Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, edited by Max Rashbrooke (Bridget Williams Books, $39.99)
Review by Alison McCulloch
The idea that New Zealand is an egalitarian society has always been vulnerable to reality – and going by the current debate over the widening wealth gap, never more so than today. But while inequality might have worsened in recent years, the past was hardly an egalitarian nirvana.
In the late 1940s, the political scientist Leslie Lipson wrote what has been described as “the preeminent scholarly analysis of New Zealand’s political development”. Titled The Politics of Equality: New Zealand’s Adventures in Democracy, Lipson’s book (which was re-issued in 2011 by Victoria University Press) depicts a New Zealand where egalitarianism is a value prized above all others. “It is an ingrained equalitarian temper which dominates and regulates everything that happens in the community,” Lipson wrote. “Poverty is well nigh eradicated from the Dominion and in its worst forms does not exist at all. There is no underdog, nor is anybody exploited.” Read more »