Current Affairs

How We Know We’re Prophets

Current Affairs sees all, Current Affairs knows all.

Here at Current Affairs, we try to avoid gratuitous horn-tooting. Humility is our watchword. Nevertheless, at a certain point a fact can become so obvious that to deny it would be false modesty. And lately, the evidence has stacked up so high as to be positively irrefutable: We at Current Affairs are prophets. We can see the future. We know what will happen before it happens.

“Impossible!” you say. “Only Five Thirty Eight can see the future.” But you would be wrong. We can too. “Show me the evidence!” you demand. “If the case is so strong, then prove it!” Very well. We will present seven case studies, and at the end you will be so firmly convinced of our ability to see forward in time that you will invest your life savings in the First National Bank of Current Affairs.

1. We predicted Trump

In February of 2016, we published an article saying that if the Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump would be president. The Democrats did indeed nominate Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump became president. It is very easy nowadays, of course, to predict the presidency of Donald Trump. It was not so easy back in February of 2016, when very few people were doing so. This was a very successful prophecy. (We later published an article suggesting that it was strategically unwise to run a candidate who was under active investigation by the FBI. When James Comey released a bombshell letter damaging the Democratic candidate, our theory was confirmed.)

2. We predicted Kevin Williamson’s book

In our May-June 2018 issue, we ran a satirical advertisement for a book by National Review writer Kevin D. Williamson. The advertisement looked like this:

The thrust of it is that Williamson is being persecuted by Twitter mobs, and has produced a bestselling book arguing that social justice warriors are silencing the speech of conservatives. Lo and behold, in July 2019 Williamson released a book about how Twitter mobs were silencing conservatives:

We have generously decided against suing Mr. Williamson for infringement of our copyright.

3. We predicted what a right-wing professor would do next

In April 2017, political science professor Bruce Gilley published a horrendous article called “In Defense of Colonialism.” Gilley overlooked the long record of colonial atrocities and produced fallacious and reprehensible arguments justifying some of history’s worst crimes. Current Affairs editor Nathan J. Robinson produced a detailed explanation of why the article was an intellectual and moral failure. He warned, however, that one should be careful about trying to censor the article, because Prof. Gilley would simply portray himself as a persecuted dissident, without having to respond to the actual arguments against his work. Sure enough, the article was taken down after the publisher received threats of violence, and Prof. Gilley took to the Chronicle of Higher Education and Quillette to discuss how his controversial theories were being silenced and stifled. He did not respond to the actual arguments against his work.

4. We predicted Jordan Peterson’s lobster theory

In 2015, Current Affairs editors Oren Nimni and Nathan J. Robinson published a parody of nonsensical academic theorizing called Blueprints for a Sparkling Tomorrow, which contains a passage recommending that human beings look to lobsters for moral advice: 

“We therefore propose a substitute outlet for humankind’s affections: the arthropod. Anyone who has attended a lobster wedding knows full well the kind of profundity and romanticism of which these divine creatures are capable. Yet the arthropod languishes in America’s batting-cages and seafood joints, stripped of its potential and dismissed in its attempts to make edifying contributions to civic life.”

Several years later, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson made a small fortune after recommending that human beings look to lobsters as role models.

5. We predicted that conservatives couldn’t tell ludicrous caricatures of college life from reality

In The Current Affairs Big Book of Amusementsartist Chelsea Saunders presents a satirical panorama called “The Campus In The Mind of a U.S. Conservative,” mocking the delusional conservative caricature of American college life. The classics department was being ransacked, students were dancing giddily around a statue of Mao, and white men were being dragged away by pronoun police. A good joke at the expense of the right, we thought. But soon, the message of our artwork was confirmed: Someone removed “In The Mind of a U.S. Conservative” from the illustration and it became hugely popular in the Donald Trump subreddit. “That’s exactly what it’s like!” they chuckled, not realizing that the entire point of the diagram was that this was what they would say.

6. We predicted that Silicon Valley would reinvent taxes and government

In our July-August 2019 issue, we ran a short satirical article by Emma del Valle called “Public Sector Services Rebranded as Private-Sector Startups.” It begins with apps that reinvent the library and the subway. By the end, Silicon Valley has reasoned its way to reconstructing the entire idea of government and taxation, with an app called PayShare:

If you’re having a hard time managing all your memberships, the good people at PayShare feel your pain. Sometimes, it’s hard to deal with all those accounts, apps, and separate bills. It’s especially inefficient given that many of your neighbors also take advantage of these same services, and struggle to keep track of all their payments too! With PayShare, this problem is a thing of the past. PayShare is working with local governments to implement a PayShare system in which everyone in a neighborhood chips in a low fee—far lower than individual memberships—to make access to services universal to all subscribers. It’s a radical idea, but one that experts think may just become the hottest new trend.

Today, the Wall Street Journal suggested a new kind of “crowdfunding” technique that would involve pooling the money of large numbers of people around the country and using it to pay for medical expenses. The only remaining question is what you might call such a system.

7. We predicted Bret Stephens’ newspaper column

In our July-August 2019 issue, cartoonist Jason Adam Katzenstein contributed a satirical column by a fictitious New York Times columnist, who uses a rude tweet someone sent him to discuss the decline of values and the erosion of discourse. The week after our print edition went to press, actual columnist Bret Stephens of the actual New York Times produced a column on the decline of values and the erosion of discourse based on a rude tweet someone sent him.

It should be evident to all that Current Affairs is infallible in its assessment of human character and the unfolding of future events. Life will continue to imitate Current Affairs ever more closely. We do not believe any magazine can match our record. You may subscribe here.

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