Thursday, March 03, 2005

So, why "neo-neocon"?

The short answer is, "Because it stands for "neophyte neocon." And that's pretty much what I am.

The longer answer is: when I started this blog, I chose the name without too much deep reflection. But I know what I had in mind. "Neocon" is usually used as a pejorative, unfortunately, and I wanted to try to rescue it from this fate and wear it proudly (although somewhat tongue-in-cheek).

When I was a liberal and liberals were under attack, I used to say that I didn't understand what all the fuss was about. Of course, now I understand a lot better, since I'm making some of that fuss myself. I think I always was more of a classic liberal (as in "social liberal or mild libertarian") than a leftist-type liberal (as in "thinking the US is a force for capitalist global imperialist evil"). I used to say to critics that I was proud to call myself a liberal.

Now I'm doing essentially the same thing regarding being a neocon. "Neocon" is used by critics as a code word for a lot of things, among them: imperialist, unrealistic dreamer, and scheming puppeteer (along with its subset, scheming evil Jewish puppeteer).

I am not using it in any of these senses. I am using it to mean a person, socially liberal, who espouses a foreign policy that includes the vigorous support of the spread of democracy and guarantees of human liberty around the world. Neocons usually believe that such a spread of democracy/liberty would be both a good thing in and of itself, and a practical thing as well, since the belief is that it will lead to greater peace and prosperity for everyone, including the US.

The "neo" in "neocon" traditionally also refers to the fact that the originators of this position came mostly from the ranks of liberals or even leftists. Although it's not always used this way any more, it is another way in which the word seems to apply pretty well to me. And since my political change has been relatively recent, I thought the extra "neo" would be particularly appropriate.

For more neocon information, go here. In the article, Max Boot offers an interesting synonym for neoconservatism--"hard Wilsonianism" (as opposed to the "soft" Wilsonianism of liberals). I like it, even though the phrase doesn't exactly fall trippingly off the tongue. It links the neocons to an earlier tradition of internationalism, giving the movement some historical context.

34 Comments:

At 3:25 PM, March 03, 2005, Blogger Solomon2 said...

It isn't "neocon", it's "dentist".

(You may also be interested in my "purple-finger" post a few lines further down.)

 
At 4:53 PM, March 03, 2005, Blogger Dom said...

You took the words right out of my mouth! Now I'm going to have to think of something else for my next post!!!

 
At 2:14 AM, March 04, 2005, Blogger Dan M said...

In one of your previous posts, you mentioned you were still waiting..... You seem new to the game, so allow me, a lifelong conservative and Republican to break this to ya.
The LEFT has yet to get around to acknowledging Reagan being instrumental winning the Cold War. The MAIN square in WARSAW was renamed for Reagan, but that is irrelevant for the left. So if they haven't gotten around to conceding what Reagan did, do you really think they are going to make any concessions to GW, while he is still in office, and they are still trying to politically wound him.

Not gonna happen.

You have joined a side that is so infrequently acknowledged or thanked, that if we actually were, we might have a collective coronary.

Remember the line from that line from "Love Story," {you know the one that Al Gore and Tipper were the models for...}, "love means never having to say you're sorry..." Well for us Republicans, politics means "never expecting someone to say, they're sorry."

 
At 2:19 AM, March 04, 2005, Blogger Dan M said...

Welcome to the fray.

 
At 3:08 PM, April 21, 2005, Blogger wisernow said...

I grew up also very leftist; I criticized everything and had no perspective. 9/11 was the last straw in my evolutionary movement. I lost a lot of friends who think they are open minded but are kind and thoughtful fundamentalists of the liberal persuasion. Amazing how wrong you can be in life.

 
At 8:09 AM, April 28, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neocons are blood-sucking, money-hungry, creeping survival of the fittest, candy-coated Social Darwinists with blow-dryed hair, designer clothes, and a smile who think they have manipulated, conned, fooled, and deceived everyone...I never thought I would be nostalgic for the days of Ronald Reagan, but this group has done it!!

