Fabian Michael Wadel (born 18 May 1963), known professionally as Fabian Tassano, is an economist and author, known for his radical views on the medical profession, and for his critique of ideological aspects of modern culture.
Tassano was born in Munich to German parents. He changed his original family name of Wadel to Tassano on the marriage of his mother to Michael Tassano, a Major in the British Army. He has lived in the United Kingdom as a British citizen since 1973. In 2003, his mother's marriage to Michael Tassano having been annulled, he formally reverted to the surname Wadel, while maintaining the name Fabian Tassano for publications.
In 1991 he qualified as a Chartered Accountant, having trained first at Grant Thornton and subsequently at KPMG Peat Marwick. He came tenth nationally in the Institute of Chartered Accountants' qualifying exam. He also qualified as a chartered tax accountant with the Institute of Taxation.
From 1992 to 2000 he was first a postgraduate student, and subsequently college lecturer in economics, at the University of Oxford. He carried out research on vertical integration policy in the UK and Germany, and on the economic effects of vertical mergers, for which he was awarded a doctorate by Oxford in 1998.
In 1995 Tassano published The Power of Life or Death: Medical Coercion and the Euthanasia Debate. The book had a Foreword by Thomas Szasz, an American psychiatrist known for his libertarian views on mental illness, and was described by the philosopher Antony Flew as ‘intellectually first-class’.
The Power of Life or Death attempts to bring free-market and libertarian philosophical ideas into the medical ethics debate, in particular in relation to the treatment of the terminally ill, and examines the ideological subtext of the medical ethics literature, which Tassano argues often gives greater weight to collective interests than to the preferences of individual patients. Despite its radical approach the book received serious, if guarded attention from the medical profession, the British Medical Journal, for example, commenting: ‘We would not recommend this book as comfortable bedtime reading. ... If you like an intellectual challenge this one is for you.’
The book was also reviewed in Nature, which commented, ‘His view goes straight to the medical jugular’, and the Literary Review, according to which ‘Tassano presents hair-raising case studies […] his book is a timely polemic.’ The book was shortlisted for the Skrabanek Prize.
Tassano analyses the ideological content of modern culture in general in Mediocracy: Inversions and Deceptions in an Egalitarian Culture (2006), characterized by Patrick Minford as a book that ‘delightfully dissects the language of modern egalitarianism and political correctness’. The book argues that both ‘dumbing down’ in the popular media, and the obscurantism prevalent in academic discourse, are manifestations of the same underlying ideology: one which appears egalitarian but in reality is designed to privilege a paternalistic elite and exclude those who might criticise it.
Mediocracy received favourable reviews from a number of online commentators. Johnathan Pearce of the libertarian website Samizdata called it ‘a rather fine book’. Curtis Yarvin described it as ‘a comprehensive and witty dictionary’. Tassano's pejorative use of the term ‘mediocracy’ has, however, been contested; a 2016 paper in the Oxford Handbook series criticises it, describing the book as ‘reactionary’.
In 2019 Tassano published a collection of essays entitled The Ideology of the Elites.
Other selected publications
- ‘Tax aspects of corporate activity’, Energy Utilities, February 1996.
- ‘Are vertical mergers harmful?’, European Competition Law Review, 7, 1999.
- 'Information Complexity as a Driver of Emergent Phenomena in the Business Community' (with J. Efstathiou et al.), Proceedings of the International Workshop on Emergent Synthesis, Kobe University, 1999.
- Tax for the Terrified, Tassano & Co, 1994.
- Tassano, F., Appraising the Regulation of Vertical Mergers: Policy in the UK and Germany. MPhil thesis, University of Oxford, 1994.[page needed]
- Tassano, F.,Upstream Competition and Vertical Integration. DPhil thesis, University of Oxford, 1998.[page needed]
- https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/services/tax/transfer-pricing.html[full citation needed]
- http://www.celiagreen.com/oxford-forum.html[full citation needed]
- Tassano, F., The Power of Life or Death: a Critique of Medical Tyranny, Foreword by Thomas Szasz. London: Duckworth, 1995.[page needed]
- Tassano, F., Mediocracy: Inversions and Deceptions in an Egalitarian Culture, Oxford: Oxford Forum, 2006, preliminary pages.
- Freudenstein, U (1996). "The Power of Life or Death: A Critique of Medical Tyranny". BMJ. 312 (7025): 258. doi:10.1136/bmj.312.7025.258.
- Galloway, John (1996). "Betrayers of trust?". Nature. 379 (6568): 784. doi:10.1038/379784a0.
- Cristina Odone, 'Doctors then and now', Literary Review, February 1996.
- Tassano, F., Mediocracy: Inversions and Deceptions in an Egalitarian Culture, Oxford: Oxford Forum, 2006.
- Johnathan Pearce (24 April 2008). "Decline and fall in easy-to-follow steps". Samizdata. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
- "Mediocracy: definition, etiology and treatment". Unqualified Reservations. 8 September 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
- Citton, Yves (2014). "Politics as Hypergestural Improvisation in the Age of Mediocracy". The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. 1. pp. 160–81. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195370935.013.006.
- Tassano, F., The Ideology of the Elites: Critical Essays, Oxford: Oxford Forum, 2019.
- Tassano's website
- Tassano's blog
- ‘Flatter, wider, virtual corporations’, online paper on effects of internet on market structure, 2000.
- Article about mediocracy on German-language Wikipedia