Muravchik, Joshua 1947-
MURAVCHIK, Joshua 1947-
PERSONAL: Born September 17, 1947, in New York, NY; son of Emanuel and Miriam (Kornfield) Muravchik; married Sally Golden, January 1, 1974; children: Stephanie, Madeline, Valerie. Education: City College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1970; Georgetown University, Ph.D., 1984. Religion: Jewish.
CAREER: Young People's Socialist League (now Young Social Democrats), New York, NY, national chair, 1968-73; Coalition for a Democratic Majority, Washington, DC, executive director, 1974-79; freelance writer, 1984-87; American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Washington, DC, resident scholar, 1987—; Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington, DC, fellow in residence. Member of United States Commission on Civil Rights and Maryland State Advisory Committee.
The Senate and National Security, Sage Publications (Beverly Hills, CA), 1980.
Perceptions of Israel in the American Media: Summary of a Conference, Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations (New York, NY), 1985.
The Uncertain Crusade: Jimmy Carter and Dilemmas of Human Rights Policy, Hamilton Press (Lanham, MD), 1986.
Nicaragua's Slow March to Communism, Cuban American National Foundation (Washington, DC), 1986.
News Coverage of the Sandinista Revolution, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (Washington, DC), 1988.
Exporting Democracy: Fulfilling America's Destiny, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (Washington, DC), 1991.
U.S. Foreign Policy Options and Australian Interests, Pacific Security Research Institute (Sydney, Australia), 1992.
The Imperative of American Leadership: A Challenge to Neo-Isolationism, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (Washington, DC), 1996.
Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism, Encounter Books (San Francisco, CA), 2002.
Contributor to Democracy in the Middle East: Defining the Challenge, edited by Yehudah Mirsky and Matt Ahrens, Washington Institute for Near East Policy (Washington, DC), 1993. Also contributor to periodicals, including Commentary, New Republic, and New York Times; editorial board member of World Affairs and Journal of Democracy.
SIDELIGHTS: A political activist, Joshua Muravchik has focused his work on advocating democracy. Muravchik believes that democracy is the missing ingredient for world peace, arguing that democratic nations do not go to war with each other. Viewing past American policy as "realist"—placing strategic interests over democratic values mainly in an attempt to stave off Communism—he suggests a future agenda with the promotion of democracy as the central theme.
Muravchik's book Exporting Democracy: Fulfilling America's Destiny encompasses his arguments and discusses America's role as a world organizer. Daniel Pipes described the book's ambition in Washington Post Book World: "It tackles a topic no less than America's place in the world. It succeeds brilliantly." While he found Muravchik's policy recommendations too general, New York Times Book Review contributor David Callahan acknowledged that "the case for exporting democracy is powerful." Lauded for its magnitude and relevance, Exporting Democracy has been characterized as a portentous work. Summing up his thoughts on the book, New York Times writer A. M. Rosenthal proclaimed, "It will be lastingly important."
Muravchik's The Imperative of American Leadership: A Challenge to Neo-Isolationism urges the United States not to bend to what the author calls "the isolationist temptation." Published in 1997, the book proposes the continued involvement of the United States in world affairs, arguing that as the "wealthiest, mightiest, and most respected nation" in the world, the U.S. is obliged to "respond to crisis, to discourage or thwart aggression, to settle quarrels, and to uphold international law." However, even in the wake of the decline of Communism, Muravchik points out other factors, including nuclear proliferation and economic isolation, "that threaten U.S. interest and security," according to Gabriel Kikas in Perspectives on Political Science. Kikas acknowledged the author's premise that there are "no clear alternatives to democracy," using the United Nations peacekeeping operations as an example, and related the book's conclusion that the United States "must take sound, practical measures to secure a democratic world order." Foreign Affairs critic David Hendrickson pointed to the many sides of the isolationist argument, stating that critics of globalism "will not want to join the author" along the chain of contingency, while "skeptics of the aggressive promotion of democracy" may wonder about the consequences of America's involvement in areas like East Asia, "where such a posture seems likely to be counterproductive or destabilizing."
Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism examines the tempestuous history of a social-political movement. Muravchik begins with the birth of socialism, which was touted by intellectuals as the wave of the future, certain to create abundant societies and give birth to the "New Man." By the end of the twentieth century, however, socialism was discredited even in Communist nations, many of which, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, were quick to adopt a more capitalist society. Heaven on Earth looks at some of the advocates of socialism, including Robert Owen, who used its principles to design a modern utopia in the United States; Clement Attlee, who attempted to introduce the movement to Great Britain; and Mikhail Gorbechev, the former Soviet prime minister who endorsed socialism in the post-Communist state. "Muravchik pulls no punches," commented a contributor to the National Review Book Service. "He shows why socialism has failed wherever it has been tried." Moreover, the reviewer added, the author "is unafraid to explore socialism's appeal as man's great attempt to replace religion." Booklist contributor Jay Freeman, meanwhile, summed up Heaven on Earth as "an important work and an object lesson showing great harm is frequently done by those with the purest motives."
Joshua Muravchik once told CA: "I spent the first decade of my working life as a political activist and apparatchik. During the course of this experience I became ever more impressed with the impact of ideas and argument—as opposed to mere interest and influence—in shaping our political life. I concluded that I would rather be a wordman than an 'orgman.' So, after some further education, I began a new career reading and writing about politics, with a focus on foreign policy. I am especially interested in issues of right and wrong. I believe that political acts are subject to measurement against moral standards, and that the virtues of kindness, compassion, generosity, honor, and reason should guide public life as well as private."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Spectator, January, 1992, review of Exporting Democracy: Fulfilling America's Destiny, p. 16.
Booklist, April 1, 2002, Jay Freeman, review of Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism, p. 1278.
Choice, February, 1992, review of Exporting Democracy, p. 960; September, 1996, review of The Imperative of American Leadership: A Challenge to Neo-Isolationism, p. 211.
Foreign Affairs, July-August, 1996, David Hendrickson, review of The Imperative of American Leadership, p. 146.
New Republic, January 27, 1992, review of Exporting Democracy, p. 39.
New York Times, April 16, 1991, A. M. Rosenthal, review of Exporting Democracy, p. A23.
New York Times Book Review, April 21, 1991, David Callahan, review of Exporting Democracy, p. 11.
Perspectives on Political Science, summer, 1997, Gabriel Kikas, review of The Imperative of American Leadership, p. 170.
Times Literary Supplement, July 12, 1996, review of The Imperative of American Leadership, p. 27.
Wall Street Journal, May 31, 1996, review of The Imperative of American Leadership, p. A8.
Washington Post Book World, June 16, 1991, Daniel Pipes, review of Exporting Democracy, p. 5; September 29, 1996, review of The Imperative of American Leadership, p. 6.
National Review Book Service,http://www.nrbookservice.com/ (June 13, 2002), review of Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism.*