The twentieth-century Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset has been mostly forgotten today. In that, alas, he does not distinguish himself. An encroaching ignorance of the past is part of what defines our culture. That fact gives special poignancy to Ortega’s observation that “the simple process of preserving our present civilization is supremely complex, and demands incalculably subtle powers.” This, we believe, is true. And it may serve well to describe our central ambition at The New Criterion.
Two points about that ambition. First, no one can ever fully realize it. It is part of the ineluctable incapacity of humanity that such goals are fated to be but imperfectly and temporarily realized. Today’s gains are gobbled up by tomorrow’s reverses, which in turn may mark the beginnings of some new salient. Second, this task is never a solitary enterprise. This is especially true for a collaborative entity like The New Criterion.
For more than a decade, it has been our custom, as we approach the end of our publishing season, to recognize in this space our most dedicated donors, those individuals and institutions that have contributed over the course of the past year $25,000 or more to our efforts. These generous patrons we enroll in our Editors Circle. It is a pleasure to do so, not least because most of those who make our work possible are also intellectual comrades-in-arms, friends, and co-collaborators in the task of preservation that Ortega named: battling cultural amnesia and fostering honest and informed inquiry into the great questions that confront us as a civilization circa 2022. As we near the end of our fortieth anniversary, we are especially pleased to recognize our growing circle of benefactors. Not only have you made The New Criterion possible, but also you are responsible for making this anniversary year our most successful to date. Yes, we have raised more money this year than ever before, but that was only the beginning. We have also, with your help, brought the circulation of the magazine to its highest level in our history.
As in years past, we would like to begin by acknowledging our debt to the late, lamented John M. Olin Foundation, whose principals helped to start The New Criterion in the early 1980s, and to the late Donald Kahn, whose timely and munificent generosity in effect rescued the magazine at a moment of peril in the late 1990s. In this same category belong the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation, both of which have generously supported The New Criterion for decades. They are the conditiones sine qua non of our work.
We are also delighted, as we cast our eyes over the past year, to thank these indispensable friends and supporters, this year’s members of our Editors Circle: Elizabeth Ailes, Mary Ellen Bork, The Broken Science Organization, the Carson-Myre Charitable Foundation, Johanna Cinader, Christopher and Susan Cowie, the William H. Donner Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Richard and Barbara Gaby Foundation, the Gale Foundation, David Hein, the Hickory Foundation, Richard R. Hough III, Paul J. Isaac, the JM Foundation, the Kleinschmidt Family Foundation, the Thomas D. Klingenstein Fund, Christopher Laconi, Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder, the Legett Foundation, the Lehrman Institute, the Marcus Foundation, the Fred Maytag Family Foundation, the Dian Graves Owen Foundation, David Packard, J. Peter Ricketts, Don and Donna Riley, the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, Edward A. Studzinski, the Triad Foundation, Dave and Reba Williams, and Helen Zell.
Finally, we would like to acknowledge that great but too-seldom-recognized force for good, Anonymous, whose benefactions once again have been critical in helping us man the ramparts of cultural renewal. We are deeply grateful to you all. Thank you for your counsel and for your intellectual as well as your financial support. The New Criterion could not exist without you.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 40 Number 10, on page 3
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