Neocons and conservatives advocate two entirely different worldviews, and it is both nonsense and deception to say they are part of the same movement.
Like any word in the English language, “conservatism” means something specific. It is not an infinitely flexible word, but refers to a specific attitude toward man’s social and political relations. It is not an ideology, but a general attitude toward political life described (not created) by a number of observers of organic society, including Burke, John Randolph, John Calhoun, Russell Kirk, and others. Historical conservatism includes these principles:
1 – Transcendent order – Conservatives acknowledge and respect the natural order as reflecting the hand of God in human affairs. Societies and individuals are shaped by processes and great forces we cannot fully comprehend, and therefore should not attempt to transform. Such attempts will more likely do harm than good.
2 – Faith as the foundation – Conservatives revere custom and tradition, and distrust abstract designs for re-shaping society. Heritage includes religious, social, and political habits that evolved within an historical community over generations, and therefore are the collected wisdom of one’s people over time. As such, these traditions reflect the people’s character, their attitudes, and their deepest convictions.
3 – Social structure – A healthy, just society requires a certain balance of order and disorder, of a protective, reliable structure and at the same time, opportunity for each individual to express his innate potential. Different societies will evolve different levels of order and disorder, depending on the particular sets of rights and obligations recognized and enforced by mutual consent. Class and status provide the order that makes civilization possible; attempts to impose an artificial equality will bring chaos and poverty. Burke, for examle, wrote much about the reasonable expectation of each citizen to equal justice, as well as the legal protection of his property, and the benefits of an orderly society.
From these general principles, conservatives can be reliably expected to take these practical stances:
1 – Limited government. Conservatives insist on restricting the reach and scope of government. Not only are there certain areas in which government is prohibited from taking action, local, more accessible government should take precedence over distant, centralized government.
2 – Loyalty to culture. Preserving the traditional culture includes: strong external defense, especially a secure border; controlling immigration to ensure the continuation of the traditional, sustaining culture; and preserving the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, which is the foundation of any healthy society.
3 – Rejection of interventionism at home and abroad. Conservatives oppose social reengineering projects aimed at leveling individuals or reinventing society. Any forced taking of property for the purpose of redistribution in the name of “social justice,” as well as “affirmative action” programs that mandate equality of outcome rather than promoting equality of opportunity, only reward mediocrity while penalizing merit.
Those are the stances taken by conservatives. Compare them to what Neocons advocate:
1 – Big, centralized government – Neocons, on the other hand, are for the exact opposite of what conservatives defend. Neocons favor big government, and consistently seek to expand Federal power over the individual. As Irving Kristol, the self-proclaimed “godfather of Neoconservatism” once said, “Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm of anxiety about the growth of the state.”
Naturally, the Neocons idolize Abraham Lincoln, the man who overthrew the system of limited, distributed sovereignty and replaced it with a powerful, centralized system. Irving Kristol’s son William recently wrote this:
“Twenty-three years after Lincoln’s speech, the South seceded, and civil war came. Lincoln managed, of course, in a supreme act of leadership, to win that war, preserve the union and end slavery. He was also able to interpret that war as producing a “new birth of freedom,” explaining its extraordinary sacrifices in a way that provided a renewed basis for attachment to a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus has been used by the Neocons to justify their bizarre theory of the “enemy combatant,” who is just about anyone the president so designates, including American citizens, such as Jose Padilla. Thus, the 4th and 6th amendments no longer afford protection against a government that can conduct warrantless wiretaps and secret searches on its subjects.
Indeed, many Neocons, such as William Kristol and Max Boot, even openly call for referring to the United States as an empire, a term with which many paleoconservatives, especially Pat Buchanan, would agree is apt, except as a pejorative. The Founders knew that only a constitutionally limited-govenment republic could safeguard our freedom.
2 – Universalism – Neocons see local culture at home and abroad as impediments to their globalist agenda. Rather than preserving heritage as the foundation of traditional liberties, Neocons seek to sweep it away and replace it with their one-size-fits-all concept of “global democracy.”
Neocon writer Michael Ledeen put it this way:
“Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace.”
