World: 'Standpoint' Looks To Move The Earth
By Oleksa Semenchenko
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A new magazine has enlisted in the global war of ideas with a critical mission -- defending Western civilization in the face of the global terrorist threat.
"Standpoint" made its debut during a lavish ceremony on May 28 at central London's Hertford House, attracting prominent writers, scholars, and politicians.
Mingling amid the Wallace Collection, the guests became familiar with the magazine's vision. "Give me a 'Standpoint,' and I will move the Earth," Editor in Chief Daniel Johnson told them, in a slight rephrasing of Archimedes.
Johnson told RFE/RL why the magazine's editorial board -- which includes Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul, Labour Member of Parliament (MP) Frank Field, Conservative MP Michael Gove, and the playwright Tom Stoppard -- saw the need for a new, center-right magazine.
"'Standpoint' is a new magazine designed to defend and celebrate Western civilization. That is our mission and the idea behind it," he explained. "I believe very strongly that such magazine is needed now, especially in Europe and especially since 9/11."
The Cold War, Johnson said, "could never have been won if there had not been a battle of ideas as well as military, strategic, and economic struggle."
Magazines -- particularly the trans-Atlantic publication "Encounter" -- played a leading part in this battle, he said. But ever since "Encounter" ceased publication with the fall of the Berlin Wall, "people have felt a need for such a magazine again, and especially since new threats have arisen to the West."
Johnson said this need "has become very urgent," making it a "very good time to launch this magazine, particularly here in Britain where the political climate is changing very fast." As for the world as a whole, the time is right "for a cultural and political magazine of ideas to emerge which would stand up strongly for values and achievements of the West," he said.
"Standpoint" covers the waterfront in politics and culture -- "everything except the debased celebrity and lifestyle culture that most other magazines are obsessed with," according to Johnson.
The first issue, for example, features new works by world-renowned artist David Hockney and poet Robert Conquest alongside articles by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and Alain de Botton on faith and by Jung Chang and Simon Sebag Montefiore on Mao and Stalin.
Some observers may find similarities between the new magazine and the already existing "Prospect" publication, but Johnson disagrees.
"I think there is a fundamental difference. 'Prospect' is a good magazine, but it does not have the same kind of mission as 'Standpoint,'" he said. " 'Prospect' emerged in mid-1990s during that strange interregnum between the Cold War and the war on terror. It is very much associated with the rise of New Labour in Britain and provided a very useful platform for their debates. It is certainly left-of-center and it doesn't have, I think, the same interest in defending and celebrating the Western civilization, as 'Standpoint.'"
At any rate, he said, "I think there is room for both magazines -- they are very different."
In fact, Johnson recalled, it was in the 1980s in Bonn, where he and "Prospect" Editor David Goodheart both worked as correspondents, that the two first spoke about launching a new magazine.
"He got there about 13 years before I did," Johnson said. "I am very glad that now I too have the chance to start a new magazine which, I think, will have a much wider appeal, much more international purpose, and particularly a very strong trans-Atlantic content."
the web version of "Standpoint" can be found at http://www.standpointmag.co.uk