Pullman argues that fiction is a school that can teach us to be better people, but it is under assault from fundamentalists and post-modernists. Not to speak of The Market, stupidity, and the decay of the environment.
But chin up.
We should read books, and tell children stories, and play music, as if it would make a difference. While believing that art as the school of morals is probably doomed we should act as if it were not. We should act as if we were going to win.