Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Successfully Selling Anti-Capitalism

In a surprising development for political opinion magazines, the lefty standard-bearer The Nation is declaring profitability for possibly the first time ever. As Frank Ahrens of the Washington Post reminds us, it is expected that even such venerable titles as National Review and The New Republic continue to bleed their benefactors of steady amounts of cash year after year. The ideological irony comes in publisher Victor Navasky's capitalistic strategies for success - selling access to the magazine's online archives to universities for as much as $10,000 a year and running a series of luxury cruises and seminars for well-heeled subscribers. The cruise idea is especially amusing given writer Eric Alterman's cover story from October 1997 mocking the fundraising cruise hosted by National Review:

"The great thing about being a right-winger, so far as I can tell, is that you get to exploit people and feel good about it. Any self-respecting liberal would feel guilty being so well served by so many apparent Third Worlders. But the National Review cruisers don't feel guilty about anything, and it seems to make them nicer people. They are polite. They don't sneer. They seem to really care when they ask how you feel, how you slept or how you can possibly believe what you read in the "liberal media." The young female guards posted outside the auditorium to keep out the nonpaying riffraff are warm and friendly. Just think of the angst any decent-minded liberal would experience at the thought of refusing entry to a seminar on how to save the country."

Note: Not only has Navasky come to embrace the idea of elitist vacations as left-wing fundraising opportunities, but as it turns out in December 2000 the friends and editorial staff of The Nation cruised on exactly the same ship - Holland America's M.S. Ryndham - that has been used by the NR crowd to "exploit people and feel good about it" in 1997. Ha.


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