My “Public Interest”

"My 'Public Interest'," The Weekly Standard, December 18, 2006.


In 1965, through a series of circumstances that need not be recounted here, the stars became properly aligned so that my wish could become a reality. Dan Bell and I were able to start a new magazine devoted exclusively to domestic social and economic policy. We brazenly called it The Public Interest, and in our opening statement declared it to be nonideological. We ourselves were rather unclear as to what we meant by that, but it soon became clear enough through the efforts of our contributors. It meant the proper, rigorous use of social-science methodology. In the feverish years of the 1960s, when what so often passed for social science was imbued with a sometimes apocalyptic, sometimes eschatological, but always political impulse, this very modest approach was refreshing. The result was a magazine with a distinctive tone that defined its identity for the next 40 years. To critics who thought this tone was distinctly conservative, I am tempted to quote Margaret Thatcher: “The facts of life are conservative.”

The Weekly Standard