 
At 4:49 PM, April 30, 2005, Blogger Miriam said...

Lets start a list of jokes:

a conservative is...

A liberal who's been mugged.

A liberal who has a 16 year-old daughter.

A liberal who just got mutual funds.

More: From my pol sci prof...
If you arent liberal when you are young, you have no heart. If you arent conservative when you are older, you have no brain...

More, anyone?

 
At 4:52 PM, April 30, 2005, Blogger Miriam said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 4:55 PM, April 30, 2005, Blogger Miriam said...

Lets start a list of jokes:

a conservative is...

A liberal who's been mugged.

A liberal who has a 16 year-old daughter.

A liberal who just got mutual funds.

More: From my pol sci prof...
If you arent liberal when you are young, you have no heart. If you arent conservative when you are older, you have no brain...

More, anyone?

 
At 11:21 AM, May 27, 2005, Anonymous Chuck said...

Miriam, your quote originates with Winston Churchill.

 
At 12:24 PM, June 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the word is "socialist" in its original context, not "liberal".

 
At 3:55 PM, August 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a conservative is....

a hypocrite!


yours truly, a pinko liberal commie.

 
At 2:54 PM, August 24, 2005, Blogger bethechange said...

just happened by your blog, and am interested in your postings. I think that the term "neoconservative" is used inappropriately by those on the left and the right and that they do not have a firm understanding of what it is exactly. I also fear that those that call themselves "neoconservatives" are getting ensnared into something that the movement doesn't necessarily stand for. My case in point is that many of you state that 9/11 was your wake up call. Let me ask you what the connection is to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and Iraq? How many of the terrorists were Iraqi? How many of them trained in Iraq? How is going to war in Iraq making us safer or the world safer? While we have been bogged down in a quagmire that we underestimated, Iran has reconstituted its nuclear program and North Korea now has more nuclear weapons. If GW Bush truly believes as he stated in the debates in 2004 that the greatest treat to national security is nuclear weapons, the Administration is doing a poor job of preventing proliferation.

I would ask that those that have made the switch to neo neocons ask themselves these questions and ask leadership who claim to be neoconservatives to represent your views or to stop using the moniker.

 
At 4:29 PM, September 09, 2005, Anonymous Dr Snooze said...

Response to BeTheChange.
You asked:
"How is going to war in Iraq making us safer or the world safer?"

As neo-neocon explains very clearly, spreading democracy where possible is a main objective of the neocon movement. It leads to a safer world in that history suggests that democracies do not typically start wars with each other -- consider US rivaries with EU countries who denounce the US regularly. No one could even imagine this would lead to a war between the US and EU! That is the power of democracy -- opposition and rivalry without warfare!

And you also point out that in Iraq "while we have been bogged down in a quagmire that we underestimated, Iran has reconstituted its nuclear program and North Korea now has more nuclear weapons."

You statement is actually an argument to invade those countries as well, and liberate their people from the oppressive govts. You seem to think that as long as there exist other dangerous countries we shouldn't liberate any country, such as Iraq, from its evil tyrant. Rather. I would propose we move to eliminate all tyrannical, oppressive non-democratic states.

There may be many different ways to affect change in this world and spread democracy. Invasion and libreration by force is one way. (Which was successful in the past.) Neo-cons are dedicated to the goal of spreading freedom and democracy for its own virtue and for future stability and peace.

 
At 2:39 AM, September 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats for this wonderful blog.
Antiamericans should think that tyranny is a weapon of mass destruction in itself.

A devoted republican from Romania.

Viva la Reagan Revolucion! : )

 
At 2:18 PM, October 11, 2005, Blogger WILD BILL said...

