Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Schrupp. Photo: Griffen Dempsey
What are the origins of The California Review? The website dates The California Review all the way back to the 80s, so what happened between then and now that caused its disappearance?
The California Review was first published on January 7, 1982 to serve as an outlet for conservative and libertarian thought at a time when campus culture suppressed all such thinking. It’s equally curious and disheartening how little things have changed in that regard.
From what I can tell (with regards to the occasional disappearance and resurgence of the paper), a core group of students revive The California Review for their tenures at UCSD and fail to recruit replacements once they graduate.
How did you learn of the CalRev and what is the motivation to revive it?
I was approached by a certain Drew Olbrantz, both a good friend and fellow College Republican at the time, and he told me that CalRev alumni were hoping to see the paper revived. He believed, correctly, that I would be the perfect man for the job—it was a responsibility I was honored to accept.
As for my motivation? I see a media landscape mired down in trench warfare—static lines, bloody and pointless frontal assaults with no appreciable gains, and an absolute lack of creativity. This applies not just to college newspapers focused on procedural news, but national media as a whole. Media is either too tame and too afraid of offending audiences to get anything of value done, or have their heads so far up their asses in partisan warfare that they lose all credibility by consciously serving as the propaganda arms of their respective political allies. I see an opening, and I’m grabbing it by the balls. Feel free to cite me verbatim.
Who is on the current staff and to whom are you trying to expand?
In the scant few weeks since we’ve launched, we’ve recruited writers from across the country, from Stanford in the west to Davidson in the east. We have contributors of all colors: analysis specialists to fiction writers, photo essayists to cartoonists. I want to host as much content as I can with the sole intention of getting people to think.
What are The California Review’s goals for publication?
You don’t get people to think by being shamelessly partisan, nor do you spark their souls by producing flat, unobjectionable content. You get people to come for the writers they love and then you have a good chance they might read something from someone they don’t. I want to see comment sections get messy because when ideological warfare occurs without the other side present, when things become endless echo chambers—that’s when we have a problem. That’s when we create hyper-partisan political monsters that manifest themselves in Congress and in the media in the likes of Milo Yannoupolis, Chuck Schumer, The New York Times, and Fox News.
Now, I’m not trying to get people to sit in a circle and sing kumbaya because it’s a waste of my time—it’s never gonna happen. I want people to critically analyze arguments and engage in debate, civil or not.
Of course, some content is going to be non-partisan and geared towards objective enlightenment. For example, a correspondent of ours in Barcelona examined the Catalonian independence movement in depth, and I recently published a piece of my own on recent political developments in Iraq. There are important international stories that get buried in the blaring sirens of the 24 hour news cycle, and I believe it’s important to cancel out the noise and highlight issues that otherwise would receive little to no attention in the United States.
Furthermore, we are focused on building a vibrant culture section. Short stories, art reviews, poetry, photo essays, fashion culture, literary analysis—these are all in our development pipeline and will be coming out shortly. People should be proud to see their work in print, and not just in niche publications tailor-made for one segment of the population or another—there should be a place where a healthy variety of work emphasizes the strengths and attractions of each. It’s sometimes useful to look at things from the microscopic, individual level, but stories, feelings, and movements—political, cultural, artistic, or otherwise—need to be put into the wider context of the world at large.
When I look for writers, I look for people who are serious about their work. Not only serious people, mind you—that would suck all the fun out of it—but people who deeply care about what they produce and feel personally compelled to create. I’m looking for that itch.
Lastly, my goal is to create a nationwide publication consumed by all facets of society. I want readers to log in, read articles by and maybe even comment on behalf of authors they agree with, and then to go over to the opposition ready for war. Without a real test of ideas, without authors and audiences engaged in constant battle, you’re not going to see any progress. There are more things in heaven and earth than dreamt of in our philosophy, and with greater exposure to ideas, experiences, and feelings, so our capacity for thinking grows. Anybody should be able to contribute to the national conversation, and as long as work is of commensurate quality—whether any of our editors may fundamentally disagree with it or not—we are not afraid to publish it. This shouldn’t be a walled off ecosystem only for well-established talking heads and yawning academics. That isn’t to say that we want people who are ignorant, but, rather, we do not hesitate to seek those who might have less than conventional backgrounds.
There needs to be a fundamental change to the culture of this country, and we need a breath of fresh air not tied down by ideology but free to flow wherever and do whatever the fuck it wants. I know you’re full of skepticism and have little faith that this experiment will last, but remember: they said the same thing about the United States, and boy, did we sure prove them wrong.