Irving Kristol, Bill Kristol, neoconservatism and anti-liberalism

A must-read piece by  Eric Alterman

…neoconservatism’s “godfather” was driven by a single passion, and it was the same one that animated Senator McCarthy: hatred of American liberalism. He was forthright about this. It was not communism that inspired his primary animus during the cold war but “the fundamental assumptions of contemporary liberalism that were my enemy.” His primary goal, therefore, “was to create a new majority, which evidently would mean a conservative majority, which came to mean, in turn, a Republican majority.”

I wrote ten years ago that “more than anyone alive, perhaps, Irving Kristol can take the credit for reversing the direction of American political culture.” The means by which this was accomplished are not widely understood. Kristol’s contributions were threefold: first, in his writings he provided useful arguments for politicians who sought to discredit liberals and increase the power of corporations and wealthy individuals. Second, he solicited and distributed the financial contributions of many of these same corporations and wealthy individuals into institutions designed to perpetuate these same ideas and arguments. And finally, with his wife, conservative historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, he raised a son, William Kristol, who went on to extend and deepen these achievements, operating in much the same fashion, albeit in a far more congenial–that is, anti-liberal–atmosphere.

Irving Kristol’s sophisticated, multifront war against liberalism succeeded well beyond anything achieved by the drunken hayseed McCarthy…


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