The thing about Marxist critiques of capitalism is they invariably make good points about the ills of market society, but the cures they offer seem worse than the disease. That’s not quite true of Varoufakis’ readable critique of market societies. He’s right, as far as I can see, about the absurdity of trusting everything to the market, the danger this causes by keeping us on course to environmental collapse, the danger to personal freedom by entrusting our dreams to free market economists, the impossibility of money being apolitical and the necessity for government and the impossibility of reining in the bankers. OK, I get that all, but what is to be done? Varoufakis suggests to his daughter, whom he is ostensibly writing this book, that she must find her own answers but that she should stand back from the prevailing system to analyze it and that her generation must fight the good fight against people who want to commodify everything by joining those who want to democratize everything. He suggests we should give everyone a share of ownership of technology so that as technology displaces more human workers, we will at least be compensated. Hmm. And more democracy. But didn’t more democracy give us Trump and Brexit? Can this really be the answer? Still, food for thought and he writes with amusing anecdotes without jargon.
No. 4 of 100 books I intend to read and review in 2020.
* * *
Patrick Sherriff, an Englishman who survived 13 years working for newspapers in the US, UK and Japan. Between teaching English lessons at his conversation school in Abiko, Japan, with his wife, he writes and illustrates textbooks for non-native speakers of English, releases Hana Walker mystery novels, short stories, essays and a monthly newsletter highlighting good fiction published in English about Japan. Saku’s Random Book Club is his latest project to spend more time with books.