Because I have friends and family members who do not yet understand the difference between neo-conservatism and classical conservatism I thought I would write a few thoughts on the difference between the two. In my estimation the genius of the neo-conservative movement has been in attaching the “conservative” moniker to their identity. A more accurate nomenclature would label them “neo-liberal,” or “soft-leftist.”
1.) Neo-conservatives believe that America is responsible to expand American values and ideology at the point of a bayonet. This was the governing ideology of progressive Democrats like Woodrow Wilson who desired to make the world safe for Democracy. However, before the Wilsonian motto of making the world safe for Democracy (a motto largely taken up by the Bush II administration) Wilson understood the American instinct for a humble foreign policy by campaigning in 1916 with the slogan, “He kept us out of war.” Before American entry into W.W. II the classically conservative approach to involvement in international affairs was one of modesty, as seen in the previous mentioned Wilson approach to campaigning in 1916. Classical conservatism, as opposed to neo-conservatism embraced the dictum of John Quincy Adams who once noted that, “America is a well-wisher of liberty everywhere, but defender only of her own.”
However, today’s conservatism is internationally militantly adventurous. What is sold by those who have co-opted the title of “conservative,” is the exporting of American values but the dirty little secret is that the American values that are being exported in the name of Democracy is just a warmed over socialism combined with some form of Corporate consumerism.
2.) Neo-conservatives have a much higher trust in the State as a engine for social engineering. Neo-conservatives, unlike classical conservatives don’t have an instinctive distrust for the state and would hardly agree with the Jeffersonian notion of the necessity to tie down the state with the chains of the constitution. The problem with neo-conservatives is that while they love the State less then the Stalinist Marxist they love it far more than strict Constitutionalists. For the neo-conservative the problem isn’t with big government except that they are not the ones in charge of big government.
Recently I viewed a video where the neo-conservative lecturer was suggesting that we could be for big government and still support limited government. The neo-conservative was arguing that the Federal Government should be big enough to do what it was designed to do but it should still be limited to what it was designed to do. The problem with this neo-conservative argument is that, constitutionally speaking, the delegated and enumerated powers of the Federal government, if followed, obviate the necessity for the Federal Government from either being “big” or “unlimited.”
Really, the whole idea of “big government conservative,” is such a shocking oxymoron that it is amazing that anybody can advocate it with a straight face.
3.) Neo-conservativism should really be called humble communism or chastened communism or vigorous socialism. Neo-conservatism insists that the cure for runaway Federal entitlement programs is Federal entitlement programs that are more efficient and less burdensome. This stands in contrast to a classical conservative approach that says instead that the answer to a local Brothel is not less disease ridden Madame’s but rather the elimination of the Bordello.
4.) Neo-conservatives being a movement led by many intellectual Jews has a fixation on Israel. That this is so true is seen by the reality that the mere pointing out of this truth results in screams of “antisemitism.” Neo-conservatives, it seems at times, are running an American Foreign policy that comes right out of the Government buildings in Tel Aviv. Classical conservatism in America has always been unashamed to have an “American First” foreign policy and understood that alliances were only as good as they served American interests.
Current neoconservatives see the defense of Israel as necessitating a shift in Islamic states to democracy. This goes a long way towards explaining American support for the recent “Arab Spring.” However, a realpolitik understands that the results of Democracy in Islamic countries will not be secular States but rather the result will be states that are even more theocratically Islamic.
5.) The fact that the two major parties in these united States are vehicles for either Marxist ideology or neo-conservative ideology thus reveals that the disagreement between the two parties is not one of substance but only one of methodology. Both parties are collectivist. Both parties are committed to re-making the world in a socialist image. Both parties are devoted to growing the Leviathan state. The situation that obtains now in this country politically is the same that obtained during the French Revolution. The discussion is not between left vs. right but rather the discussion is between the left side of the left and the right side of the left. Institutionally speaking, there no longer is a “right.”