24 September, 2009

Irving Kristol

Dead, at the age of 89.  Famous as the so-called godfather of neoconservativism, he managed to link the political and ideological tactics of the Trotskyites (where he began) with the deep Jacksonian strain in American political culture.  He loved the State, and pushed for its expansion--so long as the right people were in charge.  It's no wonder his ideas resonated within the Bush White House.

Give the man his due.  He wasn't parroting sound-bites crafted for him by others.  He didn't fear a good argument.  He knew what he believed and why he believed it.  He was more than willing to spell it out to others (for a classic intro to what he believed, see his essay The Neoconservative Persuasion ).  While I have never agreed with him on some of his "facts" and most of his values--in particular his disregard for the lives and dignity of the regular people who pay the price for empire--he was a "great" man.  Not quite as "great" as Stalin, or Hitler, or Mao--but it wasn't for lack of trying.

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