Last fall, we invited a number of prominent American intellectuals who are not editors of Dissent to participate in a forum about the culture and politics of our country. It seems a good time for such a discussion. Both U.S. politics and culture are arenas of great tension-whether the strains portend national renewal, decline, or more of the same. Conservatives no longer dominate U.S. politics, but a new liberal era has not yet begun; digital technology has altered the ways most Americans inform and entertain themselves and communicate with others, but many worry that it also trivializes all forms of expression; for the first time, capitalism has become an entirely global system, but its fruits are, as always, distributed unequally, in the United States as well as abroad. It is far from clear what part American intellectuals-in and outside academia-play, or wish to play, in understanding and dealing with these issues. In 1952, Partisan Review, then near the apex of its influence, held a similar symposium, entitled "Our Country and Our Culture." Its purpose, wrote the magazine's editors, was "to examine the apparent fact that American intellectuals now regard America and its institutions in a new way." Most writers who advocated socialism during the 1930s no longer saw themselves as "rebels and exiles"; in the early years of the cold war, many even agreed that America had "become the protector of Western civilization, at least in a military and economic sense." But few intellectuals extended their new optimism about the nation to mass culture. "Its tendency," the editors of PR complained, "is to exclude everything that does not conform to popular norms; it creates and satisfies artificial appetites...[and] has grown into a major industry which converts culture into a commodity." In our own uncertain era, it is useful for women and men with a reputation for thoughtfulness and creativity to reflect on issues that bear profoundly on both their craft and their country. We asked four questions: 1. What relationship should American intellectuals have toward mass culture: television, films, mass-market books, popular music, and the Internet? 2. Does the academy further or retard the engagement of intellectuals with American society? 3. How should American intellectuals participate in American politics? 4. Do you consider yourself a patriot, a world citizen, or do you have some other allegiance that helps shape your political opinions? Each writer could choose to respond to one or all of them. We expect to run additional essays in a forthcoming issue. Adapted from the source document.
The next American president will confront a host of potential cataclysms: from a virulent financial crisis to a vicious terrorist enemy, nuclear proliferation to climate change. He'll need his country's brightest minds not his party's usual suspects. So the author asked 10 of the world's top thinkers to name the unlikely team that can best guide No. 44 through the turbulent years ahead. The 10 world's top thinkers are the following: Robert L. Gallucci, Christopher Betram, Gideon Rachman, Katrina Vanded Heuvel, Shashi Tharoor, Kishore Mahbubani, Cesare Merlini, Robert Baer, Grover Norquist, and Leslie H Gelb. Adapted from the source document.