This weekend, I almost finished reading John Julian Norwich's masterful History of Venice.
It tells the story of how a small island nation, with a tradition of independence and dispersed political power, rises to greatness. Little more than a mud bank off the coast of Italy, she grows rich through trade and by making things.
Then gradually a self-serving oligarchy takes over. Power is centralised.
Commerce and trade are regulated and nationalised. Those who produce wealth must seek the permission of a parasitic elite. Attempts at reform are defeated by a lazy assumption that things were always done a certain way. A once mighty navy dwindles into nothingness.
Sound familiar? The need for political reform is urgent.
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"A revolutionary text ... right up there with the Communist manifesto" - Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times