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September 18, 2009

September 18, 2009 | News Releases on

Heritage Foundation Mourns Loss of Irving Kristol

WASHINGTON, SEPT. 18, 2009- Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner today issued the following statement on Irving Kristol:

With the death of editor and scholar Irving Kristol, the conservative movement has lost another of its intellectual champions. In recent years, Irving was a Senior Fellow Emeritus with our friends over at the American Enterprise Institute. That post, though, was merely the capstone to a long career in media, publishing and academia.

Famously, of course, Irving Kristol wasn't always a conservative, much less a "neoconservative." He began his career as a Marxist, but from the position of a leftist was able to recognize the weaknesses of Marxism. That realization led to his gradual move to the political right.

Here's how he once put it: "Ever since I can remember, I've been a neo-something: a neo-Marxist, a neo-Trotskyist, a neo-liberal, a neo-conservative; in religion a neo-orthodox even while I was a neo-Trotskyist and a neo-Marxist. I'm going to end up a neo-; that's all, neo dash nothing."

Instead, Irving ended up an influential conservative icon.

Among other jobs, he was managing editor of Commentary magazine from 1947 to 1952, executive vice president of Basic Books for eight years and professor of social thought at New York University Graduate School of Business.

Irving Kristol was an inspiration to all of us. During the early days of the conservative movement, liberals controlled academia even more completely than they do today.

Yet Kristol reminded us that ideas were more important than ideology. He gave birth to an intellectual movement that proved conservative ideas work, and he helped make conservatives into what the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York called "the party of ideas."

"A conservative," Irving liked to say, "is a liberal who's been mugged by reality."

During his long career, Kristol made sure he never lost sight of reality. That's why he was proud to call himself a conservative.

Our prayers and condolences are with his wife, historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, and his son, Bill Kristol, co-founder and editor of The Weekly Standard.

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