15 April 2003


State Department socialist writes:

There’s a lot of garbage doing the rounds on this. Michael Lind, in a peculiarly daft piece in the New Statesman (click here), got it going in the UK, claiming that the neo-cons of today are, er, their dads.

"They are products of the largely Jewish-American Trotskyist movement of the 1930s and 1940s, which morphed into anti-communist liberalism between the 1950s and 1970s and finally into a kind of militaristic and imperial right with no precedents in American culture or political history."

This is very poor intellectual history. It's true that some of the key neo-con intellectuals of the 1970s and 1980s - notably Sidney Hook and Irving Kristol - were Trots in the 1930s or 1940s: see any history of the New York Intellectuals for that. (For what it's worth, my recommended reading list is Russell Jacoby's The Last Intellectuals, Alan Wald's The New York Intellectuals and Hugh Wilford's The New York Intellectuals.) It's true that some of the neo-cons of that period - notably Kristol - are still alive. It's even true that Wiliam Kristol is the son of Irving - a "product" maybe.

But the idea that most of the neo-cons of the 1970s and 1980s were former Trotskyists is bunkum, and the idea that the current Dubya adviser mob was schooled in Trotskyism in the 1950s is bollocks. A couple of them might have been youthful adherents of Max Shatchtman at some point late in his career - and very early in theirs. So what. Rather more of the current neo-con intellectual crew used to be Stalinists of the old school, third worldist New Leftists, cold war liberals or never associated with any current that could be considered remotely on the left.
More to come on this

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