The Theological Politics of Irving Kristol by Matthew Continetti

Matthew Continetti, "The Theological Politics of Irving Kristol," National Affairs, Summer, 2014.


The February 13, 1979, issue of Esquire magazine did not feature a typical cover model. He was not an actor, a politician, or a sports star. A professor but not a Ph.D., an editor but much more than a journalist, Irving Kristol thought of himself, he told Esquire, as a “man of letters.”

That may have been too limiting a description. Kristol was part of a tradition that sought not only to understand the world, but to change it. He was at the center of the small but influential movement known as neoconservatism — an idea, Esquire proclaimed, “whose time is now.” Irving Kristol was the “godfather” of the neoconservatives, Esquire asserted, a leader of the disillusioned social scientists and intellectuals whose drift rightward in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in supply-side economics, the broken-windows theory of policing, the rejection of détente, and other innovations in economic, social, and foreign policy. What neoconservatism was — and is — and Kristol’s relation to it, has been a subject of intense interest ever since.

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