Age Shock: How Finance is Failing Us

A searing look at the fiscal crisis of an aging society, with radical new proposals.
Most countries face the future with an ageing population, yet most governments are cutting back on pensions and the care services needed by the elderly. Robin Blackburn exposes the perverse reasoning and special interests which have combined to produce this nonsensical state of affairs. This updated paperback edition of Age Shock includes a new preface explaining why the credit crunch and eurozone crisis have had such a devastating impact and outlining a way to guarantee decent pensions and care provision.


  • “A serious and finely argued attack on contemporary market fundamentalism in a vivid phrasemaking style, which is even entertaining when it is not depressing you with the facts.”
  • “An ambitious recasting of pensions strategy for an aging society.”
  • “An impressive book ... Blackburn argues that the hard-won state systems and the private pensions that supplement them have come under threat.”
  • “Blackburn’s book is a serious and finely argued attack on contemporary market fundamentalism in a vivid phrasemaking style.”


  • New Left Review - issue 79 out now

    New Left Review 79
    is out now featuring the following articles:

    Mike Davis: The Last White Election

    Surveying the US political landscape, Mike Davis identifies the complex social and geographical determinants of Obama's November victory. Within an increasingly polarized ideological force field, how will the coming struggles between Democratic President and Senate and Republican House unfold?

    Continue Reading

  • New Left Review—new issue out now

    The November/December issue of the New Left Review has been released, and includes the following essays:

    Mike Davis: Spring Confronts Winter

    Against a backdrop of world economic slump, what forces will shape the outcome of contests between a raddled system and its emergent challengers? Mike Davis examines echoes of past rebellions in 2011's global upsurge of protest.

    Mike Davis is author of Planet of Slums.

    Robin Blackburn: Crisis 2.0

    Internationally, austerity measures have resulted in unemployment, stagnation, the imposition of technocracies, the destruction of welfare systems and a collapse in global demand. Robin Blackburn outlines some radical transitional policy responses that could address the underlying causes of the financial crisis.

    Robin Blackburn is the author of Age Shock: How Finance is Failing Us and The American Crucible.

    Perry Anderson: Magri's Farewell

    Perry Anderson looks back upon the life and work of Lucio Magri, the Italian revolutionary and writer who died last year. An incisive critic of the PCI from both inside and outside of the Party, Anderson traces Magri's unique synthesis of theory and popular struggle from the Hungarian Revolt to the Iraq War, including his last work, The Tailor of Ulm.

    Visit the New Left Review website to read the essays in full (subscribers only)


  • Robin Blackburn: Disaster down to the vices of financialisation, not the burden of welfare

    Echoing the thoughts of many (but not yet enough for why are they not out shouting in the streets?), Robin Blackburn opens his recent article "For a Public Utility Finance System" with this crucial statement:

    It is truly astonishing that a crisis caused by the bankers has to be solved at the expense of nurses, teachers, pensioners, students and the unemployed.

    In addition to advocating the general share levy that Blackburn defends in his book Age Shock, the key conclusion of this essential article is:

    The banks—large and small—could be obliged to issue shares equivalent to 40 per cent of their annual profits, to a regional network of social funds. Using these funds as their security the regional funds could then draw up—in association with local elective bodies—a ten year programme of productive investment, embracing both public and private ventures.

    And in case we wondered whether this kind of measure is intended as a transitional demand:

    The classic device of 20th century socialism was the nationalisation of industry. In the 21st century the key institution may well prove to be the publicly-owned and controlled financial fund.

    Visit New Left Project to read the article in full (highly recommended.)

Other books by Robin Blackburn