When I first set eyes on this book, I thought I would have to endure ranting words about lack of democracy and endless jargon that I would struggle to understand. But I was pleasantly surprised.
In the Name of the People, written by Ivo Mosley who is the grandson of fascist leader Oswald Mosley, is an analysis of the non-democratic nature of Western democracies and, as it says on his website, “the strange lack of freedom that Western peoples experience in bondage to debt”.
Mosley studied Japanese at University, and musical theatre at postgraduate level. For 15 years he pursued a career as a ceramic artist before turning to writing full time in 2008.
The book examines the illusion of representative democracy and how this was first planted and grown in England, France and the USA, before looking at how governments have performed over the last 300 years and how the face of democracy is constantly changing.
When you look up the meaning of democracy, the description is ‘A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives’.
However, a quote from Benjamin Franklin from the 18th century describes democracy as “Two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner”, which is perhaps more accurate when describing today’s government.
He outlines the changing beliefs in the meaning of democracy by using examples from the 5th Century B.C up to the modern day.
Mosley argues that democracy is not compatible with representation and argues that if we choose others to rule us then we are not ruling ourselves, therefore the fact we elect representatives in to government is wrongly classed as democracy.
He says that a more accurate description of it would be elective oligarchy, meaning we are ruled by a small number of people who we decide will do the ruling for us. And this then presents two more questions. How much power do representatives actually have? And do representatives act in the interest of the people?
Mosley says the answers to these questions are ever-changing and there is no distinct answer, as it is dependent on what the public want from the representatives as this is also constantly changing.
One particularly interesting, and very long chapter, is How Debt Came to Rule the World. Mosley explains how countries have succumbed to masses of debt over the years.
As soon as we deposit our cash into a bank, he argues it is the property of the bank. Whatever we get in return when we use an alternate form of cash, such as a credit card, debit card or cheque, is a claim on an equivalent amount of the bank’s cash.
Mosley says banking dates back as far as ancient Mesopotamia around 150 B.C, where early bankers speculated with money that they held in safe keeping and issued claims on more money than they actually had in store.
This progressed in to the 17th Century where goldsmiths during the English Civil War found they could make far more profit in storing gold for others rather than making it themselves. They would issue paper claims to borrowers on more gold than they possessed, so as long as the borrowers didn’t want to claim the gold at exactly the same time, they would never be found out. And bankers the world over have been playing the same trick ever since.
The roots of the current crisis he dates back to the 1980s as restraints on financial firms were reduced, and with the rewards for bankers greater they started to think short-term rather than long-term.
He says bankers entered a bubble of self-interest. They were paid well and it was in their interest that their bank should do well. They began to be given large bonuses, which led to increased interest in turning over business as quickly as possible and issuing loans with disregard to the consequences, which in turn has led to the credit crisis of today.
In essence, what Mosley talks about is nothing new. It is obvious that the reason the economy is in the desperate state that it is in today stems from irresponsible lending and poor judgement. However, what Mosley explains is that these reasons have been underlying for some time and was a ticking time-bomb.
Although this book is not particularly long, it gives an enormous amount of detail with an astonishing number of footnotes, which could be turned into a book of their own.
However, this book is a refreshingly interesting and honest read and will leave you condemning the government even more, if that is possible.