Without Justice for All: The New Liberalism and Our Retreat from Racial Equality

Without Justice for All: The New Liberalism and Our Retreat from Racial Equality

Without Justice for All: The New Liberalism and Our Retreat from Racial Equality

Without Justice for All: The New Liberalism and Our Retreat from Racial Equality

Synopsis

In recent years, America's political and policy leaders have reshaped the nation's approach to race and equality. Our current political orthodoxy has turned away from the long held view that structural forces in our economy, public policies, and history serve to reinforce our nation's inequalities. This new cadre of leaders favors the perception that most inequalities are the results of defects or miscalculations by the minorities or inner city populations most affected. But have these changing notions of race in America served to shape the current patterns and definitions of inequality for better? Or for worse? Without Justice for All: The New Liberalism and Our Retreat from Racial Equality questions, examines, and explains the way a new orthodoxy of American leaders has contributed to the social stratification and inequality which plagues America today. By looking at the history of our social policies since the New Deal, as well as the status of specific policy arenas, contributors show how political shifts over the past fifty years have moved us away from a more egalitarian politics. Throughout, the central thread is a critical response to a now conventional argument that liberalism must be reconfigured in ways that retreat from immediate identification with the interests of labor, minorities, and the poor. From a look at federal housing policy and the failure of New Deal social programs to an examination of long established public assistance programs and Affirmative Action, Without Justice for All, written for both students and general readers, is timely and important contribution to the dialogue on race in modern America.

Excerpt

Adolph Reed Jr.

This book comes together as a direct challenge to a rightward- tacking narrative that has gained currency in American liberal politics in general and the Democratic Party in particular. Partly spurred by Reaganism's success in the 1980s, this narrative has become an orthodoxy--if not a hegemonic ideology--in the 1990s. In this New Liberal orthodoxy, liberals and leftists have lost favor with the American electorate because they have moved away from the American people and have become too closely identified with "special interests." These special interests typically are held to include the labor movement, feminists, gays, secularists, civil libertarians, poor people, and nonwhite minorities, especially blacks. The punch line in this narrative is that restoring liberal, or Democratic, credibility requires establishing distance from these supposedly "marginal" constituencies and appealing to a "mainstream" American voter. In this context, mainstream means relatively well-off, white, and male, in some combination or another. Militant devotion to this mainstream is a symbolic meeting ground for several tendencies that rest uneasily within a Democratic Party that has become the institutional home of left-liberal politics since the decline of the activist movements of the 1960s.

From one direction, a neoliberal element would recast liberal politics along lines that break with the Keynesian pragmatism and pluralist public budgeting that has defined the liberal-progressive axis in American politics since the New Deal. This neoliberatism either . . .

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