In Professor Robert J. Christen’s Comment on the NYCLU and the Ocean-Hill Brownsville dispute which so sadly shook that organization [DISSENT September–October 1969], he quotes me as calling for the ACLU “to go beyond the traditional civil liberties concerns to work for social and distributive justice” and “meaningful democratic participation.” Although the quotes are quite accurate, I think a few words may explain my meaning somewhat more than these two phrases.
To many of us, the central issue of our times is whether and how the members of a huge industrial society can obtain control over the political, economic, social, and other institutions which dominate their lives. We favor decentralization of schools, police, and other social organs, and strong welfare rights groups, tenants groups, and the like, for the same reason that most civil libertarians have traditionally supported union efforts to organize. Without such power, a...
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