Skip to comments.Kristol Neoconservatism
Posted on 03/22/2014 11:42:15 AM PDT by Kaslin
In spite of the ease with which the word conservatism is thrown about these days, most people who associate with the conservative movement are not really conservative at all. In reality, the so-called conservative movement is a predominantly (though not exclusively) neoconservative movement.
Contrary to what some neoconservatives would have us think, neoconservatism is not an insult, much less an anti-Semitic slur. The word, rather, refers to a distinct intellectual traditiona point for which some neoconservatives, like its famed godfather, Irving Kristol, have argued at length.
In The Neoconservative Persuasion, Kristol argues for another claim: neoconservatism and traditional or classical conservatism are very different from one another. Neocons, he states, feel at home in todays America to a degree that more traditional conservatives do not. Unlike conservatism, neoconservatism is in the American grain. And this is because it is hopeful, not lugubrious; forward-looking, not nostalgic; and its general tone is cheerful, not grim or dyspeptic. Furthermore: Its twentieth-century heroes tend to be TR [Teddy Roosevelt], FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt], and Ronald Reagan, while Republican and conservative worthies like Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater are politely overlooked.
Neocons view the United States as a creedal nation with a civilizing mission to promote American values throughout the world, to see to it that other governments respect our conception of individual rights as the foundation of a just regime and a good society. Kristol is unambiguous in his profession of the American faith: the United States, given its status as a great power and its ideological nature, does indeed have a responsibility in those places and at those times where conditions permit it to flourish, to make the world safe for democracy.
Here, Kristol articulates the foreign policy visionDemocratic Realism is what Charles Krauthammer calls itfor which neoconservatism is known. Yet to Kristols great credit, he readily concedes what most neoconservatives readily deny: Big Government abroad is, ultimately, inseparable from Big Government right here at home.
Kristol is refreshingly, almost shockingly honest: Neoconservatism, he informs us, endorses the welfare state. Its adherents support social security, unemployment insurance, some form of national health insurance, some kind of family assistance plan, etc. and will not hesitate to interfere with the market for overriding social purposeseven if this requires rigging it instead of imposing upon it direct bureaucratic controls (emphases added).
As Kristol says, neoconservatives are always interested in proposing alternate reforms, alternate legislation, [to the Great Society] that would achieve the desired aimsthe eradication of povertymore securely, and without the downside effects. Neoconservatives dont want to destroy the welfare state, but rather reconstruct it along more economical and humane lines.
In vain will we search the air waves of conservative talk radio, Fox News, National Review, Commentary, The Weekly Standard, or any other number of mainstream conservative publications for a negative syllable regarding Irving Kristol. Though Kristol, like his son, Bill, is commonly referred to as a conservative, he himself not only explicitly embraced neoconservatism as his persuasion of choice; Kristol happily embraced the distinction of being the godfather of this persuasion.
In other words, if anyone can be said to be the intellectual standard bearer of neoconservatism, it is Irving Kristol.
And yet here he is unabashedly conceding what some of us have long noted and for which weve been ridiculed: neoconservatism is every bit as wedded to Big Government as other species of leftismeven if its proponents want to use it in other ways and for other purposes.
Because Obamacare is woefully unpopular, neoconservative Republicans, both in politics and the conservative media, have nothing to lose and everything to gain from trashing it. But at this time leading up to the midterm elections, more traditional conservatives would be well served to bear in mind that, in principle, neoconservatives do not object to some form of national health insurance, as Kristol tells us.
For all of their talk of limited government, traditional conservative voters should remember that, as Kristol states, neoconservatives endorse the welfare state and only seek to reconstruct it along more economical and humane lines.
For all of their talk of capitalism and the free enterprise system, conservative voters should also recall that, as Kristol remarks, neoconservatives will not hesitate to interfere with the market for overriding social purposes.
More recently, Douglas Murray, in his, Neoconservatism: Why We Need It, seconds Kristol in admitting that, socially, economically, and philosophically, neoconservatism differs in kind from traditional conservatism. In fact, such is the vastness of their differences that he refers to neoconservatism as revolutionary conservatism.
If the conservative movement is to have a future, it must first be honest about its present identity.
