Irving Kristol

"Irving Kristol," The Economist, September 24, 2009.


Conservatism, Kristol-style, acquired a “neo”. He was always, he mused, a neo-something: neoMarxist, neoliberal, neo-Orthodox (because he believed, though he wasn’t sure in what, but never went to synagogue). “Neoconservative”, which appeared in 1973, was not his coining. It was meant as a slight, but he liked the word. It came to evoke, for outsiders, the most hawkish set of cheerleaders for the Republican Party. But that was not Mr Kristol’s original intent. “Neo” indicated less new than semi-detached—sceptical like Lionel Trilling, who had shocked him in his youth with his description of the conflict between modern culture and politics, or like Leo Strauss, from whom he had picked up the habit of looking at the modern world with the eyes of the ancient Greeks. Plato and Aristotle often featured in Mr Kristol’s essays, alongside Lord Salisbury and Adam Smith, though it was Shakespeare’s Sonnets he carried in his pocket, to remind him how to put great thoughts in the best and fewest words.

The Economist