Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

Irving Kristol, neo-conservative intellectual, dead at 89


Irving Kristol, who once described himself as the only confessed neo-conservative, died yesterday.  He was 89 years old.  Kristol played an important role in leading the neo-conservatives over to the right. 

Neo-conservativism as a term was first coined as a pejorative by the democratic socialist Michael Harrington, but it soon came to describe a movement of former Democrats to the right as a result of the Cold War and the rising welfare state.  The movement would include Kristol and his wife Gertrude Himmelfarb, Norman Podhoretz, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, William Bennet, and others.

Irving Kristol once described a neo-conservative as a “liberal mugged by reality.”   Neo-conservativism brought to the conservative movement the kind of actuarial analysis necessary to confront the welfare state on its own terms.  While some on the right derided it as merely discovering what traditional conservatives have known all along, this kind of analysis would bolster the arguments of social conservatism, too, in its critiques of modern liberalism.

One of the great intellectual giants of the right has passed, and he will be sorely missed by the nation.  RIP.

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