05 May 2010

Ill Fares The Land

Written by Published in Book Reviews

‘To see what is in front of one’s nose is a constant struggle,’ wrote George Orwell. In Ill Fares the Land, leading European historian Tony Judt demonstrates a sharp ability to negotiate that struggle and present the bigger picture. Drawing on the giants of political and economic writing such as Adam Smith, Keynes, Hobbes and Burke, Judt provides a solid historical framework before going on to lament the dismantling of the state in the late 
20th century.

Judt argues that the pursuit of materialism has taken the place of a shared sense of common purpose, pointing out that we need a new kind of discourse, engaging in questions about inequality, justice, responsibility, collective good. His discussion about inequality within wealthy nations is fascinating, as are his thoughts on globalisation and Athenian democracy (compared to democracy now). Passionate about how we can effectively work together to change the status quo, Judt makes a convincing and important rallying cry for trust and cooperation – crucial if capitalism is to work – while remaining faithful to the fact that the past is something to learn from.

Ill Fares The Land by Tony Judt (Allen Lane) £20


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