Jewish World Review Sept. 23, 2009 / 5 Tishrei 5770
Irving Kristol's Clear Thinking
By Jonah Goldberg
"I am so nostalgic." That's the phrase I associate most with
What piqued Irving's nostalgia, at an
I'm not doing the argument justice, but what captured my attention was the calm, reasoned and even folksy way for a New York Jewish intellectual Kristol managed to slice through layers of liberal cant.
I am a
The obituaries have focused on Irving's role as the "godfather of neoconservatism" and the founder of the Public Interest. That is as it should be. From that perch, Kristol led a massive counteroffensive on what he called the "new class statist intellectuals, lawyers, social workers, educators et al."
"Though they continue to speak the language of Progressive reform," Kristol wrote, "in actuality they are acting upon a hidden agenda: to propel the nation ... toward an economic system so stringently regulated in detail as to fulfill many of the traditional anti-capitalist aspirations of the Left."
Kristol's formulation wasn't entirely new. He expanded an argument made by such figures as economist Joseph Schumpeter and
Buckley said that the neocons' greatest contribution to conservatism was "sociology." The early
Starting at the height of
Kristol argued that there were two basic orientations on the right: those who are anti-left and those who are anti-state. An anti-statist would say the government shouldn't be running the schools. The Kristolian would say public schools are fine; it's what they teach that's the problem. If anything, today's conservatism is an imperfect fusion of these perspectives. Kristol himself became far more of a traditionalist, noting toward the end of his public life that the work of neoconservatism was largely done. The staffers at the Public Interest not to mention his own son, Bill were simply "conservatives" now.
There is a tendency among liberals to believe that the only good conservative is a dead conservative. They don't wish violence on their opponents. Rather, once a prominent conservative dies Goldwater, Reagan, Buckley and now Kristol liberals use their memory to bash living conservatives. "Why can't you be more like those civil, high-brow types?" goes the refrain.
That's already begun with Irving. Liberal intellectuals sorrowfully ask what he would make of
That's the Irving Kristol I will always be nostalgic for.
include "/home/jwreview/public_html/t-ssi/jwr_squaread_300x250.php"; ?>
© 2006 TMS