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Political Ideologies In Action: Neo-Conservatism

A research guide for John Hulgreen's Political Ideologies in Action (SCT2107.01)

Quick Description

Neoconservatism (commonly shortened to neocon) is a political movement born in the United States during the 1960s among conservative-leaning Democrats who became disenchanted with the party's foreign policy. The term "neoconservative" refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist Left to the camp of American conservatism. Neoconservatives typically advocate the promotion of democracy and American national interest in international affairs, including by means of military force and are known for espousing disdain for communism and for political radicalism.

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Brief Bios

Irving Kristol was an American essayist, editor, and publisher, best known as an intellectual founder and leader of the neoconservative movement in the United States. His articulation and defense of conservative ideals against the dominant liberalism of the 1960s influenced generations of intellectuals and policymakers and contributed to the resurgence of the Republican Party in the late 1960s and its electoral successes in the 1980s.


Sidney Hook was an American philosopher of the Pragmatist school known for his contributions to the philosophy of history, the philosophy of education, political theory, and ethics. After embracing Communism in his youth, Hook was later known for his criticisms of totalitarianism, both fascism, and Marxism–Leninism. A pragmatic social democrat, Hook sometimes cooperated with conservatives, particularly in opposing Communism. After World War II, he argued that members of such groups as the Communist Party USA and other Leninist conspiracies could ethically be barred from holding the offices of public trust because they called for the violent overthrow of democratic governments.


James Burnham was an American philosopher and political theorist. A radical activist in the 1930s and an important factional leader of the American Trotskyist movement, in later years Burnham left Marxism and turned to the political Right, serving as a public intellectual of the American conservative movement, and producing the work for which he is best known, The Managerial Revolution, published in 1941. Burnham is also remembered as an editor and a regular contributor to America's leading conservative publication, National Review, on a variety of topics.


Norman Podhoretz is an American neoconservative pundit and writer for Commentary magazine.


Richard Norman Perle is an American political advisor, consultant, and lobbyist who began his career in government as a senior staff member to Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson on the Senate Armed Services Committee in the 1970s. Later he was heavily involved with the Reagan administration and served as an assistant Secretary of Defense and also worked on the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee from 1987 to 2004. He was Chairman of the Board in 2001 under the Bush Administration but eventually resigned in 2003 due to conflict of interests.

He is a member of several think-tanks including the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) Board of Advisors, the Center for Security Policy (CSP), the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (as a resident fellow), the neoconservative Project for the New American Century (PNAC), and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA).


Michael Novak is an American lay theologian, economist, historian, and author who became a prominent neoconservative political theorist.


Jeane Kirkpatrick was an American diplomat and political scientist. An ardent anticommunist, she was a longtime Democrat who became a Republican in 1985. After serving as Ronald Reagan's foreign policy adviser in his 1980 campaign, she became the first woman to serve as US Ambassador to the United Nations.

She was known for the "Kirkpatrick Doctrine", which advocated supporting authoritarian regimes around the world if they went along with Washington's aims. She believed that they could be led into democracy by example. She wrote, "Traditional authoritarian governments are less repressive than revolutionary autocracies."