Friday, July 13, 2012

A direita e a esquerda face ao "poder dos bairros"

 All Power to the Neighborhoods, por Jesse Walker (Reason Hit and Run):

One of the great forgotten left/right/libertarian crossover crusades of the last half-century was the Neighborhood Power movement of the 1960s and '70s, which called for devolving as much power as possible to the most granularly local level. I'm glad to see the alliance attracting attention from a professional historian, in Benjamin Looker's Journal of Urban History article "Visions of Autonomy." Looker is particularly interested in the roles played by Milton Kotler, a man of the left, and Karl Hess, a libertarian. (...)

* When Jimmy Carter's White House wooed the movement, by contrast, parts of the Democratic coalition worried that "community control" was code for "an agenda of aggrieved blue-collar whites who sought to exclude people of color from their local schools and neighborhoods." Back when the Panthers were riding high, the phrase community control had one set of connotations; in the wake of the busing battles, it had another. Indeed, "By 1978, NAACP chief Benjamin Hooks was fretting that the very word neighborhood had come to stand exclusively for white urban districts." (This wasn't a simple black/white split. Looker doesn't mention it, but a 1975 National Opinion Research Center poll found 53 percent of American blacks opposed to busing -- a sign that much of the black community still liked the idea of local control, even if mainline civil rights leaders were warier.)

* The leftist Institute for Policy Studies was deeply interested in these ideas in the 1960s and '70s. Kotler was a fellow there, Hess participated in many of the institute's activities, and the group sponsored a lot of decentralist projects. These days, by contrast, urban devolution hardly seems to be on the IPS radar screen at all. (...)

Elsewhere not in Reason: I discussed some similar issues from an earlier era, including the precursors to the '70s debates about localism and race, when I wrote this piece about Saul Alinsky.

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