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The Two Tonys: A profile of LSE’s Anthony Giddens

The New Yorker, October 6, 1997

The Two Tonys: A profile of LSE’s Anthony Giddens

Perhaps the most unlikely hit of this past season in London?s West End was “Tom & Clem,” by Stephen Churchett, an ensemble piece about a fictional encounter between Prime Minister Clement Attlee and the left-wing journalist Tom Driberg during the 1945 Potsdam Conference. In the play’s opening scene, a soldier enters the conference room, takes down a portrait of Winston Churchill, and hangs one of a dour-looking Attlee in its place. With the Allies victorious in Europe, Labour has just won an unprecedented landslide, ushering the leonine Churchill out of office and the considerably less imposing Attlee in. Despite the gratitude that Britain feels for its larger-than-life war-time leader, it has decided that it wants a meeker man to win the peace.

The play is a sort of “My Dinner with Attlee,” exploring the nature of political and personal compromise, and the conflict between democracy and totalitarianism against the backdrop of the geo-political maneuverings that would dominate the world for the next fifty years. Driberg, pressing his case with invocations of Marx and Lenin, is dismayed to discover that Attlee doesn’t subscribe to his radical socialist vision.

?We?ll have a revolution, but in our own way,” Attlee says. “Unextravagant. Without tears.?

“A revolution without tears?” Driberg moans.

“They blur the vision,” Attlee answers. Much of the play’s popularity is due to the fact that, following the Labour Party’s greatest triumph since Attlee’s, Britain is again on the brink of a profound social transformation-a “revolution without tears,” but one in reverse, in which the future of the welfare state, or whatever remains of it after eighteen years of Tory rule, is coming under scrutiny by the party that invented it. Indeed, Tony Blair’s most popular campaign promise was that he would modernize Britain’s unwieldy state bureaucracy, which owes its existence to the work of such social scientists as Richard Titmuss, T. H. Marshall, and Lord William Beveridge. It was Beveridge’s 1942 report, “Social Insurance and Allied Services,” that established universal entitlements as the modern citizen’s statutory right.

The Aldwych Theatre, where “Tom & Clem” was playing, is just down the street from the London School of Economics- once home to Marshall, Titmuss, Beveridge, and even Attlee, who taught there between the wars and later drew much of his Cabinet from the ranks of its faculty. The connection between Labour and L.S.E. dates back a hundred years, to the university’s founding by Beatrice and Sidney Webb-Fabians who not only started the school but also helped build the Labour Party, with the explicit goal of promoting the cause of socialism. Today’s L.S.E. is a less partisan and more conventionally prominent university than the Webbs originally envisioned (It has, in the past, served as a source of free-market policy, and the Higher Education Funding Council recently ranked it the second-best university in the country, just below Cambridge but above Oxford.) But its administration has now been invaded by a cadre of New Labour’s new elite “Tonycrats” who, according to London’s Sunday Times, have made it the “mecca for Blairite businessmen and left-wing luvvies.”

Chief among the Tonycrats is L.S.E.’s new director, Anthony Giddens, the distinguished Cambridge sociologist whom the policy journal Prospect calls “the key intellectual figure of New Labour.? The author of some thirty dense theoretical tomes, Giddens gained new prominence with his recent book “Beyond Left and Right,” in which he argues that both sides of the political spectrum have exhausted themselves, leaving a “radical center” (Blair’s favorite phrase) from which to reconfigure the foundations of politics and society. Ian Hargreaves, the editor of the New Statesman, calls the book “the text of Blairism,” adding, “In Giddens you have somebody whose intellectual and political journey is ideally made for the circumstances of Blair and New Labour.?

Like the new PrimeMinister, Giddens is a man of the sixties who has retooled himself to confront the complexities of the post-Cold War world of the nineties. In the months leading up to May’s general election, he was frequently asked to address New Labour’s private strategy sessions as well as its public rallies. And although Giddens is not a member of Blair’s inner circle, his work has helped define the theoretical context for many of the reforms that are being debated in Britain today. As the Sunday Times reported, “Whenever Blair is accused of intellectual vacuity, he cites Giddens as ‘the guy who thinks like Me.'” An adviser to the Prime Minister says, “Giddens has a strong sense of the role of ideas in political change and is therefore an important part of developing a sustainable New Labour program. We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but he is helping us define some of the questions.” The leadership’s enthusiasm for the post-partisan nature of Giddens’s work, especially his rethinking of the future of the welfare state, does have its critics-inside the party and out-who wonder whether his philosophy isn’t little more than the “mood music” of New Labour, providing an intellectual cover behind which to hide a conservative agenda. It is unclear how Giddens’s ideas will ultimately be used, but it is instantly apparent why he has been so assiduously courted by both the party and L.S.E.

