Friday, April 01, 2005

Neo-neocon's handy guide to neos, paleos, and cons

Are you confused about the terminology? Me too. But I think I've mastered it now. Here's my guide to the world of neos and paleos, guaranteed to make the distinctions Kristol clear (pun intended):

1) neocon--person who used to be a liberal but is now still mostly liberal on social issues but hawkish on foreign policy, particularly about spreading democracy. Example: Paul Wolfowitz

2) paleocon--an old-fashioned conservative: small government, isolationist in foreign policy although hawkish when attacked. Example: Pat Buchanan

3) neo-neocon--recently changed from liberal to neocon. Example: moi

4) paleo-neocon--made the switch from liberal to neocon a long time ago. Example: Norman Podhoretz.

5) neo-paleocon--made the switch to paleocon recently (either from liberal or from neocon). Example: can't think of any, but there must be some (suggestions, anyone?) Or perhaps paleocons are born, not made.

6) neocon-paleocon--made the switch from paleocon to neocon quite some time ago. Example: same problem as #5.

7) neo-neocon-paleocon--made the switch from paleocon to neocon recently. Example: George Bush.

8) ex-con--Marion Barry

9) neo-con--Sandy Berger

8 Comments:

At 2:56 PM, April 01, 2005, Anonymous justagal said...

Just dropping a note to tell you how pleased I am to have found your blog. While I would classify myself as an Independent, I have been appalled at much of what has been coming out the of the supposedly moderate, left-of-center types (to say nothing of the hard left).
I think the hardest thing for me to get my head around has been their utter contempt of the common man and the blatant disdain shown for our country's democratic process .

 
At 11:25 AM, April 02, 2005, Anonymous cranky said...

Good stuff! Sorry I didn't see it before, my email account has been on the fritz.

 
At 8:04 AM, April 04, 2005, Anonymous Andrew Zalotocky said...

For a good summary of what neo-conservatism is about, see the contributions from John Thacker in the comments to this post on the libertarian blog Samizdata.

It might be worth adding the term "reactionary" to your list, defined as those who desperately want to avoid any change, anywhere, ever. Reactionaries may describe themselves as conservative or liberal but are in fact neither, because their political outlook is defined by fear rather than adherence to any set of principles. A lot of the people justagal refers to would fall into this category.

 
At 7:50 PM, July 05, 2005, Anonymous NeoDude said...

Michael Harrington is usually credited with coining the phrase. He was the first person to use it to describe ex-Socialist, working on The Right, in the United States. These "neoconservatives" maintained many of their leftist presuppositions concerning the role of The State, but striped most of the liberal/progressive/pluralistic beliefs, from the foundation replacing it with right-wing theories. (This is why, I suspect, libertarians called them Right-Wing Socialist). Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, accepted the label with glee.

As I did further research, I discovered that there was a Neo-Conservative movement in Germany, after WW1 to about 1933. And I think this was Harrington's motivation for using the word. (Harrington and Kristol, being the committed leftist they were and was, would have certainly been familiar with latest stuff in sociology and all things anti-fascist).

"In the decade and a half between the close of World War I and the assumption of Adolf Hitler the German people faced the imposing tasks of absorbing defeat in the war, of adjusting to a peace settlement universally regarded in Germany as unjust, and of coping with armed insurrection, runaway inflation, reparations payments and the depression. In response to this series crises there arose among the nationalist-minded intellectuals of the Right an ideological movement referred to by some of its participants as the "conservative revolution." These intellectuals were "conservative" in the sense of wanting to retain or revitalize certain traditional political, economic, and cultural forms and values which they felt were more in keeping with pristine Germanic character than were the "alien" forms associated with the Weimer democracy; they were "revolutionary" because they felt that only by embracing these traditional forms and values to revolutionary extent could Germany rejuvenate her national life and restore her political power. In general the conservatives revolutionaries-or neo-conservatives-were anti-Western, anti-Liberal, and anti-Semitic. Hence they often found themselves en rapport with the National Socialist, though for the most part the conservative revolutionaries were not Nazis in the strict sense. Nonetheless, as the 1920's progressed, the movements represented by the two groups became more closely entwined. The Nazis allowed the largely congenial writings of the conservative revolutionaries to complement their own intellectually barren ideology, while the conservative revolutionaries viewed the dynamism of the Nazi movement as the necessary practical engine for dislodging the Weimer system and opening the way to true volkisch state. Yet once the National Socialist had seized power in 1933, they quickly lost patience with the independent-minded conservative revolutionaries, while the latter soon grew dismayed by the crudeness and fanaticism of the de facto Nazi regime. As a group, the conservative revolutionaries remained true to themselves and after the mid-1930's played no positive role in the Hitler regime.

The Fichte Society: A Chapter in Germany's Conservative Revolution
Nelson Edmondson
The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 38, No. 2. (Jun., 1966), pp. 161-180.

But the damage had been done. I have other articles from the late fifties and early sixties, which describe a movement of Germans desperate to establish German exceptionalism and preeminence within Europe. Many thought the Nazis were just crazy...but they were better than liberals and leftists, this is clear in all the writings. The Nazis were first and foremost Good Germans, who would never betray the homeland.

I don't know if it was Harrington or Irving Howe, but one of them, jokingly commented that Leo Strauss would have appreciated the Nazis more, if they were not so anti-Semitic. (It certainly drew lots of laughter) The Nazis were radical because they saw biology and culture were one-and-the-same. I'm assuming Harrington or Howe was also suggesting that Strauss would have no problems chucking the racial purity and striving, instead for cultural purity.

 
At 6:41 AM, August 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In general the conservatives revolutionaries-or neo-conservatives-were anti-Western, anti-Liberal, and anti-Semitic. Hence they often found themselves en rapport with the National Socialist, though for the most part the conservative revolutionaries were not Nazis in the strict sense. Nonetheless, as the 1920's progressed, the movements represented by the two groups became more closely entwined."

I don't understand you. You know these facts but you still support the neo-cons?

 
At 1:29 PM, August 31, 2005, Anonymous telesonic said...

Anonymous:
Hello? Same nomenclature but: different century, different country, different history, different culture, different issues and, most importantly, different people. It is no more reasonable to paint conservatives as neo-Hitlers than it is to paint liberals as neo-Stalins.

 
At 3:40 PM, April 01, 2006, Blogger britney said...

how do you come with so many ideas. i am trying to write on my payday loans , but can get much out of it .
hope this helps me out. thanxs

 
At 12:44 PM, November 03, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

This is still, very very hilarious neo. I don't think Bush changed all that much, however. His beliefs in the Constitution, and in compassionate conservatism, was the same before 9/11 as it was after.

 

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