The main argument which Lowi develops through this book is that the liberal state grew to its immense size and presence without self-examination and without recognizing that its pattern of growth had problematic consequences. Its engine of growth was delegation. The government expanded by responding to the demands of all major organized interests, by assuming responsibility for programs sought by those interests, and by assigning that responsibility to administrative agencies. Through the process of accommodation, the agencies became captives of the interest groups, a tendency Lowi describes as clientelism. This in turn led to the formulation of new policies which tightened the grip of interest groups on the machinery of government.
Theodore J. Lowi has been John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions at Cornell University since 1972. He was elected President of the American Political Science Association in 1990 and was cited as the political scientist who made the most significant contribution to the field during the decade of the 1970s. Among his numerous books are The End of Liberalism and The Pursuit of Justice, on which he collaborated with Robert F. Kennedy.