In November 1955 the late William F Buckley Jr launched National Review, still America’s most influential conservative magazine, with a now legendary and still highly pertinent mission statement. Here is the most celebrated part of it: “The launching of a conservative weekly journal of opinion in a country widely assumed to be a bastion of conservatism at first glance looks like a work of supererogation, rather like publishing a royalist weekly within the walls of Buckingham Palace. It is not that, of course; if National Review is superfluous, it is so for very different reasons: it stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.”
Over the past week we have launched independentvoices.com, a new home for Comment, Campaigns and Community from The Independent titles. What I want us to achieve is a marriage of editorial brilliance, in the form of strong and clear argument, with digital power, in the form of viral campaigns – all of it in alliance with a community of ultra-engaged users. In other words, I want us to embody a spirit and disposition antithetical to Buckley, who is one of my great conservative heroes.
Just as Buckley countered the view that the National Review was “superfluous”, so independentvoices.com is not “a work of supererogation”, precisely because it will champion ideas which are becoming very unfashionable. I believe that destiny is an illusion; progress is possible, humanity can shape History; and “reason”, as Bertrand Russell put it, “may be a small force, but it works always in one direction, while the forces of unreason destroy one another in futile strife”. We’ll revel in the Enlightenment, and stand afore History, yelling Go!
I get very, very, very excited by the transformative power of digital technology and social media, to shine a light in dark places, to open up closed societies, to combat tyranny and theocracy and censorship, and to eliminate human suffering. Our new digital venture will riff on the brilliance of this newspaper and its sister title, The Independent; but it will be very independent too, with an editorial line and design that are unique.
Ultimately, its success will depend on how much people like you – who care for good prose, don’t fear a challenge to your preconceptions, and want to shape a better world – engage with us. I know you’ll sometimes be offended; but you’ll often be delighted and surprised too, and if just once you are spurred to positive action, then a “work of supererogation” we’ll certainly not be.
Amol Rajan is the Editor of independentvoices.com