A brilliant collection of pieces, written between and his death in , by Irving Kristol, one of the fathers of neoconservatism. This series of essays, many. Irving Kristol, 89, a forceful essayist, editor and university professor who became the leading architect of neoconservatism, which he called a. Irving Kristol, the US political writer and publisher known as the godfather of neoconservatism whose youthful radicalism evolved into an.
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Neoconservatismvariant of the political ideology of conservatism that combines features of traditional conservatism with political individualism and a qualified endorsement of free markets. Neoconservatism arose in the United States in the s among intellectuals who shared a dislike of communism and a disdain for the counterculture of the s, especially its political radicalism and its animus against authority, custom, and tradition.
Among their intellectual ancestors neoconservatives count the ancient Greek historian Thucydides for his unblinking realism in military matters and his skepticism toward democracyas well as Alexis de Tocquevillethe French author of Democracy in America —40who described and analyzed both the bright and the bad sides of democracy in the United States.
In its respect for established institutions and practices, neoconservatism resembles the traditional conservatism of the 18th-century Irish statesman Edmund Burke.
Neoconservatives, however, tend to pay more attention than traditional conservatives to cultural matters and the mass media—to music, art, literature, theatre, film, and, more recently, television and the Internet —because they believe that a society defines itself and expresses its values through these means. Western and particularly American society, they charge, has become amoral, adrift, and degenerate. As evidence of the moral corruption of Western culturethey cite violent and sexually explicit films, television programs, and video games, and they point to popular music that is rife with obscenities that have lost their capacity to shock and disgust.
Actions once regarded as shameful are now accepted as normal. For example, most people in the West now consider it perfectly acceptable for unmarried men and women to live together and even to have children. Such degenerate behaviour, say neoconservatives, indicates a broader and deeper cultural crisis afflicting Western civilization.
The American political scientist James Q. Wilsonfor example, traced the crisis to the 18th-century European Enlightenmentwhich encouraged people to question established authority, to criticize religion, and to reject traditional beliefs.
Whatever its source, neoconservatives maintain that this degeneration represents a real and present danger to Western civilization. People without a sense of something larger than themselves, something transcendent and eternal, are apt to turn to mindless entertainment—including drugs and alcohol—and to act selfishly and irresponsibly. Religion at its best is a kind of social cement, holding families, communitiesand countries together. At its worst, however, religion can be fanatical, intolerant, and divisivetearing communities apart instead of uniting them.
Most neoconservatives thus believe that the principle of the separation of church and stateas enshrined in the First Amendment to the U. Constitutionis a good idea. They also believe, however, that it has been pursued to extremes by adherents of modern liberalism, who are bent on banishing religion from public life, resulting in a backlash from religious-right conservatives.
Neoconservatives also hold that the modern liberal ideal of cultural diversityor multiculturalism —the principle of not only tolerating but also respecting different religions and cultures and encouraging them to coexist harmoniously—tends to undermine the traditional culture of any country that tries to put it into practice. These trends, they believe, are likely to produce a conservative backlash, such as those that took place in Denmark and the Netherlands, where anti-immigrant political parties became increasingly popular in the s and early s.
In economics, neoconservatives believe that markets are an efficient means of allocating goods and services.
They are not, however, wholehearted advocates of free-market capitalism. As Kristol remarked, capitalism deserves two cheers, not three, because its innovative character produces almost-constant social upheavals and disruptions. Capitalism presupposes a willingness to save, to invest, and to defer gratification; at the same time, through advertising and marketing techniques, it encourages people to indulge themselves, to live on credit, and to pay little heed to the farther future.
Irving Kristol – Wikipedia
Unregulated capitalism, moreover, creates great wealth alongside dire poverty; it richly rewards some people while leaving others behind. And since great disparities of wealth make the wealthy contemptuous of the poor and the poor envious of the rich, capitalism can create conditions that cause class conflict, labour unrest, and political instability. At the same time, however, neoconservatives warn that well-intentioned government programs can produce unintended and unfortunate consequences for the people they are meant to help.
More particularly, neoconservatives argue that social welfare programs can and often do create dependency and undermine individual initiativeambition, and responsibility. Such programs should therefore aim to provide only temporary or short-term assistance. Nor should the goal of social programs and tax policy be to level the differences between individuals and classes.
Neoconservatives claim to favour equality of opportunitynot equality of outcome. While favouring the existence of the welfare state, they also believe that it should be scaled back, because it has become, in their view, too large, too bureaucratic and unwieldy, and too generous. In domestic policy theirs has been an insistent and influential voice. Neoconservatives have been especially influential in the formulation of foreign and military policy, particularly in the administrations of Presidents Ronald ReaganGeorge H.
Bushand George W. They contend that power—military, economic, or political—that is unused is for all practical purposes wasted. The military might of the United States should be employed around the world to promote American interests. Neoconservatives wish, in the words of Pres. The all-too-real result of such cynical anti-idealism was another and even bloodier second world war. Thus, idealism, far from being impractical, can produce politically practical and even admirable results. From the s, neoconservative idealism took the form of an assertive and interventionist foreign policy that targeted anti-American regimes and leftist movements abroad.
Sharp increases in U. Meanwhile, communist-led rebel movements in Latin America were crushed with the help of U. In the George W. Bush administration, neoconservative officials in the Pentagon and the Department of State helped to plan and promote the Iraq War Critics contend that, for all their purported idealism and their talk about democracy, neoconservatives have been all too willing to prop up pro-American but deeply undemocratic regimes throughout the world.
With respect to domestic policy, neoconservatives are acutely aware of the possible unintended consequences of well-intended programs. But with respect to foreign policy, such skeptical awareness, according to critics, is almost entirely absent.
In the months leading up to the Iraq War, for example, neoconservative planners seemed completely unaware that the invasion and occupation of Iraq might produce horrific consequences, such as large-scale sectarian violence and civil war. Such criticism has led some neoconservatives, such as Fukuyama and Michael Lind, to renounce neoconservatism and to become ardent and outspoken critics.
Such criticisms notwithstanding, neoconservatism remains an influential ideology. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles.
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Although it was not widely read or highly profitable, it was well respected in conservative political circles. It was cited as an influence on the decision of the George W. The main tenets it adopted in subsequent decades included a commitment to the spread of democracy, defense of American and Israeli interests, and opposition to communism, fascism, and Islamic extremism.
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Irving Kristol, godfather of neoconservatism, dies aged 89
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