The Potowmack Institute

There is no one source on the rightwing movement and its role in contemporary politics. Other sources are listed on in The Rightwing Movment and Resources file. These include:
Sidney Blumenthal, Rise of the Counter-Establishmnet
John Saloma, Ominous Politics
"Feeding Trough," A Job is a Right Campaign
"Buying a Movement," People for the American Way
"Moving a Public Policy Agenda," The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

Other perspectives on libertarian ideologies portray the ideological conflicts in the rightwing movement are provided at:
"Big Sister is Watching You," National Review, 1957. Whittaker Chambers reviews Ayn Rand.
"Libertarians & Conservatives," National Review, 1979. Ernest van der Haag critiques the libertarian fantasy from the perspective of a national security cold warrior.
"Libertarianism or Libertinism?," National Review, 1969. Frank S. Meyer.

Other Potowmack Institute files that provide a context with regard to the gun lobby:
"What does the NRA want?"
The Rule of Law
Charton Heston Speaks

Peter Brown provides another perspective. One thing that is important and different here is the portrayal of the methods of analysis of the so-called "liberal" opposition to the rightwing movement. In the face of a rightwing movement that is aggressive and purposeful, the approach involves no values, vision or overarching program. It is scientific and objective. It produces analysis and bureaucracy not political leadership. This same approach has its paralleled in the strategy of gun control organizations to address gun violence. Rather than raise issues of fundamental political values and lead a public debate that would raise consciousness on the relationships between citizen and state and individual and community and on public authority, the obligations of citizenship, and the just powers of government, the gun control organizations are in court trying to establish a legal doctrine of "abnormally dangerous activity" that can be applied to gun manufactures and gun dealers in liability suits. Along side of this are the efforts of the public health lobby to promote gun safety. We hear much these days about trigger locks as if trigger locks are the central issue. Either the approach is limited by the policy tools available or they are afraid they will lose the argument. Or, the centrist foundations that fund the gun control and public health lobby have decided that this is where the political struggle will be contained. These strategies produce a false progun/antigun polarization. The news media and politicians are not willing to break out of the polarization.

We provide here Brown's first chapter which describes the failure of method. Other chapters describe the flaws in the rightwing/libertarian framework of understanding social, moral and political life and formulates a doctrine of public trust derived from John Locke whose The Second Treatise of Government was the primary manual of the American Revolution. We will provide additional chapters when we can.

Restroring the Public Trust

Peter G. Brown, Beacon Press,1994.
[Order From Amazon Today]

©1994 by Peter G. Brown, All rights reserved.
Used with permission


Part I: Loss of Faith in Government
and the Crisis in Political Theory

1. The Sources of Disillusion
2. Justifying the Conservative Revolution
3. What's Wrong with the Right
4. The Failure of Market Failures

Part II: Restoring the Public Trust
5. The Public Trust 6. Restoring Government and Preserving Persons
7. How to Stop Wasting Our Children's Heritage
8. Paying for a Sustainable, Responsible Society

Chapter 1

The Sources
of Disillusion

The intellectual debate has been framed in our terms.

—EDWIN J. FEULNER, JR., in forward to
Mandate for Leadership III

It is no coincidence that a crisis of public faith in government coincided with the end of the Reagan/Bush administrations, embodying as they did ideas that denigrated government. These administrations pursued policies that actively dismantled effective government programs, condemning on ideological grounds any government role at all in providing certain forms of public service employment, legal services to the poor, and public transit programs like Conrail. They reduced both the federal role in public housing and benefits to individuals. Under administration proposals, fewer people were eligible for assistance, and those who were saw unemployment benefits reduced, income support limited, and school lunch programs cut back. 1 The Reagan administration also attempted massive cuts in social security. 2

Nevertheless, when they came to power, those administrations were enormously popular across a wide range of the electorate, and liberal politicians were not seen as offering an alternative vision. Why did voters install administrations that led eventually to such disillusionment? A bit of history is in order.


