National Review, the Musical! [Updated With Comment by John]

If Broadway can turn Alexander Hamilton’s life story into a rap musical, then why can’t we turn National Review‘s 60th anniversary into a musical number as well? Here it is:

NR asked me to contribute a short item to the 60th anniversary issue on what one book stands out for having influenced my thinking at a young age, and I selected C.S. Lewis’s Abolition of Man. Since it’s behind a paywall, here’s my squib for non-subscribers:

It is hard to single out just one book that decisively shaped my conservative outlook, especially since I was seemingly born “conservative by cell structure,” to borrow Whittaker Chambers’s phrase. National Review itself deserves much credit; I started reading NR in the 8th grade, and kept it tucked in my back pocket as I passed out John Ashbrook “No Left Turns” buttons during the 1972 GOP primaries.

But I can point to one book that, at an early moment, deepened by philosophical conservatism: C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. Still in high school I became curious about Lewis’s short preface to his anti-utopian novel That Hideous Strength, where he said the background teaching of the novel was explained in Abolition. Published in 1947, Lewis deduced from some faint clues of contemporary literature our subsequent descent into what we’d come to know as postmodern nihilism. Lewis warned that the “fatal serialism of the modern imagination” would generate “men without chests.” Our conquest of nature, he warned, would culminate in the conquest of human nature, which meant in practice the conquest of some men by other men. In other words, he foresaw the ideology of despotism, which could never remain soft or benevolent.

The Abolition of Man, barely 100 pages long, culminates in a simple but elegant argument on behalf of natural law—nay, of human nature itself. Human nature is the most controversial and overarching political question of our time. (And perhaps we should start calling leftists “human nature deniers”?) Lewis reminds us, finally, that “A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not a tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.”

JOHN adds: Credit for the video goes to Madison McQueen, a top-notch creative outfit that serves a number of conservative groups as well as blue-chip corporate clients. One of MM’s principals is Justin Folk, who won the Power Line Prize with an animated video in 2011, and a year later, with two colleagues, won the $1 million prize for the best commercial in the Super Bowl. If your business or political group needs creative talent, Madison McQueen is a good choice for your go-to firm.


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