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Review - Ill fares the land


Putting aside for a moment his wonderful autobiographical reminiscences in The New York Review of Books, this is Tony Judt’s last major work. And it is an extended essay of immense significance. It constitutes a clarion call for the resuscitation of a genuine social democracy committed to equality and social justice. It is simultaneously an appeal to resist the fetishism of “small” government, the deification of budget surplus, the pathetic passion for privatization, the capitulation to markets whose freedom is measured purely by profits. We need, argues Judt, a commitment to the commonweal, a shared goal rather than one divided into special interests and identities, a public sphere that is vibrant and egalitarian.