We are pretty sure that one of the first phrases in Latin one learns is conditio sine qua non: “the condition without which not”—that is, the thing without which the enterprise in question could not succeed. For several years now, we have employed this space in our season finale to pay homage to those individuals and entities without whom The New Criterion could not succeed. This minor act of what Virgil called pietas confronts us with a task that is even more gratifying than it is imperative.
For one thing, it affords us an opportunity to look back to many engagements during the year when we were brought together with members of our extended family of New Criterion stalwarts. How many ideas and initiatives were born and nurtured during those conversations! Writing this also allows us to indulge in the often underestimated pleasure of declaring our pride at and gratitude for the hearty votes of confidence our work has elicited. By and large, supporters of The New Criterion are also enthusiasts for the work accomplished and worldview espoused by this intellectual and literary adventure. As Abraham Lincoln is alleged to have said in another context, for people who like this sort of thing, The New Criterion is the sort of thing they like.
Not everyone is pleased, of course. From before our very first issue, way back in September 1982, The New Criterion has conducted its march through the cultural landscape accompanied by what Edmund Burke called “the importunate chink” of more or less rabid detractors. We were too “elitist,” too “traditionalist,” too “conservative” to be allowed a place at the table of civilized cultural exchange. It is true that we thrive partly because of our enemies. Their silly obloquy calls attention to our virtues. But we exist at all because our friends acknowledge the importance of what we do with their support. And here we are, more than forty years later.
How did that happen? It happened because our supporters have understood and approved of our work defending civilization, open debate, and the pursuit of truth. As we have observed before in this space, The New Criterion exists only because our extended (and, we are happy to say, growing) family of readers demonstrate by their support that they want us to exist. We take no government money and never have. We depend absolutely on all those who subscribe and donate to the magazine. You make our monthly publication, as well as our vibrant online presence, possible. In recent years, we have expanded our activities to include conferences, symposia, recitals, and other gatherings. We would not have been able to do this without your help.
We are particularly grateful to those who created and sustained The New Criterion in its early years. We would like to mention in particular the late, lamented John M. Olin Foundation, as well as the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which have been critical supporters for more than four decades. Our late friend Donald Kahn intervened to help us with major support at a parlous moment. In addition to these founding benefactors we are proud to name other individuals and entities that have stepped forward to support us with major gifts this year. We want to mention in particular Elizabeth Ailes, Mary Ellen Bork, the Carson-Myre Charitable Foundation, the William H. Donner Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Ira D. Epstein and Jo Ellen Terrell, the Gale Foundation, the Hickory Foundation, Paul J. Isaac, the Kleinschmidt Family Foundation, the Thomas D. Klingenstein Fund, Christopher Laconi, Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder, the Legett Foundation, the Marcus Foundation, the Fred Maytag Family Foundation, the Dian Graves Owen Foundation, David Packard, Don and Donna Riley, the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, the Triad Foundation, Ida Walters and the late J. W. Henry Watson, and Helen Zell. To this distinguished list we would like to add the name of that prolific philanthropist, author, artist, and composer—Anonymous—who has also manned the battlements in defense of culture and for our benefit. Thank you all for your friendship and support this past year. Together, you are the conditio sine qua non of our efforts. We are deeply grateful for your help and we look forward to many more years of fruitful collaboration. See you in September!
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 41 Number 10, on page 2
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