The following history may shock many of the Republicans of today. neoconservatism (the majority of the modern day Republican party) is the most widely accepted belief system that Republicans have today. Their stances are supportive of military expansions, maintaining cultural and social norms, middle-of-the-road economic policies, and foreign aid. Sounds familiar? Each Republican on the stage of the GOP debates have adhered to these philosophies (minus the outcasts, Ron Paul or Gary Johnson). It isn’t a far stretch to say that, not only the Republican representation, but many of the Republican voters. These ideas are products of a man who was influenced by Marxist ideologies at a young age, Irving Kristol.
It is Irving Kristol who is coined the “godfather” or even “father” of neoconservatism. Kristol advocated Neoconservatism to disregard political ideologies built on axioms. He stressed the importance of history. If only neoconservatives today looked at Kristol’s past. Kristol grew up in Brooklyn and later became apart of the New York Intellectuals, a group advocating Socialism and Marxism but rejecting Communism. Along with Sidney Hook and Norman Podhertz whom helped the neoconservative movement with Kristol. Hook later rejected Marxism but only on the grounds that it led to totalitarianism but not policies. Kristol then rejected Marxism but carried on concepts over to neoconservatism. Mostly the expansionism, sympathy to the welfare state, blind nationalism, and interventionist (middle of the road) economic policies (although he falsely gave cheers for Capitalism, he supported an economic policy which supported the Federal Reserve rather than free markets).
So, what of the history of neoconservatism itself? It is said that neoconservatism had a small push in the wake of World War Two. Originally Democrats, they swayed to the right and supported the Cold War. The big push came in the 1960’s. neoconservatives rejected the Democrats antiwar stance against Vietnam. This made a large push for the Republican party. However, they kept to their roots. In 1972 and 1976 they supported Democrat Senator Henry Jackson for his anticommunist stance. It wasn’t until they supported Ronald Reagan for his anticommunist stance that they made their big move to the Republican party. However, in the 1990’s they were left unrepresented by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. They pushed for policies that were not very well implemented. Even going into George W. Bush’s first term the neoconservatives felt unrepresented. Bush ran on a foreign policy that was very resistent to the idea of nation-building and spreading democracy. This, of course, changed in 2003 when Bush, highly influenced by the Project For A New American Century (which was co-founded by Irving Kristol’s son, William Kristol) attacking Iraq. It was then he garnished support from the neoconservatives. The neoconservatives were very critical of Barack Obama but have since, and this should alarm Democrats and Republicans both, supported him and his efforts in Libya (as a side note, for the Democrats, Obama has many cabinet members that are neoconservatives
Is This The Representation Republicans Want?
It could be argued that this is an argument purely based on semantics. However, the argument that the neoconservative roots are from the left are undeniable at this point. This most certainly will not change the mind of the average Republican reading this. They may say, “well, regardless of semantics, these are still my beliefs. Call me a Democrat if you will, my stances remain the same.” This may all be true, however, the question that should be asked is if this is the leadership wanted from the Republican party. Is it desirable? Take another glance at the neoconservatives. Irving Kristol stressed the importance of religion. He considered it a way to get more votes for neoconservatism and not a way of life. He himself said that neoconservatives are “pro-religion even though they themselves may not be believers.” It was not a clear cut answer whether Kristol was a Christian or not but he surely saw Christianity as a catapult for his ideas. Leo Strauss, a philosopher who influenced Kristol, talked about an old philosophical idea called “noble lie”. A noble lie is when a politician tells a lie or myth, usually in a religious context, in order to keep or maintain social harmony. Michael Lind. a former neoconservative, said, “For the neoconservatives, religion is an instrument of promoting morality. Religion becomes what Plato called a noble lie. It is a myth which is told to the majority of the society by the philosophical elite in order to ensure social order.” This is not the only time in which Krisol has been shown to only care about his own ideology, by his own words he says, “Among the core social scientists around The Public Interest there were no economists…. This explains my own rather cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or fiscal problems. The task, as I saw it, was to create a new majority, which evidently would mean a conservative majority, which came to mean, in turn, a Republican majority - so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government…” The average Republican needs to ask themselves if this is the kind of leadership that they want. This is the grandfather of the movement in which they adhere to.
