A confrere wants to do a critical study of the Preventive System, and consulted me about it.
I put down some random thoughts.
1. There is need of a thorough hermeneutic of recovery / reception / love (see the 4 articles of Fred Lawrence in DJPE 19A-B) before engaging in a hermeneutic of suspicion. This means that one needs to engage in research, interpretation, history in a thorough way before engaging in dialectic.
2. History: Be aware of the history of effects of the Preventive System - the fact that there has been, explicitly and performatively, a re-reading of the Preventive System over the years. Major moments of this re-reading can be found, of course, in the revisions of the Constitutions, the Letters of the Rector Major, productions of the various Departments (Youth Pastoral, etc.) and in scholarly studies; but also in lives of prominent Salesians.
3. Dialectic. Anticipate that the history of effects will show not only progress but also decline. Traditions can be authentic, but they can also become unauthentic. The same words might continue being used, but their meanings might have deteriorated. Then reason, religion, loving kindness are bandied about like magic incantations, but their original meaning is lost.
That probably needs to be thoroughly revised... My main point is that dialectic is not something one engages in immediately. There is much to be done before arriving at that point.