There are at least two conventional accounts of how a philosophy centered around the idea that a free market should be the centerpiece of public policy came to play a pivotal role in the 1980s. The account emphasized by conservatives focuses on the macrohistorical events of the 1970s. Jimmy Car-

5 The Sources of Disillusion

ter, the last nominally liberal president, so this story goes, simply did not have the policy tools at his disposal to deal with the nation's problems. The old liberal framework dating back to Franklin Roosevelt was reaching the end of its useful life. Supply-side economics—the idea that to achieve economic growth we should concentrate on stimulating capital investment rather than consumer demand—appeared to fit nicely with the underlying rationale of a capitalist-oriented minimal state. A vast tax cut could serve as a necessary antidote to the problems of unemployment and inflation by increasing savings and productivity The predicted surge in economic activity would fund a defense buildup that was taken to be an essential response to the Soviets and increase our ability to respond to brushfire wars around the world. Events convinced people that conservative solutions were called for.

The second account emphasizes the personal charm of Ronald Reagan, the hero of Hollywood Westerns that glorify a golden age, a tall, handsome, uncomplicated man from the Golden State. George Bush carried on the Reagan legacy, combining the halo of Reagan's anointed successor with clever market-oriented campaign tactics. According to this account, it was not the conservative ideology that was decisive, but personalities and tactics. Liberals find this account congenial because it does not threaten the idea that the nation is still fundamentally liberal and because it does not highlight the failures of their own policies and their lack of a coherent political philosophy.

There is something to both these explanations of the failure of liberalism, and the success of the Right. But, if we limit our analysis to the surface of these narratives, we miss the deeper structure and meaning of these events. To understand how our political vocabulary has come to be structured and impoverished, we need to set these subplots in the context of broader intellectual and historical trends. The election of Governor Clinton has by no means fully reversed these trends.

The intellectuals who have helped create and influence public policy over the past several decades have embraced and reinforced misleading doctrines about social science and the relations between policy and values. It is these doctrines that assured a vacuum into which the ideas of the Right were able to move and that continue to hamper the Democratic party in articulating a philosophy of governance. The Right's ability to influence, and even control, the intellectual agenda that shapes public policy is a story of victory by default, a story of inaction and narrow horizons on the part of the Left, inaction that has surely contributed to public apathy toward

4 Loss of Faith in Government and the Crisis in Political Theory

national politics. This is a default that is driven, as we shall see, by misleading ideas central to the very disciplines from which one would have expected sustained criticism-liberal social science that focuses on public policy and liberal political philosophy.


It is hard to imagine that even his most committed friends would accuse Ronald Reagan of a scholarly bent. Yet, by the time he took office, he had a full-blown intellectual agenda—built by scholars—for a sweeping reform of the government. That agenda was well worked out, well articulated, and fully detailed—the brainchild of a handful of individuals who set out to change the terms in which public policy was debated. One of those individuals was Joseph Coors, who in 1973 established the Heritage Foundation, the self-described "Washington based . . . public policy research institution dedicated to the principles of free competitive enterprise, limited government, individual liberty and a strong national defense." 3 According to Sidney Blumenthal, "Heritage was begun with a $250,000 grant from Colorado Brewer Joseph Coors. ... Heritage counts on new money, mostly from the Sunbelt. The self-made men, who view themselves as rugged individuals on an economic frontier . . . view the Liberal Establishment as a foreign, occupying power." 4 It was the Heritage Foundation that in 1981 published Mandate for Leadership, a comprehensive conservative agenda for the new administration.

As Greg Easterbrook reports, Coors was one of a small group:

Horowitz, a former liberal who underwent an intense conversion to the Right, was the general counsel of the Office of Management and Budget early in the Reagan years. A lawyer himself; Horowitz was one of those who spearheaded the attempt to undercut the Legal Services Corporation. Scaife, Coors, and the Olin and Smith Richardson foundations are all substantial donors to the Heritage Foundation.

