2016-06-30
Ronald Dworkin's tome on behalf of equality argues that in modern politics, "equality is the endangered species of political ideals." In the past, he claims, an egalitarian society was central to the political ideal of liberals or even centrists. But today, individual freedom and "liberty" appear to have triumphed over the Old Left ideal of equality. The one French Revolutionary principles has trumped the other. Even "third way" politicians, like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, who reject the nineteenth-century philosophy that an individual's fate should be determined entirely by market forces, also reject the idea that the state should strive to ensure that all citizens share equally in the fruit of the realm.

Dworkin's book is making an important argument. Unfortunately, he makes it in over 500 pages of remarkably dense, belabored prose. Much of the book is entirely abstract and theoretical, though there are also extended treatments of subjects like affirmative action, integration of the schools and cloning, which draw heavily upon legal cases. This is an important book on a difficult theme. Would that Dworkin had written one that people would actually read.