This Neocon agenda, by the way, doesn’t just apply to backward Moslems who pray too much and won’t let their womenfolk wear pant suits. It applies to us, too. That’s why Bush is so determined to push through his North American Union with Mexico, and grant some form of amnesty to the 20 million illegal aliens in this country.
Neocon universalism is derived largely from its Trotskyite roots. Trotsky opposed Stalin’s “socialism in one country” strategy and instead argued that the best way to defend socialism in Russia was to promote it all around the world. If that formula reminds you of the Neocons’ rationale for promoting democracy in Iraq, that’s why – it came from Trotskyites.
And if you think it’s an exaggeration to say that the foundation of Neocon thought came from the internationalist Trotsky, here’s a Neocon coming out of the Trotskyite closet in National Review:
“And the fact is that many of the original generation of neoconservatives had a background of association with Trotskyism in its Shachtmanite iteration; that is, they belonged to or sympathized with a trend in radical leftism that followed the principle of opposition to the Soviet betrayal of the revolution to its logical end. The Shachtmanites, in the 1960s, joined the AFL-CIO in its best Cold War period, and many became staunch Reaganites.
This path had been pioneered much earlier by two Trotskyists: James Burnham, who became a founder of National Review, and Irving Kristol, who worked on Encounter magazine.”
And how does that author feel about Trotsky today?
“To my last breath I will defend the Trotsky who alone, and pursued from country to country, and finally laid low in his own blood in a hideously hot little house in Mexico City.”
3 – Interventionism. Neocons explicitly advocate the use of force to reengineer the world to suit their radical agenda. Domestically, they are comfortable with affirmative action, the civil rights agenda, and the centralization of government schools. That’s why they revere Martin Luther King. Irving Kristol, writing in Reflections of a Neoconservative (1983) argued: “A welfare state, properly conceived, can be an integral part of a conservative society.”
Neoconservatives, unlike constitutional conservatives, not only accept the all-powerful managerial state, but want to expand it and use it for their own purposes. Hence, the unconstitutional, and extremely centralizing “No Child Left Behind” law that usurps State control over their schools.
And of course, there’s the Neocon/Trotskyite agenda of global liberation. In his second inaugural, Bush made this startling call for world-wide liberation:
“Because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts we have lit a fire as well, a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power; it burns those who fight its progress. And one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.”
Of course, the Neocons attempt to hoodwink Americans into thinking that their radical, Jacobin agenda is as American as cherry pie. For example, on George Washington’s 275th birthday, George W. Bush tried to hijack the legacy of the Father of our country for his own propaganda:
“And as we work to advance the cause of freedom around the world, we remember that the father of our country believed that the freedoms we secured in our revolution were not meant for Americans alone.”
Wrong. Washington saw the new nation he’d led to independence as a model for the world, not a radical force sanctioned to overthrow governments around the world in order to advance global democratic revolution. In a letter written to the Reverend G. W. Snyder, Washington wrote, “Reverend, Sir, it was not my intention to doubt that the doctrine of the Illuminati, ”the principles of Jacobinism,” had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more satisfied of this fact than I am.”
Washington and the other Founding Fathers fought a conservative revolution to restore American’s traditional rights, what they referred to as “the rights of Englishmen.” The Founders knew, as today’s George W. does not, that our standards of liberty arose from our particular cultural inheritance, from our unique character and experience, as opposed to a never-never land of universal ideals that all peoples and nations must conform to. Surely the first George W. is spinning in his grave over the Neocons’ American imperial mission to make every country over into a “universal nation” nurtured by the concept of “human rights” and open borders.
As I said earlier, historical “conservatism” means something specific. The Neocons, on the other hand, have stolen the name of conservatism to advance a radical, Jacobin agenda. If words are to mean anything, if names are to describe specific philosophies and points of view, we cannot sit back and allow thieves to steal the name of our belief system. It’s the “gay” rights activists like Andrew Sullivan, and the internationalist neo-Trotskyites like Kristol who are the imposters. If an ideology can appropriate the name of a movement that advocates the polar opposite of that movement, then we’ve entered the world of Humpty Dumpty:
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “is whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”