American Proscenium

American Proscenium (Part 1)

The New Republic has published an anniversary issue (1914-1984) devoted to its own history. Professor John P. Diggins subtitles this epic as "seventy years of enlightened mistakes, princi­pled compromises, and unconvention­al wisdom"–an absolution by way of paradoxes. In fact, Prof. Diggins's re­port reads as a tale of foolish wise men who may always claim the privilege of a time-warp or historical corrective, which delivers them from all responsi­bility for what they were "then" think­ing, writing, and extolling. The im­maturity of a young Walter Lippmann and the smelly Stalinism of a ripe Malcolm Cowley are not, to our mind, the most honorable pages in the annals of American journalism. The newest rendition of TNR under the stewardship of Martin Peretz, for all its dialectical arrogance and ideological superstition, seems to us a vast im­provement over what TNR was in its heyday of "enlightened mistakes."   cc

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