Previously the holder of the first permanent chair in sociology at Cambridge, Giddens, who is fifty-nine, is an intellectual powerhouse-“simply the most important English social philosopher of our time,” the New York University sociologist Richard Sennett says. Giddens’s books cover everything from historical materialism to the West’s notions of intimacy and the self. His work has been the subject of twelve books, and Routledge has just published a four-volume collection of ?critical assessments” of it-an honor previously bestowed upon such luminaries as Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Michel Foucault. This past January, the same month in which Giddens became the director of L.S.E., the political implications of his oeuvre were appraised by some of Britain’s most distinguished intellectuals and journalists at a conference at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Giddens is often described by colleagues as “clever” or “ambitious,” because of his worldly interests as well as his unusually broad intellectual scope–a back-handed compliment in the staid world of British academe. After parsing theories of power for the first half of his career, he discovered that he had a flair for actually wielding it. In 1983, he co-founded Polity Press, in order to publish European social thinkers like Jurgen Habermas, Pierre Bourdieu, and Jean Baudrillard, who were then largely neglected. In 1985, he bulldozed his way through Cambridge’s byzantine bureaucracy to establish the Social and Political Sciences Faculty and became its first Chairman.

As L.S.E.’s director, Giddens has brought a renewed sense of excitement to the university. He is currently wooing a number of world-class scholars to join the faculty. And he has made several high-profile appointments to the Court of Governors, among them the cultural broadcaster and author Melvyn Bragg, the movie producer David Puttnam, and the publisher Robert Gavron. “It is once again a great pleasure to go there,” the sociologist Lord Ralf Dahrendorf, who is himself a former L.S.E. director, says. “Giddens is creating an L.S.E. that is very much his own by introducing a new intellectual dynamic rather than fitting into an existing pattern.? Lord Meghnad Desai, an L.S.E. professor of economics, underscores the importance of the director’s impeccable intellectual credentials. “At Oxford and Cambridge, they are snobs about food and wine. At L.S.E., we are snobs only about intellect,” he says.

The anonymous, ramshackle building that constitute L.S.E.?s Houghton Street “campus” barely stand out from the sombre banks and law offices that surround them. It is a perfect ambience for the decidedly undonnish Giddens. “Call me Tony,” he says in a soft North London accent as he greets me, using the same phrase with which Blair opened his first Cabinet meeting only a few weeks earlier. A sprite of a man who appears fifteen years younger than his age, Giddens is completely different from the mental image I had constructed while struggling through page after page of his authoritative, unforgiving prose; it is hard to imagine him reading his books, much less writing them. As he jokes about L.S.E.?s typically British lack of air-conditioning, and brushes a lock of dark hair from his face, I begin to understand why the newspapers have taken to calling him “laddish.” He is more likely to answer a complex question with a casual shrug than with a discourse on the nature of society. When I ask whether his early work owed something to the philosopher Paul Ricoeur’s notion of “the hermeneutics of suspicion,” Giddens replies dismissively, “Nah, as a young bloke I was just bloody-minded.” While such a low-key manner might once have hindered an ambitious academic in class-conscious Britain, it is perfectly in time with the studied informality of the Blair era.

After showing mc a copy of a new German edition of “Beyond Left and Right,” Giddens suggests that we escape the interruptions of his busy office and talk in the school’s dingy coffee shop. Running L.S.E. has taxed his managerial skills, yet this past semester he did find time to give a weekly lecture course on interpretations of modernity which was seen by at least a thousand students (Hundreds watched by video from an adjacent hall.) Giddens is famous for his well-organized talks, which he delivers entirely from memory “Tony is a brilliant lecturer,” the sociologist Steven Lukes says. “The only person who com pares was the Oxford historian A. J. P. Taylor , who spoke without notes and would hold us spellbound for hours.” Now, with an audience of one, Giddens shares his vision for L.S.E., New Labour, and the country. “L.S.E. has a great opportunity to become an intellectual beacon again,” he says ‘We’re getting back to our roots, to when L.S.E. guided the fate of the nation. The Webbs founded an institution that wasn’t a cloister, that had real purchase on the world-a place for deep structural analysis which also communicated with a wider public. With Titmuss, and Beveridge, and Marshall, and Attlee, L.S.E. was the launching pad for the welfare state. Later, it was the center for the free-market counter-revolution, with Friedrich von Hayek and Karl Popper, both of whom greatly influenced Thatcher. Now I want L.S.E. to be at the center of the third phase-rethinking what politics and the state should be in a globalized, post-traditional world. This is the one place where leading politicians and businessmen meet with intellectuals on a regular basis. We are a bridge between the City and Westminster.”

