Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker review – life is getting better

Now is the best time to be alive claims this bold defence of scientific rationality – if it matters, we’ll solve it

How do you write a manifesto for something that is already established? This might sound like a problem that confronts conservatives, but over the past 20 years or so it has become more of a riddle for progressives. One response is provided by the movement known as “new atheism”, which successfully assembled a band of science-loving devotees, but too often seemed to end up in a cul-de-sac of stale machismo and Islamophobia.

More pertinently, the failed 2016 campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Remain demonstrated that, in the eyes of many people, “progress” simply meant more of the same. When people feel trapped and patronised by progress, then any alternative – even regress – will feel like freedom. Informing them that the policies of the past 40 years are ...