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Am having much fun going through a new release of Irving Kristol essays that have not before appeared in book form. The older they are, the more interesting — not least his 1952 piece on McCarthy and the liberals.
But this conclusion to a 1984 piece called “Reflections of a Neoconservative” really captures the man’s sensibilities and ability to write without cant:
[F]or myself, I have reached certain conclusions: that Jane Austen is a greater novelist than Proust or Joyce; that Raphael is a greater painter than Picasso; that T.S. Eliot’s later, Christian poetry is much superior to his earlier; that C.S. Lewis is a finer literary and cultural critic than Edmund Wilson; that Aristotle is more worthy of careful study than Marx; that we have more to learn from Tocqueville than from Max Weber; that Adam Smith makes a lot more economic sense than any economist since; that the founders had a better understanding of democracy than any political scientists since; that … well enough. As I said at the outset, I have become conservative, and whatever ambiguities attach to that term, it should be obvious what it does not mean.
This former Trotskyite has left America many wonderful legacies — not least a grandson who is an officer in the United States Marine Corps now fighting in Afghanistan.