Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Don't Be Neoconned into Thinking Everyone is a Neocon

Neoconservatives are a plague--a great illness that has brought pain, suffering, and misguided policy to our nation. Sadly, they have shaped the minds of the modern conservative movement in a similar way as Hayek, Mises, and other libertarians shaped it at its outset. Neocons crave war, promote the ends over means, and have little use for decency or conservatism in politics. They are Machiavellian in approach, care little for our Founding principles, and see liberty as a hurdle rather than a virtue.

With all of this said, it is easy to see that we should be careful in our use of the label. However, I see the term thrown around way too often in far too reckless a manner. I think it is time we remedy this.

The fuel for the neoconservative machine is foreign interventionism, but that does not mean that all who support our current wars or are more hawkish than ourselves deserve the "neocon" label. Moreover, the neocons profit from the so-called "War on Terror" as a means to further executive power, but that does not mean that all concerned with terrorism are in the class of neocons. Likewise, we must note that some similarities in policy with neocons does not make one a neocon. Neoconservatism is a distinct worldview and philosophical position; therefore, it takes more than a desire for attacking Iran to be one.

Because of it prominence in recent decades, neoconservatism has been the guiding force behind the minds of "conservative" politicians. Therefore, many who are not full-blown neocons still hold some neocon positions on matters like foreign policy and globalization, while holding more traditional conservative positions on economic and domestic policy. Look to someone along the lines of a Jim DeMint or a Tom Coburn for such an example. These two men are not neocons, though their foreign policy outlook has been warped by neocon influence. They have much more in common with someone like Ron Paul or John Duncan than they do with Paul Wolfowitz or Dick Cheney.

Regrettably, even if one is not a neocon, many in the liberty movement are quick to give the label. We should be weary of this misnaming. The simple reason for this is that neocons are our philosophical and political enemies; those who hold some neocon positions are not. They are merely wrong on the issues. Since neocons are fundamentally opposed to the principles of liberty, their is no common ground to be found with them. They will forever be our political opponents. However, the many who share neocon sympathies should not be viewed as lost-cause enemies. They should be seen as misguided souls who are dead wrong but can possibly one day see the light. In fact, some have already started to change their tone.

It is important to note that I am not saying we should not call people out on misguded and wrong positions. We should. I am merely saying that we should be careful who we label a neocon. For, the neoconservative position is one that can and should writen off, while a misguided understanding of foreign policy is something that can be combated and remedied. Though I have never been a complete hawk, I once was once supportive of the Iraq War myself--until I realized that we were never under a threat from the Hussein regime. Now I am completely against the war and am a consistent noninterventionist. Likewise, I have heard a number of testimonies from others whose support for the warfare state was changed based on their lack of support for the welfare state. Are these people neocons turned libertarians? Nope. They are merely liberty lovers who were called out on their philosophical inconsistency and corrected their position.

Calling out philosophical inconsistencies will be the key to victory. If someone claims to be a conservative, let's hold their feet to the fire and make them live up to the standards of the Old Right. We are in an ideological war. Right now the neocons have the mouthpieces, the majority, and the power. But we have the truth and the Constitution on our side. So I know we will prevail at the end of the day. 

By far, there are tons of neocons around. So I am not trying to downplay their influence or numbers. They are everywhere! But I want to note that there are some conservatives out there who are dead wrong on foreign policy but don't qualify as neocons. Instead of writing these folks off, we need to get them to see the light and hold firm to true traditional conservative principles. Until we do everyone will be a de facto neocons as part of a nation that pursues neocon policies.

Please check back tomorrow for a post on who/what a neocon is and is not.

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