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Paul Mason
September 2015

Paul Mason (illustration by Michael Daley)

Alex Salmond, SNP MP and failed independence leader, took Channel 4 News’s economics editor Paul Mason’s new book, Postcapitalism: A Guide to the Future (Allen Lane, £16.99), on his summer holidays. Irvine Welsh, the cult novelist and author of Trainspotting, has written a 5,000-word rave review of the book — “the most important book about our economy and society to be published in my lifetime”.  Penguin brought forward its publication to cash in on Mason’s reporting of this summer’s Greek crisis. The book was among the top 100 sellers on Amazon and many of Mason’s speaking events have sold out. Not bad for a 340-page treatise of revisionist Marxism.

Mason, 55, is an unusual creature for British news programmes, being both identifiably northern and passing for working- class. He joined BBC Two’s Newsnight in 2001, first as business correspondent, eventually becoming economics editor in 2008. In 2013 he moved to Channel 4 News, which, for all its claims of impartiality, is clearly the most left-wing British news programme, dominated as it is by its presenter Jon Snow.  This move was partly so that he would be less constrained in expressing his opinions in other outlets — most notably the Guardian — than he was at the BBC.

His appointment is also unusual in that one would not expect a Marxist — albeit latterly a nuanced one — to be appointed as an economics or business reporter by an impartial public service broadcaster. Mason’s economic views are as far from the mainstream in that world as an avowed climate change sceptic would be in the world of mainstream climatology. It is impossible to imagine such a person being appointed by any broadcaster as a science reporter.

Mason wrote in the Guardian that to understand Syriza, the far-left coalition that brought Greece to the brink of exiting the euro before its leadership caved in to the EU’s demands, one must understand that “it is primarily Red . . . Its most influential activists are aged 50 and above: people who have read all three volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital, plus the Grundrisse, Theories of Surplus Value and Friedrich Engels’ Anti-Dühring.” 

The same can be said of Mason himself.  In a recent interview in the Independent he  admitted: “In my youth I was a revolutionary, I was a hardline Marxist . . . I was a raging Leftie.” Mason was a member of the Trotskyist groupuscule Workers Power, the British section of the League for the Fifth International. He states that today he is “quite happy to call myself a Marxist at the level of method because historical materialism as a method is a great tool for understanding history”, but that his views have become more complex than orthodox Marxism.

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September 4th, 2015
10:09 AM
Again - keithpp - it is not a book review. It is an assessment of Paul Mason, an assessment you don't agree with.

August 28th, 2015
8:08 AM
Steve Keen rates higher on economics, Paul Mason higher on politics?

August 28th, 2015
12:08 AM
Not a review, a pathetic hatchet job on Paul Mason. PostCapitalism is an excellent analysis of where we are today and where we may be heading, seen through the perspective of historical analysis. Highly recommended.

August 27th, 2015
10:08 PM
That - JP - is because this is not a review of Postcapitalism but a piece on the phenomenon that is Paul Mason.

August 27th, 2015
5:08 PM
I've read this review. It says much of what the reviewer thinks of the author. It says nothing about the book itself. Poor, lazy effort

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