In April 2005, after a run of forty years, The Public Interest, the distinguished quarterly founded by Daniel Bell and Irving Kristol, ceased publication. It was a sad moment for anyone interested in intelligent analysis and debate about the direction of the American polity. It is with pleasure, therefore, that we welcome the advent of National Affairs, the successor to The Public Interest, whose inaugural issue appeared last month.
The handsome new quarterly (and it is a special pleasure to see such attractive typography and graphic design) is edited by Yuval Levin, a prolific journalist and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. In his opening editorial, Mr. Levin writes that National Affairs will aspire to
help Americans think a little more clearly about the challenges of governing ourselves. We will publish essays about public policy, society, culture, politics, and the world of ideas, with an eye to what a responsible and thoughtful American ought to know and to think about, and with a special concern for domestic policy and political economy, broadly understood.
Judging by the first issue, Mr. Levin has succeeded admirably in realizing this aspiration. Wide-ranging essays by Michael Barone, Ron Haskins, Charles Murray, Leon Kass, William Schambra, Wilfred McClay, and others establish a very high level of reflection about the future of the American dream, the state of higher education, the direction of our political culture, and other issues. These essays represent the best, by which we mean the most effective and responsible, sort of political observation. They are engaged, but not doctrinaire. As Mr. Levin puts it,
National Affairs will have a point of view, but not a party line. It will begin from confidence and pride in America, from a sense that our challenge is to build on our strengths to address our weaknesses, and from the conviction that chief among those strengths are our democratic capitalism, our ideals of liberty and equality under the law, and our roots in the longstanding traditions of the West. We will seek to cultivate an open-minded empiricism, a decent respect for the awesome complexity of life in society, and a healthy skepticism of the serene technocratic confidence that is too often the dominant flavor of social science and public policy.
To which we can only add, Amen.
An additional feature of National Affairs, available through its web site at nationalaffairs.com, is the complete archive of its predecessor, The Public Interest. Readers may also avail themselves of website to subscribe.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 28 Number 2, on page 3
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