Lazarus is probably wrong to say that ""populist ideology has lost its original base among disadvantaged interest groups""...

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THE GENTEEL POPULISTS

Lazarus is probably wrong to say that ""populist ideology has lost its original base among disadvantaged interest groups"" in America. But what he says about the ""tiny elites"" now promoting ""genteel populism"" is highly interesting if also debatable. He stresses the absurdity of pressure politics to get the government to regulate unwholesome centers of power. Now a Washington lawyer, formerly an official of New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs and assistant to genteelpopulist hero Nicholas Johnson of the FCC, Lazarus has learned from experience, and from Prof. Gabriel Kolko, that regulation is rhetoric. Here he tells that to Nader and John Gardner and reminds us, too, just how little New Deal regulations achieved. Whether regulation is really the issue -- and why Gardner, et al. get big contributions, as he notes, from Ford and Rockefeller -- is not sufficiently explored. Lazarus goes on to present a positive strategy for the genteel populists: develop a ""public-interest law"" rather than daydreaming about mass movements; check power, don't try to take power. But how his program really differs from Nader's and Gardner's remains unclear. For instance when he commends the Consumers Union over Common Cause, he simply asserts that the former is more ""durable."" But his nuts-and-bolts commitment to making sure that promises are kept, and his historical sweep, both commend the book to anyone who flirts with, or sneers at, or reads about, the new populism.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1973