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Origins of Neoconservativism Pt. 2

Wikipedia is usually somewhat watered-down, for better or worse, but had some interesting points regarding neoconservatives:

The forerunners of neoconservatism were often liberals or socialists who strongly supported World War II, and who were influenced by the Depression-era ideas of former New Dealers, trade unionists, and Trotskyists (orthodox Marxist), particularly those who followed the political ideas of Max Shachtman.

. . .some neoconservatives also came to despise the counterculture of the 1960s and what they felt was a growing anti-Americanism among many baby boomers, exemplified in the emerging New Left by the movement against the Vietnam War.

As the radicalization of the New Left pushed these intellectuals farther to the right, they moved toward a more aggressive militarism.

. . .Today’s neocons are a shrunken remnant of the original broad neocon coalition. Nevertheless, the origins of their ideology on the left are still apparent. The fact that most of the younger neocons were never on the left is irrelevant; they are the intellectual (and, in the case of William Kristol and John Podhoretz, the literal) heirs of older ex-leftists.”

According to Peter Steinfels, a historian of the movement, the neoconservatives’ “emphasis on foreign affairs emerged after the New Left and the counterculture had dissolved as convincing foils for neoconservatism . . . The essential source of their anxiety is not military or geopolitical or to be found overseas at all; it is domestic and cultural and ideological.” Neoconservative foreign policy parallels their domestic policy. They insist that the U.S. military must be strong enough to control the world, or else the world will descend into chaos.

. . . Believing that America should “export democracy,” that is, spread its ideals of government, economics, and culture abroad, they grew to reject U.S. reliance on international organizations and treaties to accomplish these objectives. Compared to other U.S. conservatives, neoconservatives may be characterized by an idealist stance on foreign policy, a lesser social conservatism, and a much weaker dedication to a policy of minimal government, and, in the past, a greater acceptance of the welfare state, though none of these qualities are necessarily requisite.

Wikipedia also noted the neocons aggresive support for “nation-building.” Differences between old conservatives and neocons were described:

. . .The “paleocons” view the neoconservatives as “militarist social democrats” and interlopers who deviate from traditional conservatism agenda on issues as diverse as federalism, immigration, foreign policy, the welfare state, and in some cases abortion, feminism and homosexuality. All of this leads to a debate over what counts as conservatism

It seems that the new “conservative” view that military force must be used to control the world could easily be implemented within our own shores when combined with the desire for stronger central government and an extreme dislike of counterculture—(which could be vaguely defined). It’s clear that “conservative” in the purest sense of the word doesn’t apply to the majority of the neocon agenda, rather most of the agenda involves using military force to instigate great political changes, either at home or overseas, and often without regard to domestic or international law.

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4 Responses

  1. I just read a book called “On a Hill They Call Capital” by Matt Carson and am wound up over the idea of some sort of peaceful revolution. It’s a quick read and very clever. I’m telling everyone I can because it’s really making me think. We have totally lost sight of what a republican government looks like and conservative has come to mean stingy or militaristic somehow…

  2. Thanks for the heads up on the book, looks very interesting. Reading the Declaration of Independence again last night had a similar effect on me. I’m ready for a peaceful return to the values the U.S. once stood for.

  3. Been noticing more web time devoted to the book On A Hill They Call Capital, would enjoy reading the Daily Liberty Research take on the book. It’s pretty wild. Read the other day that the author sent a free copy of the book to every member of congress.

  4. […] Dave wrote an interesting post today on […]

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