Book review: The Establishment: And How They Get Away with It
The Establishment: And How They Get Away with It, by Owen Jones, Penguin (2015): ISBN 978 0 1 141 97499 6
Owen Jones has established himself as a highly respected social commentator, first in his column in The Independent and more recently in The Guardian. This book extends and consolidates that reputation. In a clear, well-written text he provides a powerful and convincing critique of the Establishment, the institutionalised power interests that have such a far-reaching effect on ordinary people.
Across eight chapters he offers an impressive analysis of how certain groups of people have the ability to present their vested interests as the interests of the country or the economy or the social order in general. His scope is broad, encompassing politicians, the media, the police, and, of course, wealthy capitalists. In each case he provides evidence and argument to back up his case that the Establishment continues to succeed in pulling the strings of power to suit their own needs and interests at the expense of the wider population.
This is a narrative that captures the elitism underpinning the UK social, economic and political systems. In particular it highlights well how the definition of the ‘centre ground’ has been shifted way to the right. The extreme free-market approach that has become established as the norm would, not so very long ago, have been seen as very right wing. One of the results of this is that what was previously seen as ‘centrist’ and moderate is now presented as left wing, and what was previously seen as left-wing Labour movement ideas are now construed as extremist.
This is a very important book that should be closely read by anyone who shares a commitment to social justice. It provides invaluable insights that cast important light on key aspects of our society and the political direction it is going in.