A noteworthy feature of the Heritage Foundation is its overtly ideological character. It self-consciously set out to support a right-wing view of the world and to develop a political agenda to fit that view. Burton Pines, a

5 The Sources of Disillusion

vice-president at Heritage, has frankly admitted this political mission: "We're not here to be some kind of Ph.D. committee giving equal time. Our role is to provide conservative public-policy makers with arguments to bolster our side." 6 Heritage is a starker version of the nominally more mainstream American Enterprise Institute (whose swerve from the Right toward the political center nearly brought about its extinction). Organizations like the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage, and the Cato and Hoover institutes have been able to formulate a value-based foundation of ideas for public policy that resonates deeply to our circumstances and history. 7 Those ideas speak to, and apparently fill, the deep hunger of many people for clear-cut notions of right and wrong. They provide a political philosophy from which one can take one's bearings, a philosophy that tells us a story about where we came from and where we should be going. As Easterbrook notes,

The map provided by these institutions is a combination of market oriented thought, derived from academics like Milton Friedman, and social conservatism, much of which finds its home in religious fundamentalism. The free market advocates see the modern state as interfering with properly operating markets. The religious Right sees the state—or the liberal state, at any rate—as illegitimately affecting moral choice: inappropriately allowing choice in such matters as (legal) abortions and pornography and limiting choice in such matters as school prayer. 9 This coalition of free market and religious conservatives is an uneasy alliance: the libertarian ideas of free market advocates can be at odds with social conservatives' demands for state action on issues like abortion and school prayer. But the social conservatives invariably turn to free market economists for guidance on large-scale questions of how the government should approach the economy and social programs, and it is market theorists who dominate thinking about policy on the Right.

As the cold war came to an end in the late 1980s and the centrally planned economies unraveled in the early 1990s, these conservative think tanks were ready to engage in exporting their ideas around the globe. For ex-

6 Loss of Faith in Government and the Crisis in Political Theory

ample, in September 1990, the Cato Institute, along with various Soviet institutions, sponsored a conference called "Transition to Freedom: The New Soviet Challenge" in Moscow. 10 At the conference, Cato president Edward H. Crane echoed the now familiar themes: "When looking to the west you must reject those who promote democratic socialism, . . . or even the so-called mixed economy of the United States. Yours is a unique opportunity to reject all forms of statism, whether in its most pernicious form, communism, or in its more insidious form, the mixed economy." 11

While the Right was investing millions of dollars in articulating a philosophically coherent approach to policy—and spelling out and selling the programs that followed from it—the Left was making no comparable effort. One reason that liberals failed to respond to what turned out to be a real threat was political complacency. They did not rally because they thought they had won: they saw problems with the liberal agenda as failures of technique. If a housing program was not working, it was just that it had not been tinkered with enough. You only had to try hard enough. And, as long as you kept trying, you would be rewarded with office. Investing in theory was not necessary. Frank Thomas, for example, who took over as president of the trend-setting, historically liberal Ford Foundation in 1979, and who had successfully run the effort to revitalize the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, explicitly turned away from an emphasis on social science research and toward action. The foundation withdrew or reduced its support for projects like computer models of the economy and detailed analysis of the costs of transportation systems and concentrated instead on efforts that would demonstrably help the poor. Disillusioned with the excessive promises of social scientists and theorists, Thomas wanted to concentrate on things that worked. We knew, it seemed, how the world should be—the problem was just getting there.

This self-confidence is not difficult to understand. The liberal agenda set forth in the I960s by Kennedy and Johnson had remained relatively undisturbed during the Nixon and Ford presidencies. Carter seemed to reaffirm the basic message. No investigation of an alternative underlying, organizing, and legitimating ideology seemed necessary since there was little substantial disagreement within the liberal establishment about the fundamental direction that policy should take. The result was that the political activities and doctrines of the Right and their popularity with the nation's voters were largely ignored by the Left.

But forces other than political inattention were at work, too. Liberal intellectuals themselves had given up on the job of providing an overarch-

7 The Sources of Disillusion

ing, but concrete, political vision. This is not to say that there were not many liberal thinkers working; on problems of public policy. By around 1985, the roster of nominally left-oriented think tanks had expanded considerably. In the early 1980s, new organizations with a moderate to liberal orientation had emerged in Washington, D.C.: the (Center on National Policy, the Roosevelt Center, the Policy Exchange, and the Economic Policy Institute. Others grew up in New York and on the West Coast, all of them less dominated by economics than the older institutions like Brookings, although they were still staffed by professional social scientists. As Robert Kuttner noted in 1985, "To judge by the recent proliferation of think tanks, institutes and policy councils, the Democratic Party is ablaze with thought." 12

Even this frenzy of activity, however, led to virtually no progress in solving; the problem of providing an overall framework for setting the direction of policy. No political philosophy was produced or even referred to. As Kuttner wrote,

What went wrong? How could we have spent so much—and worked so hard-but come up with so little?

