From The '60s to The 70s: Dissent and Discovery

  • Share
  • Read Later

(8 of 13)


In a series of reports this fall, the National Commission on Violence (see THE LAW) raised the possibility of a nation torn by assassinations and terrorism, of cities turned into hostile armed camps. On the one hand, unsatisfied minorities might raise their protests to ever higher levels of violence. On the other hand, the majority might feel increasingly justified in hitting back, through the police or through personal action. While there is a good chance that the black revolt will turn to peaceful outlets—so long as white society responds to its legitimate demands—it is certainly possible that militant blacks will turn to small-scale terrorism and urban warfare. In fact, the outcome of America's most pressing problem—the future of the blacks—is the biggest puzzle of all. The central problem, of course, will be how to improve the lot of the blacks quickly, without imposing sacrifices on the white lower and lower-middle classes that will not totally embitter them. One intriguing possibility is that the blacks and low-income whites will actually join together in a common political cause. Economic necessity might partially erase the color line. If that should happen, the black-white problem could be on the way to resolution in the '70s.

Most futurists believe that, in any event, the more dire prophecies of repression are false, that reaction and repression will be limited and temporary. Even so, the '70s are likely to be a time of chaotic and confused politics. The decade, thinks Management Consultant Peter Drucker, will see a slowdown in the growth of big government, which is unable, he maintains, to deal with modern problems. The solution is smaller, more effective bureaucratic units. At the same time there will be a revamping of outmoded political geography: the uniting of cities and their suburbs, for example, into rational metropolitan governments, as in Indianapolis and Toronto. Population trends will continue to shift west and southwest and to the cities. As blacks move to the suburbs, many middle-class whites may return to the city. More and more, professional politicians will lose power to part-time activists as "participatory democracy" comes closer to reality. Candidates will bypass political organizations even more than they do today and reach directly to the people, with the help of TV and enthusiastic volunteers. Two-way cable TV may also make instant referendums possible (not to mention shopping from home).

Partly as a result, the one-term President may be the pattern of the future even as the one-term mayor is almost that now. Political labels will become less important than they are even today, and it is likely that third and fourth parties—one of Wallaceite right-wingers, the other of left-of-center liberals—will be forces to reckon with in the elections of the '70s. The older parties may polarize along ideological, educational, or age lines. Simply because young people will constitute the largest single voting bloc in the nation, they may force a lowering of the voting age and a reduction in the required age of office holders. By the end of the decade, the average age of Senators and Governors may drop by five years.

Perhaps the most encouraging fact, in the long run, is that the American political system has always proved remarkably adaptive. What has seemed radical to one generation has been mulled over and adopted, at

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13