Dr. Snooze,
Then you go and invade Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, North Korea, Lybia, Cuba, etc, etc. If you so strongly support invading every non-democratic country, and you're not in uniform as part of an invasion force, then you are a hyppocrite which invalidates all of your supposedly heart felt ideals. I am an iraqi freedom vet. I was the MP1 officer (main propulsion division officer plant #2) aboard USS Nassau, an amphibious assalut ship. I was part of the invasion force during the initial assault on Iraq. Idiots like you who never served and never put their money where their mouths are are digging America's grave! If I ever find you you little neocon weasel, I'm going to punch you once in the face for every good kid we've lost in that bloodbath!
Where's our fucking body armor?!
Why aren't the humvees armored yet?! Because Bush doesn't give a crap about the poor kids that are dying and getting disfigured out there. More of us are learning that every day, that's why we're leaving the service and neocon lies aren't replacing us fast enough.

"As neo-neocon explains very clearly, spreading democracy where possible is a main objective of the neocon movement. It leads to a safer world in that history suggests that democracies do not typically start wars with each other That is the power of democracy -- opposition and rivalry without warfare!"

Guess what dumbass, your hero Adolf Hitler was democratically elected and as I recall, he damn near declared war on the whole world.

"You[r] statement is actually an argument to invade those countries as well, and liberate their people from the oppressive govts. You seem to think that as long as there exist other dangerous countries we shouldn't liberate any country, such as Iraq, from its evil tyrant. Rather. I would propose we move to eliminate all tyrannical, oppressive non-democratic states."

Who's children are going to die to do this? Are you signing your kids up for this? Are you and your wife joining? They raised the age limit hyppocrite, so what's your excuse? I spent 9 months away from my family for Bush's lies, why haven't you? Is there a way we can change the tax code so only neocons have to pay the trillions of dollars all your proposed invasions will cost? Oh and by the way, Saddam was removed over a year ago. So if his removal, despite our past support, was our motive, then why are we still there?

"There may be many different ways to affect change in this world and spread democracy. Invasion and libreration [That's liberation, dumbass!] by force is one way. (Which was successful in the past.) Neo-cons are dedicated to the goal of spreading freedom and democracy for its own virtue and for future stability and peace."

Why has the U.S. wasted so much money trying to overthrow Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela?
When did invasions suceed? Sixty years ago? In WWII with Stalin's help on the eastern front? They didn't work too well in Vietnam, Korea, or Somalia. Things aren't looking so good for Texaco, oops I mean democracy, in Iraq either. Iran's Shiites are in control there thanks to another democratic election. If you believed your own crap, you'd be in uniform. I was, then I learned the truth. Just google 911 TRUTH. I shook off the propaganda and left honorably, but pissed off!

 
At 2:48 PM, November 19, 2005, Anonymous Steve T. said...

[sigh] Godwin's Law, Wild Bill, Godwin's Law. When you drag Hitler and the Nazis into a dicussion of contemporary politics, most readers assume it's because you know you're losing and are getting desperate.

Anyway, Hitler did not gain power by anything we would recognize as a fair election. He tried to get elected President in 1932, but the best he could do was to force Pres. Hindenburg into a runoff, which Hitler decisively lost, mainly because his chief tools of domestic terror, the SS and the SA, had been forced to stay inactive. After the runoff they were unleashed, beginning a wave of terror attacks on Hitler's enemies.

After much political intriguing, an exhausted Hindenburg gave in and appointed Hitler chancellor in 33, despite his loathing of the man. Hitler quickly moved to make his power absolute and permanent, and that was that. In other words, Hitler came to power despite Germany being a democracy, if a very weak one, and the moment he got power it ceased to be one. Your "argument" about a democratically elected Hitler is hogwash. Read a little history, will ya?

 
At 5:25 PM, December 14, 2005, Anonymous Bananas said...

Try neotyrant. Or how about neofascist?

look up the definition of fascism or minarchy.

Think about CAT and ICCPR breaches... the whole thing is bonkers.

Explain the fact that neocons are mainly US/Israeli.

 
At 5:43 PM, December 14, 2005, Anonymous Bananas said...

"scheming evil Jewish puppeteer"

Zionist, not Jewish, it's an entirely diferent subset.

It's like saying "evil christian pupeteer" it has nothing to do with christianity, but all to do with extremism and fascism.

