Archive for the 'Leo Strauss' Category

A Chosen People without God–The Rise of the Neocons

Grant Havers | Taki’s Magazine | March 13, 2008

It is always risky to write the obituary of neoconservatism, despite the now fashionable view that this is an idea whose time is finally gone. As Jacob Heilbrunn demonstrates in They Knew They Were Right: The Rise Of The Neocons, the neoconservatives have always been a tenacious bunch. Who could have predicted that a small group of ex-Trotskyite intellectuals would not only shape foreign policy for the Republican Party in the last three decades but also reinvent conservatism in America? Heilbrunn, a former senior editor of The New Republic, wisely prefers to emphasize the past success of the neoconservatives rather than offer ironclad predictions about their future influence, settling for rather safe forecasts such as his claim that American soldiers will be in Iraq for another four years, whoever wins the election in 2008.

The title of the book is Heilbrunn’s essential explanation for the success of the neoconservatives—they knew they were right. Their sheer self-confidence of the neoconservatives, their belief that they have The Answer, is astounding and goes a long way in explaining their stunning victories. For this reason, the author emphasizes the radical origins of the movement.  Heilbrunn offers a readable (though not terribly original) account of how the future leaders of neoconservatism (especially Irving Kristol) got their start as public intellectuals engaged in various fratricidal battles between Trotskyites and Stalinists in the 1930s and 1940s.  Despite this parochial beginning, these former leftist radicals—who eventually became ardent anti-Communists—possessed the will to power necessary to enter and then transform the mainstream of American politics, especially on the right. As they eventually moved from the left to the right in the 1970s, this will to change the world through endless promotion of their ideas never flagged. Continue reading ‘A Chosen People without God–The Rise of the Neocons’


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