Skip to comments.Neoconservatism, not libertarianism, is the true aberration on the American Right
Posted on 04/08/2010 9:27:19 AM PDT by rabscuttle385
During a question-and-answer session at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., one man opined, "One thing I've learned here at CPAC is that the 'C' actually doesn't stand for 'libertarianism.' It's not 'L'PAC." When Congressman Ron Paul won the annual straw poll at CPAC, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh made a point to tell his listeners that CPAC wasn't conservative this year because a libertarian had won.
Both men are worse than just wrong. They're out of their minds.
Arguably the most popular history of American conservatism, George H. Nash's book The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America begins with libertarianism. In the first chapter titled "The Revolt of the Libertarians," Nash states: "For those who believed in the creed of old-fashioned, classical, 19th-century liberal individualism, 1945 was especially lonely, unpromising, and bleak. Free markets, private property, limited government, self reliance, laissez-faire it had been a long time since principles like these guided government and persuaded peoples."
Chronicling the intellectuals who tried to rectify this bleakness, Nash begins his history with two men: economists F.A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. Then he explains how these libertarian heroes kick-started the American conservative movement. Few actually used the word "conservatism" in 1945, a term that began to gain popularity when Russell Kirk's book The Conservative Mind was published in 1953 and with the founding of William F. Buckley's National Review in 1955. Nash notes that even Kirk was inspired by both Hayek and Mises, writing to a friend that these men represented a "great school of economists of a much sounder and different mind."
After Hayek and Mises, Nash then cites Albert Jay Nock, publisher of the unabashedly libertarian magazine The Freeman in the 1920s. Writes Nash: "Nock came to exert a significant amount of influence on the postwar Right," yet was so libertarian that "Nock verged on anarchism in his denunciations of the inherently aggrandizing State." Noting the impression Nock made on a young Buckley, Nash explained that "it was Nockian libertarianism, in fact, which exercised the first conservative influence on the future editor of National Review."
Edwin J. Feulner, Jr., president of the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, says, "Nash's work is one of the very few books that must be read for a full understanding of the conservative movement in America." However, Feulner's Heritage Foundation advertises on Limbaugh's show, where the host is seemingly oblivious to the fact that the American conservative movement could not have existed without libertarianism. Furthermore, pundits like Rush often claim to be "Reagan conservatives." However, they seem to forget that in 1976 said Reagan, "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism." As you can see, advocating for "limited government" without employing some degree of libertarianism would be logistically impossible.
Which is exactly why so many of today's so-called conservatives are so quick to dismiss it. If there is an interloping ideology on the Right today, it is not libertarianism but neoconservatism, an ideology born not of limited government philosophy but of ex-socialists who migrated Right in reaction to the counterculture of the 1960s. Today, neoncons are devoted to promoting the maintenance and expansion of America's global empire.
Whereas traditional conservatives considered war and the massive bureaucracy necessary to wage it an occasional, necessary evil, neoconservatives consider perpetual war a good precisely because they believe it is America's mission to export democracy to the rest of the world.
Questioning the cost or wisdom of waging perpetual war is considered unconscionable or even "unpatriotic" to neoconservatives, which is why they are so dismissive of libertarians and others who question foreign policy. Most neoconservatives instinctively realize that their ideology is incompatible with the libertarian's pesky obsession with limited government, giving neocons reason to marginalize, or expel, any libertarian influence that threatens to expose the statist nature of today's mainstream conservative movement.
Considering their new, radical definition, it's easy to see why Rush and other mainstream conservatives don't consider libertarians part of their movement because they're not. And while it remains to be seen how the irreconcilable differences will play out between limited government libertarians (whose numbers are growing) and big government neoconservatives (whose ideology still dominates), let there be no more ignorance about which philosophy is truly more alien to the historical American conservative movement. And let there be no further delusions about which philosophy was most responsible for creating it.
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The definition I gave you is probably the most concise you will get.
If you think that only the likes of Rachel Maddow are entitled to make this point, I strongly beg to differ.
We knew that World War II would be "of indefinite length until over" but we also knew that the war had to end with Hitler at the end of a rope, and the Nazi ideology ground out of existence. I have no faith that any equivalent event will bring the "war on terror" to a close.
Failing that, I'll know the war is being won when I can carry my Leatherman on an airliner again, when the metal detectors come down at the Smithsonian, and the concrete barriers disappear from Pennsylvania avenue. Care to speculate on the time frame for those events??
