An Immodest Agenda: Rebuilding America Before the 21st Century

An Immodest Agenda book cover

Sociologist Etzioni, now of George Washington U., was Carter's reindustrialization guru, and his plan for national salvation is reminiscently preoccupied with the cultural decay manifest in egocentrism and ""me-ism."" In this, he also accords with Moral Majority adherents;but he dissents from their primitivist and authoritarian solutions. To rebuild the decayed ""infrastructure"" necessary for a second economic take-off--the transportation, education, and energy systems--we will have to create institutions that foster ""mutuality"" and ""civility"" (i.e., a sense of the common good). Rather than leaving children to ""work through"" their ego-centered character formation, schools will have to engage in personality-shaping. (Etzioni's suggestions: more resources directed toward the lower levels of education; more work/study programs for teenagers.) Within the family, mutuality and civility can be engendered by ""basic parenting,"" which doesn't amount to much more than common sense. (This is the kind of tract in which people do not converse or discuss, they ""dialogue."" Sometimes they even ""megalogue."") Another predictable concern is consumerism, enemy of the deferred gratification requisite for reindustrialization; still another, the proliferation of social-service ""entitlements."" And piety is heaped upon piety as Etzioni writes that management should recognize the human needs of workers, while simultaneously deferring the ""quality of life society"" until after reindustrialization has been accomplished.

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