"There are too few champions for giving." Book Review: Our Common Good by John Nickson

Inequality is the defining and destructive characteristic of British society today, Nickson argues
June 20, 2017
Our Common Good: If the State Provides Less Who Will Provide More? by John Nickson (Biteback, £20)

This book focuses on how inequality is the defining and destructive characteristic of British society today. It poses the question: will future generations live in a liberal democracy—or a plutocracy devoted to the interests of the rich and powerful? John Nickson, a highly successful fundraiser, calls on us all to commit to creating the social, cultural and intellectual capital we need to sustain society and our economy.

He reminds us that young people face the prospect of being poorer than their parents, and while he scorns the general belief that taxation is a burden, he points out that state solutions tend to be clumsy and bureaucratic. He asks companies to stop focusing on short-term shareholder value but to contribute to the values of our society. He is optimistic about the potential of the voluntary sector and tells the stories of many remarkable people who dedicate themselves to the “common good.” He shows how social action is empowering, to the individual and to the communities that find solutions to the problems they face.

The book is peppered with stories of entrepreneurs who use their skills to help good causes. If more of us knew them, perhaps the stagnation in charitable giving would end. But despite our enormous increase in wealth in recent decades, there are few champions for giving. All of us could contribute money, talent, or time. It is the shared experience of contributing to that common good that sustains our democracy.