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18 December 2008

Happy Christmas to all our readers . . .

By Aloysius McDowell

The year 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, and the 150th year since The Origin of Species was first published. So now would seem a good time to recall the scientist’s world-view. He believed that “happiness decidedly prevails”, and, as ever, his opinion was based on unsentimental considerations.

“If all the individuals of any species were habitually to suffer to an extreme degree, they would neglect to propagate their kind,” he wrote, “but we have no reason to believe that this has ever, or at least often occurred.” At the end of a year in which good news has been hard to find, we should take heart from the optimism of one of the world’s greatest thinkers.

It would be just a little presumptuous of us at the New Statesman to put ourselves on a par with Darwin; but our Christmas and New Year issue includes plenty of good cheer: on pages 35-46 we take a look at 30 of the best reasons to celebrate in 2009.

The range of topics is impressively varied – the new US administration, exciting developments in nanomedicine, the sporting thrills offered by the Ashes. We even have good news on the economy. So please join us in applauding human adaptability, innovation and and ingenuity.

Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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