Our Philosophy

Many of our venerable publications no longer fulfil their public role, and though we are living through a period of great upheaval and possibility in journalism, I couldn’t find the voice I wanted to hear—a civic-minded publication for thoughtful people who are restless and dissatisfied with the way things are.

I’m talking here about the sort of people who are politically aware but who detest politics, who love to know what is going on but hate following the news. People whose sense of unease with the world comes not only from the fact that so many of the solutions we employ aren’t working, but that we so often have failed to adequately understand the problems in the first place.

As the late, great Tony Judt puts it:

Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today … We know what things cost but have no idea what they are worth. We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: Is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers. We must learn once again to pose them.

Canny Outlaw, though modest in size and scope, is a serious attempt to answer Judt’s challenge. It is a project that attempts to restore virtue in public life, as well as recover a great host of other important things we’ve forgotten. My fellow contributors and I strive to bring you a melange of quality original and encore feature content from a wide range of voices, as well as daily clippings from around the web and the occasional editorial vent. The publication’s tone is tragic, but hopeful. Although it often starts from the assumption that things are definitely not ok, and despite frequently expressing deep frustration with the world, it never succumbs to cynicism, for that would be to deny the hope that things might get better.

Canny Outlaw comes to you therefore in the tradition of public interest—it is both free of advertising and free of charge. Despite the grand themes, my aims are modest. I aspire simply to offer you something different to the usual fare, flirting with what is topical chiefly as a way of exploring what is timeless.

I hope you enjoy what you find, and also that it might help spark the kinds of conversations we dearly need to have.

Danu Poyner
Founder and editor-in-chief, Canny Outlaw