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States, citizens and trust

Two new books on contemporary political problems are stimulating and informative. But the authors should learn to speak to our ideals as well as our needs

By Alan Ryan   August 2006

Good and Bad Power by Geoff Mulgan (Allen Lane, £20) Why Politics Matters by Gerry Stoker (Palgrave Macmillan, £14.99)

Good and Bad Power is a terrific book but slightly baffling. It is terrific in all sorts of ways: it starts with the view that the state is the servant of the people, settles down to ask how it can be a good servant rather than a bad master, and then pursues the implications of two simple, powerful ideas—that trust is more important than coercion or money in allowing a state to be effective, and that good states seek a golden…

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