Monday, June 18, 2007

The Origins of Neoconservativism

If you want to be called an anti-Semite and compared to a slack-jawed Southern Jew-baiter or a Nazi Stormtrooper, all you have to do is notice that most of the guiding lights of the Neoconservative movement are Jewish. While it is true, it should be totally meaningless. Except, that fact is important.

Neoconservative Founding Fathers
The very earliest of the neocons - Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, and Ben Wattenberg - grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. Like many intellectuals of the time, they developed a respect for Communism (some were Stalinists, other Trotskyists) as a way to address the the poverty of the Depression they saw around them. And they were shocked beyond measure by the brutality of the Nazi Holocaust. Put simply, they believed that totalitarianism could do both good and evil. While they grew to oppose Communism, their belief that totalitarianism could be used as a force for good remained. Following the Holocaust, the phrase "Never Again" became a core belief and the drive to insure that Israel never suffer a "Second Holocaust" became a motivating force. Actively warring against all they deem evil is the heart and soul of Neoconservativism; everything else is nuance.

The early neocons felt at home with the Democratic Party. Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Richard Pearle all worked for Democratic Senator Scoop Jackson in their youth. The Vietnam War changed that. As people like me, who believe that war is always evil and should be a last resort moved into the Democratic Party, people who believed war against evil is always good migrated to the Republican camp.

Neocons and War
"Axis of Evil" is a neocon phrase. To neocons, the world is a dangerous place filled with evil and it is America's manifest destiny to wage war against evil. Evil is frequently defined as "a danger to Israel." International cooperation, hence the United Nations, is also evil although it is difficult to understand why they hate it so. They have written that international organizations lead to tyranny but that is an irrational conclusion jumping. More likely, they fear international cooperation because it reduces the unilateral power of the United States to shape the world as we seen fit.

The Neocon/Republican Marriage
Much traditional Republican thought - anti-intellectualism, small government, nativism, and Laissez-faire economics - is considered silly by neocons. They tolerate or ignore them because the traditional Republicans let them pursue their wars.

The current immigration battle between the neocons and traditional Republicans is purely martial from the neocon point-of-view. While nativists see immigrants as an invading army, neocons see immigrants as cannon-fodder. As Americans age, a new younger generation of soldiers will be needed to fight our endless wars. Neocons want to build the new American army out of immigrants. I will expand upon this later.

Coming in the Future
~ Neocons are building a concious alliance with religious fundementalists to create an oppressive central government, each for their own purpose.
~ The Iraq War and the coming war with Iran are Trotskyite "wars of liberation."

2 comments:

Ben Wattenberg said...

Hmmn... Kristol was a sergeant in the Army -- a member of the Greatest /Generation. I was 6 years old when WW II started.
Ben Wattenberg

KnightErrant said...

Ben, the bio I read on you have you at age 8 when the United States entered WWII and age 12 when it ended. I would call that "growing up" during WWII, wouldn't you?

I know how I was at the age of 11 (when Kennedy was assassinated). I feel comfortable in believing that you were deeply affected by the inhuman evil of the Holocaust and that it helped shape your view of the world even today.