The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy

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The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy

By Anthony Giddens
Polity Press, 1998
112 pp. $11.50
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Giddens, the energetic director of the London School of Economics, has sketched out a "third way" between traditional European socialism and 1980s neo-liberalism. This work puts aside traditional (British) left-wing shibboleths and reexamines contemporary society with a fresh eye. Giddens appraises technological risk as an opportunity rather than a danger and argues that globalization can be a positive force. Changes in the family, he adds, are the result of complex social and technical factors, not moral decay. Great emphasis is placed on education -- not only to gain knowledge but to adapt to inevitable change. His admonition that rights come hand in hand with responsibilities is also refreshing. He acknowledges that unemployment compensation may actually raise joblessness. By fusing responsibility with entitlement and including the have-nots in society, he believes, government can get around this dilemma. More frustrating is that the book offers only a general philosophical discussion, not a program for action. It also holds more relevance for a British audience than for an American one. As a manifesto for Tony Blair's New Labour, however, it provides a concise outline of the "third way."

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