The global economy establishes a barely-remarked paradox. It operates to hold down wages for workers but at the same time encourages salaries for executives upwards ...
The Democracy Sham is a carefully-written discussion of the natural tendency of all societies to concentrate power, and the need for a counteraction that restores to ordinary people the power to run their own lives. Its compassionate viewpoint, measured tone and insightful analysis constitute major strengths.
Bryan Gould is a New Zealander whose early scholastic success took him on to a career as a diplomat and law don. He served twenty years as a British Labour MP and ten years as Vice-Chancellor of Waikato University.
His book describes a world economy owned and controlled by fewer and fewer people and asks whether it has delivered either on the global scale or for individual countries, why it matters politically and what is to be done.
Paying particular attention to the New Zealand experience, Gould details how international corporate power has tightened its grip since the mid-1980s. He questions the assumption made by governments around the world and powerfully reinforced by the media that globalisation is an inevitable, desirable and beneficial process. He examines the dubious economic benefits of monetarist policies and the way they have eroded both the value of labour and the influence of voters.
Citing the plight of the Third World and the ineffectiveness of politicians who deplore poverty while remaining blind to its causes, Gould shows how monetarism creates inequality by favouring the rich, how a falling standard of living and its drastic social consequences even in the developed world undermines all the claims of apologists for the advantages of globalisation, and how, in scrambling to meet the demands of multinationals, nations and individuals are unquestioningly letting go of democracy itself.
Gould believes that the role of all politicians is to identify and counteract whatever threatens the functioning of democracy. Concluding that the global economy is highly unstable and unsustainable, he calls for a new generation of leaders with the insight to recognise what has gone wrong and the courage to remedy it.
- Peter Luiten