What is to be done?
By this time in the readings students should be aware that conservatives, liberals, and socialists all want change, more or less. The direction of this change is dependent on the ideals that these groups stand for. In this part of Is America Necessary? we will discuss and analyze conservative, liberal, and socialist strategies for change. In contrast to the rest of this book we will not hold strictly to our three basic perspectives. Rather, we will also discuss movements and ideas that cross-cut our three categories or fall outside of them. We feel this is necessary in order to come to an understanding of the subtleties of political strategies, and to comprehend the sources of opposition that any single strategy will bring forth from other groups. To answer the question, What is to be done in America? a student must come to terms with the fact that there are many sides to this issue. For students to reach their own conclusions as to what solutions there are to the problems of the United States a knowledge of the strategies of various groups, and their arguments against each other is useful. We have chosen groups that represent different political positions. They are by no means a complete catalogue of those offering political alternatives. Students should feel free to seek out the political groups in their area which can offer the opportunity to learn about their efforts or participate in their activities.
Conservatives hold that there is no real necessity for major change in American institutions.1 They believe in the maintenance of the free enterprise system as an idea, and in the strengthening of capitalism. Conservatives do not necessarily form special political groups to attain their purposes, although these groups do exist. Examples are the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Council, the Young Americans for Freedom, and the Republican Party. The corporations, law firms, banks, and other industries are the main institutions that can deal with whatever problems do exist. For special crises, committees representing these institutions are established. For example, after the riots of the 1960s in Watts, Detroit, and Washington D.C. the Urban Coalition was formed to bring disaffected people into the corporate structure. Training programs were established, banks loaned money to businessmen at special terms, and insurance companies put up capital for the construction of housing.2
Essentially, conservatives believe that the American political system, as it is constituted, must be strengthened. The problem as they see it is that if corporations are weakened, society as a whole will suffer. Corporate profits are the best indicators of the health of American society for if profits are good it is felt that benefits will trickle down to the rest of soci-