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Magazines don’t thrive as billionaires’ playpens: More on the “New Republic” wars

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Principally because The New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier (since fired) dared to question scientism, we took an interest, of course. See “A Darwinist mob goes after a serious philosopher” and “The New Republic collapse: Even the keynote speaker cancelled her subscription.”

In “How Philistinism Wrecked ‘The New Republic’” (Chronicle of Higher Education), Princeton history prof Sean Wilentz offers

Leon Wieseltier presided over his own preserve at TNR—very much part of the magazine, but as a semi-autonomous principality. I recall attending, 15 years ago, some of the Thursday editorial meetings, where writers reported on their continuing labors and the staff blocked out forthcoming issues. Wieseltier would sit at the far end of a long table, along with other editors and staff members connected to the back of the book, facing the rest of the magazine’s editors, contributing to the conversation, sometimes with edgy humor; and there was never a hint that anyone would interfere with his pages.

Wieseltier’s section had a political soul that could not be defined by the reigning spectrum of left and right. It was liberal, but not in the sense that the New Deal was liberal, or the Great Society, or any permutation and combination of liberal politics since then. It was more philosophical than that, yet it was also oppositional and even insurgent, which made it exciting—an enemy to the politics of identity, to historical determinism of every kind, and, more recently, to scientism. The presiding shades included, above all, two of his teachers, Lionel Trilling and Sir Isaiah Berlin.

The comments are a sight, and some tell us a lot about what went wrong. When culture goes Darwin, it sure goes.

Free advice: Subscribe to whatever Wieseltier now runs, unimpeded.

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4 Replies to “Magazines don’t thrive as billionaires’ playpens: More on the “New Republic” wars

  1. 1
    Learned Hand says:

    Are you referring to the commenters in that piece defending the magazine’s choice to reprint a chapter of The Bell Curve? Odd, if so, given that it’s the experts in evolutionary biology who have taken the lead against pseudoscientific racial theories, like Wade’s recent project.

  2. 2
    Timaeus says:

    Learned Hand:

    Of course, we mustn’t forget that it was many of the “experts” in evolutionary biology 80 years ago or so who justified eugenics.

  3. 3
    Learned Hand says:

    Those people 80 years ago should be ashamed of themselves.

  4. 4
    Robert Byers says:

    As a Evangelical Canadian social/etc conservative I love any chaos to this rag of of the bad guys in human history.
    YES its embarrassing and hilarious to see them fighting each other but i don’t want them to matter. They are a enemy to all that i am.
    Fine about pointing out how control/censorship in the establishment is eating its own. AS predicted.
    The enemy of our enemy is also our enemy.
    Trouble with Hitler didn’t make Stalin a good Uncle Joe.

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