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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More on Neoconservatives 

Here are some other blog comments on neoconservatives in general.

From NeoProgBlog:

Liberals and conservatives can legitimately debate whether government should be big or small. But Americans of all stripes should demand that government, big or small, be effective....

Under the current administration, the government succeeds at almost nothing it sets out to do. It spends money like a drunken 1970s Democrat, embraces global imperialism and foreign wars with the misplaced enthusiasm of a William Randolph Hearst, prostitutes itself to donors and lobbyists with the promiscuity of Ulysses Grant, and does less for the average American than Cal Coolidge....

While [the Bush administration] has abandoned traditional conservative values by expanding federal spending and involvement in state affairs, and by embracing the neoconservative passion for nation-building and military imperialism, many of its key players still subscribe (inconsistently) to the ultraconservative tenet that Government does almost nothing well. As Ronald Reagan famously said in his first inaugural address, they believe "government is not the solution to our problem; government IS the problem." Rather than empowering the government to succeed, as traditional liberals would, or reining in "the big bad Government", as traditional conservatives would, this administration is creating a government that is both big AND bad. We should not be surprised that such people, who fundamentally believe government is inept, will fall victim to "the soft bigotry of low expectations." They expect government to fail, and so it does.

From bsoo666:

Carter bashes, extensively, the neoconservative foreign policy agenda; anybody who knows me knows my views here. There is one thing I do agree with Carter on and that is torture; I am a strict conservative on torture and affirm the need for Senator McCain’s Amendment against U.S. torture.

From The Object of Power:

I am a liberal Democrat...well, I should qualify that statement a bit I suppose. I consider myself a liberal, though many, if not most, self-described "liberals" and people on the hard Left would probably call me a "centrist," a "moderate," or most complimentary--a "neoconservative corrupt pawn of the zionist pigs." Sigh...

Liberalism, in my view, is amorphous to an extent. This is due to its roots...the promotion of open minds, free speech, lively dialogue, and compromise. Because it has flexibity as its base, common perceptions of liberalism (amongst liberals and conservatives) tend to change over time....

True liberals acknowledge the nuances in every issue, and in the strategies employed to bring particular aspects of these issues to light. Change over time...the strategies that worked to solve societies most pressing concerns fifty years ago will not necessarily work today....

I began my political awareness as a young Catholic boy in Maine, wanting Bush to win in 1988 because--due to the proximity of Biddeford, Maine to Kennebunkport--I thought he was a local guy. Boy was I wrong....Being a freshman in Washington, DC for two weeks when 9/11 occured, I reacted differently than most people did in the weeks after 9/11...I first got angry at the terrorists, then I got angry at the United States, then I became an avowed pacifist. I protested invading Afghanistan. I repeat, I protested invading Afghanistan. Most lefties offered tepid support for that invasion; I loudly shouted that it was a racist war, that two wrongs do not make a right, and that--while we were at it--we should end all of our support for Israel.

In short, I was misguided. I have evolved over time. In fact, I began evolving right around the time I was protesting the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. A few people, including my good friend Evan who publishes the lead blog of my inner circle--Adventures in Holiness--started turning me on to the writings of left-liberals such as Christopher Hitchens, Paul Berman, and Johann Hari. Liberals who supported invading Iraq. At the time I was convinced that the prior statement was an oxymoron, and that writers such as Hitchens and Berman and Hari must be--gasp!--NEOCONSERVATIVES! I was wrong. I started getting annoyed by the far left as well as the far right (though the far right has always, and probably will for the foreseeable future, annoyed me more). Beyond that, I noticed that many of the anti-war arguments--the need for a preservation of stability, it is not in the U.S.'s narrowly defined vital interests to depose Saddam Hussein, so on and so forth--were closer to Henry Kissinger and his cynical (and borderline murderous) brand of realpolitik than the principles of justice inherent in liberal thought that had always driven my view of the world....I also noticed that several arguments in favor of the war, pro-democracy, pro-human rights, pro-freedom of speech, were rooted in liberalism (separately from the neoconservative obsession with free market economics).

Simply put, with the climate as polarized as it is, with the media as unhelpful as it is, words such as liberal and conservative are losing their meaning in the public eye....I hold to a few basic principles: civil liberties, long-term justice, opposition to authoritarianism. The rest we can talk about. I despise the Noam Chomskys of the world who deny the Cambodian genocide or Castros camps for homosexuals or Maoist re-education brutality. I equally despise those who praise Pinochet because he supported free markets or Franco because he opposed Communism or Saddam Hussein because...well, I still haven't quite wrapped my head around that boneheaded display of Reaganism....

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Great to see someone following up on this issue! Coincidentally, I had the editor at another site chastise me this morning for misusing the term "neoconservative", referring me to a Wikipedia article on the philosophical and political history of that movement. It was a lot to chew on, but I came to the conclusion that neocons do have a fairly consistent policy toward foreign affairs -- to use economic policy and military force as needed to "democratize" the world, even forcibly -- but lack any coherent vision for domestic affairs. Some neocons are former socialists, for gaw sake (which, on second thought, makes some sense: the Nazis were the "National Socialist" party, meaning one in which the government ran everything in concert with servile private enterprises. The current pro-business, big-government thrust of this administration smells sorta similar...)

So it's a hot topic for me today, and I'm glad there's more to chew on here! Thanks for including me in the discussion.

Thersites from The NeoProgBlog
As I noted here, and as I've noted previously, the difference between a fascist government and the Bush government is that in the former, the government controls business, while in the latter, business controls the government.
Ontario Emperor: great point. I dislike glib comparisons between Bush and the Nazis, and I may not have made myself clear enough.

My point really was that when the people are suffering (e.g. during a depression), they naturally turn to a paternal government to help them. Sometimes that results in a version of liberal semi-socialism (FDR); other times it results in a militaristic/corporatist national socialism (fascism). My goal is to have neither; that thought is here, where I wrote:

Want to know the difference between Progressivism and classic Political Liberalism? The economic climate. In good economic times, people can afford to be generous. Those are the best conditions for Progressivism, or Neoprogressivism. In bad economic times, people can't afford to be generous; rather, they're in desperate need of it themselves. Those are the best conditions for government paternalism. And, in some cases, the same conditions can lead to fascism, as in Weimar Germany. Now, I'll choose liberal paternalism over fascism during a Depression: FDR instead of Hitler. But neither a welfare state nor a fascist state is on my wish list for America.

But when I look at that spectrum of option for nations in distress, and also look at the troubling economic indicators that suggest, to me anyway, that a very significant downturn is in the offing, it's clear to me that the version of paternalism this administration would offer would resemble the fascist model much more than the liberal one. It would take more economy-shattering events to get us there, but I'm still paying attention.

Does that clear things up any?
I didn't think you were being glib. There is a world of difference between your writings and some of the "Bush is a KKK fascist, d00d" writings that are all too prevalent in cyberspace.

Interesting thoughts on paternalism, which I'm still mulling over.
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