Please do some more research, you have misunderstood the subject, quite regretably.

Talk the people of Gush Shalom or some others you feel you can trust.

First it was neo-liberals, because it was liberalism at the economic level and less at the social level.

Neo-cons, neo conservatives, the PNAC and HJS are both creations of people tied in with banks, military intelligence, politics and are alegedly composed of powerful US Zionist lobyists and Christian extreemists. But this is quite secondary to the facts of their ideology.

 
At 5:55 PM, December 14, 2005, Anonymous Bananas said...

WILD BILL, I salute you Sir.

You are true patriot.

RIP Bush, Long Live the People!

 
At 4:16 PM, December 17, 2005, Anonymous Philosopher king said...

You neo-con can thank conventional liberals for your philosophy. Your very essence of life is because of a liberalist agenda in this country. We may agree on few social conservative issues, but unfortunately the buck stops here. In the end you are a liberal in a conservative disguise. You have stabbed the conventional liberals in the back, got a hair cut and wore a suit. You made the loudest noise in preaching conservative ideology with books and radio. You even got recognition by “traditional conservatives” paving the way for a conservative America. There is only one problem. Liberals who turned there backs on other liberals will pay the price. A dog can moo like a cow for so long until the ugly truth is revealed. Traditional conservatives are now getting a bad rep by neo-liberals and their future is at stake. You neo-con are not in a good position. Let’s face it; your philosophy is an abomination. You decided to pick the better of the two political spectrums and I guess something’s are never meant to be. Like you, I know many who have switched sides politically to this new abomination. For a better analogy think of the movie the “Matrix.” Where Neo and his gang of hippies represent the liberal movement, and the Architect represent the traditional conservatives, you neo-con represent the corrupted copy of the Agent Smith. In the end, liberals are responsible for your existence and it’s a liberal responsibility to clean up this mess. Traditional conservatives are no way of form should get involved. After all we are considered not to be “mainstream” we have been labeled racist and outcast and even “old school.” But remember every beginning has an end.

 
At 12:28 PM, December 26, 2005, Blogger Liberty Resource Center said...

Unfortunately, the term "neo-con" is inseparable from the Project for the New American Century people. But there are many of us who were located on the Left, in one spot or another, who have crossed the Line, but who are not necessarily acolytes of Irving Kristol. (I might be, but I am having the devil of a time understanding Leo Strauss. Do you think he could be writing in code?) It would be very interesting to have a discussion amongst ourselves, on such things as:
-- "What is a conservative, really?" (usually "is X a true Y" debates are exercises in sterile metaphysics, but this could be enlightening.
-- What about all those religious maniacs? I take Mark Steyn's recent point about the usefulness of big families and a belief in a punishment-filled afterlife for sinners, but this is just a question of social utility. Couldn't they be educated a bit?
-- Gay marriage? I am truly a conservative so am uneasy at meddling with basic social institutions, but except for that can see little objection.
-- Democratizing the world. Yes, in principle. Hard in practice. See the review of Sharansky's book by Gerald ???? in Claremont Review of a few months ago.
-- The Republicans. A very blunt instrument for the realization of our wishes, if you ask me.
-- What is the conservative vision for, say, Haiti? Or is there one? Haiti is an extreme case, so how about Argentina?
-- Lots of other issues we could discuss, led perhaps by Christopher Hitchens.

Doug

 
At 4:02 PM, January 01, 2006, Anonymous Philosopher king said...

I’m not surprised with a statement such as "What is a conservative, really?" (Usually "is X a true Y." In fact this statement represents today’s Republican Party as yesterday’s Democratic Party. And I guess the neo-con think tank have persuaded many Americans the new definition of “conservative.”

There was nothing wrong with conservatism, but after the masquerade the Neo-con have put up, I don’t think any true American Conservative will go back to that party again. The reality is that there are more registered conservatives who are disgruntled with today’s party and more and more left of center people are being recruited to this new freak show. Are you surprised why we still have a 52% turn out, cause I’m certainly not.