How about we hire Americans, at American companies, which make things for sale in America?
I pass water from a great height on the flat rock of “neo-conservatism”, which is neither of those things. It is as old as the Tower of Babel, and is as conservative as Brave New World.
As usual— another great post by Kaslin.
For myself, I must confess considerable fealty to neoconservatism.
I think the article paints the compromises in too dark of tones and I certainly do not think neoconservatism endorses big government.
I do think the unspecified conservative absolutists have no empirical record or standard. Even the Reagan pretenders concede a vast array of empirical shortfalls on contemporary demands for “true conservatism.”
I do think ethically minded capitalism can reduce poverty. It still shocks me how conservative absolutists refuse to acknowledge that the height of Republican congressional power in the late 1990s successfully bent the trajectory of government and Great Society programs toward the most successful empirical reductions in poverty and the deficit SIMULTANEOUSLY.
The dearth of defense for empirical Republican successes and the fawning over untried conservative absolutism is disheartening.
I have railed to no great end on FR about the golden conservative unicorns that supposedly ride in vast herds throughout the American electorate.
On a more practical note, I think Ted Cruz is America’s best option for 2016.
But frankly, I expect that even he will be torn down by Paulites and absolutists within locales such as FR.
I hope I am wrong about that .
But clearly Cruz’s dad and the heritage of escaping Cuba cannot allow the neo-isolationist demands of current faux conservatism. It will be an interesting dilemma going forward between Paul and Cruz.
Next old Bill will be trying to say the Tea Party are really neo=cons. :-)
What's that doing in there, Kerwick?
Actually the article is not about Bill Kristol, but his father.
It has been reported, on fairly credible authority, that George W. Bush's Second Inaugural Address was actually scripted by a Neocon writer. In order to highlight the real foreign policy issues involved, I put the last former President's remarks, paragraph by paragraph in juxtaposition with the appropriate passages from George Washington's Farewell Address [George Washington vs. George W. Bush.]
Again the Neocon movement is neither new nor Conservative. It goes against some of the most basic principles of American Conservatism.
In that definition what I am being told is that folks like W. Krystol and G. Will and a bunch of other DC Bozos want me to foot the bill for their guilt alleviation...... No thanks very much
Maybe it still is.
What do you think Bill Kristol is?
Who remembers back in the early 2000’s, the Weekly Standard was openly cheering big government and deficit spending?
They called it “national greatness conservatism.” They were cooing that the era of conservatives trying to shrink gov’t was over, so we could focus on more important things like starting unnecessary wars to democratize Muslims and throwing open the borders to anyone and everyone.
Neocons lately have been making more of a serious effort to pretend to be conservative on domestic issues, or at least shutting up about them. Don’t be fooled. If Jeb were to become President, the mask would slip and they would be up to the same old tricks.
I disagree with your conclusion but I do like your web page on this question and the analysis that accompanies it.
The comparison between Washington and Bush is fascinating.
Ease up on the scary stories. I'm having lunch here.
Simple definition of what a neocon is...
A former moderate liberal who likes to use american power, especially the military to push american style democracy across the globe...
They joined the republican party because the democrats hate the military...
Kristol Sr. was a New Deal Democrat before he, like many other, defaulted to the Republican side after the Socialists took over the party in the 60’s. They were never samll “C” conservatives. Jean Kirkpatrick was another.
I can do without the socialist programs. Thanks.
Just curious, which tribe do you belong to?
Like “liberal” which has been robbed of its meaning, “conservatism” can have more than one meaning as its commonly used.
I think of myself as part of a classic liberal tradition, rooted in a Biblical worldview. In my opinion, that also describes the Founders and probably most of what we call constitutional conservatives.
Whether that is “conservative” or “paleo” or “neo-conservative” or “radical” as the terms are bandied about depends on the case at hand and the eye of the beholder.
“Classic liberal” constitutionalists don’t always agree with one another on foreign policy; when do you act and when do you take a step back is not always clear to everyone at the same time. But there is a kind of consistency that comes from clarity of principle.
“I think the article paints the compromises in too dark of tones and I certainly do not think neoconservatism endorses big government.”
I will take Reagan, Cruz, Palin neoconservatism over Paul, Buchanan libertarianism or paleo in the majority of instances.
