Ronald Dworkin's tome on behalf of equality argues that in modernpolitics, "equality is the endangered species of political ideals." In thepast, he claims, an egalitarian society was central to the political idealof liberals or even centrists. But today, individual freedom and "liberty"appear to have triumphed over the Old Left ideal of equality. The oneFrench Revolutionary principles has trumped the other. Even "third way"politicians, like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, who reject thenineteenth-century philosophy that an individual's fate should bedetermined entirely by market forces, also reject the idea that the stateshould strive to ensure that all citizens share equally in the fruit ofthe realm.
Dworkin's book is making an important argument. Unfortunately, he makes itin over 500 pages of remarkably dense, belabored prose. Much of the bookis entirely abstract and theoretical, though there are also extendedtreatments of subjects like affirmative action, integration of the schoolsand cloning, which draw heavily upon legal cases. This is an importantbook on a difficult theme. Would that Dworkin had written one that peoplewould actually read.