THE FUTURE OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT: Toward the Year 2000 by Harvey S. -- Ed. Perloff


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A first series of final reports by the Year 2000 Commission of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on institutional problems and decisions to be faced by the U.S. government. The contributors self-consolingly predict flowering pluralism, a broad international role for the U.S., two-party politics, racial conciliation, greater local participation in government -- in a word, the status quo. Nothing about some issues that are pressing to many Americans today: lack of decent education, housing, jobs, careers, health services; the debasement of culture; falling incomes; labor struggles; the Vietnam War; the environment; and the collapse of developing nations' economies. The commentators include Herman Kahn, Representatives John Brademas of Indiana and Henry Reuss of Wisconsin, Martin Myerson, President of the University of Pennsylvania, and Rexford Tugwell; most of them predict an increase in ""ideology"" -- appropriately enough, the book is introduced by Daniel Bell, the man who ended ideology in the 1950's. But Bell sums up the content well: the U.S. is entering the ""communal society"" in which public decision-making is increasingly ""non-market"" and ""the definition of social rights is made in group rather than individual terms""; communal is synonymous with ""post-industrial"" which means a great expansion in service industries and the multiversity. Embellishing this banal theme, Herman Kahn predictably foresees the strains and stresses of America's great international responsibilities, Tugwell revives some of his 1930's visions about an organic constitution and the duties as well as rights of citizens, and other prophets speak of female attorney generals, public copulation, death rays, silent guns, suburban riots, and girls and pot at AAAS meetings. All this sandboxing on the part of these academic heavies should prove an embarrassment to both the AAAS and the participants.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1971
Publisher: Braziller