That was the neocon goal, to co-opt the Tea Party. And the neocon hired Sarah Palin and Glen Beck to do exactly that. Palin would go after the social conservative teapartiers which she did at the Nashville convention and Beck would go after the libertarian minded teapartiers who had some degree of loyalty to Ron Paul. That all culminated at Beck's rally on the National Mall and Palin would join him on the stage to join the two groups.
But Palin and Beck figured it would be better to co-opt the tea party for their own gain. And each has made good money off the tea party.
There was a lot of ill will between Palin and the neocons over that and it got worse with Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell. And finally there in the spring of 2011, Palin fired her two neocon advisors, Randy Scheunemann and Michael Goldfarb, because of the neocons' involvement in Libya.
Basically, the Neocons are authoritarian liberals who wrap themselves in the flag and spout platitudes about "American greatness" to trick the rubes into giving up their blood, treasure, and liberty to advance the Globalist Agenda - a police state at home and Empire abroad.
Not sure that neoconservatism really is "forward-looking."
A lot of it has to do with looking back to the America of the 1940s and 1950s.
But notice that Kristol explicitly claims Reagan as a forebearer, but not Eisenhower.
These occultist, Fabian, socialist theologians accepted Marx's social principles and amplified ampllfied through the Darwinian evolutionary trombone, thus helping to revive a failed godless theory of government by gluing it to the Savior of Souls, and calling it a "social gospel," still preached by seminaries broadly.
Brooke Foss Westcott was the first president of England's Christian Social Union, a voice of labor unions, and a precusor to Britain's Labor Party.
Searching on the string "Brooke Foss Westcott Fabian Christian Socialism social gospel" will reveal some quite informative articles.
What we need is “Kneel, oh conservatists” not “neo-conservatists.”
much less an anti-Semitic slur.
The “One Note Charley” clan.
Ping for later.
LET'S STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE
Invading Iraq without provocation was a horrendous US foreign policy decision devised by the neocons for their own self-serving reasons.
Then-Pres Bush installed the neos in the WH---in their own Office of Special Ops where---the neos connived (using our tax dollars) to get the US to invade Iraq.
Bush actually believed the pukeneos when they said an INVASION would "bring peace" to the Mideast.
THE BIGGEST WHOPPER OF THEM ALL---Bush estimated the Iraq strike would cost $50-60 billion........then Bush publicly fired his aide, Larry Lindsey, because Lindsey dared to say the war might cost more like $100 billion. That was in 2007 dollars.
Iraq and Afghanistan today total about $3 TRILLION, and we're still pouring money down these rat holes........thanks to the neocons.
Predictably, the war profiteering was huge---the WSJ reported neocon guru, Richard Perle, is setting up his own oil company in Iraq (your tax dollars at work). Richard Perle,
The US left Iraq with not a barrel of oil to our name.....and rivers of young blood spilled on its decrepit soil
MOMENTS TO REMEMBER--- On the eve of the US invasion of Iraq, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony from Marine Corps Gen Anthony Zinni---and other US military experts ---that the so-called architects (they dared not say "neocon") of the Iraq invasion were totally ill-prepared for a post-combat occupation.
US military experts ridiculed the Bush administration claims that rebuilding could be achieved within two years, that the weapons of mass destruction would be destroyed-------and that a vibrant new political and economic system would emerge.
Over a decade later, Iraq---and the rest of the Mideast----has yet to create a viable political and economic system....a system that is totally incompatible w/ their archaic Islamicist thinking macerated in the vengeful dicta of the Koran.
LAUGH BREAK The pukeneos said the Mideast was "thirsting" for American-style democracy.
(waiting for hysterical laughter to die down)
Same place now known as a terrorist hellhole...
<><> Where trillions of US tax dollars were wasted and rivers of young blood were shed.
<><> Where the blood-thirsty Muslim Brotherhood has a stranglehold.
<><> Where neocon godfather and war profiteer, Richard Perle, is starting an oil company (your tax dollars at work).
It took the US over a decade to get out of Iraq....as the globe erupted into Mideast-centered terrorism.....and hate-filled Muslims set sail for America.
