Reviews of The Fragility of Freedom
An Inspirational Read
Hon Jim Carlton AO
This is an inspirational book. The author, at the age of retirement from day to day management of a successful business, looks back on the ingredients of his success in business, but also draws on the wisdom of the great minds of the past, such as John Locke, Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, together with more modern thinkers, such as Ludwig Von Mises, to draw conclusions on the way to order a better society in the modern world.
The words "freedom" and "subsidiarity" resonate throughout the book. Giving people the freedom to act as they see fit at the lowest level of organisation is the key to creative adaptability to the real environment.
The author applies these principles to the individual, the family, the business, right up the organisational chain to the national economy. He points out how the myriad accretions added to the body politic over the years have made it sluggish and unresponsive to the changing external environment. But it goes beyond the purely economic, it is a statement of personal philosophy, of values, of morality in the good sense of that word, of personal ethics and integrity.
What I really liked about this book is that it captures, in an easily accessible form, the wisdom of a lifetime, the considered thoughts of a man of action who is also an intellectual. For a young person seeking to make a better world, it is a ready made framework.
This book is far from fragile - and it matters!
The Fragility of Freedom is an important and challenging book. Many have expressed a yearning for a more fulfilling society which more effectively promotes and supports traditional values - diligence, prudence, justice, duty, charity and responsibility. Few have articulated so convincingly a constructive approach to achieving such a society.
Fenwick presents an analysis of why the current protocols of the democratic process have failed to create the community that we desire. He draws upon the work of a number of philosophers and economic theorists - the brief summaries of the work of six of those who perhaps most inspired him are a useful inclusion - and outlines the destructive outcomes of a system in which those who seek to gain or retain political power make promises to those individuals or groups who can assist their quest that can only be delivered by unsustainable increases in government debt. His analysis resonates stridently as we reflect on our disappointment at the quality of recent electoral campaigns.
Issues that I found most interesting in the book included his critique of the response of the United States to the global financial crisis (which he regards as both incredibly damaging and immoral) and of the threats to the international monetary system from interventions such as `quantitative easing'.
Fenwick's thesis for developing a more equitable and sustainable society centres on the principle of subsidiarity, where responsibility for the community's wellbeing is embraced primarily by individuals, by families and by those community groups that are closest to those who need support - the antithesis of the view that welfare should be controlled and delivered by a central government.
This book will be of interest and relevance to all who believe that democracy deserves better and can be better than its current manifestation.
The book we will all be talking about in 2015
This is the book we will all be talking about in 2015.
If you ever wondered "Can we live in a better world?" ... read this book.
A great guide for students to read before heading to university or the workplace to set themselves a road map for their future.
Essential reading for Corporate Directors and Trustees of Not for Profit Foundations seeking high standards in corporate governance.
Written by a businessman who successfully built his own business on many of the principles set out in his book.
Easy to read with every page consuming your interest.