20 January 2007

The despised Andrew Sullivan

Ezra Klein notes that arrogant conservative Andrew Sullivan, who currently blogs at Time, is going to The Atlantic Monthly.

Klein writes that it was bad enough that Time carried him, but The Atlantic? How could they?

Well, for one thing, The Atlantic isn't progressive. If Sullivan was going to Harpers, now that would be news.

Source Watch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, says The Atlantic "registers increasingly as a neocon dominated periodical."

The 1999 article that The Atlantic ran on how the earth could sustain 100 billion people — what was the worry about a measly 6 billion? — was the one that did it for me. That's not publishing the other side of the story. That's publishing a rank lie. Max Singer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, wrote that humanity's population future would be a matter of fashion:

"Fashions in families might keep changing, so that world fertility bounced above and below replacement rate. If each bounce took only a few decades or generations, world population would stay within a reasonably narrow range-although probably with a long-term trend in one direction or the other.

"The values that influence decisions about having children seem, however, to change slowly and to be very widespread. If the average fertility rate were to take a long time to move from well below to well above replacement rate and back again, trends in world population could go a long way before they reversed themselves. The result would be big swings in world population-perhaps down to one or two billion and then up to 20 or 40 billion."

To think that the earth could sustain 40 billion humans is beyond conservative and into crazy. And here's the last line: "What we have learned from the dramatic changes of the past few centuries is that regardless of the size of the world population at any time, people's personal decisions about how many children they want can make the world population go anywhere-to zero or to 100 billion or more."

He's more worried about a birth dearth, by the way, than overpopulation.

Eric Alterman in The Nation reminds us that The Atlantic's late editor Michael Kelly, a "belligerent right-winger... proceeded to add a bunch of Weekly Standard writers to its antiliberal stable."

How about The Atlantic columnist and anti-feminist Caitlin Flanagan, who delights in pitting stay-at-home moms against those who work for a paycheck?

Christopher Hitchens also regularly writes for The Atlantic. He's a similar character, although Hitchens went from usually left to the right when he vehemently supported the invasion of Iraq. Sullivan has always called himself a conservative.

Both men are arrogant, brilliant writers — they no doubt see themselves as the intellectual heirs of William Buckley. All three men are infuriatingly wrong some to much of the time, but they're still a pleasure to read and listen to. Andrew Sullivan was also intellectually honest about the Bush administration's incompetence before the 2004 elections.

I'd rather see Sullivan at The Atlantic than Flanagan.


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SadButTrue said...

It's very rare these days to hear anyone talking about overall global population control, which is after all the most responsible way of ensuring long-term environmental goals. Back in the '70s it was a number one topic, and all universities put Paul Ehrlich's The Population Time Bomb on the reading lists of introductory biology courses.

The problem is, the idea is in conflict with the 'forced growth' paradigm of corporate capitalism. Since the multinationals now have more collective power than any government, a return to sanity is not likely in our near future.

Kristen Marie Hannum said...

I'd always seen the backlash against family planning as part of the backlash against women and the patriarchal imperatives and fear of sex among the religious right.

But you're right, it's also absolutely a part of corporatism. How to grow the markets, if the markets aren't growing? Yet in the background, this tension about the obvious fact that the planet is finite.

I suppose that's resolved for most people by not thinking about it.