A incetat din viata Irving Kristol (1920-2009), ganditor social original, fondator al curentului cultural si politic neoconservator, fost editor al revistelor Encounter si Public Interest, figura de varf a ceea ce s-a numit cercul intelectualilor din New York. Kristol a fost primul din acel cerc (”the Family”) care s-a despartit de iluziile stangii liberale, mai ales cele legate de ingineria sociala implicata in strategiile actinii afirmative si ale intregii filosofii numita Great Society. Textul sau, Reflections of a Neoconservative, aparut in Partisan Review, a devenit o referinta clasica. Ii repugna exhibitionismul de orice fel: estetic, ideologic ori politic. Rostea adevarul calm si lucid. Acolo unde Norman Mailer ori Gore Vidal se distrau de-a revolutia, Kristol vedea pericolul degenerarii anarhiste. Riposta sa a fost implacabila. A creat reviste, institute, grupuri de reflectie. A stiut ca lupta se da in campusurile universitare si a incurajat revistele conservatoare studentesti. A fost un constructor si un inaintemergator.
L-au urmat Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter si gruparea din jurul revistei Commentary. A fost prieten cu Nathan Glazer, Daniel Bell si Daniel Patrick Moynihan, dar a indraznit sa devina republican in pofida atasamentelor de tinerete. A fost cel dintai celebru intelectual din New York care a decis sa paraseasca metropola avangardei, mutandu-se la Washington. Nu a nutrit vreo iluzie privind credibilitatea declaratiilor pasnice ale sovieticilor. A scris continuu impotriva amagirilor nascute din cinsimul de tip Realpolitik. Cu monstrii totalitari, a spus-o clar, nu poate ajunge la compromis. Dimpotriva, a sustinut cu consecventa ceea ce s-a numit liberalismul anticomunist intr-o perioda in care aceasta pozitie era departe de a fi populara (este ea oare acum?). Ideile lui Jeane Kirkpatrick din celebrul articol Dictatorship and Double Standards, fundamentul doctrinei Reagan in politica internationala, au fost prefigurate in scrierile lui Kristol.
In contrast cu multi dintre amicii sai de-odinioara, Kristol a imbratisat deschis valorile democratiei de piata, a sfidat contracultura neo-nihilista si a spus ca este mandru ca este american. A respins ceea ce s-a numit the adversary culture si si-a argumentat stralucit optiunea. A detestat stilul oracular, verbozitatea pompoasa, poncifele gaunoase. A cultivat ironia fina, sarcasmul bine dozat si argumentatia coerenta. A indraznit sa spuna lucruri socante pentru liberalii mereu auto-culpabilizanti chiar atunci cand acest lucru putea conduce la izolare, la denigrare si la anatemizare.
A demascat ipocrizia stangistilor chic si a diversilor fellow travellers. A fost un Cold Warrior, a luptat in cadrul Congresului pentru Libertatea Culturii. Sotia sa, Gertrude Himmelfarb, a scris carti de istorie menite sa revigoreze directia liberalismului clasic. Fiul lor, William Kristol, este editorul revistei Weekly Standard, importanta publicatie neoconservatoare. Intr-un moment in care se poarta atacurile virulente impotriva acestei viziuni politice, economice si morale, cand neoconservatorismul este demonizat de activistii variilor scoli radical-dogmatice, este bine, este drept sa nu uitam ca in anii 60, 70 si 80, neoconservatorismul a simbolizat un proiect de reconstructie si de rezistenta morala si politica. Revolutia legata de numele lui Ronald Reagan a fost nemijlocit legata deopotriva de conservatorismul traditional si de neoconservatorism.
Roger Kimball despre Irving Kristol
I just heard the sad news that Irving Kristol, “the godfather of Neoconservatism,” died today. I will have more to say about this remarkable man elsewhere, but I wanted to take a moment now to register my sorrow at the passing of a friend whom I greatly admired and a man whose intellectual labors did so much to preserve and nurture the vital traditions of American conservatism. Irving was a man of remarkable literary and political judgment. He was also a draught of good cheer. I never saw him without a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. He positively radiated benignity.
Editor, essayist, instigator of numberless intellectual initiatives (including The New Criterion, which Irving helped to start), he possessed in a very high degree two complementary gifts. He had uncanny knack for ferreting out talent in others. He was a superb editor, by which I do not just mean that he was a dab hand at strengthening your prose, but also–a much rarer gift — that he was a dab hand at strengthening your ideas. He instantly saw what was at stake in a controversy or battle of ideas, and he quietly, cheerfully help his writers seize that golden core.
That instinct for the pertinent was something his own writing exhibited with unfailing clarity. Most of Irving’s essays were quite short — an exception was a superlative, and lengthy, reflection on Tacitus and nihilism first published in Encounter, the English monthly that Irving edited in the 1950s with Stephen Spender. His favored form, though, was the literary surgical strike. Irving could pack an extraordinary amount in 1200 – 1500 words. Whether the topic was the welfare state, foreign policy, the totalitarian temptation, or the terrible legacy of the 1960s, Irving always articulated exactly what was at stake in the subject under discussion. He was a practical man, consummately attuned to what, for lack of a more elegant term, I will call the “policy implications” of ideas. But he saw with unusual perspicacity that ideas mattered. In a 1973 essay called “On Capitalism and the Democratic Idea,” he put it thus:
For two centuries, the very important people who managed the affairs of this society could not believe in the importance of ideas — until one day they were shocked to discover that their children, having been captured and shaped by certain ideas, were either rebelling against their authority or seceding from their society. The truth is that ideas are all-important. The massive and seemingly solid institutions of any society — the economic institutions, the political institutions, the religious institutions — are always at the mercy of the ideas in the heads of the people who populate these institutions. The leverage of ideas is so immense that a slight change in the intellectual climate can and will — perhaps slowly but nevertheless inexorably — twist a familiar institution into an unrecognizable shape.
Well put, is it not? And how often we need to remind ourselves of that weighty moral.
Probably Irving’s most frequently quoted mot concerned neoconservatism, the intellectual-political movement with which he is indelibly identified. “A neo-conservative,” he said, “is a liberal who has been mugged by reality.” That was the great gift Irving gave to his, to our, generation: an unforgettable reminder that ideas mattered because of the realities they nurtured or discouraged. He saw with a kindly but unflinching clarity what mischief the seductive lullabies of utopian fantasy had prepared for its acolytes. His passing is a sad loss not only to conservatives to but also to the nation: those eloquent reminders seem fewer and farther between these days, yet are ever more needful. RIP.