Magazine November 2, 2009, Issue

A Smiling Gloominary

From the cover of We Are Doomed (Crown Forum)
We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism, by John Derbyshire (Crown Forum, 272 pp., $26)

As a temperamental opponent of John Derbyshire — I suffer from the disease of default optimism, making me one of those he calls “poseurs wearing smiley-face masks” — I hope I quickly forget his delightful (in a delight-expunging way), wide-ranging (though grimly focused), grati- yet terrifying new book. We Are Doomed is a blast of stale air, a key that opens up the dungeon of limitation, a burst of cloud rushing in to protect us from the daylight.

“The proper outlook of conservatives,” says Derbyshire, “is a pessimistic one.” Those who are familiar with his work in National Review will be

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