Friday, July 10, 2009

Politics 101: Neo-Conservative

I keep hearing about this term on the blogosphere and in other reading material and I have never really understood what is meant by this term.

So in the great tradition of other "What The Heck is..." installments, here is one for those of us dummies that don't know what a neo-conservative is.

Neo-conservatives support the idea of using America's military might to bring democracy to other countries.

They also support the idea of a government that is completely responsible for the welfare of its citizens.

Some of the main characteristics of neoconservatism include:
little emphasis on diplomacy
more emphasis on the use of military force
little emphasis on the use of international organizations
more emphasis on controlling the Middle East

Neo-conservatives believe that the United States should spread its own ideas of democracy globally, mostly through military force.

According to a Time magazine article from February 2009, neo-conservatives are more interested in confronting their enemies than they are in making friends.

The term itself was used in the early 1920s in opposition to right-leaning liberals. The modern usage of the word (neoconservative) increased with the focus on neoconservatism as part of the George W. Bush administration.

However, neo-conservatives were opposed to Bush's policies early in his first term. However, after 9/11, his tactics changed quite dramatically and his State of the Union speech in January 2002 was actually written by a neoconservative.

So in a nutshell, neo-conservatives are the conservatives that one could relate the term "war-monger" toward.

With all of this in mind, I could definitely not consider myself a neo-conservative by any means.

While I was reading about neo-conservatives I ran across another term, paleoconservatism, so I thought I would read a bit about that one too.

This is a term used anti-communists and anti-imperialists in the United States that emphasize anti-federalism and the religious, national and Western identity of the country.

Paleo-conservatives are opposed to the funding of foreign wars or a term they use to refer to neo-conservatives, "polite totalitarianism."

One of the key aspects of their philosophy is their anti-federalist views. They believe that almost all government tasks should be performed at the local or state level and support the decentraliziation of our government and place more emphasis on local rule, private property and minimal bureaucracy.

I actually kind of like this idea and barring further reading about this political philosophy I can just about identify with this sort of conservatism in a lot of ways.


  1. It's too bad Neo-conservative are defined by the left... yet conservatives don't get to define the lefties according to our own definition do we? (dave sure doesn't let me get away with it)

    First, neo cons don't believe we should spread democracy around the globe by force.

    Neo cons do believe in striking first however and NOT waiting till AFTER American is attacked to then go try and arrest someone.

    Yes, neo cons believe that a free and open society is far less likely to attack it's neighbors... which is true. Neo cons also believe it is our duty to help the oppressed and not support their oppressive government(s).

    So yes, neo-cons favor protecting America and the free world by confronting those who threaten it instead of coddling them and helping them destroy and control.

    Neo con is more a term liberals like to throw out there than a reality... there really isn't that much difference between a conservative and a new conservative except semantics.

    Conservatives supported the war in Iraq and neo conservatives supported the war in Iraq.

  2. Leo Straus was in a lot of ways the father of modern neo-conservatism. One of the big beliefs that neo-cons hold is that America needs an enemy at all times to help keep the masses focused and prevent them from causing trouble. The neo-conservatives are certainly more totalitarian in nature than traditional conservatives. I would consider Reagan a traditional conservative while Cheney is a neo-conservative. The George W Bush administration was very much a neo-conservative administration.

  3. RED:

    I will give you that one. It is entirely possible that the information I was reading on neo-cons was biased. A lot of the info that I got about them was from Wiki so you never know who is writing that stuff but for the most part I like to think Wiki is a fairly objective and non-baised source. I could be wrong.

    However, how do neo-cons define themselves?

    How do neo-cons say they differ from traditional conservatives?

    "Neo cons do believe in striking first however and not waiting till after America is attacked..."

    So technically, a lot of what I read about them is true. Neo-cons (again my opinion here) are the prime example of why people think conservatives are war mongers.

    But I return to my original question, as far as neo cons go, how do THEY say they are different from conservatives?


    I kind of got that impression about neo cons myself. They idea that American always needs an enemy. I think that is not only because they want to control society by being constantly at war but also because most of them are heavily invested in our war time capabilities. That is, they stand to profit more from their investments if we are at war than if we are at peace. War mongers.

  4. "One of the big beliefs that neo-cons hold is that America needs an enemy at all times to help keep the masses focused and prevent them from causing trouble."


    Neo cons big belief is that America needs to challenge our enemies head on and face them... it has nothing to do with controlling the masses. lol

    How well did the Bush government do in "controlling the masses" as they protested the Iraq war daily... even in front of his Crawford Tx home.

    If you take into consideration that Bush defended their right to protest, didn't use the politics of personal destruction to stifle dissent and basically just took it like the MAN he is...

