The Use of Public Power
By Andrew Shonfield
Oxford University Press, 1983, 133 pp.
To the three chapters of the major new work on the future of industrial democracies which were left upon Sir Andrew Shonfield's death in 1981, his wife has added a fourth outlining the scope and themes of the rest of the intended book. The challenge was to see what 15 fairly troubled years had done to the basically confident findings of Shonfield's landmark book of 1965, Modern Capitalism. The extent of breakdown of economic management by democratic governments is analyzed. Shonfield firmly rejects the arguments for greatly curtailing the government's role in the economy: the welfare state is here to stay, and the long-run problem is how to ensure that public institutions serve the public interest and not that of temporary majorities. The international economy and Japan have much more prominence here than in the earlier work. As in all his writings, there are telling insights, stimulating ideas and controversial propositions, so that even in its truncated form the book is a very valuable one.