Security services

Why state bureaucracy is crucial to our happiness

Most days, outside the local courtroom where I live in Finchley Central, a man holds up a placard that says in big black capitals: ALL OUR BRAINS ARE MICROCHIPPED BY THE SECURITY SERVICES. It’s a foolish conspiracy theory, of course, but it’s also a symptom of the fear and loathing of the state which has grown in recent years and which, according to this lucid and persuasive book, threatens to return us to a time when we were governed by the whims of a monarch whose wishes were implemented arbitrarily by his family, friends and flatterers. The problem, say Stephen E. Hanson and Jeffrey S. Kopstein, is not that this