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By Rexford G. Tugwell

Pub Date: March 27th, 1974
Publisher: Harper & Row

Tugwell's model Constitution evokes Brave New World images: it provides Overseers, a National Regulator, a National Watchkeeper, a Public Custodian, and an Intendant for Emergency Organization. Planning and regulation are given top priority, the power of the president is enhanced, citizens are assigned duties, and rights are guaranteed, except during a ""declared emergency."" Tugwell disdains the legislative branch, which not only has ""no possibility of creative leadership"" but persistently hampers the president. He wants to curb the Supreme Court too; the 1930's National Recovery Administration might have ""survived the sabotage and displeasure of the chiselers if the opposition of the Brandeis followers had not been so virulent."" The present Constitution, ""produced at an unfortunate time, in exigent circumstances and laced with compromise,"" is limited; the doctrine of separation of powers has bred ""caution, acrimony, blackmail, political compromise and subterfuge."" Economist Tugwell's proposed substitution unmistakably hearkens back to the corporatist thinking of the early New Deal, when he was an FDR braintruster and subsequently an Undersecretary of Agriculture. Seven hundred rambling, windy pages -- but in a period of national crisis the call for ""self-restraint"" and a more authoritarian structure may gain a considerable audience.