Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not Necessarily a Neocon If...

In light of yesterday's article, I thought it might be beneficial to provide a list of things that don't necessarily make one a neoconservative. Some may say, "Of course, that does not make one a neocon. I share that belief myself." would be surprised with what some who recklessly throw around the term "neocon" use to pin down so-called neocons.

1. If someone believes that there can be a just cause for war, that does not make them a neocon. Believing in classical liberalism does not prohibit one from supporting just, constitutional wars and true national defense. However, foreign adventurism and unjust wars of aggression cannot be supported by a true conservative. Moreover, I would even go far enough to say that one can be in support of our current wars and not be a neocon. That is not to say that they are not wrong in that support; they are. But some legitimately believe the wars in the middle east are legitimate acts of national defense, rather than being motivated by neoconservative desires for global domination.

2. If someone does not think 9/11 was an inside job, that does not make them a neocon. You are free to your opinion, but many of us do not believe that 9/11 was a government-crafted conspiracy. I don't , and neither does the enemy of all neocons, Ron Paul.

3. If you have ever read The Prince, that does not make you a neocon. Yes, neocons are Machiavellian, and they do revere his work. But who has studied political theory and hasn't studied Machiavelli? I have. I've also studied The Communist Manifesto, but that doesn't make me a communist.

4. If someone is pro-military, that does not make them a neocon. Being against unjust war and against the military-industrial complex does not necessitate one being anti-military. Just because someone supports the troops, that doesn't mean they are a neocon. Some of our greatest liberty movement activists are or were in the military. Besides, someone has to support the troops; our government sure doesn't--whether it be on the battlefield or here at home.

5. Just because someone has been influenced by neocons, that does not make them a neocon. Let's face it, the neocons control the agenda and have defined what it means to be "conservative" for over a decade--almost two decades. Therefore, they have had a heavy influence on weak-minded and misguided "conservatives." We need to rescue these people from their wrongs, not write them off as neocons.

6. Just because someone believes differently than you, that doesn't make them a neocon. This is the most important one. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone called a neocon for the simple reason that they hold differing views. "You don't believe we should legalize drugs...neocon." "You don't believe in trying terrorists in civilian courts...neocon." Sometimes this frustration is properly directed, but neocon cannot become the auto-response for "wrong!" Neoconservativism is always wrong, but wrong is not always neoconservative.

Make no mistake, I do not want to defend neocons or downplay the hoards of them out there. I can't stand them. Furthermore, I don't want to defend those who share neocon views and are wrong on the issues. I want them to be taken to task. But I think it is important that we are careful in throwing around the "neocon" label. If we make proper distinctions, we can better work to bring conservatives back to what the claim to believe in--limited government and personal liberty--the very things the neocons stand firmly against.


  1. I just read both essays on the neocons. Great work.

    I too was an Iraq war supporter until right around the 2004 elections. I began reading Pat Buchanan, which made me receptive to Ron Paul in 2007.

    It's good to point out that every interventionist is not necessarily a neocon. Some are just GOP hacks.

    A neoconservative has a specific agenda and a specific philosophy which is based on a specific cultural in experience in America, mostly, the anti-Semitism faced by Jews in the early-to-mid 20th century New York. But even then, people like Dick Cheney prove that the neoconservative movement is more than merely a Jewish one.

    Using the label "neocon" too much also devalues the term and gets us in trouble. Even though the term has become more mainstream, the fact that a lot of the true blue neoconservatives are Jewish opens the way for charges of anti-Semitism.

    And using the term too much just makes it another smear word, the way the neocons use "liberal" or "anti-Semite" or "isolationist" to assail anyone who questions their agenda.

    Jacob Heilbrunn's book "They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons" is a good place to start for an education about this movement.

  2. Your comments are dead on. You capture exactly what I feel are the problems with misusing "neocon" as just another smear word.

    I'll have to check out the book.

    Thanks again for your insightful comments.