The Public Interest

“Peace”— some thoughts on the 1960’s and 1970’s

Daniel P. Moynihan

Summer 1973

A DECADE ago most of the social scientists with whom I work, and whom I have been associated with, were profoundly distressed about the directions which American society seemed to be taking. A pervasive, ominous sense of trouble shaping up could be encountered in what we wrote, and in our conversations. We thought things were going to become much worse than they were. We found ourselves saying this in the context of a society that didn’t particularly understand, and didn’t particularly welcome, such a proposition. That society—the America of the early 1960’s—was much too optimistic about events, and almost in proportionate terms responded unhappily, angrily—nastily, if you will---to our glum prognoses, even as shortly thereafter it reacted in near panic when the troubles we had been anticipating came to pass.

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