The people who work for such organizations as Brookings, the Urban Institute, and Resources for the Future, on which the proliferation liberal think tanks were modeled, have a certain understanding of what proper research looks like. Dominated by the canons of economics and political science, research within these institutions must be "objective," and to be acceptably objective means to be value free. Where the Heritage Foundation supports research to underpin policies that will enhance individual liberty, the new and the old liberal think tanks in the tradition of Brookings insist that objective reports must avoid value judgments. 14 Since the ques-

8 Loss of Faith in Government and the Crisis in Political Theory

tion of what values we ought to hold is deemed beyond the purview of legitimate inquiry, institutions in the Brookings tradition have a lot to say about means, but not much about ends. Their fundamental and mistaken assumption about values undercuts their contribution since policy is unavoidably about what we ought to do.

Why do the social scientists in liberal policy organizations refuse to consider, argue for, and defend the values that are inherent in policy? Why do they insist on this understanding of objectivity? The answer derives from several mutually reinforcing sources.

The first source is the intellectual tradition in which public policy research grew up. The Brookings Institution was founded in 1927 at the instigation of Robert S. Brookings, a businessman, by a merger of two preexisting institutions, to advise the government about matters of public policy. 15 Brookings was concerned that effective governance increasingly involved the ability to understand and control the economy and therefore could be achieved only with accurate information. According to Donald Critchlow,

Brookings was founded in the salad days of the public administration movement. As the name of the movement suggests, public administration was concerned with the logistics of carrying out government programs. The logic of the discipline depended on a hard distinction between facts and values. Values were the domain of the legislative body, or elected officials generally, and administrators were involved with carrying out instructions, not with setting a value-based agenda. 17 Interestingly, what role explicitly value-laden issues would play surfaced early and in the person of Brookings himself. A profound difference arose between Brookings, as founder, and the institute's first president, economist Harold G. Moulton. Critchlow reports that, in 1932, "Brookings wrote to Moulton imploring him to have the institution address the problems of inequality in the current

9 The Sources of Disillusion

system." But the founder was not to prevail. A crippling orthodoxy had already established itself:

As for a second source, the denigration of values suggests that, probably unknowingly, policy intellectuals within the mainstream have embraced the "emotive theory of values" defended in the I920s by the linguistic philosopher A. J. Ayer. 19 From the perspective of this theory, statements such as "Murder is wrong" are merely expressions of the emotions of the utterer. They are not statements that can be true or false about the world, making "objectivity" about values impossible. This theory has long since been universally rejected by philosophers, including Ayer himself. But, given the compartmentalization of academic disciplines in the United States, this rejection would likely be startling news to many mainstream social scientists. Whatever its philosophical underpinnings, the emotion-based understanding of value screens out the kind of research that must be undertaken if the Left is to formulate a coherent alternative to the value-based program of the Right.

A third factor contributing to the values vacuum is the insecurity of the social sciences. The physical sciences and biological sciences have an enviable rigor. They explain a great deal, and their predictions are remarkably accurate. Social scientific explanations, on the other hand, are limited, often seeming only to redescribe the events for which one is seeking an explanation. The predictions of even the most robust of the social sciences—economics—are notoriously uncertain, and all but the most die-hard economists have softened claims about being able to fine-tune the economy. Many social scientists have reacted to these disciplinary limitations by trying to emulate the physical sciences. Questions of value are seen as contentious and subjective. The only path to rigor, it is believed, is to concentrate on falsifiable matters of fact, preferably facts that are quantifiable.

