Quotes by Irving Kristol

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Even if we can't be happy, we must always be cheerful. more...

Somehow, the fact that more poor people are on welfare, receiving more generous payments, does not seem to have made this country a nice place to live - not even for the poor on welfare, whose condition seems not noticeably better than when they were poor and off welfare. Something appears to have gone wrong; a liberal and compassionate social policy has bred all sorts of unanticipated and perverse consequences. more...

...only liberal organizations are clearly designated [in the press] as "nonpatisan, nonprofit." Non-liberal research organizations are always identified as "right-wing" or "conservative." more...

Anyone who knows anything about journalism knows that reporters are rarely in a position to investigate anything. They lack the authority to subpoena witnesses, to cross-examine, to scrutinize official records. They are lucky to get their phone calls returned. more...

If God does not exist, and if religion is an illusion that the majority of men cannot live without ... let men believe in the lies of religion since they cannot do without them, and let then a handful of sages, who know the truth and can live with it, keep it among themselves. Men are then divided into the wise and the foolish, the philosophers and the common men, and atheism becomes a guarded, esoteric doctrine - for if the illusions of religion were to be discredited, there is no telling with what madness men would be seized, with what uncontrollable anguish. more...

In comparison to the French Revolution, the American Revolution has come to seem a parochial and rather dull event. This, despitethe fact that the American Revolution was successful-realizing the purposes of the revolutionaries and establishing a durable political regime-while the French Revolution was a resounding failure, devouring its own children and leading to an imperial despotism, followed by an eventual restoration of the monarchy. more...

The problem is efforts by liberals to establish a wall between religion and society, in the guise of maintaining the wall between church and state. more...

If your aims as a donor are modest, you can accomplish an awful lot. When your aims become elevated beyond a reasonable level, you not only don't accomplish much, but you can cause a great deal of damage. more...

If you believe that no one was ever corrupted by a book, you have also to believe that no one was ever improved by a book. more...

An intellectual may be defined as a man who speaks with general authority about a subject on which he has no particular competence. more...

A neoconservative is a liberal who's been mugged by reality. A neoliberal is a liberal who's been mugged by reality but has refused to press charges. more...

There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people. There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn't work. more...

I have observed over the years that the unanticipated consequences of social action are always more important, and usually less agreeable, than the intended consequences. more...

What rules the world is idea, because ideas define the way reality is perceived. more...

The enemy of liberal capitalism today is not so much socialism as nihilism. more...

The liberal paradigm of regulation and license has led to a society where an 18-year-old girl has the right to public fornication in a pornographic movie - but only if she is paid the minimum wage. more...

Power breeds responsibilities, in international affairs as in domestic - or even private. To dodge or disclaim these responsibilities is one form of the abuse of power. more...

A welfare state, properly conceived, can be an integral part of a conservative society. more...

It was a new kind of class war - the people as citizens versus the politicians and their clients in the public sector. more...

Being frustrated is disagreeable, but the real disasters in life begin when you get what you want. more...

No modern nation has ever constructed a foreign policy that was acceptable to its intellectuals. more...

The really difficult moral issues arise, not from a confrontation of good and evil, but from a collision between two goods. more...

Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunity. more...

You have to know one big thing and stick with it. The leaders who had one very big idea and one very big commitment. This permitted them to create something. Those are the ones who leave a legacy. more...

People need religion. It's a vehicle for a moral tradition. A crucial role. Nothing can take its place. more...

Nostalgia is one of the legitimate and certainly one of the most enduring of human emotions; but the politics of nostalgia is at best distracting, at worst pernicious. more...

[Conservatism:] Our revolutionary message ... is that a self-disciplined people can create a political community in which an ordered liberty will promote both economic prosperity and political participation. more...

Joining a radical movement when one is young is very much like falling in love when one is young. The girl may turn out to be rotten, but the the experience of love is so valuable it can never be entirely undone by the ultimate disenchantment. more...

Young people, especially, are looking for religion so desperately that they are inventing new ones. They should not have to invent new ones; the old religions are pretty good. more...

It is ironic to watch the churches, including large sections of my own religion, surrendering to the spirit of modernity at the very moment when modernity itself is undergoing a kind of spiritual collapse.... more...

The major political event of the twentieth century is the death of socialism. more...

If you care for the quality of life in our American democracy, then you have to be for censorship. more...

After all, if you believe that no one was ever corrupted by a book, you also have to believe that no one was ever improved by a book (or a play or a movie). You have to believe, in other words, that all art is morally trivial and that, consequently, all education is morally irrelevant. No one, not even a university professor, really believes that. more...

Senator McGovern is very sincere when he says that he will try to cut the military budget by 30%. And this is to drive a knife in the heart of Israel... Jews don't like big military budgets. But it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States... American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don't want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel. more...

There is nothing like a parade to elicit the proper respect for the military from the populace. more...

The trouble with traditional American conservatism is that it lacks a naturally cheerful, optimistic disposition. Not only does it lack one, it regards signs of one as evidence of unsoundness, irresponsibility. more...

The danger facing American Jews today is not that Christians want to persecute them but that Christians want to marry them. more...

A liberal is a person who sees a fourteen-year-old girl performing sex acts onstage and wonders if she's being paid minimum wage. more...

Being frustrated is disagreeable, but the real disasters of life begin when you get what you want. more...

The really difficult moral issues arise, not from a confrontation of good and evil, but from a collision between two goods more...

No modern nation has ever constructed a foreign policy that was acceptable to its intellectuals more...

One can be unhappy before eating caviar, even after, but at least not during. more...

I regard myself to have been a young Trostkyite and I have not a single bitter memory. more...

Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable ... People have always preferred strong government to weak government, although they certainly have no liking for anything that smacks of overly intrusive government. more...

...What is at stake is civilization and humanity, nothing less. The idea that everything is permitted, as Nietzsche put it, rests on the premise of nihilism and has nihilistic implications. I will not pretend that the case against nihilism and for civilization is an easy one to make. We are here confronting the most fundamental of philosophical questions, on the deepest levels. In short, the matter of pornography and obscenity is not a trivial one, and only superficial minds can take a bland and untroubled view of it. more...

As a result of the efforts of Hayek .. and the many others who share his general outlook, the idea of a centrally planned and centrally administered economy, so popular in the 1930s and early 1940s, has been discredited. more...

.. the most intelligent defender of capitalism in the modern period is Friedrich Hayek. more...

It requires strength of character to act upon one's ideas; it requires no less strength of character to resist being seduced by them. more...

Our revolutionary message... is that a self-disciplined people can create a political community in which an ordered liberty will promote both economic prosperity and political participation. more...

[A neoconservative is] a liberal who has been mugged by reality. A neoliberal is a liberal who got mugged by reality but has not pressed charges. more...

Doing good isn't hard. It's just doing a lot of good that is very hard. If your aims are modest, you can accomplish an awful lot. When your aims become elevated beyond a reasonable level, you not only don't accomplish much, you can cause a great deal of damage. more...

A liberal is one who says that it's all right for an 18-year-old girl to perform in a pornographic movie as long as she gets paid the minimum wage. more...

Neo-conservatives are unlike old conservatives because they are utilitarians, not moralists, and because their aim is the prosperity of post-industrial society, not the recovery of a golden age. more...

A conservative is a liberal mugged by reality. more...


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