The year 2015 marks The Nation’s 150th anniversary (see here for a schedule of live events). This week, to celebrate the occasion, we’re publishing a very special anniversary issue, one of the longest in the magazine’s long history.
This issue, which I co-edited with D.D. Guttenplan, our London correspondent, weaves together voices from The Nation’s rich history with contributors writing about the current cultural and political moment. In a rich series archival excerpts, we reprint some of the best that was thought and said in our pages—much of it inspiring and eerily prescient, some of it shocking. We have also included a few selections that turned out to be less than prophetic.
Interspersed with the archival excerpts are three sections of new material. In the first, “The Nation and the Nation,” writers explore the magazine’s outsized influence on everything from poetry to feminism, radicalism to right-wing conservatism, Cuba to coverage of the arts. In “Fierce Urgencies,” contributors consider topics like the politics of fear, from anticommunism in the 1950s to Islamophobia today, and the relationship of the left to power—in movements, in electoral politics and in government. Finally, in “Radical Futures,” writers and activists map out new strategies for radicals, progressives and liberals seeking to expand the terms of our public discussion and look beyond the present moment.
Change is inevitable, but the one constant in The Nation’s history has been faith—not in political parties or policies, but in what can happen when you tell people the truth. It is this notion that has sustained The Nation since its founding: that and the idea that there are always alternatives—in history, in politics, in life—that would make our country and the world a more humane, just and secure place.
Our very first issue described “the conflict of the ages, the great strife between the few and the many, between privilege and equality, between law and power, between opinion and the sword.” This anniversary issue is a record of the last 150 years of that conflict—and as long as The Nation is around, that fight will go on. With your help, we’ll be fighting for another 150 years and beyond!
—Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher
Download a PDF of the full special issue.
150 Years of Telling the Truth, by Katrina vanden Heuvel
The Founding Mission Statement of America’s Oldest Weekly Magazine
A Message From President Barack Obama
The Nation and the Nation: Radicals, rebels, poets, pioneers, feminists, fantasists and other voices from our hidden history.
Fierce Urgencies: From the way we were then to the way we live now.
Radical Futures: Harbingers of change, peeks over the horizon, maps of Utopia—and other strategies for keeping hope alive.
Toward a Third Reconstruction: A Conversation with Eric Foner, Darryl Pinckney, Mychal Denzel Smith, Isabel Wilkerson and Patricia J. Williams.
Why We Can’t Wait: Visions for a radical future, from StudentNation contributors and former interns.
Excerpts from The Nation’s Archives, 1865–2015
The Nation: A Biography, Part I, Part II, Part III
A Wake-Up Call for US Liberals, by Eric Alterman
Irresponsible Power, by Gary Younge
Letters to the Editor
Testimonials to The Nation
* * *
The Nation and the Nation
Radicals, rebels, poets, pioneers, feminists, fantasists and other voices from our hidden history.
Eric Foner: Freedom’s Song Illustrated by Steve Brodner
JoAnn Wypijewski: Night Thoughts
Rick Perlstein: Going All the Way Illustrated by Eugène Mihaesco
Elizabeth Pochoda: How to Lose Friends and Influence People
Ange Mlinko: The Dream Life of Desire
Betsy Reed and Katha Pollitt: Spreading Feminism Far and Wide
Frances Jetter: Works on Paper
Peter Kornbluh: Cuba Libre
David Corn: How I Got That Story
Calvin Trillin: Cruising to Port
Maria Margaronis: Radical Hope
Ariel Dorfman: Separated at Birth Illustrated by Yuko Shimizu
* * *
From the way we were then to the way we live now.
Marilynne Robinson: A Sense of Obligation
Victor Navasky: The Roads Not Taken
Victor Juhasz: His Master’s Voice
Walden Bello: The Left in Power
Kai Bird: Revisiting ‘Myths About the Middle East’: The Case for Disengagement
Art Spiegelman: Drawing the Line
Michael Tomasky: Lesser-Evilism We Can Believe In
Robert L. Borosage: Occupy and Organize
Michael Sorkin: Weird Bedfellows
Helen Lewis: Game Not Over
Tom Tomorrow: All the Right Enemies
Moustafa Bayoumi: ‘Why Do They Hate Us?’
Michael Moore: Michael Moore for President
* * *
Harbingers of change, peeks over the horizon, maps of Utopia—and other strategies for keeping hope alive.
Toni Morrison: No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear
Rebecca Solnit: Unpredictable Weather Illustrated by Eric Drooker
Jack O’Dell: Beginning to See the Light
Noam Chomsky: Killing the Commons Illustrated by Milton Glaser
Stuart Klawans: Traces of Light
Gene Seymour: Future Sounds
Dave Zirin: A World of Sports Worth Fighting For
E.L. Doctorow: Home Illustrated by Mirko Ilic
Joel Rogers: Productive Democracy
Kshama Sawant: Socialist Politics: The Heart of Rebuilding the Left
Michael Massing: An Investigative Blueprint Illustrated by Marshall Arisman
Michael Massing: Unburying the Lede
David Cole: Privacy 2.0: Surveillance in the Digital Age
John Nichols: Move to Amend
Bhaskar Sunkara: A Red by Any Other Name
Jon Wiener: It’s Time to End Tuition at Public Universities—and Abolish Student Debt
Thomas Geoghegan: The Big Fix
Amy Wilentz: The Future of a Failed State
Mark Gevisser: Engendered
* * *
Excerpts from The Nation’s Archives, 1865–2015
Founded by abolitionists to finish the job of Emancipation, The Nation became a moribund defender of the status quo. But its firm anti-imperialism, and one crusading editor, brought it back to life.
