This post will probably piss-off a lot of people. Oh well ... Somebody's gotta tell the truth!
It is my personal opinion, based on observation, that most people (as in "we the people") who refer to themselves as "neoconservative," don't really understand what this means. Because of this, I hope to shed some light on what it really means to be "neoconservative," and why true conservatives should distance themselves from these people as much as they can.
Please read the entire series here: What is Conservatism?
Today, neocons have raised a new flag to espouse their theories - National Greatness Conservatism. At the very base of this new "conservatism," is the desire to change the relationship between the conservative individual and the State. They believe we should all love Big Government!
Prior to the rise of the "neocons," conservatives didn't trust the State at all. Conservatives were on the front-lines battling against war, the draft, the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the Great Society, and everything else coming out of Washington. But once the neocons (who were former Democrats) took over the movement ...
They helped the Left put us in the predicament we're in today ... a federal government that's broke, each American burdened with an unreasonably large tax burden, endless wars, and lost liberties at home.
The truth about neocons (National Greatness Conservatives), is that they aren't conservative at all. They're left-wing, power-hungry radicals ... the "me-too" moderates, the Rockefeller Republicans, the Establishment ...
A Brief Review of Conservatism:
Prior to William F. Buckley and the subsequent rise of neoconservatism, the conservative movement was what we today refer to as classical liberalism (hence, the name of this blog). Similar to libertarianism's Non-Agression Axiom which states,
"[T]hat it shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another." - Walter Block
The only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. - John Stuart Mill, On Liberty and Other Essays.
When Russell Kirk wrote The Conservative Mind, a new strain of conservatism was born - traditional conservatism - which placed more emphasis on "liberty connected with order" (in the Burkean sense). Traditional conservatism however, did not opposed to classical liberal conservatism, as Frank Meyer noted:
"The simulacrum of virtuous acts brought about by the coercion of superior power, is not virtue, the meaning of which resides in the free choice of good over evil." - Frank Meyer, In Defense of Freedom.
It was the "fusion" of these 2 strains of conservatism, the classical liberal Old Right (libertarianism) and traditional conservatives, who succeeded in putting Barry Goldwater on the 1964 Republican presidential ticket, and eventually electing Ronald Reagan as president.
National Greatness Conservatism:
We'll get into the history of neoconservatism some other time. For now, let's take a look at the basic tenets of neoconservatism, or "National Greatness Conservatism (emphasis added):
But, unpleasant though it is to admit, a barrier to the success of today's conservatism is . . . today's conservatism. Something is missing at conservatism's core. And the main tendencies that now compete to guide today's conservative movement can't fill this void.
The first of these tendencies is the antigovernment, "leave us alone" sentiment that was crucial to the Republican victory of 1994 ... By bringing together all the groups that shared this aversion, Republicans built a winning electoral coalition. But a governing movement is more than an electoral coalition. Wishing to be left alone isn't a governing doctrine. And an American political movement's highest goal can't be protecting citizens from their own government ... A conservatism that organizes citizens' resentments rather than informing their hopes will always fall short of fundamental victory.
What William Kristol and David Brooks stated above, is in sharp contrast to the founding of America and the conservative movement itself. In essence, their argument is that (just like the progressives) the State is prior to the individual.
In other words, a complete rejection of Natural Law.
A third major [problem] in today's conservatism looks to strengthen communities and to invigorate the institutions of civil society. This means devolving power and authority from the federal government to states, localities, and voluntary institutions ... Devolutionists like to quote Edmund Burke's praise of "little platoons," the communities within which citizens can find a home and deal with their problems. But ... revitalization of our local civic life depends, ultimately, on our national political health. America won't be good locally if it isn't great nationally.
Again, the emphasis is clearly against the classical liberal founding of our country, as well as, Kirk's traditionalism. Neocons love the State!
American nationalism--the nationalism of Alexander Hamilton and Henry Clay and Teddy Roosevelt ... Our nationalism is that of an exceptional nation founded on a universal principle, on what Lincoln called "an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times." Our pride in settling the frontier, welcoming immigrants and advancing the cause of freedom around the world is related to our dedication to our principles.
It embraces a neo-Reaganite foreign policy of national strength and moral assertiveness abroad. It would use federal power to preserve and enhance our national patrimony--the parks, buildings, and monuments that are the physical manifestations of our common heritage. And it insists that while government should be limited, it should also be energetic.
Remember, Teddy Roosevelt was one of the first Progressives, Henry Clay is the father of American mercantilism and protectionism, and Alexander Hamilton promoted a monarchy as America's new government. Hamilton told President George Washington, "we need a government of more energy" and held deep content for the "excessive concern for liberty in public men."
What neoconservatism (national greatness conservatism) has wrought, was to replace the conservative ideal of limited government, with the acceptance of the New Deal, Fair Deal, and Great Society at home, while advancing the power of the State abroad - which Kristol happily refers to as "imperialism," while John Derbyshire prefers to call it "colonialism."
National Greatness Conservatives (neocons) want you to accept Big Government interference in your life at home and in others lives abroad. They believe in the importance of government over the individual. They are progressives in conservative clothing.
The National Greatness Conservatives reject limited-government, the individual, and abhor the classical liberal tradition of America. They are cheerleaders of State power, and in my mind ... not conservative at all.