Freedom for Sale: Why the World Is Trading Democracy for Security
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“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.”
“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.”
“[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.”
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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."
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. In some instances loudspeakers rebuke the offender and tell them to pick after themselves or face arrest. In the United States, the author mentions the loss of liberties via the Patriot Act and accuses both parties of dropping the ball with regards to maintaining people's freedom. After 9/11 the decline of liberty has accelerated. Kampfner states that the citizens in these countries seem not to care about their predicament as they are too busy making money or seeking other security.
The book's 265 pages were very readable and it provides the reader with an adequate bibliography and end note section. Although there is some disagreements with the author on the how to resolve these issues, I recommend this book to those who are concerned about our freedom here and across the world. Four stars.