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Review - Thomas Frank, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule


This analysis of American politics today is done through the lens and style of Raymond Chandler. And it is brilliant. Frank dissects the murky world of right wing politics with precision and a sharp wit. It is a better book than his much praised What’s the Matter With Kansas?, ,partly because he paints on a bigger canvas and partly because this book does read like a thriller. It is a thriller about the corporate capture of Government in the United States of America. What’s new about that, you might well think? Hasn’t the ruling class always controlled Government? The point, however, is that until the Reagan years and beyond, some countervailing power, some Government autonomy existed. The liberal state from FDR up until Reagan did regulate and even govern, however inadequately, in the interests of common folk as well as the wealthy. This book is a lament to the fact that this liberal state has been smashed by conservatives— the wrecking crew of the title—who shore up corporate power in the name of smaller government. Meanwhile, Government does not get smaller, the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned against takes over, the Fat Cats get fatter and Wall Street crows. Until, of course, it all come tumbling down. Frank’s book finishes before this turn of events but the story he tells contains many warning signs.