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The hottest spot last Wednesday

May 29th, 2010 - 3:47 am

It was hot in Washington, D.C., last Wednesday but the hottest spot was undoubtedly on the terrace of the Willard Hotel, and I am not talking only about the mercury.  Gathered there were 100 or so patriots concerned about the direction of the country. They had come to celebrate the first season of a new publishing initiative from Encounter Books, Encounter Broadsides. To date, we’ve published a baker’s dozen of these forthright educational pamphlets.

Joining me to talk about the Broadsides were Ambassador John Bolton, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and health-care campaigner Betsy McCaughey, whose “Obama Health Law: What It Says and How to Overturn It” just rolled off the press and will be available in bookstores and for download soon.

But what are Encounter Broadsides? One answer is that they are modestly priced, handsomely printed essays of some 5000-7000 words — long enough to elaborate a case, short enough to be composed quickly by a seasoned writer and to be read in a sitting.

Another, deeper, answer is that they are an effort to resuscitate an  18th-century literary form in a 21st century context. Just as Broadsides like The Federalist Papers and Common Sense helped define the aspirations of ordered liberty at the dawn of the United States, so Encounter Broadsides aim to inform, illuminate, arouse, and protect freedom in this troubled period of American history.  Together, Encounter Broadsides are a wake-up call. An alarm bell. A blueprint, if I may employ a once-popular phrase, for hope and change.

In an age when debate about critical matters is often compressed into the literary equivalent of a geometrical point, we saw that there was a new opportunity for commentary that is brief but thoughtful, authoritative yet timely.

With Encounter Broadsides, we aim to capitalize on that opportunity, providing new ammunition for serious debate. You can read them in a sitting and come away knowing the best we can hope for and the worst we must fear.

We aim not merely to comment on, but to intervene in the debate, bringing fresh perspectives to controversies that too often have been interred in the shallow grave of politically correct orthodoxy.

The goal of Encounter Broadsides is to change minds, not merely add to the pile of commentary. Ultimately, we seek to help shape policy and rescue the American dream from the nightmare of the new collectivism that is threatening our liberty, our prosperity, and our national security.

I believe this is a critical moment in the history of the West, and of America in particular. The economic crisis has precipitated a loss of confidence in the value of free markets unlike anything we have seen in decades. Socialism, and the soft-totalitarianism that follows in its wake, is making a comeback everywhere. At the same time, radical Islam confronts democratic society with a categorical and intransigent threat to its existence even as newly rampant authoritarian regimes from Russia and Iran to China and Venezuela are flexing their muscles. Truly, as the old Chinese curse would have it, these are interesting times.

I believe that Encounter Broadsides can play an important role in analyzing and educating the public about a broad range of critical issues. Written by some of our most lively and perceptive commentators, they make the case for liberty and the institutions of democratic capitalism at a time when they are under siege from the resurgence of collectivist sentiment and anti-democratic feeling.

You’ll be hearing more about Encounter Broadsides in the months ahead. In the meantime, here’s some advice: buy a Broadside, convert a liberal, save the nation.

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