Reading on the train

I’m off in a while to Bath to speak at the Literary Festival about GDP: A Brief But Affectionate History – both delighted and mildly surprised at the continuing interest in the subject. To read on the train to and fro, I’m dithering between The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism by David Kotz and Pinkoes and Traitors, Jean Seaton’s history of the BBC over the years 1974-1987.

GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History  The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism  Pinkoes and Traitors: The BBC and the nation, 1974 – 1987

The former looks like an economic version of the political history of the creation of the “free market” economics described so well in Daniel Stedman-Jones’s excellent book Masters of the Universe. At a couple of gatherings of people who are ‘masters of the universe’ recently, it’s clear to me they think the writing is on the wall for the model from which they’ve profited so much. What’s odd about today’s political discourse is that politicians won’t acknowledge (in public) that a big structural change is under way – hence, I guess, the general despair about politics as usual and appeal of populists.

Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics  Armchair Nation: An intimate history of Britain in front of the TV

The Jean Seaton book covers my formative years as a teen and young adult. I loved Joe Moran’s cultural history of British TV, Armchair Nation, not least for the reminders of the shared culture that shaped me. At the time I was completely unaware of BBC corporate issues, as most people are most of the time. At the end of April I get to the end of my nine year stint as a BBC Trustee, so am in reflective mode and might go for this book first. (After the end of April, I can reverse the opinion-ectomy anyone linked with the BBC has to undergo because there is always some moron who thinks one’s personal views reflect organisational “bias”….)


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