Suspicion of capitalism is woven into the fabric of the modern British media. This negative, carping instinct shines through consumer programmes like Watchdog on BBC One or You and Yours on Radio 4, which constantly attack big business but refrain from any criticism of the much less efficient, more expensive public sector. I recently watched an astonishing – but all too typical – item on BBC Two’s Newsnight, about the rise of the free market in China. The reporter interviewed a range of players, from a rich entrepreneur to a lowly waitress, who all testified to the greater freedom and improved living standards brought about by economic liberalisation. Yet, like some Maoist ideologue trapped in the mindset of the 1960s, Newsnight’s reporter chose to harp on about the dangers of rising inequality in the new China.
It is no surprise, then, to find that Richard D North’s provocative book has been produced not by a mainstream publisher, but by a centre-right think tank, the Social Affairs Unit. Given the predominance of the leftish political orthodoxy in the literary world, North might have struggled to find a