Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Con Job

A reader sends along this post discussing the differences between traditional conservatives and the neocon contingent.

I attempted to briefly sketch the origins of neoconservatism in my review of Pat Buchanan's book "Where the Right Went Wrong." Here is an excerpt:

"Neoconservatism originated in few periodicals and northeastern universities in the 1960’s. Its early exponents were largely Jewish and Eastern European. Today, neoconservatism claims such "luminaries" as Jeane Kirkpatrick, Bill Bennett, Michael Novak, Richard John Neuhaus, and a bevy of syndicated columnists. Buchanan calls them "ex-Trotskyites, socialists, leftists, and liberals who backed FDR, Truman, JDK and LBJ." They are "the boat people of the McGovern revolution that was itself the political vehicle of the moral, social, and cultural revolutions of the 1960’s."

Skilled in the arts of political chicanery and bureaucratic infighting, the neocons migrated into the Republican Party during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Sam Francis explains why the neocons drifted to the right politically:

"The political impetus for neoconservatism was, first the threat to the integrity of universities and American intellectual life presented by the militancy of the New Left and the barbarism of the counterculture of the late 1960’s; secondly, the threat to Jewish academic and professional achievements in America presented by the quotas and affirmative action programs of the Great Society; and thirdly, the development of serious anti-Semitism on the Left and the Soviet alliance with radical anti-Western and anti-Israeli Arab regimes and terrorists.


Another pillar of the neoconservative mind is the conflation of American and Israeli national interests, which is the root of the current mess in Iraq. In an essay in the Wall Street Journal, militant neocon Max Boot, who has called for the U.S. to take up the imperial burden, called support for Israel a "key tenet" of neocon ideology...

On the foreign policy front, the necons are warmongers, pure and simple. But what about domestically? Don’t they believe in limited government? To the extent that they care about such matters at all, the answer is no. Indeed, they are "big government conservatives," as Fred Barnes has said. Irving Kristol, the most prominent first-generation neoconservative, wrote that:

In economic and social policy, it [neoconservatism] feels no lingering hostility to the welfare state, nor does it accept it resignedly, as a necessary evil. Instead it seeks not dismantle the welfare state not in the name of free-market economics but rather to reshape it so as to attach to it the conservative predispositions of the people. This reshaping will presumably take the form of trying to rid the welfare state of its paternalistic orientation, imposed on it by Left-liberalism, and making it over into the kind of "social insurance state" that provides the social and economic security a modern citizenry demands..


In sum, the neocons are devoted to the welfare-warfare state."

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