This emphasis on quantifiability has had an important indirect effect on our political agenda and is related to a fourth tendency that makes a critique of the Right by liberal social scientists difficult. Of the policy-relevant social sciences, the one that is most amenable to numerical techniques is econom-

10 Loss of Faith in Government and the Crisis in Political Theory
ics. Because of the intellectual challenge of the discipline, and because of its greater predictive powers, economics has achieved a privileged position among the social sciences. The real "pros" at many think tanks are the numerically sophisticated economists. They see the policy problems of the world through the lens of their discipline, and that means that they take the market as their fundamental point of departure for thinking about public policy. As a consequence, whatever their personal values may be, they have a disciplinary orientation that makes it especially difficult to mount criticisms of the free market philosophy of the Right. The conceptual tools provided by their education and by their profession simply do not suggest an alternative perspective. That the commitment to the market framework is itself founded on a set of incomplete and tacitly assumed values is simply not acknowledged by most researchers. Economics blocks the development of moral argument about what public policy should be in another way, through its emphasis on the role of self interest in human motivation. Many economists deny the very idea of the public interest, seeing the use of the term as merely a cover for private interests. They cut themselves off from any grounds on which to oppose private interests except other private interests. That private interests do in fact masquerade as public interests is true, but this does not alter the nihilistic consequences of denying that the concept the public interest has meaning. 20

Fifth, and ironically, this understanding of objectivity and its emphasis on quantifiability is reinforced by a value commitment inherent in a liberal orientation, a commitment to tolerance. Values (other than tolerance itself, which is taken as exempt from the relativism of other values) are personal and private, to be protected from public intrusion. The state may not legitimately interfere with sexual preference, religious beliefs, leisure time, or one's sense of fairness. Within a liberal social science framework of tolerance, this protection of privacy and diversity is generalized to a global conclusion that no matters of value are the proper domain of public attention and public policy. Thus, it is thought that, even if discussing them were not scientifically irrelevant, there is sufficient moral reason to leave values outside the purview of policy discussion.

The result of all this is that, despite the vast amount of money spent by think tanks and the large numbers of talented people employed in them, the liberal and centrist institutions have by and large been crippled in setting out an adequate framework for public policy. Denying themselves the

11 The Sources of Disillusion

language of values, these institutions have failed to counter the rise of the Right by providing an alternative account of the relation between the state and the market. As Robert Kuttner writes, If policy-wonks a political program made, the Democrats would be home free. Washington is full of the species . . . . The . . . older generation of quasiacadmic outfits such as Brookings and the Urban Institute . . . are even further removed . . . from breathing some life back into the Democratic Party and American liberalism (than their newer counterparts. The trouble is that few of these (older think tanks] think of policy as something connected to politics. What strikes me over and over again . . . is their political innocence. The assumption is that technicians will put the world right. 21

Looking outside the social sciences for alternatives to, and criticisms of, the Right, it might seem natural to turn to the discipline of philosophy—a field that concerns itself with questions of meaning, obligation, and the role and nature of the state. The contemporary pickings here, too, are, however, surprisingly thin. Only a handful of books on the philosophical aspects of policy have appeared in recent years from liberals, most notably John Rawls's A Theory of Justice 22 But a book here and there, even one as sweeping and widely read as Rawls's, does not serve to counter the philosophical Hood from the Right. Why do liberal academic philosophers make so few attempts to articulate a contemporary political philosophy, and why are those that are attempted regarded as arcane by those involved in setting policy?

Philosophers are widely perceived to have little or nothing to contribute to the debate about public policy because of the standards they hold for themselves. In our century, philosophy has, like the social sciences, undergone a crisis of identity. Although philosophers debate about what it is exactly that as philosophers they do, a common understanding has been that, whatever philosophy is, it is different in kind from science. What scientists do par excellence is investigate and explain the real world. Leaving science to the scientists, philosophers see their job as clarifying concepts, not investigating facts. Once the canons of acceptable research within philosophy get defined in this way, the prospects of philosophers having much to say about public policy drops to near zero. 23 Philosophical writing is generally abstract and self referential. Even in social and political philosophy, where one would hope to find some guidance on practical affairs, debate is typically removed from real policy and real politics. Thinking about public policy issues involves addressing a host of factual ques-

12 Loss of Faith in Government and the Crisis in Political Theory

tions: the history of problems and programs, the social realities creating demand for services, the number of people in need of services, etc. In a word, you need to be willing to talk a lot about the world and about the conceptual frameworks, arguments, and findings of other disciplines. It is no accident that philosophers who have had the greatest effect on the terms of public debate—people like Daniel Callahan of the Hastings Center, Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute, and Michael Walzer of the Institute for Advanced Study—have chosen to pursue careers largely outside the realm of conventional academic philosophy.

