Letters – Issue 13

Dear Editor

Professor Clark’s review of our book in Vol 3, No 3 [#11, December 1993] has recently been drawn to my attention. I have always had the understanding that the task of a reviewer is to summarise the content and evaluate the argument and evidence on which that content is based. Obviously I was wrong. Book reviews are clearly an opportunity for reviewers to display their ignorance and prejudice. I have also always understood that reviewers should read the book before writing a review. I was obviously wrong on that score too. Not only does Professor Clark launch into vitriolic abuse, but she significantly distorts the argument in different parts of the book. But then, accuracy was never a prime feature of the lovers of the new right.

Let me give you the clearest example of the extortion [sic ‑ Ed]. She argues that “they even think the New Zealand Labour Party first came to power in the 1890s” (p101). The paragraph from which she draws this argument says as follows: “In New Zealand politicians, social thinkers and working people knew about this tragedy 100 years ago, and developed a political party to meet and overcome it. The ugly irony of Labour monetarism is that the same party has now brought the same tragedy on us again in the 1980s.” The distortion is evident.

In the same review article, Professor Clark also reviews the recent book by Roger Douglas Unfinished Business. She finishes that review with the sentence “he should be read with an open mind”. Professor Clark is clearly not of a mind to apply her advice to her own work.

M A O’Brien, Co‑author The Tragedy of the Market

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