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NeoConservatism: Why We Need It Hardcover – July 25, 2006
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About the Author
Douglas Murray is the author of Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas, a bestselling biography of Lord Alfred Douglas published while Murray was still an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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A criticism would be that Murray only briefly touches upon the famed 'New York Intellectuals' which Irving Kristol was a part of, and never directly mentions them specifically from what I can remember. Additionally, Murray could have spent more time discussing the intellectual evolution of Kristol from his original far-left ideological predilections, which were predominant early in his life.
The first chapter is used to provide a brief history of neoconservatism from its origins in the thought of 20th Cent. political philosopher, Leo Strauss. Murray provides an overview of Strauss's political theory, but wisely refers the reader to Strauss's work rather than getting bogged down in the complexities of this profound thinker. To oversimplify, Strauss believed there is a "natural right" within human beings and human history which make it "self evident" that democracy is the best form of governance for individual freedom, happiness and fulfillment.
In the remaining three chapters Murray takes the gloves off. Exposition gives way to exhortation. It becomes increasingly a polemic and a call to action. It calls for a return to unalloyed belief in democracy and the discarding of the nihilistic "multi-culturism" and "moral relativism" concepts that clutter the minds of liberal and leftist intellectual elites.
Murray intersperses his polemic with numerous historical examples so his ideas are well grounded in the realities of world politics. He doesn't put it in these terms, but it's almost as if the question of the day is: if not democracy, then what? There aren't that many choices in political governance. Socialism is a bygone fantasy, and that leaves basically only democracy or one of the variants of autocracy that plague the world with backwardness and threats of violence and destruction.
Douglas Murray has done all that can be done to rehabilitate neoconservatism as the only viable political option for our times. But can the theory be put into practice? So far the experiment in Iraq has been unpromising. But can political thinkers as well as politicians afford to sit on the sidelines and take a "wait and see" attitude? Or worse yet, duck and run for cover? If Murray is right politicians and intellectuals must join the battle for world-wide democracy with words and actions. Our attitude must be hopeful and optimistic, rather than hopeless and defeatist.