Giddens doesn’t conceal his admiration for Blair, but he has no desire to transform L.S.E. into a New Labour think tank. Rather, he believes that the university can best serve the nation by alternately supporting and criticizing Blair’s agenda, certain aspects of which-family values, communitarianism, and Christian moralism, for example–make him uncomfortable. Giddens believes that modernization should take place at every level, from state bureaucracies to moral attitudes. He is in complete agreement with Blair, however, that the welfare state as we know it is over. “The welfare state is a passive-risk system-it isn’t designed to encourage people to make active investment decisions with their lives,” he explains. “It only reacts to things when they go wrong: it takes care of you when you are ill, it puts you on the dole when you are unemployed. But it has been ineffective in actually countering poverty or redistributing wealth in the long term.” Unlike the Thatcherites, Giddens doesn’t want to dismantle the welfare state; he wants to reconceive it. “Think of the welfare state not as the left traditionally has thought of it-as a mechanism to alleviate inequality-but as a kind of insurance system that allows people to take risks. We must provide people with the resources they require to be active investors, as it were, but at the same time we must provide security mechanisms which protect them.”

Giddens calls this concept of welfare-as-social-insurance “positive welfare,” a scheme according to which the state would play a more proactive yet less intrusive role in its citizens’ lives. By emphasizing greater job stability over increased income, for example, the state might broaden its concern to encompass the psychological, and not just the economic, well-being of its citizens. Giddens offers a series of suggestions, ranging from a tax system that assesses income in three-year periods, in order to benefit those who lose their jobs or experience a sudden drop in income in any given year, to a way of redistributing work which decreases the gap between society’s haves and its have-nots. Since “the possession of wealth doesn’t necessarily make one happy, any more than poverty as such is a source of misery,” he writes, “why not, therefore, attempt to bring the conditions of life of rich and poor closer together, even if this isn’t done through wealth or income transfers?” To this end, he suggests, the state misstate might give tax incentives to corporations that “gear recruitment and job stability to wider social needs” or to those that break down the divisions between “men’s” and “women’s” jobs, thereby helping to modernize the family. Under positive welfare, Giddens sees a potential for diminishing social inequality while simultaneously encouraging personal responsibility-a scheme whose indebtedness to both conservative and liberal traditions places it, he claims, “beyond left and right.”

These proposals are sketchy, to be sure, and Giddens has been criticized for proffering utopian solutions to all-too-real dilemmas. He responds to such accusations by saying that his vision is informed by the principle of “utopian realism”?an approach that joins utopian ideals with empirically observable trends. The way we anticipate the future helps shape it, he argues, and therefore, by deriving seemingly utopian solutions from existing progressive social movements, we might eventually bring about the kinds of changes which were once thought to be impossible. Writing in Prospect, the political journalist John Lloyd suggests that New Labour’s ambitious agenda is itself operating in this way. “The most radical and ambitious part of the programme is utopian in the depth of change it will usher in,” he writes. Even the possibility of expunging Labour’s socialist tendencies, Lloyd adds, “seemed utopian until a few years ago.”

As the express train from King’s Cross station to Cambridge hurtles down the tracks through North London, Giddens points out Alexandra Palace, with its spiralling forest of BBC antennas, where he played as a child. He is on his way to a Polity Press editorial meeting, and as we talk he flips through a stack of book proposals. Giddens grew up in the working-class suburb of Edmonton, where his father had a job with the London Underground ordering fabric for train seats. The elder of two boys (his brother now directs television commercials in Los Angeles), Giddens attended a local grammar school, where he was an indifferent student, more interested in soccer than in studies. One of his school mates was David Purtnam, who is now a fellow Labour supporter. Puttnam recalls, “If you were a bright kid in London in the late fifties, anything was possible. It was the Macmillan period, and we believed that the world was ours for the taking.”

