Mike Clarke's Reviews > The Establishment: And How They Get Away with It

The Establishment by Owen   Jones
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An encouraging B minus for Jones Minor. The Establishment makes a spirited attempt to reclaim Establishment as an all-purpose derogatory for those in charge - The Powers That Be, you might say. Jones goes at it with all the gusto of his Guardian column, and with all its faults. Jones's solipsisms are writ large here: there is way too much scene setting and not enough meat. How many of his interviews with the great and the good, which form the bulk of his evidence, have a lengthy set up describing the setting of the meeting (a posh members' club in Soho, an exclusive bar frequented by MPs in Westminster - you'd almost think he was enjoying herself) followed by one short quote or sentence and boom - he's off again to meet the next Establishment figure. This may be suitable for a newspaper column where succinctness is of the essence but done repeatedly over several hundred pages, it gets a bit irritating.

The other bugbear is that, predictably, this is a polemic designed to support Jones's thesis that the Establishment is a sinister and self-interested controlling force. Quite apart from feeling at the end like you've had a particularly long harangue from a Socialist Worker paper seller, complete with a lot of finger pointing, anything that doesn't fit is either left out or simply not considered. If we accept the implicit definition of the Establishment, then why does the British electorate repeatedly vote in their cheerleaders and supporters of, as Jones essays, the public is more left wing than its political masters?

For all that I'm fond of him - he's energetic and spunky and looks pretty on Question Time (will he team the check Fred Perry with a John Smedley jumper or will it be a Ralph Lauren Oxford?). We need more challenge in a country that's allowing its NHS to be quietly dismantled whilst thieving bankers continue to go unscathed. I must take issue with Russell Brand calling him the George Orwell of our generation though - he's a good hack but Orwell was a master of terse, economical prose that could capture a situation in a line or two. Down and Out In Paris And London this isn't. But a spirited challenge and call to arms.
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Reading Progress

November 9, 2014 – Started Reading
November 26, 2014 – Finished Reading
November 27, 2014 – Shelved

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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul Bryant great review!


Mike Clarke Thank you!


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