‘Is it good for the Jews?’: Jewish intellectuals and the formative years of neoconservatism, 1945-1980

Janssen, Nadja A (2010) ‘Is it good for the Jews?’: Jewish intellectuals and the formative years of neoconservatism, 1945-1980. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

PDF - Published Version
Download (15MB) | Preview


This thesis re-evaluates the emergence of the neoconservative critique of American
post-war liberalism from 1945 to 1980. Its original contribution to the scholarship on
neoconservatism lies in the claim that a particular understanding of Jewishness
fundamentally shaped the neoconservatives’ right turn, as well as neoconservative
ideology. Few scholars have recognised the primacy of Jewish identity politics in the
evolutionary history of neoconservatism. Those who have, have done so inadequately
and unmethodically. Therefore, my thesis systematically analyses the Jewish dimension
of early neoconservatism by placing particular focus on its two principal mouthpieces,
Commentary and The Public Interest, while drawing on autobiographical writings,
personal papers and oral interviews.

Reconsidering neoconservatism from this angle also contributes to a reevaluation
of modern Jewish political history by debunking the myth that the American
Jewish community is governed by consensus based on political identification with
liberalism. My thesis shows that neoconservatism not only contributed to the rise of
conservatism and the fall of liberalism on a national level, but also played an important
role in post-1945 Jewish intra-communal contentions about which political affiliation
best expresses modern Jewish American identity. Accordingly, it demonstrates that
Jewish political culture is more diverse than is usually appreciated and that
neoconservatives draw on a tradition of Jewish conservatism, which has so far received
little attention from scholars of modern Jewish history.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > American Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2010
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:50
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/2357
Google Scholar:0 Citations

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update