Magazine November 19, 2015, Issue

Onward

Sixty years ago, WFB said of this brand-new journal that it “stands athwart history, yelling Stop” — in the spirit not of a bearded zealot carrying a hand-lettered sign, but of serious advocates who had better ideas and practical suggestions for achieving them.

How much has been achieved. The Republican party, the all-too-human vessel of most conservative politicking, is more conservative than at any time since the 1920s, possibly more intelligent than at any time since the Civil War, and, in terms of offices held, in Congress and state capitals, impressively successful. In the world of high-end deep thinking, the managed economy envisaged by John Maynard Keynes is no longer the universally accepted ideal, and socialism is not the Great Good Place where economists keep their consciences. Careful reasoning and painful experience have taught useful lessons. Most important, the Soviet Union and its Eastern European empire — what NR called back in 1955 “the century’s most blatant force of satanic utopianism” — is a memory, having ended even before the century did. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Lech Walesa, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin and John Paul II all played major roles in this astonishing denouement. We played our own role, smaller but vital.

At 60, people start thinking of early retirement. NR does not have that luxury. Old challenges remain or have mutated, while new ones arise.

Because error is evergreen, the economics of Santa Claus still wins votes. As we go to press, one candidate in the Democratic presidential race calls himself a socialist while another smiles and calls herself progressive. Conservatives meanwhile must consider how a free society can find productive work for the mass of men and women who are not and never will be tech-savvy. Too many in the business community would say: Import foreign workers, who will labor for even less. But that is not an option for a republican citizenry.

There may be more freedom and variety at the heights of certain academic disciplines, but the mass of the teaching profession, from college on down, is in bondage to a crazed ethic of sexual and racial favoritism. It uses the language of equality but seeks to create a patchwork of fiefdoms, like Bantustans in apartheid-era South Africa. Student debt may bring colleges down, but will the survivors in the rubble know better?

The election of a black president has done nothing for racial healing. The more Americans talk about race, the less they say. Even as the black population shrinks relative to the whole, it remains the political property of turf-protectors and hustlers, while conservatives have hardly tried appealing to it (and what benefit, in the short run, is there?).

Playboy magazine, two years our senior, announced that it will no longer run pictures of naked women. That is because doing so is now superfluous, the sexual revolution having become an empire, omnipresent and unshakeable. Neither culture nor law any longer respects the ideal that children deserve a father and a mother, and the Supreme Court has read the new dispensation into the Constitution. Fifty-six million human beings have been consumed by the abortion Moloch. After a generation of legalized abortion, polls show sentiment turning against it, even among the young. Will it take another generation before we stop bleeding lives, and humanity?

Although the world is free of an international Communist movement, China (still Communist) and Russia (now Putinist) behave like amoral great powers. More dangerous, because unconstrained by ordinary calculations of survival, is Islamist terror. The Soviet Union never killed 3,000 Americans in one morning. A nuclear-armed Iran or a nuclear-armed ISIS may do it again, or worse. To meet both challenges, the United States needs a large, resilient military and a foreign-policy establishment that knows who our enemies are.

We live in an age of faith. The Catholic Church has been energized by recent popes, and the worldwide Evangelical revival continues. (Mainline Protestant churches and Eastern Orthodoxy are less healthy, afflicted by liberalism and caesaro-papism respectively.) Islam too partakes of the revival, in noxious forms, leaving a trail of corpses — most of them Christian — at its periphery, and — when Sunnis battle Shiites — within. Sectors of the Western world meanwhile give themselves to pseudo-religions — Earth worship and, among a handful of contrarians, the new atheism. Religious conflict is generally deadly, always confusing.

So every other week in print, and daily online, National Review will try to sort it all out — and to have a good laugh, and to honor beauty and poetry when we find them. Why not be in good spirits, when we enjoy the support of our readers, the freedom in America to do what we do, and the grace of God for both?

— The Editors

NR Editors includes members of the editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

In This Issue

Features

Politics & Policy

Climate Coercion

Predicting catastrophe is a lucrative business. By doing so, the big environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Sierra Club, have grown ...
Politics & Policy

The Twitter Trap

Stop me if you’ve heard this story: A die-hard progressive living in a liberal enclave (usually when this story is told, it’s about the late New Yorker film critic Pauline ...
Politics & Policy

Fusionism, Then and Now

‘Who lost the libertarians?” It’s a question you hear a lot from conservatives of late. The reason should be obvious to anyone who has followed the conservative movement’s internecine intellectual ...
Politics & Policy

The Apology Policy

President Barack Obama strutted into the Oval Office utterly convinced of his moral rectitude. Unlike his predecessors, Obama would make policy based on an exquisitely calibrated conscience, sensitivity to constitutional ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Sections

Politics & Policy

Onward

Sixty years ago, WFB said of this brand-new journal that it “stands athwart history, yelling Stop” — in the spirit not of a bearded zealot carrying a hand-lettered sign, but ...

