Danny Dorling, The No-Nonsense Guide to Equality,
New Internationalist, Oxford, 2012, 176 pp, www.newint.org/books/
Reviewed by Frank Stilwell
New Internationalist has published a series of small books on controversial issues such as world population, world poverty, world food, world health and women’s rights. This latest ‘No-Nonsense Guide’ focuses on equality, making a strong case for this goal to be a much higher priority in public policy and strategies for social progress.
There is a long tradition of arguing for greater equality – in income, wealth, education, social opportunities and, of course, in human rights. One thinks, for example, of classics such as Richard Tawney’s Equality, the writings of British social reformer Richard Titmuss and the more recent books by Richard Wilkinson that describe the damaging social costs that arise from extreme economic inequalities. That these three writers are all called Richard is an odd coincidence – the more important thing that they have in common is a commitment to egalitarian social reform.
When, in 1992, I started to work in publishing for schools in the UK, the future looked bright. The Government had recently introduced a National Curriculum. So, for the first time, publishers could produce textbooks knowing that all schools in the UK would be covering the same subject matter. In the UK, there were around 4,000 secondary schools teaching around 4 million students and since it was the policy of most schools to buy ‘class sets’, there was a large market to target. Provided that publishers found the right format and approach, they could expect sales in their thousands. At the same time, technology was changing. Design was moving from the drawing board to the computer. Printing presses were becoming digitised, lowering costs. For the first time, printing textbooks in colour was becoming affordable even for small publishers.
Clouds are never a good look at rallies for renewable energy. Nor is a light but constant drizzle, or the sight of a big, dirty old truck being used for a stage. Climate change activists are used to these minor ironies. They are also used – though not resigned – to continuing government inaction on an issue which enjoys massive public support for change as well as a near-complete scientific consensus.
All of these things – activists, government, a big truck, an energised public and, yes, appalling weather – came together on September 30th in Adelaide’s Rundle Park for a heartening intervention in the fight for more action on that moral challenge. Continue reading →