The End of an Era: John Tanton (1934-2019) and The Social Contract (1990-2019)

By The Editors
Volume 30, Number 1 (Fall 2019)
Issue theme: "John Tanton: His Life and Legacy (1934-2019)"

After a thirty-year publishing cycle, The Social Contract quarterly comes to an end with this issue. The recent passing of John Tanton, the founding publisher and editor, brings to an abrupt end a journal which highlighted some of the most pressing issues confronting the United States and other Western nations. Uncontrolled mass immigration is the driving force that is altering the demographic base of the U.S., producing irrevocable changes to the nation’s cultural heritage and social traditions — the fabric of its existence as a nation-state. In 1990, the population of the U.S. was just under 253 million; in 2019, it now exceeds 331 million, largely the result of mass immigration to the U.S.

John Tanton’s first editorial in the Fall of 1990, “Why Another Journal?”, put forth the basis for producing another publication:

Over the past two decades, a number of issues have enjoyed public attention, all of which are directly or indirectly related to, or influenced by, the question of human population growth: its absolute size, distribution, and rate of change.

The first of these was the population question itself, brought forcefully to the fore by Paul Ehrlich with the publication of The Population Bomb in the late 1960s. This was accompanied by the now-forgotten hearings on population problems by Alaska’s Senator Gruening, and the appointment by president Nixon of the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. In 1968, Dr. Ehrlich helped form Zero Population Growth as a vehicle for work on these issues.

During the 1970s, domestic birthrates fell and immigration rates rose, calling into existence in 1979 the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), when existing population groups declined to tackle the new issue of immigration policy. Then, as large-scale immigration raised the specter of division along language and cultural lines, U.S. English entered the fray in 1983. Finally, as of the late 1980s, there developed a ground swell of concern throughout academe and society in general about the proper relationship of individuals to one another, and of the individual to the larger community we call society. Many looked at the problems of our society and began inquiring as to the corresponding responsibilities, duties, and obligations that go along with our rights, liberties, and entitlements, so much emphasized in the last two decades. This led to the formation of the American Alliance for Rights and Responsibilities (AARR). It is the theme of balance between rights and responsibilities that suggested we resurrect the phrase “The Social Contract” as the name for our journal, since so many of the questions we face are ethical and contractarian ones. Who gives, who gets, and how much?

Since the beginning of The Social Contract, the issues of human population growth, mass immigration, language, assimilation, cultural and national unity, and the balance of individual rights and civic responsibilities have formed the core of our work.

As editors we have put forth our best efforts to produce a thoughtful, rational, readable periodical, which examined these consequential issues. In doing so, it filled an important void. As our work here comes to end, the issues are as important today as they were thirty years ago. We appreciate the opportunity to serve our readers, roll up our sleeves, and fulfill John’s objective to leave a productive record of achievement for posterity.