Thoughts From the Magazine Rack

Why does the right seem to have so many more serious, policy-oriented journals dedicated to hashing out intramovement questions?  The National Interest, the newly-defunct Public Interest, and all the others lacking "Interest" in the title and traction in my memory comprise a pretty impressive group on the shelf.  The left has Dissent, but even that's more like a standard leftish magazine with an editor determined to give his articles heft than an analogue to the right's weighty contenders.

It's not, mind you, that I think more policy journals would somehow leave us in a stronger electoral position or offer ideas we somehow lack.  Quite the opposite.  Democrats could do with a defetishization of academic intelligence and a little more respect for specific sorts of certitude, but those are electoral considerations.  I'm a blue state elitist and I deserve my journals, or at least an explanation as to their absence!  Is the answer that the left's intellectual-minded members are mostly in the academy, and those of us hoping to publish in substantive journals are writing for academic ones?

More unsettling, do you have any idea how many magazines devoted to the Civil War are on a Borders newstand at any given time?  Six.  Two focusing on Gettysburg, one on Appotomax, one on great generals (this issue focused on Lee, and I assume it alternates between him and Stonewall Jackson), and two on general civil war scholarship.  Six different titles all on newstands at once?  That means there's a market.  A hell of a market.  Particularly considering the sales aren't coming in Southern California, but are still strong enough to support a robust selection in the LA stores. 

Lately, I've been reading through Tony Horwitz's Confederates in the Attic (very good, though a bit longer than it needs to be), trying to puzzle out whether the nostalgia he's tracking is isolated or widespread, harmless or meaningful.  Since he hasn't commissioned a poll for me to leaf through, it's all deduction, but if Georgia's fights over the rebel flag and Borders' 32 flavors of Civil War remembrance are to be taken at face value, well...

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