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Traditionally, critics have said that it imposes unacceptable limits on individual choice and makes excessive demands on social solidarity.
Now, they add that it is old-fashioned, procrustean, and unsuited to a world of economic globalization, instant communication, and fissiparous group identities. The negative judgment of the critics may rest on an overhasty assimilation of egalitarianism to Marxism, and to a specific, discredited conception of socialist industrial organization—Soviet-style communism based on centralized planning and state ownership of the means of production.
Nevertheless, criticism of egalitarianism is hard to ignore—and the past decade has seen a growing effort among political philosophers and economists to articulate a plausible post-Marxist egalitarianism. In addressing the issue of values, egalitarian political thought has often drawn a sharp line between questions about social and political justice—the laws and institutions we need to live together as equals—and Book review education equality and human of personal morality—about the right way to live our individual lives.
In his later work, for example, John Rawls—whose theory of "justice as fairness" sought to reconcile liberal and egalitarian traditions of democratic thought—has defended a "political conception of justice," which, he argues, is compatible with a variety of different philosophies of life, both religious and secular.
On this view, egalitarian justice is achieved principally through laws and institutions, not through the devotions that give point and texture to our daily lives. Three recent books—by Robert Fogel, an eminent economic historian, and by G.
Cohen and Ronald Dworkin, two distinguished philosophers—question this separation of the personal and the political. Egalitarianism, they suggest, must be understood as part of a more encompassing view of how best to live.
But the political vision of the modernist egalitarians, Fogel argues, has been one-sidedly materialistic.
It ignores the importance of "spiritual resources," such as: Though neglected by conventional egalitarians, concern with spiritual deprivation has become the focus of a major cultural movement centered around enthusiastic religion. In recent years this "Fourth Great Awakening" has found increasingly influential political expression, on the right, through such organizations as the Christian Coalition.
Rather than choosing between these two goals, Fogel argues that we need to acknowledge both—we must articulate a "postmodern egalitarianism" that embraces the genuine material gains of the past century and legitimate aims of the modernists, but also addresses urgent problems of spiritual deprivation.
In policy terms, this new egalitarian project must address the conflict between employment and family life, and promote new educational initiatives to attack deficiencies in spiritual resources: Increased direct redistribution of income and wealth would miss the point, because the maldistribution of "virtue" self-realization based on adequate spiritual resources is now a more important source of unequal life-chances than unequal material wealth.
Fogel makes the case for postmodern egalitarianism by proposing an ambitious theory of religio-political cycles in American history.
Technological changes shifts from agriculture to manufacture, the emergence of mass production, the development of modern communications technology disrupt existing social patterns, and those disruptions generate social change, which in turn undermines the capacity of established ethical frameworks to provide practical guidance.
Religious revivals, centered on evangelical churches, emerge in response to these challenges. These revivals—such as the First Great Awakening of the s and s, or the Second Great Awakening, which fueled abolitionism—eventually crystallize into new ethical frameworks; these frameworks, in turn, promote new political movements and realignments; and the new movements produce policy changes that help adapt society to prior technological change.
Each cycle lasts about one hundred years, has its thirty-year religious upswing, a thirty- to forty-year political maturity, and a senescence of about thirty to forty years, in which the values that became prevalent in maturity are challenged by new ethical frameworks.
Fogel believes that in the past thirty years or so the United States has passed through the senescent phase of the Third Great Awakening, which came to political maturity with the New Deal in the s, and the religious upswing of the Fourth Great Awakening, now set to enter its phase of political maturity.
The cycle theory is an impressive piece of intellectual synthesis, which makes suggestive connections between socio-economic change, religious revivalism, and political realignment.
A Marxist in his youth, Fogel accepts a form of historical materialism: Fogel has enough material, and marshals it skillfully enough, to make the theory plausible. But given the complexity and number of variables and causal relationships involved, and the contestability of the variables and each of these relationships, I think it would take much more work to make the theory compelling.
I propose to bracket the cycle theory and consider the case for postmodern egalitarianism on its own terms. All this echoes themes sounded by those who have recently sought a new, "third way" politics that transcends the conflict between traditional social democracy and the free-market right.
As a basis for left-right convergence, Fogel proposes the goal of "spiritual equity. The importance of these resources—a sense of purpose, self-discipline, and devotion to work—seems indisputable.
And it is true, too, that material equality will not translate into genuinely equal opportunities to lead challenging and rewarding lives if some individuals lack these crucial spiritual resources.
If we describe a way of life that uses these spiritual resources as "virtuous"—and this is pretty much how Fogel intends the term—then the fundamental egalitarian goal might be said to consist in equal opportunity for virtuous living.
Major egalitarian thinkers of the recent past, such as the British socialist R. Tawney, would probably have agreed with it. Fogel is on weaker ground when he attributes these ethical concerns about spiritual resources to the conservative "forces of the Fourth Great Awakening.
Consider one other spiritual resource that Fogel mentions: Now, if the family ethic is defined in these functional terms, with an emphasis on child rearing, a gay or lesbian couple could exhibit these qualities. But would this understanding of the family ethic be acceptable to religious conservatives?Notes: The book presents a theory of justice in education that is especially attentive to special educational needs and the plight of the disabled.
The book develops a capability-based theory of justice and considers the issues of equality and rejects alternative models. May 18, · His new book elaborates on these arguments, looking back at the evolution of welfare states and the allied idea of “social citizenship” (rights to education, health care and housing), while.
Education, Equality and Human Rights addresses the controversial and emotive issue of human rights and its relationship to education in the twenty-first century. Each of the five equality issues of gender, race, sexuality, disability and social class are covered as areas in their own right, and in relation to education.4/5(2).
Apr 08, · A historian looks at the origin of our focus on human rights. Sunday Book Review | Natural, Equal particularities of English law and English history and did not declare the equality.
‘Education, Equality and Human Rights, 2nd edition, is an urgent and important Grosseteste College, UK. He has published a number of books in the field of education and equality and is well known for his research into issues of Marxism and educational theory.
Education, Equality and. equality: a literature review Paul Johnson and Yulia Kossykh Frontier Economics. Early years, life chances and equality and Human Rights Commission First published Autumn ISBN 1 9 EHRC RESEARCH REPORT SERIES The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Research Report Series education .