After Communism, What? Telling Views of Why Nations Succeed, Fail

Article excerpt

Starting off on a serious note, let me recommend most enthusiastically the lead article, "Post-Communism: An Infantile Disorder," by Jonathan Sunley in the summer issue of that consistently admirable quarterly, the National Interest. Author Sunley directs the Budapest branch of the Windsor Group, a pro-reform lobby active throughout Central Europe, and has lived in Hungary since 1991.

Mr. Sunley dissects the myth of nationalism, not to mention the myth of a bright future regarding the countries that lie behind what was once the Iron Curtain. He says the real challenge is for those who perceive the entire post-communist world as one vast powder keg of competing nationalities to explain why some inflammable trouble spots spontaneously combust while others do not. He notes, as a case in point, that the ethnic odds in the Balkans were stacked as much against Macedonia as Bosnia, yet the former did not explode. Why? he asks. Read the article to find his answers.

The same issue also offers Peregrine Worsthorne's thoughts on the situation in Northern Ireland, ". . . And Ulster Will Be Right"; Jonathan Clarke on "The Republicans and Foreign Policy" and three literary-oriented essays on Ortega y Gasset, Joseph Brodsky and Thomas Mann. Not light summer reading, but good, high-quality, meaty stuff on which to chew and come away enriched.

We slide off into the lighter side of life with the news that Parents has reached the venerable fourscore and 10. Yes, Parents will have been on our newsstands for 70 years this August. The anniversary issue looks back over the decades, running excerpts from articles that defined an era. Eleanor Roosevelt in June 1931 wrote on "Building Character"; in 1934 she wrote "Should a Boy Have a Gun? - No"; and in 1956, a little ahead of her time, she urged, "Let's Get Rid of Tele-Violence."

The first issue appeared in October 1926 and was titled Children: The Magazine for Parents. By 1929 the title had been shortened to its present form. The magazine was founded by George J. Hecht, a New York bachelor who got the idea from his pregnant sister. Parents' current editor-in-chief, Ann Pleshette Murphy, reports, "George Hecht's sister told him if you want to raise pigs, you can buy a manual to help you, but there's nothing out there to help you raise kids. And so, Parents was born." The cover price of the first issue was 25 cents. Today, it's $2.50, and the magazine has a total audience of 11 million readers.

The special issue also offers snippets from famous fathers that ran in past issues of the magazine. President Clinton said in May 1994 that he couldn't imagine what his life would have been like if he'd never become a father. O.J. Simpson in February 1977 found spanking the "most effective method with my children. Talking to them endlessly gets us nowhere, whereas if I spank them, they are calm and repentant afterward. …