By Ian Finlayson (£)
January 21 2012 12:01AM
Into the space vacated by the controversialist Christopher Hitchens we might recruit the sardonic, sceptical columnist Nick Cohen. Here he takes on three mighty, repressive institutions — Religion, Money and the State — and exposes their counterfeit claims of safeguarding liberty, of doing away with censorship, for the empty words that they are in practice. Freedom of speech? Yes, you can write that novel, publish that cartoon — at risk of a fatwa, prison, a firewall, death or a superinjunction. Censorship is subtle and the illusions of freedom are underpinned by the realities of cultures, laws and constitutions, vigorously defended by entrenched interests. Net Utopians who point to information technology as their great hope are deluded, says Cohen. Freedom of speech is still a political struggle.
Fourth Estate, 330pp; £12.99; To buy this book for £11.69 visit thetimes.co.uk/bookshop or call 08452712134 or at Amazon here.