Philosophers' refusal to talk about facts when they discuss values, together with mainstream social scientists' refusal to talk about values when they discuss facts, leaves an empty intellectual stage on which the ideas of the Right were able to attain dominance.

After the disastrous 1988 election, of course, Democrats regrouped. Organizations such as the Progressive Policy Institute drew together teams of experts, but this time less wedded to the orthodoxies of traditional social science. They provided the party's presidential candidate with an array of new and attractive ideas in areas as diverse as defense, children and families, education, and the economy. And, given popular disillusionment and an unhealthy economy, they won. But still, an organizing vision, a ground for the legitimizing of government, a conception of a good society, and a sound and human foreign policy eluded their grasp. 24 That vision, however, was near to hand. ln the early part of the campaign, Bill Clinton and Al Gore stressed the idea of a new covenant, "a solemn agreement between the people and their government, based not simply on what each of us can take but on what all of us must give to our nation." 25 In Earth in the Balance Gore relied heavily on the important concept of stewardship in grounding his policy proposals concerning the environment. 26 But Gore did not extend his inquiry to a general theory of legitimacy. Despite a sweeping victory on election day, the new administration was without a philosophy of governance.

The trust model that I set out in part II of this book is meant, in part, to fill that gap. But it is essential first to look in detail at the trust conception's competitors among approaches to public policy. Having been so prominently influential for so long, the doctrines of the free market Right have to be thoroughly displayed and discredited. And, if liberals themselves are to be convinced of the need for a new vision, we need to see clearly, too, the failures of the more centrist version of the role of government typically

13 The Sources of Disillusion

held by researchers at think tanks like Brookings and the Urban Institute. Indeed, it is these centrist versions with their fascination with the market, and their simultaneous but strongly inconsistent assumption that research must be value free, that set the stage, in part, for the Right's mistakes and in this way contributed, albeit unintentionally and unknowingly, to the rise of dysfunctional government in the United States.

14 Loss of Faith in Government and the Crisis in Political Theory
Peter G. Brown, Restoring Public Trust, Beacon Press, 1994.
[Order From Amazon Today]


1. See John Palmer and Isabel Sawhill, "Perspectives on the Reagan Experiment " in their The Reagan Experiment (Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute, 1982), pp. 1-28. text@note1

2. David Stockman, The Triumph of Politics (New York: Harper & Row, 1986), pp. 181-182. text@note2

3. Charles I.. Heatherly, ed., Mandate for Leadership: Policy Management in a Conservative Administration (Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation, 1981), p. iv. text@note3

4. Sidney Blumenthal, The Rise of the Counter Establishment: From Conservative Ideology to Political Power (New York: Times Books, 1986), pp. 45-46. text@note4

5. Gregg Easterbrook, "Ideas Move Nations," Atlantic,(January 1986), p. 77. text@note5

6. Ibid. text@note6

7. Easterbrook lists the following antiliberal public policy groups: the Cato, Manhattan, Lehrman, Hudson, Shavano, Pacific, Sequoia, and Competitive Enterprise institutes; the committees on the Present Danger, for the Survival of a Free Congress, and for the Free World; the institutes for Foreign Policy Analysis, for Contemporary Studies, and for Humane Studies; the centers for the Study of Public Choice, for the Study of American Business, and for Judicial Studies; the Political Economy Research Center; the Reason Foundation; the Washington, American, Capital, and Mountain States legal foundations; the Ethics and Public Policy Center; the National Center for Policy Analysis; the National Institute for Public policy; and the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy (ibid., p. 66). text@note7

