In what Ross Douthat laments, I see cause for celebration:
“The eulogy that needs to be written,” Klein argued, is actually for an entire kind of publication — the “ambitious policy magazine,” whether on the left or right, that once set the terms of Washington’s debates.
With the emergence of the Internet, those magazines lost their monopolies, and the debate “spilled online, beyond their pages, outside their borders,” with both new competitors and specific voices (Klein kindly cites my own) becoming more important than before.
As Klein correctly implies, this shift has produced a deeper policy conversation than print journalism ever sustained. Indeed, the oceans of space online, the easy availability of studies and reports, the ability to go endless rounds on topics — plus the willingness of many experts to blog and bicker for the sheer fun of it! — has made the Internet era a golden age for technocratic argument and data-driven debate.
But there is a price to be paid as well. That price, Klein suggests, is the loss of the older magazines’ ability to be idiosyncratic and nonpandering and just tell their readers what they should care about…. The New Republic as-it-was, the magazine I and others grew up reading, was emphatically not just a “policy magazine.” It was, instead, a publication that deliberately integrated its policy writing with often-extraordinary coverage of literature, philosophy, history, religion, music, fine art.
It wasn’t just a liberal magazine, in other words; it was a liberal-arts magazine.
In other words, a small group of people will no longer enjoy the stranglehold they once possessed over politics, literature, philosophy, history, religion, music, and fine art, to “set the terms of Washington’s debates” and tell readers “what they should care about”.
This is supposed to be a bad thing? Are you kidding me?
The New Republic is gone. It would be a good thing for the American Right if National Review followed suit.