MAXIMUM FEASIBLE MISUNDERSTANDING by Daniel Moynihan

MAXIMUM FEASIBLE MISUNDERSTANDING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The title is a play on the clause ""maximum feasible participation,"" which local poor people were supposed to have in the War on Poverty's community action programs. In his article in the Republican Papers, Moynihan discussed future possibilities. Here he confines himself to an intricate, strenuously disengaged reconstruction of administrative disaster and the hodgepodge of designs, agencies, goals and misconceptions that went into its making. Given to urbane excursus on intellectual history and the difference between ""Washington"" and ""New York"" mentalities, Moynihan examines the professionalization of reform and the changed nature of city politics. The effect of the book is to confirm the wisdom of the trend away from a college of federal programs. But it stands independently as evidence for Moynihan's claim that social engineering applied with hubris will frustrate the expectations it raises, and develop a wild logic of its own -- as witness the Mobilization For Youth affair, which he chronicles at length. It's a fascinating critique of ""the arrogance of rationality"" by a pragmatic rationalist who proves himself one jump ahead and has already jumped on to the front page of the New York Times via previews of this book.

Pub Date: Feb. 3rd, 1969
Publisher: Macmillan