Power to the People

Ronald Reagan is often said to owe much to the “new right” and to count on its support in this year’s election. Exactly what he can count on is not clear. Like most labels in American politics, the “new right” stands for a mosaic of groups and programs whose parts …

Our Hearts Belong to Daddy

One of the most comforting images we have inherited from the nineteenth century is of authority: a sentimental picture of a kindly father, superimposed on the face of a boss or a political leader. This notion of authority was based on paternalism of a literal kind—the paternalism of fathers in …

The Boss’s New Clothes

At the end of 1984, Winston, the protagonist, is threatened with a device strapped on to his face so that rats can eat out his eyes. He collapses, betrays his lover, and gives himself over whole-heartedly to the wishes of the leaders. 1984 then concludes, “He had won the victory …

Surrender of the Will

The appearance of Konrad Lorenz’s On Aggression in 1966 set off a noisy debate: to what degree are men biologically disposed to kill or to maim each other? The debate is a phony one; in it biology is used to camouflage an argument which really concerns something else. There are …

Two on the Aisle

For a long time I have been reading with a mixture of dismay and admiration the work of Erving Goffman. He is an American sociologist who has created a method for analyzing face-to-face encounters and “role-playing.” His method called “dramaturgical interaction” analysis, is a radical departure in American sociology. Goffman …

Betrayed American Workers

“Welfare!” a bricklayer snorts. “Those lazy sluts having kids like it was a factory…. You don’t work, you don’t live, right?” Yet later, talking about his oldest boy: “Why should he bust his balls to go to work, let him take it easy for a while—I’ve done some drifting of …

Women: What Is to be Done?

In 1920 the German communist Clara Zetkin had a long talk with Lenin on the subject of women. Lenin railed against what now would be called the “consciousness-raising” groups radical women in Germany were then conducting: “The first state of proletarian dictatorship is battling with the counter-revolutionaries of the whole …

Survival of the Fattest

In every pessimist, it has been said, there lies an unshakable if unspoken idealism. As the erosion of national domestic policy in Washington proceeds according to plan, I wonder whether in the heart of every conservative “realist” or “pragmatist” lies an unshakable and unspeakable naïveté. Daniel P. Moynihan once remarked …

An Urban Anarchist

In the past twenty-five years American cities have become an enigma to the people who plan them. It is by now common wisdom that, as poor blacks and Puerto Ricans have moved into cities while more prosperous whites have moved away, the city has become the setting where unresolved national …