It seems rather appropriate that America has transcended its "original sin" and elected a black man president in Charles Darwin's bicentenary year. Our anniversary contribution by Adrian Desmond offers a revisionist account of how Darwin's theory of evolution was inspired by his determination to prove correct the anti-slavery movement's claim about mankind's common roots. Many scientists will scoff, but the cause was close to Darwin's heart, and in his most productive period—the late 1830s—it intertwined with his ideas about the common origins of all life.

The author of the "survival of the fittest" was, it seems, a warm-hearted humanist after all—and he would surely have shed a tear at President Obama's inauguration. The speech was so well pitched that it was both embraced as confrontationally liberal by leftie Naomi Wolf and as a speech that "I could have written" by arch-conservative David Frum. Obama has, of course, brilliantly exploited his Nelson Mandela-like status, and will be able to do little wrong for a while, despite Republican efforts to make him look like the normal politician he (also) is. The most startling phrase, in a text with rather few, was his appeal that America "set aside childish things"—misinterpreted as a barb at Bush, but surely intended to break with the self-indulgence of the Homer Simpson baby-boom generation and its mañana economics. There are tough times ahead, and they require a tough-minded liberalism—more culturally conservative and economically egalitarian than in the recent past. As Jonathan Haidt's essay points out (p48), a successful liberal politics must acknowledge that morality is not just about reducing harm and promoting autonomy, as liberals tend to see it. It is also about authority and binding people into cohesive communities, as conservatives stress. Haidt thinks that Obama gets this, while his racial history will allow him to transcend liberal obsessions with diversity; he knows a president must place unum before pluribus. Closer to home, in our cover story Phillip Blond proposes a similar combination of ideas—with a radical localism thrown in—as the basis for his red Toryism. His "little platoons" march against both the big state and big business; this runs with the grain of the re-moralisation of economic life, but against the creeping reality of a new corporatism. It may not be practical politics yet, but it is the freshest political synthesis to be thrown up by the current crisis.

One little green shoot of recovery is Prospect itself. Against the print media trend, we have growth plans. Look out for a redesign in the next issue, making the magazine feel a bit less cramped and easier to navigate.