBC takeover of sub-prime vultures Household, culminating in £53bn set-aside to sweep up this folly; the "festering morass of bad debts" that was HBOS; vainglorious Fred the Shred, and many more. The central concern is the arbitrary power of the CEO and decline of the active shareholder, interlocked with the rise of the fund manager with their top-slice off every transaction: a "croupier's take". In short, there was systemic collusion between the two dominant groups. "One set of oligarchs- the fund managers - approve the size of salaries, bonuses and pension pots for another set of oligarchs - the CEOs, board members and senior managers".

Why so little appetite to confront these excesses? Mount identifies three basic reasons- or excuses, or illusions - that sustain the system. "The market is always right"; "big is beautiful", and "complexity equals progress": they echo the dominance of neo-liberalism, of a system too big to fail, due to the sheer complexity of financial products with no appreciation of moral hazard. A brief history of oligarchy follows, and the forces that shape it: war, technology, bureaucracy, forms of ideology - the links between money and power.

Part Two offers a coruscating analysis of how political elites have emasculated democratic structures to facilitate oligarchy. Checks and balances have gone - at conferences, or over candidate selection - in favour of the party head office. Declining membership and turnout follow, as does the stripping-away of local government and decline of the parochial: the loss of that "freestanding quality". Regulation from the centre appears all-pervasive. An inverse relationship between the empty Commons and a rise in "sofa government" culminates in a "dodgy dossier" and war.

5 comments:

Barnacle Bill said...

Looks like a book I shall be adding to my birthday wishlist.

Thanks Raedwald for bringing it to my attention.

right_writes said...

I doubt whether I will read it…

So how does it end Raedwald?

Raedwald said...

How does it end? Drifting inexorably towards social and political chaos as those capable of effecting change are like rabbits caught in the headlights ...

G. Tingey said...

"Complexity equals progress"
What insanity.
Any competent scientist will tell you the opposite.
Large systems may be (& are) complex) but the underlying principles are always simple.
it's the interactions you have to watch.
Idiots

right_writes said...

I see fisticuffs Raedwald…

That's how I see this fascist experiment ending.