relaxed tolerance which is particularly attractive, and despite the recent decline most p e o p l e enjoy a standard of living greatly. in excess of that of the majority of the world's population: relatively few arc malnourished or illiterate.
There are other encouraging signs, including a growing awareness of the importance of environmental conservation, an increasing sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate, both at home and abroad, and. a greater willingness to launch out into community action in order to solve local problems.
Good examples of the latter include a workers' cooperative in a high unemployment area of Liverpool. the anti motorway cam-. paigns, and local housing action groups. "Local" is the key worct in all this activity.
Paradoxically, as the bureaucracy has extended and official decision-making has become increasingly centred in London, the regions of Britain have become livelier, net emigration of the young has declined. and in many places the arts are flourishing.
However, this optimism is not generally shared. On television recently, Peter Hall,
the director of the National' Theatre, said that Britain today was a "collapsing, pessimistic and nihilistic society". His view epitomises the general gloom that is so prevalent at present.
There is indeed much to be gloomy about. Unemployment continues to rise, the number of homeless people has doubled in the last 10 years. violence is on the increase, Third World trading opportunities are ignored, and racism is again rearing its ugly head.
This renewed threat of racism is particularly alarming. In part it undoubtedly feeds off economic ills such as high unempleyment, but the confidence with which people with racist views express publicly what -perhaps they have thought privately for years is deeply disturbing.
Unless thdse of us who actually believe in the multiracial society are prepared to stand up and be counted in its defence. then the freedom of all of us, black and white alike, will be severely threatened.