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Freedom for Sale: Why the World Is Trading Democracy for Security Hardcover – January 26, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (January 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465015395
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465015399
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,293,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Democratic values are on the retreat across the globe, according to Kampfner (Blair's Wars), former editor of the New Statesman. Kampfner attends to established democracies (England, the U.S.) and to nations with no democratic tradition (China, the United Arab Emirates), in each case asserting that the citizenry has entered into an unspoken pact with the government, giving up certain rights and liberties in exchange for greater prosperity or the perception of better security. The forms and severity of the restrictions change from place to place: in Singapore, critics of the government are slapped with bogus but costly defamation lawsuits, a relatively benign method compared to the assassinations that have become common in Russia. While generally measured in tone, Kampfner has harsh words for his fellow Britons, who he describes as all too ready to acquiesce as the country has become a surveillance state, home to 20% of the world's closed-circuit security cameras. Crisply written and smartly argued, this global tour of civil liberties in decline from India to Italy is an unnerving, urgent, and very persuasive wake-up call. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Sunday Times (UK)
“Marx was wrong, according to John Kampfner. It is not religion that is the opium of the people, but capitalism. Give them good shopping opportunities and they will forget about liberty, equality and fraternity, and cease to care about who governs them and how…. Kampfner’s book is original, persuasive and ­disquieting, and fills a gap in our understanding of the post-Cold-War world.”

The Guardian (UK)
“A pungent thesis, argued with verve and an abundance of telling detail…. The fundamental questions of Freedom for Sale [are] often posed with a clarity that makes you wince.”

Publishers Weekly
“Crisply written and smartly argued, this global tour of civil liberties in decline from India to Italy is an unnerving, urgent, and very persuasive wake-up call.”

Roll Call
“[A] bold new analysis…. Kampfner dissects the geopolitical and social economic dynamics of Italy and seven other countries…to reveal the compromises a citizenry would endure for security and consumer independence…. [T]horoughly researched and intriguing.”

The National Interest
“[Kampfner] is a successful print and television journalist who can write sharply as well as vividly…. Freedom for Sale is an easy and enjoyable read.”

Providence Journal-Bulletin
“Freedom for Sale elaborates an intriguing thesis through a global survey of governments and societies.”

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Efrem Sepulveda on April 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
John Kampfner gives us an overview of eight countries that have dealt with the conflict between the ideas of freedom and liberty on one hand and the maintenance of prosperity and security. Kampfner contends that the pursuit of the latter ideas have come at the expense of the former. In essence, the nations have disregarded liberty in order to chase after money. In Singapore, the author laments the fact that as his former home the island nation has exploded in terms of wealth, but with the condition that the races (Chinese, Indian and Malay) remain within their spheres and are told where to live and, in the case of Singapore leadership, who to marry. Clean streets are maintained by imposing severe punishments for seemingly minor infractions like throwing gum on the sidewalk.

Russia is another case where freedoms are curtailed while capitalism marches on. The Russian oligarchs, as they are called, are permitted free reign in the accumulation of money, but are not allowed to challenge the authority of the Premier Vladimir Putin. Some have learned this the hard way through arrests while some journalists who question the government are harassed or even murdered. China allows capitalism but freedom of expression is heavily regulated with constant monitoring of the internet.

Kampfner's second part of the book goes into the failing of the western democracies of Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. While countries like Russia and China really never had democratic governments, the western countries are slowly losing the people's voice in their respective governments. In Italy, massive corruption has affected the running of government in that nation to a large degree. In the UK, people are losing their right to privacy through massive surveillance via CCTV devices.
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Format: Hardcover
In the conclusion the author writes: "The preeminent freedom has become financial - to earn, to keep one's money and consume." The missing half is that hundreds of millions escaped from abject poverty, with no clean drinking water, sewage disposal, healthcare, education, hunger and decent jobs. Freedom did not exist for these millions. It is nevertheless interesting and worthwhile to know about journalists whose freedom was restricted in unjust ways, to the point of being killed..
It is a problem that some journalists do not act in accordance with the Code of ethics from the Society of Professional Ethics that states, "Professional Integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility". This includes "Giving the subjects the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrong doing" and "Admit mistakes and correct them promptly". Some journalists do not follow these principles. Some publish stories without a sound basis where the purpose appears to be to cause sensations and increase newspaper sales, and having made an mistake, refuse to admit it and where in addition the newspaper refuses to publish a response from the person accused of wrong actions.
Newspapers are still the moat important and trusted form of information to the people at large. This book is right about that governments should change policies that prevent journalists from finding out and publishing the truth as long as they follow their ethical standards that include, quotes from the Code, "Shun political involvement and "Imposing their own cultural values on others."
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rob the Knob on December 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover
What used to be a proud shout is now a whisper or even a question in my mind... Democracy? No and never. We've never had it. It only existed in our minds and now the memory of it's true intent is so convoluted that as simple as I can put it, evil is good and good is evil. Greed has changed the world, and 3/4 of this world are suffering at the expense of that greed, while nothing is done without the money and power to have a fair share and enact equal change. Equality is even unobtainable ever, not true equality. Our minor differences should afford every global citizen the same propensity for happiness and sense of contentment though. We can achieve a great higher level of freedom and equality if more layman, laborers, average men and women just stood up and said "Look, the scam is up. We won't let you force us into this paradigm of greed and inequality anymore and we are the masters of ourselves."
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6 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Hal on January 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book talks about Freedom without defining what it means. Freedom is one of those concepts that depend on a historical context. He seems to assume that the concept of Freedom conceived in 17th Century, in the parts of world that were becoming the modern world, are the definition for all time. This is obviously not the case. In most parts of the world at the present time, freedom is not even a useful idea - and only muddles our thinking. And this book is proof of that. It is a long recital of the failures to achieve freedom in almost any part of the world.

I prefer two different approaches to these kinds of problems: (1) an analysis of the kinds of power in a society, and who has them (which is much easier to see), and (2) a complex systems approach, where everything affects everything else - within limits - and all kinds of things can happen - sometimes suddenly. His approach is too linear for my taste.
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Freedom for Sale: Why the World Is Trading Democracy for Security
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