book reviews, books, politics, Uncategorized

The Establishment by Owen Jones



Behind our democracy lurks a powerful but unaccountable network of people who wield massive power and reap huge profits in the process. In exposing this shadowy and complex system that dominates our lives, Owen Jones sets out on a journey into the heart of our Establishment, from the lobbies of Westminster to the newsrooms, boardrooms and trading rooms of Fleet Street and the City. Exposing the revolving doors that link these worlds, and the vested interests that bind them together, Jones shows how, in claiming to work on our behalf, the people at the top are doing precisely the opposite. In fact, they represent the biggest threat to our democracy today – and it is time they were challenged.

The most tragic thing I took away from this book was that none of it surprised me. Not a single thing was a revelation to me. If you’re honest, and have any sense of awareness then you won’t be surprised either. Labour, Conservative, Republican, Democrat the political class, their ideas come from the same think tanks, reported warmly or negatively by the journalists, editors and owners that they go to weddings, parties and holiday with and if you attempt to protest, then you’ll be clubbed like a baby seal by the police force who look out for them rather than us.

The other tragedy is that no one really cares anymore.

Sure, there’s passion but it’s directed at gender and racial politics, which are important but the real forces of inequality are class and wealth.  If you’re looking for a good primer on how these things work, I would recommend the Establishment as a solid introduction but it doesn’t have the spark, there’s nothing to aspire to here, no clarion call instead it’s the literary equivalent of letting the Ark of the Covenant go to Germany at the end of Raiders of The Lost Ark. All that build up and in the conclusion, there’s perhaps two groups and one political party. A bit of a squib, if I’m honest.

There’s none of the same analysis applied to the left and how it’s focus on racial and gender politics has neutered any real democratic voices that are not speaking for and about ordinary people anymore. Frankie Boyle did a better job and he had jokes too, it’s well written, impeccably researched and shocking in it’s details but it lacks fire, it lacks rage and it’s a perfect representative of what is wrong with modern political activism, sure it’s right but it needs to talk to ordinary people.

An aside, one of the things that made the U.S Civil Rights appealing was that the young men and women dressed smartly. People at home saw the kinds of young people that they had as sons and daughters, aspirational people getting hosed and beaten by police. What do you get now? Crusty jugglers who look like they’d use a pig on a string as an air freshener, fucking up the parks for people. There’s no imagination, there’s just children grown older and meanwhile people stay at home, too scared and worn down to question anymore. If you wanted to fuck the banks, get people to apply for stupid loans, pay in pennies. I guarantee not a member of BLM has read The Art of War or The Prince, it’s all so bloody wide eyed and earnest, and nothing, nothing gets done.

Anyway, it’s a good interesting book but it’s not, sadly for the layman and it should be.


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