8. Ibid., p. 80. text@note8

9. It is possible to formulate a defense of the social agenda of the religious Right within a libertarian framework. For example, if the fetus is a person—a crucial assumption—then it naturally and easily follows that the fetus should be protected by the state. Libertarianism focuses on the freedom of adults and, insofar as pornography involves children, libertarian philosophy offers it no protection from state intervention. The position of the Right on school prayer can be interpreted as increasing the liberty of parents to raise their children as they wish. Seen from this perspective, it is not a matter of forcing; children to do something that they do not want to do. It is rather restoring to parents a choice that they should have had all along. The coalitions that Reagan and Bush were able to assemble were not so artificially contrived after all. text@note9

10. Cato Policy Report 13, no. 1 (January/February 1991):1. text@note10

11. Edward H. Crane, "Private: Property and Perestroika," Cato Policy Report 13, no. 1 (January/February 1991): 13. text@note11

12. Robert Kuttner, "Inside the Democratic Think Tanks: What's the Big Idea?" New Republic (18 November 1985), p. 23. text@note12

13. Ibid. text@note13

14. For example, in his introduction to Arthur Okun's Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tadeoff (Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1975), then Brookings president Kermit Gordon writes, "The tone and character of the book...distinguish it from most Brookings publications. It is a personal work, recording the author's values, judgments and experience." The feature of the book that made it an exception to the canon was that it contained an explicit discussion of rights and other values. text@note14

15. See Donald T. Critchlow, The Brookings Institution, 1916-1952 (Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1985), p. 4. text@note15

16. Ibid., p. 9. It is reasonable to assume that "the Republic" refers both to the American republic and to Plato's Republic, which was supposed to be governed by an elite. text@note16

17. There are at least two reasons for doubting that this way of stating the fact/value distinction holds up. One is that administrative roles have a great deal of discretion built into them. Authorizing legislation typically carries a rather vague mandate. There is no way to decide what to do without making value judgments. Second, the distinction overlooks the role that administrative agencies play in the value- shaping process. Reports and testimony from administrative agencies help set the value agenda of elected officials. text@note17

18. Critchlow, The Brookings Institution, pp. 60-61. A dispute over objectivity and the role of value had already occurred in 1927 between Walton Hamilton and Moulton: "Because certain value assumptions would be interjected into any definition of the public interest, Hamilton insisted that economics develop a broad political perspective of society. Thus Hamilton argued that the Graduate School, by emphasizing the liberal arts, which Willoughby and Brookings took for theoretical nonsense, was satisfying the primary goal of the program—the training of a cadre of economists to enter government as policy makers. Hamilton lost the debate" (p. 80). The Graduate School was one of the two institutions out of which Brookings was formed. William Willoughby, a statistician, was the head of a precursor to Brookings called the Institute for Government Research. Willoughby's selection as head of the Institute for Government Research reflected the ascendant role that political scientists would play in the efficiency and economy movement. text@note18

19. See A. J. Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic (New York: Dover, 1952). text@note19

20. I am indebted to Herman Daly for this point. text@note20

21. "Inside the Democratic Think Tanks," Kuttner, p. 26. text@note21

22. John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971). Two other books, neither widely read, more immediately relevant to policy are Henry Shue's Basic Rights (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980) and Charles Beitz's Political Theory and Internonal Relations (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1979). text@note22

23. A parallel difficulty afflicts the historical study of political theory. As Richard Asheraft (Revolutionary Politics and Locke's "Two Treatises of Government" [Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986]) notes,

The restrictive assumptions that plague the historical study of political theory help shape and limit our political landscape as well. text@note23

24. For a discussion of many ideas for the new Clinton/Gore administration see, e.g., Mandate for Change (New York: Berkeley, 1993), edited by Will Marshall and Martin Schram of the Progressive Institute. Loosely modeled after Mandate for Leadership, Mandate for Change presents a number of principles of progressive government (opportunity, reciprocal responsibility, community, democracy, and entrepreneurial government (pp. xvi-xvii]), but no overarching theory of political legitimacy. text@note24

25. Bill Clinton and Al Gore, Putting People First: How We Can All Change America (New York: Times Books, 1992), p. 226. text@note25

26. Al Gore, Earth in the Balance (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1992). See esp. the chapters entitled "Self Stewardship" and "Environmentalism of the Spirit." text@note26

© Potowmack Institute