What we have today truly doesn’t represent any thought of conservatism. I dare any conventional liberal to try to prove that this is a “Right Wing” administration. If these are truly the “Right Wing” years, God help us when the “Left” takes over.

The Project for the New American Century is the stepping stones for empire building. Let’s face it, it was bound to come. USSR is no more, China is doing business with U.S. like hotcakes, and the smaller developing countries are at the mercy of the larger ones.

There is only one problem with empire building. All empires have fallen and will fall, no exceptions. And the bigger they are the harder they fall. And once the dust settles the only question you should ask a Neo-Con is was it worth dragging the American people to the pits? Was it worth attempting to build a new Rome?
I say attempt because there are others as ambitions as you who wish to build an empire as well.
And in these dangerous times, we can safely say that once you start to compete a lot of people will pay. I suppose in the eyes of
Neo-Con having a thousand year old empire can seem to be an eternity. Mean while people who jumped on the band wagon thinking they were building a dream world will soon see the harsh reality which is far worse then a nightmare.

 
At 1:10 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger MikeZ said...

The big problem with labels (liberal, conservative, neocon, &c) is that people almost always carry around a "laundry list" of what they think each label represents. So if I say to someone, "I'm a conservative", they pull put their list and say, "OK, then, you must necessarily agree with all these positions" - something that's not always true.

Unfortunately, I can't think of anything better.

To long-time Democrats, I can say that the party is no longer the party of FDR, Truman, or JFK. I strongly suspect that in a few decades, the Republican party will no longer be the party of Eisenhower or Reagan. For the time being, though, the Republicans seem to be a lot closer to reality.

 
At 9:35 AM, February 04, 2006, Anonymous Michael Adams said...

KobayashiMaru, Drsanity, and the Anchoress, to name just a few, have written, very wisely, lately, about the broken connection to observable reality they, really, we all, see on the Left. Part of it, I suspect, comes from the demographics of the Left. They tend to be more prosperous than average, and to work in fields where their correligionists abound, like civil service and academia. The legacy media, including the government- subsidized NPR, lean uniformly leftward. So, their prosperity insulates them from many of life's gritty realities. Their sources of information lie. And all the people around them believe and reinforce the same lies. When they are confronted by a nonconforming factoid, like, "The legacy media lean leftward," they suffer cognitive dissonance, and scramble to find a counter-factiod, often from Leftist theory, such as "How could the media lean left? They are all run by corporations?" If more factoids were allowed to penetrate, eventually, the tendency of the human mind to genaralize would begin to limber up and form a new world view. But, again, the above circumstances diminish the chance of any sort of therapeutic milieu being formed. Still, our gentle, kindly, almost nurturing approach is the only way to to help these people. I used to find Rush Limbaugh's "Attila the Hun" character annoying, and, often, still do. But you should hear him when a little old lady (about his age, and mine) 'phones in. He is like a political therapist. A little after Sept '01, I changed churches, from the solidly Leftist Congregationalits, to the more latitudinarian Episcopalians. In my parish, at least, no one is uncomfortable. I was talking, in the kitchen, as we loaded coffee cups into the dishwasher, to a teacher.(Lewftward-leaning, natch) I didn't declaim or exhort, as is my nature, but explained that we buy oil in a number of places, and we have never needed to control the governments of any place that sold us their oil. Preventing someone from gettijng control over enough of the world's petroleum to be able to use it strategically for purposes other than commercial was necessary to our survival as a culture. However, the idea of "conquering oil" is simply not in conformity with externally observable reality. She said, on leaving, that I'd given her food for thought. Maybe her mind will eat it, or maybe not. All we can do is set the table.

 
At 4:48 PM, February 07, 2006, Anonymous Philosopher king said...

MikeZ:
You said it best todays mainstream party no longer represent the philosophy of the past. Which is why I'm so sick and tired of the liberals from both sides of the isle telling the American People how they should be acting.

