THE GANG AND THE ESTABLISHMENT by Richard W. Posten

THE GANG AND THE ESTABLISHMENT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

How the OEO, the Astor Foundation, the Youth Corps, Columbia University, the Department of Labor, Hubert Humphrey and other New Frontier-Great Society liberal dupes were took by Chino, Angelo, Papo and other hustlers from West Side Story to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Actually it all began on Manhattan's Lower East Side when some ex-rumblers and jailbirds who had reformed (more or less) set themselves up as the ""Real Great Society"" with a self-appointed mission to save other street kids via community action programs including a ""university of the streets,"" art galleries, karate schools, night clubs, day-care centers and small businesses of, by, and for erstwhile teenage hoods. Not that Chino and Angelo and their middle-class cohorts didn't believe in their grandiloquent dreams. They did; and touring the country they were wined and dined from Harvard to Washington, D.C.,as bearers of the glad tidings ""juvenile delinquency in New York is dead."" Like Topsy they grew into YOU (Youth Organizations United) a coast to coast association of street gangs peddling their social conscience to the highest bidder. Despite chaotic administration, embezzlement, waste and more waste, the ""elaborate game of myth-making between the gang and the establishment"" continued till someone pushed the panic button. Author Posten of Southern Illinois University traveled with them and marveled at it all. Once a true believer, he says even now that he doesn't question the sincerity or idealism of the RGS and its counterparts: just the reality principle behind all the exuberant grant-making. However ""what is needed. . . is a careful examination case by case"" of the potentialities of each gang -- which is exactly what the book doesn't provide. Despite Posten's protestations of friendly intentions he has written an ill-documented expose which can be used as a bludgeon by anyone with a vendetta against ghetto youth and (what's left of) the Poverty Program.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1971
Publisher: Harper & Row