1865–1875: When Corporations Became America’s Aristocracy
Henry James: Mr. Walt Whitman
Frederick Law Olmsted: Chicago in Distress
1875–1885: Custer’s Last Stand and the Power of Tammany Hall
E.L. Godkin: The Sources of Communism
1885–1895: Anarchists Are Vagabonds and Ruffians and Threaten Everything We Most Value on Earth
E.L. Godkin and Rochelle Gurstein: Clickbait Has Plagued Journalism for 125 Years
The Editors: The New Football
1895–1905: When the American Empire Was Born
Horace White and Elinor Langer: American Imperialism: This Is When It All Began
1905–1915: Henry James’s Obscurities
Oswald Garrison Villard: What Would Lincoln Think of Race Relations on His 100th Birthday?
Simeon Strunsky and Richard Kreitner: When the Constitution Becomes The Last Resort of Scoundrels
From World War I to Vietnam, from the red scare to McCarthyism, The Nation stood firm for civil liberties and civil rights, even when that meant being banned—or standing alone.
1915–1925: Radicals in a Time of Hysteria
Floyd Dell and Michelle Goldberg: Can Men and Women Be Friends?
William MacDonald and Mayor Bill de Blasio: If We Repossessed Empty Homes, Homelessness Would Be Over
1925–1935: Is Art Possible in the United States?
Langston Hughes and Touré: Loving Blackness in a Nation Ruled by White Supremacy
Albert Einstein: Was Europe a Success?
Emma Goldman and Vivian Gornick: When the World Became a Huge Penitentiary
1935–1945: The Establishment of a Warless World Must Be Our Goal
John Dos Passos: Big Parade—1936
John Steinbeck: On the Violent Repression of the Fight for Migrant Workers’ Rights
I.F. Stone: For the Jews—Life or Death?
1945–1955: We Face a Choice Between One World or None
James Agee: The Salt of the Earth
Hannah Arendt: French Existentialism
Jean-Paul Sartre: Americans and Their Myths
Bernard Fall and Frances FitzGerald: The Reporter Who Warned Us Not to Invade Vietnam 10 Years Before the Gulf of Tonkin
Ray Bradbury: What Science Fiction Teaches Us About Reality
1955–1965: Down the Road of Folly
W.E.B. Du Bois: I Won’t Vote
Ralph Nader: The Safe Car You Can’t Buy
Howard Zinn and Paula J. Giddings: When Respectability Was No Longer Respectable, and Virtue Required Acting Out, Not Leaning In
Jessica Mitford: The Indignant Generation
A forum for debate between radicals and liberals in an age of austerity, surveillance and endless war, The Nation has long had one foot inside the establishment and one outside it.
1965–1975: How To Tell The Rebels Have Won
Wendell Berry and Wen Stephenson: The Gospel According to Wendell Berry
Martin Luther King Jr.: The Last Steep Ascent
Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward: The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty
Hunter S. Thompson: The Motorcycle Gangs: Losers and Outsiders
James Baldwin and Carrie Mae Weems : James Baldwin: A Report From Occupied Territory
1975–1985: Standing in Solidarity Against Jackbooted Oppressors
William Appleman Williams and Greg Grandin: Is America Possible Without Empire?
Gore Vidal: ‘Some’ Jews & ‘the’ Gays
Barbara Ehrenreich: Can Women and Men Live Together Again?
E.P. Thompson: East, West—Is There a Third Way?
1985–1995: The Radical Reformation of American Politics and Culture
Christopher Hitchens: Terrorism and Its Discontents
Alexander Cockburn: The Stars Were Their Alibi
Alice Walker: What Can the White Man Say to the Black Woman?
Edward Miliband: Maggie Stumbles
Katha Pollitt: Are Women Morally Superior to Men?
Tony Kushner: A Socialism of the Skin
Adolph Reed Jr.: Adolph Reed Destroys ‘The Bell Curve’
1995–2005: Our Enemies Cannot Defeat Us—Only We Can
Edward Said: There Cannot Be Peace and Security Until the Cause of Palestinian Suffering Is Addressed
Marshall Berman: What Does ‘The Communist Manifesto’ Have to Offer 150 Years After Its Publication?
Mark Hertsgaard: A Global Green Deal
2005–2015: This All Seems Eerily Familiar
* * *
Poems From the Archives
Robert Frost: The Bear
Sylvia Plath: Two Views of a Cadaver Room
Frank O’Hara: Present
William Butler Yeats: Hound Voice
W.H. Auden: The Fall of Rome
Claude McKay: Home Song
John Berryman: Dream Song
Allen Ginsberg: Now and Forever
Wallace Stevens: The Plain Sense of Things
Adrienne Rich: Parting
Anne Sexton: The Starry Night
LeRoi Jones: Tight Rope
Elizabeth Bishop: Varick Street
Marianne Moore: The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing
William Carlos Williams: The Injury
Mahmoud Darwish: And We Love Life
Magazine issue cover: art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA. New York, NY Jasper Johns (b. 1930). Three Flags, 1958. Encaustic on canvas, 30 5/8 x 45 1/2 x 4 5/8 in. (77 .8 x 115.6 x 11.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchased with funds from the Gilman Foundation Inc., the Lauder Foundation, A. Alfred Taubman, Laura Lee Whittier Woods, Howard Lipman and Ed Downe, in honor of the museum’s fiftieth anniversary 80.32 Digital lmage © Whitney Museum of American Art, NY