What I find the most interesting about this debate is the complete disconnect in language between the respective ideologies. Harrington had written The Other America which is said to have inspired Johnson’s War on Poverty. It was written at a time when the US was at its wealthiest in terms of an expansive middle class, and Harrington brought to the attention of national politics that there remained a large underclass, not all of it urban and non-white. Harrington lamented the inadequacy of the Johnson programs for their lack of economic development plans (rejected at the time because in the words of my high school history teacher they “wreaked of socialism.”). And as industry moved out of the cities, and began to move out of the country entirely, the urban decay became visible due to the influence of a media which actually did try to cover some of the issues, and conservatives no longer denied the existence of poverty, but blamed it on what passed for our social services (nowhere near as extensive as those of Europe, but very extensive compared even to the New Deal).
But this clip comes from a time when poverty was still largely invisible, only made visible by Harrington’s book, which Buckley attempted to dismiss. He wants to define poverty in spiritual terms, where Harrington focused on modern definitions – income ratios to costs of basic necessities, a science in its infancy at the time, at least in the US.
Here’s a talk he gave about the difference between socialism and liberalism.
And here he is debating Milton Friedman – in a video edited by some right wing group to emphasize where they believe Friedman won debating points, completely unaware that Friedman’s dire prophecies about Medicare never came to fruition, as a friend of mine who just retired noted that he was really happy to be able to abandon his crappy Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan for real care.