Most Popular

Media

The Unrelenting Assault on President Trump

There has never been a presidential campaign in the United States where the administration was so massively opposed by the principal media outlets as in this election. Nor, in at least a century, have the national political media so widely and thoroughly discarded the traditional criterion for journalistic ... Read More
Media

The Unrelenting Assault on President Trump

There has never been a presidential campaign in the United States where the administration was so massively opposed by the principal media outlets as in this election. Nor, in at least a century, have the national political media so widely and thoroughly discarded the traditional criterion for journalistic ... Read More
Education

Destroy the ‘Public’ Education System

‘Public” schools have been a catastrophe for the United States. This certainly isn’t an original assertion, but as we watch thousands of authoritarian brats tearing down the legacies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it’s more apparent than ever. State-run schools have undercut two fundamental ... Read More
Education

Destroy the ‘Public’ Education System

‘Public” schools have been a catastrophe for the United States. This certainly isn’t an original assertion, but as we watch thousands of authoritarian brats tearing down the legacies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it’s more apparent than ever. State-run schools have undercut two fundamental ... Read More
Culture

Two NFL Apologies

So Drew Brees defended the American flag and all it stands for, said he didn’t agree with kneeling for the national anthem and correctly described this gesture of open disrespect as disrespect. "Is everything right with our country right now?" said the Saints' future Hall of Famer. "No, it is not. We still have ... Read More
Culture

Two NFL Apologies

So Drew Brees defended the American flag and all it stands for, said he didn’t agree with kneeling for the national anthem and correctly described this gesture of open disrespect as disrespect. "Is everything right with our country right now?" said the Saints' future Hall of Famer. "No, it is not. We still have ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Chesterton’s Cops

Conservatives are big on “Chesterton’s fence.” That’s G. K. Chesterton’s principle that you cannot reform what you do not understand, that you should not for the sake of convenience knock down a fence until you understand why it was put up in the first place. When encountering a fence in his way, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Chesterton’s Cops

Conservatives are big on “Chesterton’s fence.” That’s G. K. Chesterton’s principle that you cannot reform what you do not understand, that you should not for the sake of convenience knock down a fence until you understand why it was put up in the first place. When encountering a fence in his way, ... Read More
Culture

Why Progressives Wage War on History

Princeton University’s decision to remove the name “Woodrow Wilson” from its School of Public and International Affairs is a big win for progressive activists, and the implications will extend far beyond the campus. It hardly surprises me, in today’s polarizing environment, that my alma mater caved to ... Read More
Culture

Why Progressives Wage War on History

Princeton University’s decision to remove the name “Woodrow Wilson” from its School of Public and International Affairs is a big win for progressive activists, and the implications will extend far beyond the campus. It hardly surprises me, in today’s polarizing environment, that my alma mater caved to ... Read More
Regulatory Policy

Going Medieval

Writing in Bloomberg, Noah Smith gives more than a nod to Peter Turchin’s theory of elite overproduction (or, as Smith neatly relabels the phenomenon, “elite over-competition”) as a cause of the current wave of turmoil in the West, something with which I would agree but, I think, more emphatically. Quite ... Read More
Regulatory Policy

Going Medieval

Writing in Bloomberg, Noah Smith gives more than a nod to Peter Turchin’s theory of elite overproduction (or, as Smith neatly relabels the phenomenon, “elite over-competition”) as a cause of the current wave of turmoil in the West, something with which I would agree but, I think, more emphatically. Quite ... Read More
U.S.

Bad News about the Virus

On the menu today: an important update about indications that the coronavirus is now more contagious than it used to be, with far-reaching ramifications for how we fight this pandemic; a point on the recent complaints about the Paycheck Protection Program; and a new book for everyone closely following the debate ... Read More
U.S.

Bad News about the Virus

On the menu today: an important update about indications that the coronavirus is now more contagious than it used to be, with far-reaching ramifications for how we fight this pandemic; a point on the recent complaints about the Paycheck Protection Program; and a new book for everyone closely following the debate ... Read More

Canceled, &c.

There was a headline last week: “Boeing Communications Chief Resigns Over Decades-Old Article on Women in Combat.” Find the story here. It explains that “Niel Golightly abruptly resigned on Thursday, following an employee’s complaint over an article the former U.S. military pilot wrote 33 years ago ... Read More

Canceled, &c.

There was a headline last week: “Boeing Communications Chief Resigns Over Decades-Old Article on Women in Combat.” Find the story here. It explains that “Niel Golightly abruptly resigned on Thursday, following an employee’s complaint over an article the former U.S. military pilot wrote 33 years ago ... Read More