The Art of Persuasion

Ross Douthat, "The Art of Persuasion," Claremont Review of Books, Fall 2011. (A review of The Neoconservative Persuasion by Irving Kristol.)


At times, the essays in The Neoconservative Persuasion suggest that these critics have a point. Neoconservatism may not be a rigid ideology, but even as a “persuasion” it comes with certain defining attributes, which recur throughout Kristol’s repeated explanations of his worldview. In domestic policy, these include a preference for economic growth over balanced budgets, a belief that the post-New Deal welfare state should not be torn up root and branch but rather “reconstruct[ed]…along more economical and humane lines,” and a sense of the importance of religion and public morals that extended naturally to a sympathy for the post-1970s Religious Right. In foreign affairs, they include an emphasis on military strength and moral clarity, a skepticism of international institutions and a hostility to anything that looks remotely like world government, and a definition of the national interest that’s both geographically expansive and includes “ideological interests in addition to more material concerns.”

Claremont Review of Books
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