Giddens went on to the University of Hull, and he was graduated with honors in psychology and sociology. In 1961, he received a master’s degree from L.S.E., having written a thesis on the social history of sports which brought together his love of soccer and a burgeoning interest in the class system. ?I looked at sport as the other side of industrialism and found some very strong class divisions,? he says. “Most middle-class sports, like rugby, weren’t originally competitive. You couldn’t have leagues or become a professional-just playing the game was more important than winning. On the other hand, working-class sports, like soccer, were very competitive and were professionalized early on. Each was the product of very different work circumstances. Since the bourgeoisie were individualistic and competitive at work, they wanted the opposite in sports. Whereas the working classes were in collaborative environments where they couldn’t advance as individuals. For them, sport had a more competitive ethos.”

After L.S.E., Giddens taught sociology at the University of Leicester, and there he met the German scholar Norbert Elias. A Jewish refugee whose work on the sociology of manners wasn’t noted until late in his life, Elias was possessed of a determination that impressed Giddens. “He was always working, and he behaved as if he were a world-famous scholar, when in fact he wasn’t,” Giddens says. “But then he eventually became as famous as he knew he should be.” Taking Elias’s example to heart, Giddens became a compulsive writer and churned out studies on the history of social theory at a furious pace. He has published a book (sometimes two) every year since 1970.

Giddens’s interest in contemporary sociology was sparked during a year he lived in Venice, California, while teaching at U.C.L.A. “It was 1968, and when I went to the Pacific Ocean for the very first time in my life the coast was lined with armed cops, and there were thousands of hippies strewn along the beach wearing all sorts of strange clothes,” he recalls. “It looked like the fall of the Roman Empire.” Until then, he had been fairly apolitical, accepting the vaguely leftish attitudes that were derigueur for sixties social scientists. “In Europe, although you might be radical in your politics it wouldn’t affect your life style, but in California people experimented with everything,” he says. “If you were politically radical, you had to be sexually radical and all the rest of it. I’d never seen an entirely experimental life style. It gave me a kick in the backside.” The notion that modernity is “experimental to its core” soon began popping up in his writings.

When Giddens looks at modernity, he sees a world in which the Enlightenment’s dream of mastery over nature, as it was articulated by Kant and Marx, has turned on itself. Where once it was thought that technological innovation would increase man’s leisure and beautify the world, we now have workaholics and ecological devastation. Giddens likens modernity to an enormous juggernaut, which crushes all those who resist it. “The ride is by no means wholly unpleasant or unrewarding; it can often be exhilarating and charged with hopeful anticipation,” he writes. But “we shall never be able to control completely either the path or the pace of the journey. In turn, we shall never be able to feel entirely secure, because the terrain across which it runs is fraught with risks of high consequence.”

Giddens argues that the concept of risk is a peculiarly modern one; in the Middle Ages, for instance, one simply believed that things “happened” according to the providence of God or nature. Modernity, in contrast, is characterized by the omnipresence of “manufactured risk,” man-made hazards that are the result of what man has done to nature, rather than what nature docs to man. The Frankenstein monsters of pollution, overcrowding, global warming, and techno-ennui-our creations, not nature’s–are out of control.

Living in a world of manufactured risk makes us extremely self-conscious; life becomes a series of complex calculations in which we “establish a portfolio of risk assessment” as we try to construct a viable identity. The decision to get married, for example, is affectcd by our knowledge of divorce statistics; the decision not to smoke or not to eat certain foods reflects our knowledge of scientific studies on the danger each presents. In a couple of conversations that took place this spring between Giddens and the billionaire financier (and L.S.E. graduate) George Soros, the two agreed that the fluctuations of the financial markets are a paradigm for the reflexive nature of our risk calculations. If it sounds as if Giddens is saying that modern citizens are amateur sociologists, he is. “Modernity is itself deeply and intrinsically sociological,” he writes, and it leaves the professional sociologist in the awkward position of being “at most one step ahead of enlightened lay practitioners of the discipline.”

It is commencement day at Cambridge, and the grounds look even more pristine than usual. Couples punt lazily along the Cam, and the royal flag flaps against a cloudless sky. Giddens and I tour the campus and end up at the Social and Political Sciences (S.P.S.) Faculty, in the old Cavendish Laboratory, where Ernest Rutherford, the man who split the atom, once worked. Little about the building seems to have changed since Rutherford’s time. The Maxwell Lecture Theatre, where Giddens taught, is a veritable church of science, its rows of hard, straight-backed wooden pews rising across from an experiment table encrusted with dials, fuses, switches, wheels, and buzzers. Even though the building is now the epicenter of social and political-not natural-science at Cambridge, members of the S.P.S. Faculty still have their urine checked regularly for traces of mercury.

