[Marxism] Irving Louis Horowitz, Sociologist and Ideological Critic, Dies

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Mar 26 12:08:01 MDT 2012

(Horowitz was pretty good in his youth, as this even-handed 
article on Juan Peron in Braverman and Cochran's American 
Socialist magazine would indicate: 

NY Times March 26, 2012
Irving Louis Horowitz, Sociologist and Ideological Critic, Dies at 82

Irving Louis Horowitz, an eminent sociologist and prolific author 
who started a leading journal in his field but who came to fear 
that his discipline risked being captured by left-wing ideologues, 
died on Wednesday in Princeton, N.J. He was 82.

The cause was complications of heart surgery, his wife, Mary 
Curtis Horowitz, said.

Professor Horowitz, who last taught at Rutgers University, wrote 
about genocide, political theory and Cuban Communism, among other 
topics. He devised a quantitative index for measuring a nation’s 
quality of life, weighing factors like arbitrary killings and 
imprisonments against the extent of civil liberties. He helped 
popularize the term “third world” for poorer nations not aligned 
with the Soviet Union or the United States.

Though many considered him a neoconservative, he professed no 
political allegiance. In a 2007 article, he argued that Fidel 
Castro, the Communist Cuban leader, and Francisco Franco, the 
conservative leader of Spain, were equivalent tyrants.

In 1962, Professor Horowitz founded the journal Trans-Action: 
Social Science and Modern Society, which strove to bring to 
sociology, economics, political science and the other social 
sciences the same explanatory rigor that Scientific American 
applied to the hard sciences. Trans-Action’s name was changed to 
Society in 1972 as Transaction Publishers grew into a respected 
publisher of social science books and journals. The company sold 
Society and other journals to Springer, a German publishing firm, 
in 2007.

In his later years, Professor Horowitz worried that “left-wing 
fascists” and “professional savages” were subverting objective, 
empirical approaches to the social sciences, as he wrote in his 
book “The Decomposition of Sociology” (1993). In a journal 
article, he denounced leftist advocacy, writing, “You do not get 
good science by being politically correct.”

But George Steinmetz, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, 
challenged Professor Horowitz’s solution of relying on empirical, 
nonideological studies modeled on the hard sciences. In a 2005 
article in The Michigan Quarterly Review titled “The Cultural 
Contradictions of Irving Louis Horowitz,” he maintained that 
“historical, cultural and geographic” context remained critical. 
Professor Horowitz was a leading expert on C. Wright Mills, who 
studied social stratification in the United States, most famously 
in “The Power Elite” (1956). He edited four volumes of Mills’s 
essays and a book of essays about him; edited and published 
Mills’s doctoral dissertation as a book; and wrote “C. Wright 
Mills: An American Utopian” (1983), which the historian Jackson 
Lears praised in The Journal of American History as “a balanced, 
judicious intellectual biography.”

But others complained that Professor Horowitz’s earlier view of 
Mills as a “true reformer” had darkened. In the biography he 
called Mills “a fanatic” and castigated his affiliation with New 
Left thinkers who had emerged during the Vietnam War. Mills’s 
widow, Kathryn Mills, wrote in a letter to The New York Times that 
her husband had met Professor Horowitz only twice; she complained 
that his book had 50 errors of biographical fact “in addition to 
misinterpretations and questionable judgments.”

Professor Horowitz only escalated his criticism, calling Mills “a 
bigot.” In “A Postscript to a Sociological Utopian” (1989), he 
wrote, “In C. Wright Mills I was dealing with a sadly flawed 
individual, a human being who had biased attitudes on many issues, 
including minorities, Jews, women, and especially blacks.”

Irving Louis Horowitz was born in New York City — on Wards Island 
in the East River — on Sept. 25, 1929. He grew up in Harlem. In an 
autobiography, “Daydreams and Nightmares” (1990), he wrote that he 
was born with a cleft palate and a cleft lip and had 24 painful 
operations in his first 13 years. A dentist was later able to 
repair the hole in the top of his mouth, his wife said. The family 
was part of a dwindling Jewish minority in Harlem.

“It was a very heavily social environment,” Professor Horowitz 
said in an interview with The Times in 1988. “To survive, you had 
to know the distinction between black and white, rich and poor, 
Jew and gentile, religious and nonreligious, political and 

He attended City College of New York and drove a cab to help with 
living expenses. He earned a master’s degree from Columbia and a 
Ph.D. from the University of Buenos Aires. “It was the end of the 
Perón era,” he said, “and I was told I could be helpful in 
reactivating the sociology program.”

He taught at many universities around the world and was chairman 
of the sociology departments at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, 
Washington University and Rutgers. In 1979, he was awarded an 
endowed chair at Rutgers and chose to name it after Hannah Arendt, 
the political theorist. He retired from teaching in 1992 and seven 
years later established, with his wife, the Irving Louis Horowitz 
Foundation to aid social science scholars. His final book, “Hannah 
Arendt: Radical Conservative,” was published this month.

Professor Horowitz’s marriages to Ruth Narowlansky and Danielle 
Salti ended in divorce. In addition to his wife, he is survived by 
his sons, Carl and David.

Professor Horowitz was nothing if not ambitious. Three weeks after 
Mills died in 1962, he wrote Mills’s wife offering his services 
for “anything from flat tires to zebra hunting to transporting 
widows across state lines.” He soon hauled away cartons of Mills’s 

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