THE DREAM AND THE NIGHTMARE by Myron Magnet

THE DREAM AND THE NIGHTMARE

The Sixties' Legacy to the Underclass
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 In a vivid, pointed, disturbing analysis, Magnet (Senior Fellow/Manhattan Institute for Policy Research; editorial board/Fortune magazine) attributes current economic problems to the cultural revolution of the 60's, to the social policies devised by the ``Haves'' (rich, liberal, professional) for the ``Have-nots'' (poor, black, underclass). The materialism and poverty of the 80's, Magnet says, stem from the moral collapse of the 60's, the ``trashing'' of values such as truth, justice, democracy, hard work, deferred gratification, sobriety, thrift, and a sense of personal responsibility--the very values that the poor, the author contends, need in order to improve themselves. In their place, the Haves evolved social programs such as the War on Poverty, public housing, court-enforced busing, welfare, and affirmative action, all of which contributed to a culture in which the Have-nots were rewarded for being victims--protected, excused, and offered special privileges that further eroded their ability to improve themselves. In place of basic skills, the Have-nots got Black Studies, racial quotas, and multiculturalism. The Haves enjoyed a certain moral gratification, Magnet argues, by extending to the Have-nots their own rebellion against convention and repression, their sexual liberation, and their ``no-fault'' alternative lifestyles--which further eroded the ability of the poor to improve themselves and which deprived them of the incentive to work. The author's advice: Eliminate welfare, quota-based affirmative action, and ``Afro- centric'' education; get rid of the ``bums'' littering our public spaces; and develop a sense of personal responsibility. By dividing the world as he does, Magnet leaves out the Have- a-littles, the Used-to-haves, the Will-have-and-will-use-it-wells- -plus many more, including those who practice the moral values he believes are irretrievably lost. This is a book that drives at its point so narrowly as to cut it off from a wider reality.

Pub Date: March 22nd, 1993
ISBN: 0-688-11951-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993