Midge Decter, a writer and editor who left liberalism to lay the intellectual foundations for the neoconservative movement and the so-called culture wars over feminism, gay rights and other social issues, died Monday at her Manhattan home. She was 94.

Her daughter Naomi Decter confirmed the death.

Mrs. Decter was at the forefront of an ideologically evolving generation of public intellectuals. They cut their teeth into left-wing politics in the 1930s and 1940s and settled into anti-communist liberalism in the 1950s and early 1960s. Shocked by the turbulence of the student and women’s movements, they later broke with liberals to embrace a new form of conservatism — championing traditional social values, restricted free-market economies, and muscular American foreign policy — which peaked in the early 1900s. 21st Century in the Administration of President George W. Bush.

Ms. Decter exerted her influence as an editor of Harper’s and other magazines, as an author and book editor, and as a political organizer and popular speaker.

As conservative politics in America took off in the 1980s, her voice was increasingly heard by a select few in the elite circles of government, academia, and intellectual journals. Gore Vidal, an intellectual foe, put it differently in The Nation in 1981, calling her “well known to the few who knew her.”

Ms Decter’s ideological shift in the late 1960s stemmed from an increasing concern she expressed in her 2001 memoir, “An Old Wife’s Tale: My Seven Decades in Love and War.” Liberalism, she said, instead of talking to the common man and woman as it had done in the past, went off the rails in “a general attack in the culture against the way ordinary Americans had come to live.”

She and her husband, the writer and fellow ex-liberal Norman Podhoretz, were concerned about the effect the new thinking, especially that of the counterculture, might have on their children and future generations.

Their concerns were shared by equally disaffected liberals, and in informal conversations they helped seed a movement called neoconservatism, a form of aggressive conservative thinking that would begin to grow during the Ronald Reagan administration and flourish in that of George W. Bush and many. of the policymakers who advocated the invasion of Iraq.

They formed an influential cadre, led by scholar and editor Irving Kristol and joined by the likes of Jeane Kirkpatrick, Diana Trilling, Seymour Martin Lipset and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Mr. Kristol gave neoconservatism a platform in The Public Interest, a magazine he co-founded with Daniel Bell. And while neoconservatism could never be precisely defined, he was pithy in describing someone who subscribed to it—as a liberal who had been “overtaken by reality.” (His son, William Kristol, continued the business as the founding editor of conservative magazine The Weekly Standard and as a commentator, now at The Bulwark.)

Mrs. Decter just started calling herself a conservative. She attracted attention in the 1970s as a leading critic of feminism and other social movements, and in the 1980s as a staunch cold warrior at a time when relations between East and West were thawing a bit.

She argued that the real revolution that enabled women to pursue careers was not the women’s movement, but the availability of modern forms of contraception. For Ms. Decter, women had a biological destiny to be wives and mothers, and those who tried to escape showed self-loathing.

In her 1972 book, “The New Chastity and Other Arguments Against Women’s Liberation,” she wrote that the “real complaint” of women is not that they are “abused, discriminated against, oppressed, enslaved, but that they — women.” to be.

She offered a solution: single women should remain chaste, because women are naturally monogamous. And abstaining from sex, she said, was a form of power over men.

Her next book, “Liberal Parents, Radical Children” (1975), unleashed a storm of criticism by calling the youth of the 1960s an aimless generation and blaming their parents’ permissiveness for that failure.

She also took affirmative action, the gay rights movement and the defense institution, which she accused of being dangerously lax in military preparedness. Her Committee for the Free World, founded in 1981, was successful in pushing for more military spending under President Reagan. (She dissolved it when the Soviet Union collapsed.)

She was born Midge Rosenthal on July 25, 1927, in St. Paul, Minnesota, the youngest of three daughters of Harry and Rose (Calmenson) Rosenthal. As the lastborn, she wrote, she became “a son of honor,” meaning she got a longer belt because more was expected of her.

As a teenager, she worked in her father’s clothing and sports store and participated in her high school’s literary magazine. After attending the University of Minnesota for a year, she went to New York from 1946 to 1948 to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She never obtained a university degree.

Shortly after moving to New York, she married Moshe Decter, a writer and Jewish activist, and found a job as the secretary of the editor-in-chief of Commentary, the intellectual magazine published by the American Jewish Committee.

Mrs. Decter left Commentary when she became a mother – she and Mr. Decter had two children – and devoted herself full time to raising children and socializing with other housewives in Queens. She found interacting with a 2-year-old “a sensual and social pleasure of the utmost kind,” she told The Daily News in 1980.

She and Mr. Decter divorced in 1954. (Reviewers noted that she did not mention his name in her memoir, although she kept it to herself.) She married Mr. Podhoretz in 1956, when he was associate editor of Commentary. He later became the editor.

Mr Podhoretz once said that she caught his attention several years earlier when he tried to impress another young woman by quoting TS Eliot. While she was eavesdropping on him, Mrs. Decter corrected him; he had misquoted the poet.

After returning to the workplace, she began to build her resume: assistant editor at Midstream magazine, editor-in-chief of Commentary, editor at the Hudson Institute, editor of CBS Legacy Books.

She was executive editor of Harper’s from 1969 to 1971, working with famed editor Willie Morris during a particularly fruitful literary period for the magazine. When Mr Morris resigned in a dispute with the owner, Mrs Decter followed suit.

Saturday Review soon hired her as a book review editor. From there, she moved to Basic Books as a senior editor. She stayed there until 1974.

Mrs. Decter wrote books as she went from editing to editing. The first, “The Liberated Woman and Other Americans” (1970), was primarily a collection of essays written for magazines. Michelle Murray, in The National Observer, wrote that Ms. Decter “joyly took on an opponent’s role” as the women’s movement gained momentum.

After leaving Harper’s, Ms. Decter delved into the literature of the women’s movement and then challenged them with “The New Chastity.” She concluded that feminists saw children as the enemy – as “variously demanding and boring”. She herself became “the required villain” in feminist discussion panels, she wrote in her memoir.

The book about permissive parents followed in 1975, but she didn’t write another book until 2001, “An Old Wife’s Tale.” In the intervening years, she devoted herself largely to her anti-communist work, applauding what conservatives called the Reagan Revolution, and condemning politics based on gender, race, and other defining traits. She has served on the boards of conservative think tanks, including the Heritage Foundation, the Center for Security Policy, and the Hoover Institution. In 2003, she received the National Humanities Medal from President Bush at a ceremony at the White House.

In addition to her daughter Naomi, her husband leaves her; another daughter, Ruthie Blum; a son, John Podhoretz, the current editor of Commentary; 13 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren. A daughter from Mrs. Decter’s first marriage, Rachel Abrams, a writer and artist and the wife of Elliott Abrams, the White House diplomat and assistant foreign policy, died in 2013. Mr. Decter died in 2007.

“Decter has left her mark as a public intellectual of interest,” Elizabeth Fox-Genovese wrote in 2001 in National Review, a pillar of American conservatism.

Many on the left held other views, including Vidal, who called her “a virtuoso of hate” for her criticism of the gay rights movement.

Ms Decter objected that liberals could no longer recognize and condemn unacceptable behavior. Legalizing abortion as a philosophical issue was one thing, she said, but if there are more abortions than live births in some places, something has gone wrong in society.

“You have to differentiate somehow, draw lines,” she said, “and liberalism has failed to do that.”

Jordan Allen contributed to the reporting.

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