Perhaps that’s simply not enough. Maybe the modern day Republicans believe that there is a crises against Islamic fundamentalism or that American culture is in jeopardy. These are, of course, the biggest concerns for neoconservatives. The neoconservatives are a very influential and powerful group. The main concern for neoconservatives today, is taking out dictators and spreading democracy at all costs. Kristol believed that deficits were natural and necessary for military purposes. Their primary concern is to spread democracy. There is a difference between spreading democracy and protecting a country. The current wars, Libya not included, were all based on the falsehood of protecting America. This was the goal of the Project for the New American Century. It had absolutely nothing to do with national security but everything to do with spreading democracy. It was not successful with Bill Clinton but once George W. Bush entered, he brought in many neoconservatives with him. Neoconservatives are very open that protection of Israel does not stem from religious beliefs at all. Kristol writes, “Barring extraordinary events, the United States will always feel obliged to defend, if possible, a democratic nation under attack from nondemocratic forces, external or internal. That is why it was in our national interest to come to the defense of France and Britain in World War II. That is why we feel it necessary to defend Israel today, when its survival is threatened.” Neoconservatism is full of misdirection and hidden agendas. They masquerade and lobby individuals based on reasons they do not themselves even believe. However, their power stems from many think tanks that are heavily in bed with government officials. This is how they are easily able to sway people into their favor. Using politicians to garnish the support from the public. Why are neoconservatives so influential? It’s not because they speak the truth, it’s not because they’re honest with the American people, it’s because they own many of the politicians in Washington, and are fluttered throughout the American media. Perhaps this is one of the “noble lies” they believe. Maybe the registered Republicans disagree with neoconservatism but most of their G.O.P. presidential candidates are neoconservative. Maybe neoconservatism is for you but do not be fooled into thinking that it’s the original conservatism.
The question that must be next asked is, “What, then, is the original kind of conservatism?” Surely no one would argue that conservatism has evolved into neoconservatism if there are others who still believe in the traditional conservatism! First, though, what is the original kind of conservatism?
Nowadays they go by the name of paleoconservative. Paleoconservative was not always their name. It used to just be conservative but once the surge of neoconservatism came about, paleoconservatives found it important to distinguish themselves because of the tremendous differences. Paleoconservatives have the traditional approach. They are very fiscally responsible. Ardent supporters of gun ownership, states rights (which neoconservatives rarely even acknowledge), the original intent theory of the Constitution, oppose abortion, support capital punishment, and do not want the government micromanaging families. The biggest difference is foreign policy.
Paleoconservatives are by no means pacifists. They take their tradition from the likes of as far back as Thomas Jefferson to more recently Pat Buchanan and William F. Buckley, Jr. Paleoconservatives rightly point out that these types of interventionist foreign policy, in which we attack whoever, whenever, for whatever reason, will lead to the destruction of this country. They are not in support of attacking countries like North Korea or Iran, unless there is reason to believe of Outspreading the military all over the world and leaving Americans more vulnerable to higher illegal immigration (their general immigration policies revolve around putting troops at the borders), more terrorism, growth of government, and out of control fiscal policies. They cite Rome as an example where imperialism can destroy a country. neoconservatives sold the American people their brand of misdirection and lies while paleoconservatives rejected it outright.
Aside from foreign policy, Paleoconservatives typically quote from the likes of, as mentioned before, Jefferson, Robert Taft, Barry Goldwater, while neoconservatives have criticized them both but praised Democrats such as, Harry Truman, George Marshall (the military advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt), and Hubert Humphrey (the Vice President to Lyndon Johnson). The differences between the two are obvious; one has an agenda, and they support whoever, Democrat or Republican, that supports their cause. They have no intention of telling the truth and every intention of lying to the American public, such as long as it is a “noble lie” and it supports their cause. Paleoconservatives on the other hand, they stem from the original conservatism. They care enough about the country to not overstretch its military resulting in a fiscal meltdown and destruction of this country.
Paleoconservatives are not saying that terrorism is not an issue but rather, America should be careful to not attack countries unnecessarily for false reasons. Over stretching our military could have disastrous effects. That’s some crazy idea, however, the neoconservatives write that paleoconservatives are anti-semitic and unpatriotic. This definition of “patriotism” may as well blur its line with blind nationalism. What seems more patriotic is caring about the country enough to not bankrupt it.
Is there hope?
Is there hope for traditional conservatives? Are they represented at all? The answer is, of course, yes. Ron Paul seems to be the only G.O.P. candidate that is a paleoconservative (Gary Johnson more closely relates to Libertarianism). It’s unfortunate that a man whose consistency and true conservative ideology is often overlooked as kooky, nutty, unpatriotic, etc. He seems to be the only one consistent. Whereas the other G.O.P. candidates are stagnant, at best. with their belief system. Nowadays, though, it seems like the neoconservatives have launched a successful media campaign and political dogma to win the hearts of modern day Republicans. neoconservatives do not deserve the name of conservatism, rather they deserve to be called the “Old Left” or, instead of neo-cons, simply just “cons”.