In a classically neo-conservative review for the Public Interest, Kay Hymowitz argues that advertising is corrupting children:
The truth is that hundreds of times each day, between television, the Internet, billboards, school vending machines, and curriculums, kids are prodded to do things that responsible parents don’t particularly want them to do—whether eating purple spaghetti or dressing like a streetwalker. This is at the very least a morally ambiguous state of affairs and, potentially, one of capitalism’s most serious cultural contradictions. A free society benefits from open markets; it also needs adults to see to it that children grow up to be virtuous citizens. Could it be that the former undermines the latter?
Neo-conservatives of the 60s and 70s were famous for their ‘two-cheers’ attitude to markets. As the 70s got underway, Daniel Bell argued that the corporate class had abdicated responsibility for maintaining moral values and that the vacuum was filled by liberals who had no clue about what held society together. Today the label neo-conservative is more likely to be associated with the feral foreign policy of the Bush administration. Most commentators have forgotten (if they ever knew) what the neo-conservative movement was all about.
Perhaps the old neo-conservatism has been absorbed back into the political center by the Third Way movement of the 90s. Or maybe the recent economic boom has made conservatives less worried about the growth of the welfare state. But whatever has happened, the Public Interest is a less influential journal than it once was.
Now, in a recent column for the New York Times, David Brooks announces that the Public Interest is folding. It’s core insight, he says, was that "Human beings, or governments, are not black boxes engaged in a competition of interests. What matters most is the character of the individual, the character of the community and the character of government." Who on the right will say that now?