Skip to main content

Global Auction of Public Assets by Dexter Whitfield

Reviewed by Hugo Radice, University of Leeds, UK for Capital & Class


Ten years ago, Dexter Whitfield's Public Services or Corporate Welfare? gave us the first detailed critique of the growing use of private resources to 'finance' public infrastructure projects. With Global Auction, he provides a comprehensive account of just how far and wide these forms of privatisation have now spread. A movement that seemingly began as a technical innovation in project financing now threatens to transfer the design and implementation of infrastructure projects entirely from public to private hands, with taxpayers and service users footing the bill. If this continues, the consequence will be to dramatically restrict the scope of democratic decision-making in this vital part of the economy, while simultaneously redistributing income from the poor to the rich. And as with so many innovations in the history of capitalism, successive UK governments have been the most enthusiastic pioneers and promoters of this process.

Whitfield shows how high levels of public debt, a major argument for 'private' finance, can be tackled by such measures as reducing tax avoidance, sensible use charging and cutting military spending. He then outlines a positive programme of change, based on a return to close and globally coordinated regulation of the financial services sector, the revitalisation of public management, and better techniques of project evaluation. This would require an extensive worldwide campaign by public service users, community and civil society groups and trade unions ... This book is an excellent guide to this largely invisible part of the neoliberal revolution, providing us with the detailed understanding that we so urgently need if we are to combat it effectively."

(Read the full review at Spokesman Books)

Global Auction of Public Assets: Public Sector Alternatives to the Infrastructure Market and Public Private Partnerships by Dexter Whitfield is available in paperback and as an eBook from Spokesman Books.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Jeremy Corbyn: Internationalist at Work

Another featured article from the latest issue of The Spokesman comes from the 2011 edition of J. A. Hobson's Imperialism. Jeremy Corbyn penned the book's foreword, which we reprint here under the title 'Internationalist at Work'.
As a separate point of interest, we also include this comparative image of the logo of publication The Week, circa 1960s, and Corbyn's recent campaign logo. Cut from the same cloth? 





Internationalist at Work
J. A. Hobson wrote his great tome at a different age. His thoughts were dominated by the zenith of the British Empire and the Boer War. The outcome of the war demonstrated Britain’s then ability in sustaining global reach, since Elizabethan times, but also its extreme vulnerability. At home the poor physique of working class soldiers led to Haldane’s investigation into working class health and living conditions. The difficulty in containing the rebellious Boers, and the huge opposition to the war, encouraged further doubts about the whol…

'Not as dumb as he looks' - Muhammad Ali on Bertrand Russell

In his autobiography The Greatest: My Own Story, Muhammad Ali recounts how Bertrand Russell got in contact with him, and their ensuing correspondence:


***
For days I was talking to people from a whole new world. People who were not even interested in sports, especially prizefighting. One in particular I will never forget: a remarkable man, seventy years older than me but with a fresh outlook which seemed fairer than that of any white man I had ever met in America.
My brother Rahaman had handed me the phone, saying, ‘Operator says a Mr. Bertrand Russell is calling Mr. Muhammad Ali.’ I took it and heard the crisp accent of an Englishman: ‘Is this Muhammad Ali?’ When I said it was, he asked if I had been quoted correctly.
I acknowledged that I had been, but wondered out loud, ‘Why does everyone want to know what I think about Viet Nam? I’m no politician, no leader. I’m just an athlete.’
‘Well,’ he said, ‘this is a war more barbaric than others, and because a mystique is built up around a cham…

Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain

Tate Liverpool: Exhibition 28 February – 11 May 2014
Adult £8.80 (without donation £8) Concession £6.60 (without donation £6)
Help Tate by including the voluntary donation to enable Gift Aid

Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain, is a new take on how the changes in the meaning of words reflect the cultural shifts in our society. This dynamic exhibition takes its name and focus from the seminal 1976 Raymond Williams book on the vocabulary of culture and society.
An academic and critic influenced by the New Left, Williams defined ‘Keywords’ as terms that repeatedly crop up in our discussion of culture and society. His book contains more than 130 short essays on words such as ‘violence’, ‘country’, ‘criticism’, ‘media’, ‘popular’ and ‘exploitation’ providing an account of the word’s current use, its origin and the range of meanings attached to it. Williams expressed the wish some other ‘form of presentation could be devised’ for his book, and this exhibition is one such int…