Before Giddens joined L.S.E., he spent twenty-six years at Cambridge. His relationship to the class-bound university, like that of the social sciences in general, had always been somewhat ambivalent. Sociology didn’t become a recognized discipline at Cambridge until 1969. When Giddens was hired, a year later, it was still a fledgling “committee.” Yet it was an exciting time to be at a university whose staff included such scholars as Edward Shils, Raymond Williams, Quentin Skinner, and Frank Kermode. Giddens says he was never very attracted to the hallowed traditions of university life, preferring to spend his time writing. When he was not in his study, he might be spotted speeding about town in an Alfa Romeo. His disdain for Cambridge culture was not appreciated by some colleagues; they accused him of hypocritically snubbing the very system whose benefits he was enjoying. The political theorist John Dunn remembers that Giddens’s class consciousness was always an issue. “One afternoon, we were going to a seminar at Christ’s College, and as we walked through the entryway a porter turned to him and asked, ‘Excuse me, mate, are you making a delivery?’ I think Tony rather liked that.”

Giddens wrote most of his books while he was at Cambridge, including “The Constitution of Society” (1984), a methodological treatise in which he outlined his “structuration theory.” In essence, he argued that individuals create their social contexts even while being constrained by them. With structuration, Giddens tried to resolve the debate over whether society or the individual is the appropriate unit of analysis. By focusing on the dynamic relationship between the two, structuration theory laid out an analytical compromise.

Giddens acquired an international reputation, but it took fourteen years for Cambridge to promote him from lecturer to reader. Some of his colleagues disliked the interdisciplinary nature of his work and thought it thin and unduly broad, while others resented what they perceived to be his undeserved renown. “Tony and I had a contest for who could be passed over the greater number of times,” the economist Ajit Singh says. Giddens was finally promoted on his tenth consideration, in 1984. A year later, he edged out the presumed favorite candidate, Geoffrey Hawthorn, for the newly established permanent chair in sociology. Following Giddens’s appointment, Hawthorn published an essay in the London Review of Books attacking his work as “a bland rehearsal of what others have been saying for twenty years.” Another prominent sociologist accused Giddens of “purveying trendy waffle.” Many speculated that part of Giddens’s motivation in establishing the S.P.S. Faculty, which he did that same year, was a desire to find a more congenial base for himself at Cambridge. He spent the next twelve years reconciling the ancient institution to the new discipline. The skill with which he did so helped improve his relations with some of his colleagues. It also caught the eye of Labour Party leaders who were looking for pragmatic intellectuals.

Reading the British newspapers over the past few months, one got a feel for the paradoxes that characterize the Blair era. Just as Britain was handing the Crown Colony of Hong Kong over to the Chinese, there was speculation on whether Tony Blair might usurp Helmut Kohl’s role as the leader of the European Union. After initiating the process of parliamentary independence for Scotland and Wales, Blair renewed his communitarian call for the diverse population of Britain to come together as “one nation.? The first prime minister to address the Trades Union Congress in two decades, he startled the membership by warning that it must rethink its policies if it is to survive. Expansion and consolidation, radicalism and conservatism-these seemingly contradictory developments, Giddens argues, are characteristic of the exhaustion of received ideologies in a globalized world: left and right, the global and the local, become intertwined to the point where they are nearly indistinguishable. “Distant events may become as familiar, or more so, than proximate influences, and integrated into the frameworks of personal experience,” he writes. “The appearance, personality, and policies of a world political leader may be better known to a given individual than those of his next-door neighbour. A person may be more familiar with the debate over global warming than with why the tap in the kitchen leaks.”

As further examples of globalization, Giddens cites Blair’s support of the European Union’s Social Chapter (a package of basic workers’ rights), and the dynamics of Welsh and Scottish devolution. “Local nationalisms are a response to a globalizing process that allows you to situate your identity elsewhere,” he explains. “The Scots look to the E.U. in much the same way that the Catalonians do: they see themselves as part of the wider United Kingdom without restricting themselves to a single sovereignty. The result is a more cosmopolitan state, whose people have multiple identities. You will be able to be Scottish, British, and European.”

