Kristol and Glazer Describe Neoconservatism

Return to 'Liberalism's Sources'

Neoconservatism is an intellectual movement consisting of liberals who have become disillusioned with the course that traditional liberalism has taken, Irving Kristol, founder of The Public Interest magazine, said last night at the Kennedy School Forum.

Appearing with Nathan Glazer, professor of Education and Social Structure, Kristol said the neoconservative movement grew out of both the death of socialism and a disenchantment with contemporary liberalism.

Kristol said American liberalism has moved progressively from laissez-faire doctrine to the welfare state to a radical position that "holds American values in contempt instead of celebrating the American way of life."

He said neoconservatism is "an effort at reformation by returning to liberalism's sources."

"It is extraordinary that Jane Fonda should be represented by the media as representing the extreme left of the Democratic Party when, in fact, she is just an old-fashioned Maoist. Suddenly her point of view is being legitimized as being within the democratic spectrum," he added.


Kristol said socialism has collapsed because it has become a reality.

"When you have an ideal, it makes no sense to go around saying' that's not what we meant.' In the real world, ideas are what they become," he said.

"But once you have socialist realities all over the world and compare them with bourgeois reality, you start to wonder what socialism really is," he added.

Glazer said he needs more justification than he did before the '60s for "great domestic initiatives." Why do you think they (government programs) are going to improve matters? In most cases, I think people manage things better without government."

Glazer added that the rapid expansion of government leads to a situation where "a congressman stops understanding a bill at its second revision, his staff stops understanding it at the third revision, and no one understands it after that, except maybe someone at HEW."