AT CENTURY'S END
Table of Contents
I once wrote to New Perspective Quarterly that I would be proud
to produce on the air what it puts in print. That is true now, more than
ever. I have a hard time thinking without it. I sense, though, that we're
approaching a Gettysburg, a moment of truth, for quality journalism like
that of NPQ.
Once newspapers and periodicals drew people to the public square. They
provided a culture of community conversation. The purpose was not just
to represent and inform, but to signal, tell a story, and activate inquiry.
When the press abandons that function, it no longer stimulates what the
American philosopher John Dewey termed "the vital habits" of democracy
"the ability to follow an argument grasp the point of view of another,
expand the boundaries of understanding, debate the alternative purposes
that might be pursued."
I know times have changed, and so must publishing. I know that it's harder
these days to be a publisher, caught between the entertainment imperatives
that are nurtured in the cradle and survival economics that can send good
publications to the grave. But the effort must go on.
That our system is failing to solve the bedrock problems we face is beyond
dispute. One reason is that our public discourse has become the verbal
equivalent of mud wrestling. The anthropologist Marvin Harris says the
attack against reason and objectivity in America today "is fast reaching
the proportion of a crusade." America, he says, "urgently needs to reaffirm
the principle that it is possible to carry out an analysis of social life
that rational human beings will recognize as being true, regardless of
whether they happen to be women or men, whites or blacks, straights or
gays, Jews or born again Christians." Lacking such an understanding, of
social life, "we will tear the United States apart in the name of our
Taken together, these assumptions and developments foreshadow the catastrophe
of social and political paralysis.
People want to know what is happening to them, and what they can do about
it. Listening to America, you realize that millions of people are not
apathetic; they want to understand the world around them; and they will
respond to a press that stimulates tile community without pandering to
it, that inspires people to embrace their responsibilities without lecturing
or hectoring them, and that engages their better natures without sugarcoating
ugly realities or patronizing their foibles.
Over the years a decade now NPQ has stuck to this high road, defended
the high ground. No mud wrestling here. The results speak for themselves.
This collection reads like a walk through the history of the post Cold
War years with the best minds and most authoritative voices at your side.
NPQ remains a measure for others. Readers will certainly be rewarded
for their efforts here.