Giddens is deeply engaged in the debate among British intellectuals over whether New Labour’s openness to Europe, which he strongly supports, presages an enhanced global role for the country. ?The United Kingdom has historically played a mediating role between Europe and the United States,” he says, “and it is now more clear than ever that neither political model is satisfactory: it is no longer a choice between giving in to Europe or sticking to our origins. Blair understands that we are on the brink of a truly transnational, cosmopolitan society, which can simultaneously consolidate local democracies and produce a global order that is more than a mere free-trade bloc.”

The modem world, according to Giddens, is not only fully global but also “post-traditional,” a term he uses to mean that, though tradition endures in a society, it has lost the privileged status that once enabled it to trump all other contenders. Traditions must now justify themselves in the same manner as any other points of view. Everything is “constructed” in a post-traditional society, and nothing is “given”: one must choose every facet of one’s life, from the nature of one’s personal or sexual identity to one’s profession or religion. The tradition-minded days when a woman’s marriage prospects were calculated with an eye toward her family’s finances, or a man was expected to take up his father’s profession, are over. In a post-traditional world, men and women simply don’t have predefined natures. Even the decision to forgo the dizzing collection of options afforded by the modern world, and conform to the status quo ante, is itself a decision. “Individuals have no choice but to make choices,” he writes.

Politics is similarly redefined in a post-traditional society. According to Giddens, the ideological tenor of our times is as much a result of the collapse of conservative political thought as it is of the fall of Communism. The New Right ideology forged in the Reagan-Thatcher era has become internally contradictory by embracing the free-market capitalism that conservatism originally repudiated. On the one hand, the New Right is hostile to tradition but “on the other, it depends upon the persistence of tradition for its legitimacy and its attachment to conservatism-in areas of the nation, religion, gender, and the family,” he writes. In the meantime, socialists, once the mighty “vanguard of history,” have been reduced to defending the bare bones of the welfare state. “Conservatism become radical here confronts socialism become conservative,” he adds.

This simultaneous collapse of the right and the left clears the way, Giddens believes, for the resuscitation of what he calls “philosophic conservatism”-a tradition that he associates with the political theorist Michael Oakeshott, who taught at L.S.E. in the fifties and sixties. Now that conservatism has been shorn of its New Right trappings, the center-left can appropriate its concern for “conservation, restoration, and repair.” Giddens points to Europe’s Green movement as the prototype for the kind of post-ideological politics he advocates. By focusing on ecological issues of universal, transnational concern, the Greens have created a sustainable radical center, and whether their goals are achieved by way of left or right tactics doesn’t matter. “We should all become conservatives now,” Giddens writes, “but not in the conservative way.”

Back at L.S.E., I ask Giddens what he thinks New Labour’s legacy will be, and he answers that question by telling me about “The Two Tony Blairs”- a talk he gave recently at one of the stock taking symposia that seem to punctuate the passing of every week in Britain. “On the one hand, you have the Tony Blair who occupies the center, steals conservative policies, and replaces the Labour Party’s left-wing philosophy with a right wing one-a more humane version of Thatcherism,” Giddens says. In the days leading up to the election many intellectuals saw New Labour in exactly this way-an attitude best captured by Stuart Hall and Martin Jacques in an essay in the Observer entitled, “Tony Blair: The Greatest Tony Since Thatcher?”

“Tony Blair II,” Giddens continues, “is much more radical and free-thinking. He is genuinely working on the terrain that is beyond left and right, rather than opting for the right over the left. He is exploring the very question of what it means to be a radical modernizer who is concerned with social justice and equality but is mindful of the constraints placed on the state by a global market economy. The center-left doesn’t preclude radicalism. The radical center is an oxymoron only if you believe that the left and right still define all the worthwhile ideas and policies. I don’t, and I don’t think Blair does.” If Giddens’s ideas are to leave their mark on Great Britain, it will be only if Blair II triumphs.

Giddens says that his next book will be about Britain and the global society, but in the meantime he is searching for a way to summarize the radical ideological changes that are taking place today. “We need a popular name for the kind of political theory that is emerging now,” he says. “There was Communism, socialism, capitalism, Thatcherism, and we have something else now. It boils down to “a theory of social justice and individualism in the context of the global market society,” but we need a shorter name. Perhaps an acronym? I’ll have to think about that.