Anti-Hedonism

David Marquand

  • Politics and the Pursuit of Happiness: An Inquiry into the Involvement of Human Beings in the Politics of Industrial Society by Ghita Ionescu
    Longman, 248 pp, £16.50, September 1984, ISBN 0 582 29549 1

For neo-liberals and neo-socialists, the deepening crisis with which this and other advanced industrial societies have been grappling since the early Seventies is essentially economic – a matter of insufficient competition, or inadequate investment, or lax monetary management, or deflationary fiscal policies, to be put right by the appropriate bag of economic tricks. Those who belong to what Roy Jenkins once called the ‘radical centre’ rightly reject the economism of their rivals. For them, the crisis is not only, or even mainly, economic, but political as well. Yet even the ‘radical centre’ has so far seen it in a curiously narrow perspective. There has been a lot of talk about institutional change – electoral reform, trade-union reform, reform of the social security system, industrial democracy, a new ministry of education and training, a Freedom of Information Act, a Bill of Rights. But on the fundamental questions of value and purpose, on the answers to which any worthwhile programme of institutional change must be based, little has been said.

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