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But how?

David Runciman: Capitalist Democracy, 30 March 2023

The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism 
by Martin Wolf.
Allen Lane, 496 pp., £30, February, 978 0 241 30341 2
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... Martin Wolf​ believes that capitalism and democracy are like an old married couple. Neither partner can cope alone. Without democratic checks and balances, capitalism grows greedy and corrupt: the people with money reward themselves with power, which they use to make more money. It takes politicians with a popular mandate to stop them ...

In a Boat of His Own Making

James Camp: Jack London, 25 September 2014

Jack London: An American Life 
by Earle Labor.
Farrar, Straus, 439 pp., £21.99, November 2013, 978 0 374 17848 2
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The Sea-Wolf 
by Jack London.
Hesperus, 287 pp., £9.99, August 2013, 978 1 78094 200 1
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... talk to London’s ‘thoroughly professional’ attitude, but the fiction hints at discontent. Wolf Larsen, the anti-hero of The Sea-Wolf (1904), talks about his even more fearsome brother, Death Larsen, who ‘is all the happier for leaving life alone … My mistake was in ever opening the books.’ London used to sign ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’, 30 August 2018

... into a faintly smiling villain played by Jon Voight. This did not go down well with everyone. Martin Landau, who was the master of disguise in the television series, said the original show ‘was a mind game. The ideal mission was getting in and getting out without anyone ever knowing we were there.’ The film series, by contrast, was just ...

Why did we not know?

Ian Jack: Who is hoarding the land?, 23 May 2019

The New Enclosure: The Appropriation of Public Land in Neoliberal Britain 
by Brett Christophers.
Verso, 394 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 1 78663 158 9
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... capitalism had become dominated to an extraordinary degree by what the Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf, writing in 2010, called a ‘ruinous trust in land speculation as the route to wealth’. Some effects of this are well known. London houses (mine and Wolf’s among them) rose ten and more times in value over ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, 6 March 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
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... Asked​ for his response to those critics who saw in The Wolf of Wall Street an undiluted celebration of the bad life – drugs, sex, money, jewels, a very large yacht and expensive suits – Leonardo DiCaprio said: ‘If they don’t get the irony of it, sorry.’ He was right to refute the idea the film is a simple celebration, but there isn’t any irony either ...

Cash Today

Andrew McGettigan: Who profits from student loans?, 5 March 2015

... have lost £140 million by the time the contracts closed thirty years down the line. This is what Martin Wolf had in mind when he wrote in the Financial Times in 2011 that selling off the loan book was ‘surely economic illiteracy. The loan book is sure to be most valuable to the state, which has much the lowest cost of funding’ (the government has ...

A General Logic of Crisis

Adam Tooze, 5 January 2017

How Will Capitalism End? 
by Wolfgang Streeck.
Verso, 262 pp., £16.99, November 2016, 978 1 78478 401 0
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... serve above all the interests of the German export industries’. Around the same time, dismissing Martin Sandbu’s vigorous defence of the euro, he vented his criticism of Merkel’s refugee policy.* It was, in his view, another vain, modernist social-engineering project backed by Germany’s employers and the opportunistic Merkel. What’s more, it was an ...

What children are for

Tim Whitmarsh: Roman Education, 7 June 2012

The School of Rome: Latin Studies and the Origins of Liberal Education 
by Martin Bloomer.
California, 281 pp., £34.95, April 2012, 978 0 520 25576 0
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... marks as we received from you, standing and weeping. You cannot be angry at us for writing.’ Martin Bloomer offers this story as an example of the violence that was the Roman teacher’s prerogative to dispense – and which Roman schoolboys were trained to dole out in their turn. Bloomer’s Rome is an oppressive place, preoccupied with masculinity and ...

Let’s consider Kate

John Lanchester: Can we tame the banks?, 18 July 2013

... for fixing the banking problem has gained traction. The debate has been changed by Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig’s book The Bankers’ New Clothes.* Their central notion is both a bigger and a simpler idea than anything currently heading for the statute books. What would be the simplest, crudest and most reliable way of making the banks safe? If there were ...

Outside in the Bar

Patrick McGuinness: Ten Years in Sheerness, 21 October 2021

The Sea View Has Me Again: Uwe Johnson in Sheerness 
by Patrick Wright.
Repeater, 751 pp., £20, June, 978 1 913462 58 1
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... news from the Kent Evening Post and the Sheerness Times Guardian were Hannah Arendt, Christa Wolf, Max Frisch, Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Günter Grass. When, in 1978, Jürgen Habermas asked Johnson for an essay for a book he was editing, provisionally titled Observations on ‘The Spiritual Situation of the Age’, Johnson wrote about what he could ...

The Moronic Inferno

Martin Amis, 1 April 1982

The Dean’s December 
by Saul Bellow.
Secker, 312 pp., £7.95, March 1982, 0 436 03952 4
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... the mute. There are various judges, shysters and ambulance-chasers with names like Ellis Sorokin, Wolf Quitman and Maxie Detillion (these hardly rival the three divorce lawyers in Humboldt’s Gift, who are called Tomchek, Pinsker and Srole); there is a rock-hard black whore called Riggie Hines, and a suave black rapist called Spofford Mitchell; there is an ...

Jack and Leo

John Sutherland, 27 July 1989

The Letters of Jack London 
edited by Earle Labor, Robert Leitz and Milo Shepard.
Stanford, 1657 pp., $139.50, October 1988, 0 8047 1227 1
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by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 572 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 241 12190 6
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... off San Francisco. On his 17th birthday, Jack went to sea in a sealing schooner (the original of Wolf Larson’s hell-ship, the Ghost). He returned to enlist as one of Jacob S. Coxey’s army of unemployed in its protest march on Washington. Still not 20, he hoboed all round North America, spent some time in jail and returned to enrol at Berkeley. He dropped ...

When did you get hooked?

John Lanchester: Game of Thrones, 11 April 2013

A Song of Ice and Fire: Vols I-VII 
by George R.R. Martin.
Harper, 5232 pp., £55, July 2012, 978 0 00 747715 9
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Game of Thrones: The Complete First and Second Seasons 
Warner Home Video, £40, March 2013, 978 1 892122 20 9Show More
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... permission derived from the books’ success – people have shown that they are willing to wolf them down by the millions. (It’s a subject in its own right, the self-reinforcing phenomenon of the contemporary mega-seller; by which I mean not just the garden variety bestseller but the book or books which go to that mysterious other place in the ...

Paupers and Richlings

Benjamin Kunkel: Piketty’s ‘Capital’, 3 July 2014

Capital in the 21st Century 
by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 696 pp., £29.95, March 2014, 978 0 674 43000 6
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... it seeks to understand’ – in Marx’s phrase – ‘the “laws of motion” of capitalism’. Martin Wolf in the Financial Times wrote that ‘in its scale and sweep’ Capital in the 21st Century ‘brings us back to the founders of political economy’. The inadequacy of mainstream economics in the face of the capitalist economy today has clearly ...

Robin Hood in a Time of Austerity

James Meek, 18 February 2016

... much lower for the well-off. And yet we’ve been through a damaging financial crisis that, as Martin Wolf of the Financial Times puts it, hurt the British and American public finances as much as a world war. Even critics of the present government’s economic course agree Britain has to make inroads into debt in the longer term. Rather than, as in ...

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