To the Editor:
Nathan Glazer’s critical review of the first issue of Social Policy [Books in Review, August] is thoughtful, relatively fair, and very helpful to us at Social Policy. However, since no single issue of a magazine can display all of its characteristics, a review after the first three or four issues would have been more meaningful. Then Mr. Glazer would have had the opportunity to consider an entire issue of Social Policy devoted to health policy under the editorship of Sumner Rosen; Mario Fantini’s new proposals for education in the 70′s; Harriet Johnson’s analysis of “learning through teaching” programs and their policy implications for institutional change in the schools; a symposium on strategies for social change including Edgar Friedenberg, Bennett Berger, and others; Bertram Gross’s highly original model of American fascism entitled “Can Fascism Happen Here?”; a report on health services in Cuba; a debate on the relevance of imperialism to contemporary America which includes Harry Magdoff, Roy Bennett, and Robert Heilbroner; and an interview with Betty Friedan on Sexual Politics. . . .
We think these articles represent what Social Policy is: a magazine about the human services and their necessary reorganization in the United States. Mr. Glazer does not mention the basic focus of Social Policy as stated in the first issue, which is on the human services and the movements committed to making basic changes in them—the welfare rights groups, the community-control forces, the black and other minority movements, women’s liberation, insurgent professionals and students, and trade unions employing workers in the public sector. We feel that in the 70′s the human services are becoming increasingly important to the total economy, both in the employment of labor and in the consumption of services. . . .
Mr. Glazer seems to think that we are not interested in specific programs in the fields of health, education, welfare, and the like. As I indicated above, the Fantini article, as well as the “learning through teaching” article, are specifically directed toward educational policy; the health issue as a whole is devoted to such questions; and, of course, we think that Charles Wilson’s article on IS 201 in the first issue is some what related to educational policy. . . .
For some reason Mr. Glazer chose to ignore the important article in the first issue by Alvin Gouldner on the radical caucus in sociology, and although he chides us for ignoring the very important health field, he overlooks entirely the interview on health with Core’s Roy Innis that is presented in the first issue. (Though perhaps Innis does not qualify as a properly-credentialed professional.)
Mr. Glazer finds it peculiar that I am presumably disenchanted by the advocacy of change within special institutions since I played a major role in “thinking up and launching precisely such reforms” during the last administration. I hope I am permitted to change and grow. But I think it’s also worth noting that the administration has changed to one that now seems committed to a deep human-services recession.
In essence, what Mr. Glazer seems to be saying is that Social Policy does not deal with social policy the way the Public Interest does. . . . He says there should be two, three, or many journals dealing with social policy, but I wonder whether he thinks they shouldn’t all look a lot like the Public Interest, and in any case, he seems to feel they should be evaluated by the criteria of how closely they match the Public Interest.
Some have said that Social Policy is a Left Public Interest. I don’t think so. I think we have a different agenda, a different relationship to the movements for social change. While we are interested in public policy in relation to health, education, welfare, etc., we are not simply concerned with providing a Left angle on these questions to which the Public Interest provides a more conservative and elitist angle. We are concerned much more about the movements for big social change and how social policy is shaped and influenced by constituencies. . . .
New York City
To the Editor:
In his haste to defend his colleagues, Nathan Glazer misread our piece on the Public Interest. Otherwise, he would not have been at all “surprised [by] the charge” that, in the main, the Public Interest has accented more the professional in professional reform. Nowhere does Mr. Glazer mention professional reform—a term, we duly noted, that Daniel Moynihan coined in the first issue of the Public Interest—but, instead, he does battle with the mere concept of professionalism. Our criticism was directed against the technocrat as an elite reformer. Moreover, contrary to Mr. Glazer’s comments, we did state that the Public Interest published articles on community movements—all of which were hostile. The point of our remarks, of course, was to show how this breed of professional reformer resists lay movements seeking to shape policy.
Maurice R. Berube
Institute for Community Studies
Flushing, New York
To the Editor:
Who is Nathan Glazer? Why does he put white racism in parentheses? Is he trying to deny its existence even though he benefits from it in economic terms? Who assigned him the right to evaluate my standards of logic and coherence without providing alternate evidence?
His attempted review of my article without dealing with and confounding his own “I” institution substantiates the theme of my statement: those who benefit from the privilege of white skin automatically disqualify themselves as scientific humanists. He ends by suggesting that “no one who knows anything of the field” is in agreement. The article was not written to secure agreement—or tenure—or a contract—or credentials—or admission to white society.
New York City
Nathan Glazer writes:
I hope I will not be considered to have finked out on my proper duty as a controversialist if I sidestep any lengthy response to these letters, particularly since, in a forthcoming issue of COMMENTARY, I have an opportunity to develop at length the point of view from which I criticized the first issue of Social Policy. Naturally, I look forward as an interested reader to further issues, and to the various things Frank Riessman promises, but as I envisage forthcoming issues from his letter, I don’t think it changes the main issue drastically. In a word, the point at issue between us is whether one can approach social policy fruitfully primarily from the point of view of the reform or revolutionary social movements of clients, or patients, or the poor, or however one denominates the subjects of social policy; or whether, as I believe, the key issues of social policy are increasingly set by economic and social limits that cannot easily be moved by these movements. I think the evidence increasingly constrains us to the second position; I refer the reader to my forthcoming article.