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History, it would seem, has “ended” more than once. In 1919, we arrived at the supposed end of history with the treaty at Versailles. We all know how that turned out. In 1991, so we were told, the dissolution of the Soviet Union ushered in another “end of history.” Now, alas, we have seen how the malevolence of the world never ends, and the former Evil Empire itself is not so “former” after all.
As we observed in February’s “Notes and Comments,” the promised global triumph of liberal democracy in the post-Soviet world has proven to be the destructive fantasy of our time. We have seen in the continued global conflict a retribalized world that has magnified the threat of Islamic extremism. And, as Mr. Putin’s recent Crimean escapade has demonstrated, a world without American leadership on the international stage is as dangerous as any we have seen since 1945.
When The New Criterion first began publication in 1982, the Soviet colossus was still casting its malignant shadow across Europe and beyond. For years the magazine stood on the battlefield of not only the cultural world of the arts, but of the massive clash of ideologies that threatened at every moment to destroy the fragile peace achieved at Yalta.
Now as then, we find ourselves in the midst of a global war of ideas, and no publication is more actively or resolutely engaged in this struggle than The New Criterion. Our mission is to defend the institutions, traditions, and culture that are our collective heritage against the many forces, internal as well as external, that threaten to undermine them.
We are proud of what we have achieved, but we know that without the continued support of our readers we would not be able to continue this vital fight. As we look to close our budget shortfall before the end of our fiscal year, your contribution is as critical as it has ever been. I hope that we can rely on your support.
Now in its thirty-second season, The New Criterion is more wide-reaching and vibrant than ever. In keeping with its high standard of cultural criticism, this season The New Criterion has published yet another selection of outstanding essays and reviews. We want to mention in particular the contributions by Anthony Daniels, Henry Kissinger, Denis Donohue, David Pryce-Jones, Andrew McCarthy, Ben Downing, and Eric Ormsby. William Kristol of The Weekly Standard called Harvey Mansfield’s piece on Machiavelli in our September issue the “article of the year.” In addition, our regular columnists are widely regarded as among the best now writing: James Bowman on the Media, Jay Nordlinger on Music, Karen Wilkin and James Panero on Art, Emily Esfahani Smith on Manners and Morals, and Kevin D. Williamson on Theater. We continue to publish many of today’s most talented poets, and have just selected John Poch’s Fix Quiet as the recipient of the 2014 New Criterion Poetry Prize. Further, I am proud to note that George Green, the recipient of our 2012 Poetry Prize, was recently honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received the Poet’s Prize for his book, Lord Byron’s Foot.
The New Criterion’s editors have their own spheres of influence that extend far beyond the pages of the magazine. Our Executive Editor James Panero, our Managing Editor Emily Esfahani Smith, and our Associate Editor Brian Kelly all appear frequently in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, City Journal, and New York Magazine. Their passionate and intelligent commentary brings the values and ideas that underpin The New Criterion to a wide-ranging audience.
The New Criterion has striven since its founding to identify and develop young, talented writers, and we continue to reap the benefits of that effort in our pages and among our staff. Eric Simpson, who began writing music criticism for our weblog as an intern, is nearing the end of his term as the magazine’s first Hilton Kramer Fellow in Criticism, and we are delighted that he will be staying on as Assistant Editor. In June we will welcome our second Hilton Kramer Fellow, Christine Emba, a Princeton graduate who comes to us from the Economist Intelligence Unit. We hope that the Fellowship, which was made possible in part by your contributions, will continue to serve as a platform for young writers to launch successful careers in cultural criticism.
Though the magazine remains at the core of our efforts, we continue to foster intellectual debate through symposia that feature many of today’s leading writers, thinkers, and policy makers. In October we held our eleventh joint conference with London’s Social Affairs Unit to discuss “Reagan, Thatcher, and the Special Relationship,” and in November we marked the passing of the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination with a special conference entitled “The Kennedy Phenomenon.” Papers from both of these conferences have been published in the magazine. In addition, we would like to publish the proceedings of our most recent symposium, “Preserving an Open Society in a Perilous World,” as a special pamphlet, both in print and as an E-book. At a gala event in April, we were delighted to honor Professor Donald Kagan, one of the twentieth century’s most respected classical historians and a long-time friend of The New Criterion, with our second Edmund Burke Award for Service to Culture and Society.
This year’s robust series of programs for our Friends and Young Friends—including a Bushwick gallery evening curated by James Panero, a private recital with the pianist Simone Dinnerstein, a book launch with the philosopher and novelist Roger Scruton, and a private tour of the Met’s European painting galleries with Marco Grassi—speaks to our active engagement in New York’s cultural community. These are just a sample of the events we organize for the members of our Friends program; I hope that you will consider joining their ranks with a donation of $2,000 or more.
We have continued our relationship with the budding William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale, an organization devoted to enriching political and intellectual dialogue on that University’s campus. James and I both participated in this year’s conference, helping to bring the ideas and rigor that The New Criterion represents to a new generation of young conservative intellectuals.
For a magazine of our size, the great challenge of today’s publishing environment is the effective dissemination of our ideas. The website newcriterion.com now serves as a primary vehicle for introducing new readers to the magazine. The website also provides greater access to the The New Criterion’s historical and multimedia content than ever before, with every article from the magazine’s full run available to subscribers and podcasts of our conferences and symposia offered for free to all users. Many new readers discover The New Criterion through links from high-traffic sites, such as Arts and Letters Daily, that frequently point users to our work. With additional support, we plan to expand our reach by producing regular podcasts and exclusive web videos that will attract additional viewers to our site, and more importantly to the magazine, which remains the intellectual core of The New Criterion.
We find ourselves as a nation at a critical moment in the ongoing battle for the soul of liberal democracy. It is with gratitude for your many years of support that we ask you to renew your pledge by giving to The New Criterion. The magazine simply would not exist without the help of you, our readers. We have been heartened in recent years by your ever-increasing response to our appeals, and we believe that our goal of 400 donors is within our reach. With your help, we are confident that we can continue to make an important contribution to the cultural life of the country.
Roger Kimball Editor & Publisher
P.S. Contributions of any size can help us to maintain a robust support structure. We need to raise $338,000 by the end of our fiscal year, June 30; find your place on the following!
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P.P.S. Please consider joining us as a Friend of The New Criterion with a donation of $2,000 or more. Leadership gifts of $25,000 or more will receive special mention in “Notes and Comments.” The New Criterion could not survive without sustainers like you. Thank you.
The New Criterion is published by The Foundation for Cultural Review, 900 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, a nonprofit public foundation as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which solicits and accepts contributions from a wide range of sources, including public and private foundations, corporations, and the general public. Contributions to The New Criterion are tax deductible according to the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. All gifts in excess of $75 will be acknowledged with a written disclosure statement describing the “quid pro quo” deductibility under section 6115 of the Internal Revenue Code.