These are the glory days of the neocons--now gearing up to relive those days w/ another gullible Bush.
HERE WE GO ROUND THE MAY POLE Who could forget Obama's sap-happy "Arab Spring" when visions of terrorists as heart-filled humanitarians, weaving daisy chains, went frolicking around the May pole?
Obama's been prostrate---on his knees, all puckered up, apologizing for America, sucking up to America-hating countries. Obama, and his Chicago crime kingpins in the WH, have done everything possible to undermine US ntl security --- and they did it with our tax dollars.
Obama entertained the blood-thirsty Muslim Brotherhood in the WH; he gave the Muslim Brotherhood $2 billion tax dollars to finance its anti-American activities. It's certainly conceivable that the endless Mideast killings of Americans is being financed w/our tax dollars.
WHY WOULD A LIBERAL STAGE A MILITARY RAID? ANSWER COMIN' RIGHT UP Obama and HILLARY actually staged "military raids" in Libya. Did'ja ever? Who could image Smart Power types like Obama and Hill actually staging "military raids." But, heck, it was worth it----for Obama and Hill---they gained access to the National Bank of Libya. (No, there's no paper money there---just solid gold bars. Solid Gold. Not the fake Chinese tungsten filled bars flooding the gold market.)
Yeah, well let’s not let facts get in the way of style points.
Heheheh.......so true.....wish I’d said that.
These guys are both from Robert Kagan's Project for a New Amercian Century which has since been rebranded to the Foreign Policy Institute.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Totally agree if you change the word "democracy" with statism.
Best definition yet... except the word "liberal" has been coopted by statist progressives and neocons are probably closet eugenicists.
Also, by whose definition was Ike a traditional conservative?
I didn’t know that, thanks. This is why many called Hitchens a neo-con for supporting the Iraq war-he too, was a supporter of Trotsky. Either way, these “intellectuals” are far too left wing for my tastes.
The neo-Cons at “Commentary” are hypersensitive to criticism that they are obsessively focused on Israel, and that their concern for other countries, even America, is always secondary to Israel.
"Commentary" feels that kind of criticism is an ancient libel that questions the patriotism of Jews living all over the world.
And Neoconservatives love wide open borders, mass immigration and amnesty.
They can be a bigger threat than our open enemies on the left. Because when the GOPe is in power they will try to ram through rotten policies that the Democrats can’t even manage to pass.
“It has been reported, on fairly credible authority, that George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address was actually scripted by a Neocon writer.”
It was a steaming pile of crackpot utopian drivel. I’d be curious who the Neocon writer was; I’ve always suspected Michael Medved had a hand in it.
I reject BOTH neocon foreign policy AND the Ron Paul kissing the asses of our enemies foreign policy.
“A former moderate liberal who likes to use american power, especially the military to push american style democracy across the globe... They joined the republican party because the democrats hate the military...”
Close, but they weren’t exactly moderates. The older ones admit to having been fans of Trotsky in their youth.
Sometimes neocons remind me of "Christian Socialism" (except that ta good number seem to be Jews) as originally championed by Pope Pius IX. IOW, "give the people everything they want, but keep them from going revolutionary ... or communist.
Great post, Kaslin.
How about we hire Americans, at American companies, which make things for sale in America?As long as a profit can be made from doing that, sure. No profit, no incentive to do so.
I do think ethically minded capitalism can reduce poverty.I think so too. But I also think a lot of people aren't terribly ethically-minded on capitalism. Short-sighted vs long-sighted is the issue there.
I have railed to no great end on FR about the golden conservative unicorns that supposedly ride in vast herds throughout the American electorate.Much as I hate it, you're right there. The supposedly vast conservative mass that doesn't vote and doesn't speak are non-existent. The cities are liberal, the country is conservative, and the demographics speak for themselves. Still, we must do the best that we can to promote conservative ideas.
These guys are both from Robert Kagan's Project for a New Amercian Century which has since been rebranded to the Foreign Policy Institute. The more things change, the more they stay the same.That's the truth! It's the PNAC people who are responsible for the mess we got in under Bush, Jr. Those people literally thought all the Muslims would just throw flowers at us when we "liberated" them. Just more pollyanna crap.
>>The One Note Charley clan.<<