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

In This Issue

Features

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 ...
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 ...

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

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More
U.S.

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More
World

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More
Elections

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
PC Culture

Merciless Sympathy

Jussie Smollett’s phony hate-crime story could have been taken apart in 24 hours, except for one thing: Nobody wanted to be the first to call bullsh**. Who will bell the cat? Not the police, and I don’t blame them. Smollett is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump who checks two protected-category ... Read More