Book Review: David Goodhart (2013), The British Dream
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In his preface to the paperback edition of The British Dream, David Goodhart claims that many readers will approach the book with an opinion of it already formed by their preexisting position on immigration. Indeed, this controversial book has become something of a lightning rod for both opponents and supporters of stricter immigration controls for the United Kingdom. Progressives can argue that Goodhart has betrayed the notion of transnational solidarity in favour of exclusivism. Conservatives, meanwhile, are armed with data to suggest that the multicultural project has been a failure. Although it may be something of a pre-emptive deflection of criticism, Goodhart claims that he has been widely attacked in print and routinely accused of racism (p. x) since publishing the first edition of The British Dream. He fails to cite published examples of this accusation, but Goodhart at least deserves to have this charge dismissed from the outset. The British Dream could, in the hands of someone already predisposed to an idea of racial hierarchy, potentially be used to further a racist agenda. That would require, however, a determined distortion of its key arguments. In the most politically neutral terms available, these basically contend that post-war immigration to Great Britain has produced a mixed record of success and failure, with some immigrant groups becoming quickly and demonstrably prosperous, while others remain ‘stuck’ in a socio-economic underclass. To be clear, ‘race’ is not the key determining factor in these outcomes. Rather, the forces that do exert such influence are considerably more complex and highly specific to the context in which large-scale immigration occurs.
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