    There is no case to make for Bush "controlling the masses".
    The masses have a mind of their own.

    The term Neo-con is for the most part a leftist made-up term... true conservatives make no such distinction. The major difference between a neo-con and a conservative is in liberals heads.

    Neo cons are the made-up boogy-man (enemy) that liberals use to control the masses.

  5. As in "Dick Cheney".... "Halliburton"... "George W Bush... "Democracy in the middle East", all things that go bump in the night for Democrats.

  6. Oh no I agree Red. I respect the man for defending the rights of the people protesting the war. He gets huge kudos for that.

    And I didn't necessarily mean that I thought the Bush administration specifically used war as a means of controlling people and keeping them in line. I was making a generalization about what I think typifies a neo con.

    Like I mentioned, I could definitely be wrong about them but I am basing my opinions only on what I have already read about them.

    However, your comment about America needing to challenge our enemies...I still think that if we could remained non-interventionist a longtime ago we would not have so many enemies. I could be wrong on that too, I will admit that I could be wrong. But that is my opinion and you wouldn't deny me my opinion would you?

  7. Okay Red, I will go along with you on the idea that neoconservatism is a made up term made up by the "enemies" of conservatism.

    However, if I will agree with you on that point, will you agree with me on the idea that there are some conservatives that support "American imperialism" and some that do not? Or in your mind are those that do not support it not technically conservatives?

  8. Oh... one more thing (sorry) on the subject of the middle east... and Iraq, the "neo-cons" ended up being correct.

    Iraq is rapidly becoming that free democracy in the heart of the middle east, ally to the US and friend in the war on terror... just as ("neo-con") Bush said it would.

    A free and stable Iraq thwarted the effort by radical Islam to turn Iraq into Jihad HQ... caused the Islamists to retreat to Afghanistan and Pakistan instead of advancing radical Islam from Iraq as they planned. That is a big deal.

    So it appears we can all thank the nasty 'ol "neocons" for that.

  9. Great question otter... I'm not down with Imperialism as I understand it, but I'm guessing that there are those who think America should just go out and conquer and impose and control... but they are in the small minority among conservatives that I know for sure.

    I don't know any conservatives that believe in Imperialism personally.

    We believe in freeing people from oppression and brutal dictators sure... what they do with their freedom is up to them.

    We believe that given the real choice, people will choose to govern themselves.

    We believe freedom is God's gift not man's. But we are willing to be that instrument of freedom if necessary.... sure.

    make sense?

  10. No sorry Red. I really can not bring myself to thank somebody for something that I don't think was our job to do in the first place.

    Sure, Iraq is a democracy now instead of a dictatorship and an ally to the United States. *golf clap*

    I really just think that Iraq was another example of American sticking its nose where it truly did not belong.

    This is just truly a subject that we must agree to disagree on. I do not support our country constantly being at war against something or someone. I just don't think it is right in so many ways. You are supportive of it and that is fine. I respect your opinion. But please respect the idea that I do not agree with it.

    Fair enough?

  11. It does make sense. But I don't agree with it.

    I agree that freedom is a gift from God. I do not think that it our job to impose that freedom on anyone though.

    I do not think that it is our job to free people from oppression and brutal dictators. At least not when we have our own problems to deal with at home.

    Again, this is one of those things we just have to agree to disagree on. I think that the United States has become a kind of self-imposed world police force and that is something I don't agree with.

    I am anti-war, pure and simple. I don't think military action is the best course of action. But I'm not naive. Sometimes it is inevitable and happens despite everyone's best intentions. I just don't like it.

    Like I have mentioned this before. I think this is the biggest issue that is going to keep me out of the conservative club. I just flat out agree with military tactics. However, having read some stuff by Pat Buchanan, there just might be hope for me yet. LOL!

  12. Cool, we'll save the debate on killing each other for another time... lol, and I'd say there is more than just hope for you my little punk rock pacifist friend.

    You are well on your way to being called a neo-con by somebody in the near future... remember what they say, "if you're not a liberal when you are young, you don't have a heart and if you're not a conservative when you get older, you don't have a brain".

    I'll let you in my club any old time... after all you have actually protested at an abortion clinic, something I cannot say I have ever done. For that you will always have my attention and admiration... but I may not agree with you on everything.

  13. So any description of anything conservative that is less than flattering is automatically part of the left wing media conspiracy, eh?

  14. I think there might be a bit of a misunderstanding on the abortion clinic thing Red and I really need to clear it up.

    Technically, I did not really protest anything. I did like hold a sign condemning them or yell things at them or anything like that. I just stood right outside the clinic, by the doors in fact, and prayed. That's it. Nothing fancy. Just prayed.