THE PURSUIT OF INEQUALITY by Philip Green
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THE PURSUIT OF INEQUALITY

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Equality is supposed to be a basic principle of our political system; but, Smith College political scientist Green points out, the current trend in much intellectual discourse is in the other direction. Green is on the counterattack--and against the adherents of biological inequality, be it between races, classes, or sexes, and what he establishes as their complement, the social, political, and economic theorists who preach what Green calls the ""new individualism."" In his view, the spokesmen for these ideas are willful perpetrators of an inegalitarian ideology for the purposes of the people in power. In attacking the theories of Arthur Jensen and Richard Herrnstein, who argue that IQ scores are a function of inherited capacities, Green relegates much of the detailed methodological criticism to an appendix; his major charge, in the text, is that their systematic misreading of scientific studies on genetics--most often in the form of treating genetic structure as the only variable, and ignoring social and envirionmental factors--is the result of a prior acceptance of the basic inequalities they purport to prove. Green labels this work ""pseudoscience,"" and claims that no scientific genetic basis exists (or can exist) for determining public policy; he advocates rather the combined use of observation and common sense, which tells us, he avers, that whatever the intelligence level of any individual, the intelligence of people together--the aggregate intelligence--is more than the sum of its parts. Jensen and Herrnstein are scored, apropos of race and class distinctions, for construing Daniel Bell's notion of a division between mental and physical labor to mean that there is a parallel, qualitative distinction between the capacities to perform each; on sex, the main target is Stephen Goldberg's The Inevitability of Patriarchy. In the second half, economist Milton Friedman, philosopher Robert Nozick, and essayist Irving Kristol are the chief culprits; but Green is not obliged to weave his way, here, through scientific discussions. The evidence is at hand for him to demonstrate their their ""antistatism"" is an ideological construct--whether by showing the state's role in creating the ""free-market"" economy they extol, or by showing the real power that goes with ownership and the inequality it solidifies. Green's decision to take off the gloves is refreshing, and the firm commitment to egalitarianism as a guide to discussion of public policy makes this an important counter-statement.

Pub Date: May 4th, 1981
Publisher: Pantheon