Seymour Martin Lipset

Seymour Martin Lipset has passed away at 84. An important and interesting man, who went through that common migration of the anti-Stalinist left from Trotskyist to democratic socialist to... well, to something else. He has been called a neoconservative, but I think that is not exactly right. What he was above all was a humanist, a deeply humane man, a mentsh.

Like my grandfather, he was born in Harlem, sparking this nice anecdote from the NYT obit:
he wrote about meeting Gen. Colin L. Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a cocktail party and telling the general that they had both been born in Harlem, grown up in the Bronx and graduated from City College.

“I did not add what was more relevant, that he joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps, while I joined the youth section of Young People’s Socialist League, Fourth International,” wrote Mr. Lipset, who remained a socialist through graduate school.

Here's an appreciation from Metta Spencer, who knew him from the 1960s, and comments on his "neocon" turn. Lots of interesting stories. And a nice appreciation from a former colleague, Jason, who also makes a case for the greatness of Union Democracy, as does Demosophist at Winds of Change. And, finally, a short appreciation from Rakesh Khurana.

UPDATE: Here's more from Metta Spencer.


On a related topic, I only just read Hitchens' sharp dissent from the general beatification of the late Gerald Ford. (Via Sisyphus, via Jeff W)

And, on another related topic, here's a lovely piece by Gus Tyler on his 75 years with The Forward, which also reads as a micro-history of the New York Jewish anti-Stalinist left. (Via Arieh)

Previous: Clifford Geertz, Hannah Arendt, Anti-Stalinist intellectuals, Leo Strauss, Irving Fields, Basketball in social democratic New York


Roland Dodds said…
Truly an interesting man, thank you for bringing to light some of his contributions to our political debate. He will surely be missed, even if all didn’t see eye-to-eye with the man.