New Perspectives for an "Odd In-Between Period"
The political philosopher Hannah Arendt once observed that "odd in-between periods" appear in history when our lives "are altogether determined by things that are no longer and by things that are not yet". These intervals have often shown, she concluded, "that they may contain the moment of truth."
If ideologies are victims of these intervals, the odd man out in today's in-between period is the liberal consensus. Where, for example, do liberals stand on the central issues of the contemporary national debate?
Does being reasonable with the Soviets only encourage them to take advantage of us? Or, does being tough only initiate a new round of the arms race?
Do we oppose or support the President's "star wars" program. Have we overdone the welfare state and entitlements to the point where our economic growth has been sapped?
Do we support or oppose a moment of silent prayer in the schools?
Is the "flat tax" proposal from the Treasury Department something that partisans of fairness should have done long ago or is it yet another swipe at the poor?
The lack of consistent answers to these questions from those who have considered themselves liberal illustrates the very interval of redefinition about which Hannah Arendt wrote.
We emerge from such intervals by falling back on basic values and clarifying our interests anew in a changed world. Recognizing the "moments of truth" and picking up the threads to the future is the first step in framing an outlook that makes sense of things again.
We are working to make New Perspectives a forum of this redefinition by bringing competing viewpoints to bear on the range of current issues as well as presenting clear-minded analysis which offers a framework for understanding the issues.