segunda-feira, 23 de julho de 2012

The Neoconservatives by Prof. Patrick N. Allitt - Goodrich C. White Professor of History, Emory University (TTC Lecture)

Lecture Twenty-Seven The Neoconservatives

Scope: Among the earliest and sharpest critics of the new conservatives in the 1950s had been a group of liberal social scientists centered at Berkeley, Harvard, and Columbia, including Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, Samuel Huntington, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In the 1960s, however, many of them, reacting to the decade's social turbulence, began to raise doubts about the governability of their society and about the need for less far-reaching government programs. In 1965, Bell launched a new journal, The Public Interest, with Irving Kristol, dedicated to such practical policy questions as urban renewal, law and order, education, and racial politics. Before long, they and their contributors noticed a strong moral element in their ostensibly neutral analysis and admitted that they were implicitly arguing for traditional virtues. Although many of them had grown up on the political left, they gradually became known as the "neoconservatives" and, for the most part, accepted the label. Less tradition-oriented than most of the National Review group, and more confident that government programs can sometimes be benign, they nevertheless found themselves converging with their former antagonists, often to their own astonishment.


I. Daniel Bell's anthology, The New American Right (1955), was the most concentrated attack on the new conservatives in the 1950s.
A. It used social-psychological models to explain their conduct, rather than engaging in an analysis of ideas.
B. At its worst, it insinuated a continuity between European fascism and American conservatism.
C. This generation of sociologists was influenced by Theodor Adorno's The Authoritarian Personality.
D. Richard Hofstadter described the conservatives' approach to politics as part of the "paranoid style" and dismissed them as "pseudo-conservatives." E. William Buckley and Russell Kirk answered, in reviews, that if anyone needed psychological treatment, it was the liberal intellectuals.

II. Liberal social scientists were unnerved by the social upheavals of the 1960s and began to fear that America was becoming ungovernable.
A. Proud of their resistance to McCarthyism, they were not accustomed to being attacked from the left.
B. The new left regarded liberal intellectuals as supporters of the military-industrial complex.
C. As senior academics, they often suffered the brunt of student criticism in the campus uprisings.
D. Samuel Huntington speculated about the destabilizing character of too much political involvement, in direct contradiction of the idea that all citizens should take an interest in politics.

III. Daniel Bell and Irving Kristol launched The Public Interest in 1965 as an ostensibly nonideological policy journal.
A. Its contributors emphasized accurate, statistically informed studies of urban and social problems and offered practical solutions.
1. Many of the contributors were members of the New York intellectual family, mostly secular Jews.
2. Kristol himself was a former Trotskyist, long accustomed to arguing against Stalinists. B. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Nathan Glazer had shown, in Beyond the Melting Pot (1963), that ethnic groups do not disappear in America. This discovery had implications for American racial policy after the civil rights movement.
C. Moynihan's report on African American families (1965) caused a furor and contributed to Moynihan's alienation from mainstream liberalism.
D. Glazer and other contributors began to criticize affirmative action.
1. It was based on a false idea about what society is actually like.
2. It cast doubt on minorities' achievements and provoked a white backlash.
E. Edward Banfield's The Unheavenly City (1970) won widespread praise from conservatives for its harsh summary of inner-city problems.
1. Banfield singled out the "preconventional morality" of the urban underclass.
2. The riots, he argued, were for "fun and profit" and were not political rebellions. F. Norman Podhoretz brought Commentary into the neoconservative orbit. In 1970, it began to attack feminism, black radicalism, and the McGovern movement in the Democratic Party.

IV. Among the neoconservatives' most distinctive ideas were the concept of the new class, the law of unintended consequences, and the theory of mediating structures.
A. The new class, according to their theory, thrives in bureaucracy and is sentimentally attached to the adversary culture rather than to the values of the bourgeois middle class.
B. The law of unintended consequences codified the idea that the most ambitious government programs will have the most unexpected consequences, many of them malignant.
C. Peter Berger, Richard Neuhaus, Michael Novak, and others developed the idea of mediating structures that stand between the individual and the state, generating healthy individuals and a healthy society. These include family, church and synagogue, and voluntary organizations.
D. In the late 1970s, neoconservatives also began to write with greater appreciation about capitalism. Suggested Reading: Banfield, The Unheavenly City. Dorrien, The Neoconservative Mind. Kristol, Two Cheers for Capitalism. Steinfels, The Neoconservatives.

Questions to Consider:

1. What events and conditions led this group of ex-radical liberals to change their political identities in the 1960s and 1970s?
2. Why was the controversy surrounding the Moynihan report so intense?

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