An Idea and Its Servants: UNESCO from Within

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An Idea and Its Servants: UNESCO from Within

By Richard Hoggart
Oxford University Press, 1978
220 pp. $13.95

A noble idea at the outset, UNESCO came to look like what someone called "a pork barrel floating in the clouds." Some recent activities have had a more sinister cast and threaten the concern for freedom and cultural values that moved its founders. Why this happened is one of the many things vividly explained by Professor Hoggart (now Warden of Goldsmiths' College, London), who left his chair of literature at Birmingham and his "particularly English" outside interests for five years as an Assistant Director General of the very multinational UNESCO in Paris. His judicious analysis shows a hard cutting edge as he deals with the inescapable political dimension of "cultural" activities, the pressures of governments, the deficiencies of the secretariat, the temptations and dilemmas of the Secretary General, and the whole tissue of life in and around UNESCO. In spite of much damning evidence, Hoggart believes that UNESCO should be kept alive for its limited success in some important undertakings and in the hope that it will be able to do more - he suggests how - to bring ethical and humane considerations to bear on national and international life. As trenchant a piece of work as one expects from the author of The Uses of Literacy, this is the best book on an international organization from the inside.

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