January 9, 2008
"January, 1958, is not a happy time for the world: . . . One of the most vexing—and most immediate—problems we face is how to respond adequately to the dangers, without, in the process, undermining or destroying our own moral and intellectual tradition of civilized life. Can this tradition be saved, and the free nations of the world along with it, in an age of unparalleled, total, thermonuclear threat? And if this tradition cannot be saved, what is the fight all about? It is to deal with such questions as these that WORLDVIEW is published."
So ran in part the first editorial of WORLDVIEW monthly magazine, published by what was then the Church Peace Union (now known as the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs). Substitute 2008 for 1958 and add "stateless terrorist groups" to "thermonuclear threat" and it is clear that the moral questions posed almost 50 years ago remain just as pertinent today. We continue to contend with the dilemmas of American power, the threat of mass destruction, and the role of morality in international affairs.
For almost three decades, political philosophers, scholars, churchmen, statesmen and writers tackled the international issues of the day in WORLDVIEW's pages. Unlike the articles in many political affairs journals, however, they also attempted to frame the discussion in ethical terms and to place it within what WORLDVIEW itself referred to as the "West's perennial tradition, which is deeply, essentially rooted in the values of the Judeo-Christian, classical humanist view of man and society."
This mission paid homage to the Council's beginnings in 1914, when Andrew Carnegie assembled a group of distinguished religious leaders—Catholic, Protestant and Jewish—in the hope that together they could make a positive contribution to world affairs. In the decades spanned by WORLDVIEW, both the Council and the magazine remained primarily a forum for a select group of scholars and opinion makers, the majority with religious convictions and many from a Catholic background, although of different political allegiances and a wide range of (often clashing) opinions.
Thus to dip into the archives of WORLDVIEW is not only to relive the crises of the last 30 years through the eyes of leading contemporary thinkers and policy makers, but also to trace the history of foreign policy thought and debate in this country. "We were often ahead of the curve," recalls the magazine's last editor, John Tessitore. "WORLDVIEW was one of the first media to report on the tragic famine in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1980s, for example." That was in addition to looking at Europe, the Middle East, Asia (the war in Vietnam in particular), and Latin America. In addition to articles by regional experts, the magazine followed major stories such as nuclear weapons and arms control, ethics and the use of force, globalization of the economy, the environment (before it was widely written about), and human rights. Writers included:
To search the entire archive, click here.
Over the years the magazine's size waxed and waned, from a modest six-page newsletter in 1958, to a 60-70-page glossy magazine in 1972, shrinking ten years later to about half that size. WORLDVIEW had only three editors in its entire run. The founding editor, William Chancellor, was followed by James Finn in 1961, who remained at the helm for 19 years. John Tessitore succeeded Finn in 1980, the same year that the magazine expanded its book review section, taking on its first (and last) literary editor, John (Jack) Becker. When the magazine expanded in 1972, its editorial board grew to include such well-known thinkers as Hans Morgenthau and Kenneth Thompson, both of whom also contributed articles. Philosopher Charles Frankel was on the board from 1964-1967. Susan Woolfson was the tiny staff's mainstay for close to the lifetime of the magazine, working there from 1962 until the magazine closed in 1985, first as editorial assistant and then as managing editor.
WORLDVIEW ceased publication in 1985 for economic reasons. In 1987, the Council launched the journal Ethics & International Affairs. While the former was a magazine of opinions and reportage on public affairs aimed at a mainstream, educated audience, Ethics & International Affairs is a scholarly and reference publication. Meanwhile, the Council continues to reach a broader public through its public affairs programs and other materials.