Irving Kristol

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Irving Kristol (born January 22, 1920 in Brooklyn , New York , † September 18, 2009 in Washington, DC ) was an American political writer and social scientist . Kristol is often referred to as the spiritus rector of neoconservatism in the USA and, among other things, contributed to the creation of a network of think tanks. He wrote a long column for the Wall Street Journal and was a co-founder of The National Interest magazine .

His son William Kristol is also a leading neoconservative.


Irving Kristol (1936)

The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants grew up in New York and studied history there at City College, where he received his BA in 1940 . At the time he was a member of the Young People's Socialist League and an active Trotskyite . From 1941 to 1944 he served - most recently as a sergeant - in the 12th US Armored Division.

Kristol was editor and partially co-founder of numerous magazines: 1947 to 1952 editor of Commentary magazine , 1953 to 1958 editor and co-founder of British magazine Encounter , 1959 to 1960 editor of Reporter magazine . Kristol also founded and directed other journals, such as Politics and Culture , The Public Interest , Foreign Affairs Journal and The National Interest . From 1961 to 1969 he was deputy director of the US publisher Basic Books.

In the 1960s Kristol turned more and more to conservatism and became one of the most important representatives of neoconservatism . He decisively shaped the conservative criticism of the welfare state by writing much of the demoralizing effect that a generous welfare state has on the lower class. He understood demands for better living conditions and social participation as a symptom of the collapse of the “bourgeois ethos”. For Kristol, the moderate strengthening of democratic rights embodied the fundamental recklessness of liberal social policy. Behind all this is a dangerous "idea, devised by the Jacobins in the French Revolution", according to which "the remedy for poverty lies in militant political activity, even revolutionary political activity, which would result in a redistribution of income and wealth" - and thus shake the foundations of liberal society. Kristol later described himself as a liberal who was attacked by political reality ("a liberal mugged by reality").

In 1969 Kristol received a full professorship in "Social Thought" at the New York University Graduate School of Business , which he held until 1985. Since then he has been a Senior Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). In 1972 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . Also since 1972 he was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and President of the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (BNA) . From 1972 he wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal .

In the late 1970s, in order to protect capitalism and capitalists and keep them healthy, Kristol called for “to shape or reshape the climate of public opinion - a climate created by our scientists, our teachers, our intellectuals, our publicists,. .. is generated. ”For these measures he chose the term corporate philanthropy and met with a great response with the suggestion of support from company boards and lobbyists. Over the next thirty years, together with other conservative intellectuals and the business leaders who finance them, he built a network of conservative think tanks, foundations, elite journals and the mass media.

In 1985 Kristol founded the bimonthly magazine The National Interest , which not only deals with foreign policy in the narrower sense, but also with a wider range of topics and the question of how cultural and social differences, technical innovations, history and religion influence the behavior of states. It spreads the approach of the realistic school of political science .

In July 2002 Kristol received the highest civilian honor in the USA from President George W. Bush , the Presidential Medal of Freedom .

Kristol married the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb (1922–2019) in 1942 . Both sons are William Kristol , editor of the Weekly Standard , managing director of the Project for the New American Century from 1997 to 2006 and founder and since then a member of the board of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) in 2009 . William Kristol worked in Washington for William Bennett , Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan . He was then Chief of Staff to Dan Quayle , US Vice President under George Bush . Irving Kristol's son was thus considered one of the leading conservatives in Washington.

His wife's brother was Milton Himmelfarb , longtime director of research and information for the American Jewish Committee .

See also


  • The Neoconservative Persuasion: Selected Essays, 1942-2009 (with Gertrude Himmelfarb). Basic Books, New York 2011
  • Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea. 1995.
  • Scorpions in a Bottle: Dangerous Ideas about the United States and the Soviet Union (with Michael Novak, William Bennett, Peter Berger, and Sidney Hook ). 1986.
  • The Press and American Politics (with J. William Fulbright and Raymond Price). 1986.
  • Reflections of a Neoconservative: Looking Back, Looking Ahead. 1983.
  • Crisis in Economic Theory (with Daniel Bell). 1981.
  • Two Cheers for Capitalism. 1978.
  • American Commonwealth (with Nathan Glazer ). 1976.
  • Socialism, capitalism and nihilism , in: ORDO - Yearbook for the Order of Economy and Society , Vol. 24, 1971, pp. 49-66.
  • The American Revolution as a Successful Revolution. 1973.


  • Christopher Demuth, William Kristol (Ed.): The Neoconservative Imagination. Essays in Honor of Irving Kristol. The AEI Press, Washington DC December 1995, ISBN 0-8447-3899-9 , (with bibliography Irving Kristol, pp. 207-249).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Kristol, Irving: Two Cheers for Capitalism. Basic Books, New York 1978, pp. 166 f., Cited above. after Johannes Simon, The new old lower class discourse , Le Bohemien
  2. ^ Walter Goodman ; Walter Goodman writes frequently: IRVING KRISTOL: PATRON SAINT OF THE NEW RIGHT. In: December 6, 1981, accessed March 14, 2017 .
  3. Chrystia Freeland : The super rich . Westend, Frankfurt / Main 2013, p. 297.
  4. Irving Kristol, "On Corporate Philanthropy", "The Wall Street Journal", March 21, 1977 [1] , cited above. according to Chrystia Freeland: The super rich. Westend, Frankfurt / Main 2013, p. 297 f.
  5. John B. Judis: The Paradox of American Democracy. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2013, ISBN 978-0-804-15062-0 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  6. Chrystia Freeland: The super rich. Westend, Frankfurt / Main 2013, p. 298.