The Radical of Disillusionment
Today on Tablet
Books critic Adam Kirsch takes the full measure of the hyperinfluential neoconservative Irving Kristol today in Tablet Magazine, on the occasion of a new anthology of his essays. Kristol’s methods were proactive—in fact, they were explicitly Leninist: “First you publish a theoretical organ, then you proceed to books and pamphlets, and finally you publish a newspaper. Once you have a newspaper that can apply the theories developed in more sophisticated publications to day-to-day politics, you are in business” (plus then you get the girls).
But Kristol’s beliefs were fundamentally reactionary:
Over the decades covered in The Neoconservative Persuasion, the reader sees Kristol losing patience with liberalism, modern art, the welfare state, blacks and the civil rights movement, feminism, and gay rights. In each case, his initial sympathy or at least respect gives way to a disgusted sense that all these movements have gone too far, until the word liberal itself became a kind of imprecation to Kristol (as it did in American politics generally). By the time he wrote the essay “The Way We Were,” in 1995, he had given in to simple nostalgia: In his childhood, Kristol writes, “the reason there were no ‘troubled’ schools is that ‘trouble’ was not tolerated.”
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.