A Reagan democrat or a Jewish conservative is mostly what I’ve understood it to mean.
And Reagan was the one who confronted the soviets on multiple fronts with multiple proxy wars and broke their back.
Its better, if you want to have a discussion, to just lay out what it is you believe rather than throwing epithets around. If you think we should withdraw from Afghanistan, say so and explain how we can make such a withdrawal work.
We are in the process of drawing down our forces in Iraq as the Iraqis are assuming control. If you want to accelerate that process, and bring the forces out quicker, say so and explain how it works. Right now we are assuming we'll leave a force in Kuwait as a reserve that could intervene if the Iranians try to crush the government in Baghdad or any of the other gulf states. If thats a mistake, say so and defend it.
If you are a pragmatist who thinks our friendship with Israel is the cause of all our troubles in the world, again, say so. Then we can have an actual discussion or debate about the specifics of your or our views.
Just calling someone a neocon doesn't mean much. Most of us here aren't jewish intellectuals, and if we were, the word still muddies more than it clarifies.
Jack has redeemed himself somewhat.
>> We are going after the foot soldiers of the enemy while their ideological and financial support structures in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia remain inviolate.
I agree in part ... though the individual nature of attacks on the American homeland (including a huge attack carried out by 19 people) necessitates that we take out the “foot soldiers”.
>> If you think that only the likes of Rachel Maddow are entitled to make this point, I strongly beg to differ.
You have the right to make whatever point you’d like ... though if, in a discussion of foriegn policy, I found myself surrounded by Rachel Maddow and Amy Goodman, I’d likely re-think my position.
>> I’ll know the war is being won when I can carry my Leatherman on an airliner again, when the metal detectors come down at the Smithsonian, and the concrete barriers disappear from Pennsylvania avenue. Care to speculate on the time frame for those events??
Your definition of “victory” includes metal detector placement at the Smithsonian?
Terrorist attacks have revealed vulnerabilities — is it your belief that those vulnerabilities should be restored as a sign of victory? Is it ever a good idea for us to forget the lessons of the last war? If Islamic terrorists can attack and destabilize via hijacked airliners or individual suicide bombers, so can other enemies (China, Iran, Russia, whomever).
Yes. But those individual freedoms extend beyond our borders because they are natural rights. Enlightenment era liberalism was non-interventionist in foreign policy for the most part. Our founders urged us not to make alliances (including Washington’s farewell address where he warned of “entangling alliances”).
I want nothing to do with your hideous Libertarians. Anti-Semitism, pro child molestation, drug/dope usage, sympathy for Islamic terrorism (when that Libertarian party member was shot and seriously wounded by John Allen Mohammed, Reason magazine and other Libertarian organs scarcely reported on it), support for homosexual rights; etc., are just too much for me to bear.
The word you are looking for is “Rockefeller Republicans”.
NeoCon’s, by definition, are very rare birds. Unfortunately, we are covered up with “Rockefeller Republicans”.
Not by putting restrictions on the activities of American citizens within their home country.
And yes, the little things, like metal detectors, searches, and ID checks in dozens of places Americans of my father's generation never knew, tick me off.
They are a symbol of our willingness to harass the good guys because we don't have the willpower to kill the bad guys.
Your definition of victory includes metal detector placement at the Smithsonian?
Those metal detectors send the message that we are terrorized. That for the moment, at least, the other side has won.
LOL. Try lithium.
Outstanding examples of neo-Conservatives would include Bill Bennett, David Horowitz, and Ronald Reagan. Should we be so arrogant as to exclude them from the Conservative Movement? I think neo-conservatives have provided much intellectual nourishment to our cause and I welcome them aboard.
“Seems to me its a pretty meaningless term.”
Seems to me you are probably right. In a general way, think of the Bush Administration with lower taxes, but growing medicare, public education, amnesty, or make something up.
Libertarians are dope smoking hippies with a few right wing bounces. I'm sure that many supporters of Lenin did not believe in Cheka terror, war Communism, and the brutal supression at Kronstadt, they simply wanted the "land, bread, and peace" that Lenin preached.
Likewise, I'm sure that many Nazis were not so keen (at first) on putting Jews in gas chambers, they just wanted the humiliation of the Versaille treaty to be gone; however, it is the ideas of the leaders Lenin, Hitler; etc., that determine a party's movement, not some of its more naive followers.