It’s almost like completing a circle. Dissent marks its 25th Anniversary with an issue featuring articles on the swing to the right in American politics and intellectual life. When we started in 1954, we were polemicizing against a similar trend. There are differences, of course. We have no McCarthyism today, and that is good. But the intellectual level of present-day conservatism is decidedly lower than that of its ’50s predecessor, and politically the current rightward trend is deadlier, nastier, and more dangerous than what we had in the ‘SOs. “Ikeism” meant stagnation but not a serious effort to dismantle the welfare state, such as we witness today.
How strong is the rightward trend? It would be foolish to delude, or console, ourselves with mere scannings of public-opinion polls and even electoral results. Albert Shanker, an intelligent man, has recently written t...
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