Lets face it, todays problems dont come from Bush, Rummy or Chaney like liberals like to talk. This pain can only end with the American People start thinking for them selves about what the meaning of liberal and conservative really mean. But I'm already lossing hope.

 
At 4:33 PM, April 29, 2006, Anonymous William Salyers said...

Dear Neo-Neocon;
As a trained therapist, you are in a particularly good position to appreciate the overwhelming power of fear as a motivator. This was surely the prime mover behind your conversion, as it was behind the choice of those who voted for this failed administration a second terrible time.
As I write this, it is late April of 2006. Losses continue to mount in our failed war for oil, key members of the Bush administration stand at the threshold of indictment, and those who attacked us on 9/11 are still at large. The veneer has worn quite thin and there aren't many who fail to recognize the failures of this President and his neo-con lackeys.
When the towers were laid low, I had a dear friend living in New York with his very pregnant wife. She worked within sight of the WTC. He described to me the quiet terror of waiting for her to cross back over the bridge that day to their home in Queens. A playwright and passionate humanitarian, the fear of that day filled him with bloodlust and in the months that followed, when I pointed out that we were rattling our sabers at people who had done nothing to us, he told me that I would be made irrelevant, left in the dustbin of history along with Lloyd George and the rest of the appeasers.
These days, that same friend refers to me as one of a small group of close allies who talked him "down off that ledge". He has regained his sanity and his patriotic view of America as a country that doesn't turn its back on its ideals the moment it is attacked.
You sound like a smart, compassionate woman. I can only wish for you the same return to balance and reason that my dear friend experienced.
Best,
wsalyers

 
At 10:49 AM, July 14, 2006, Blogger Daan said...

Establishing democracy in the world with military force will not help. The American occupation of Iraq has only led to civil war and will not be able to be implemented. What should be done is making an end to poverty. I see only one reliable solution: mass-sterilization. Aid should be changed. No aid for development anymore, but solely for sterilization. It is a pity that the nazis or the communists didn't win, otherwise the worldpopulation would have dropped under the 1 billion already.

 
At 10:58 PM, October 31, 2006, Blogger Gourney Detoure© said...

So you're a dove at home and a new breed chicken hawk abroad...?

The same people, the SAME people who demonize Muslims and Arabs today on your posts, will when they have finished with them return to hating Jews.

That's the bottom line, all the world needs a lightning rod, (and as William Saylers said here, 'fear is a great motivator') Welcome to the human condition? But each case has its own moral justifications doesn't it?

 
At 1:04 PM, October 08, 2007, Blogger 1f1luffy said...

There exist only two forces in the Universe: Entropy and Energy.

Liberals are a form of Entropy. NeoCons are a form of Energy.

Think of Democracy=Civilized (energy) totalitarianism=Uncivilized (entropy)

 
At 8:21 PM, November 08, 2007, Blogger James M. Jensen II said...

@1f1luffy:

That is quite possible the least coherent thing anyone has ever said. Congratulations.

 
At 7:57 AM, June 25, 2008, Blogger silentgadfly said...

1f1luffy, that is the stupidest, nonsensical analogy i've ever encountered.

 
At 5:26 AM, July 05, 2008, Blogger Peter Stanton said...

Two points:

1. Although it may be nice to think of lefties as rich elitists, in the factual world, Democrats in the U.S. on average make less money than Republicans. Many more of the poorest Americans are Democrats and many more of the richest Americans are Republicans. Feel free to draw your own opinions from that.

2. Daan- that is perhaps one of the most uniquely sick and disturbing things I have read in a long long time. Although I'm a total liberal myself, it sickens me that the left spawned this horrible myth that the world is overpopulated or will have overpopulation in the future.

Humanity is the greatest resource in the world and more humanity can solve more problems. People having children doesn't cause poverty. Greed causes poverty.

 
At 5:45 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Shin said...

Freedom is spread by the free exchange of goods and, consequently, of ideas, not by the sword. However, I cannot deny getting the impression that this is exactly what most neocons believe. I my opinion, the use of force for any other purpose than self defence is incompatible with the concept of freedom.

 

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