June 20, 2003

Neoconservatism explained

The Neoconservatism entry from Wikipedia is excellent for those interested in getting a reasonably unbiased account of the origins and evolution of the (American) Neoconservative movement.


"Generally they supported a militant anticommunism, minimal social welfare (to the consternation of extreme free-market libertarians), and sympathy with a traditionalist agenda. Its feud with the traditional right, especially William F. Buckley's National Review over the welfare state (although the staff of the present National Review are recognisably neo-conservative) and the nativist, protectionist, isolationist wing of the party, once represented by ex-Republican Pat Buchanan, separated them from the old conservatives. But domestic policy does not define neoconservatism; it is a movement founded on, and perpetuated by a hawkish aggressive foreign policy, opposition to communism during the Cold War and now opposition to Middle Eastern states that pursue foreign and domestic policies which do not align with U.S. interests. Thus, their foremost target was the old Nixon approach to foreign policy, peace through negotiations, diplomacy, amd arms control known, Détente and containment (rather than rollback) of the Soviet Union, and the beginning of the process that would lead to bilateral ties between China and the US. There is still, today, a rift between many members of the State Department, who favor established foreign policy conventions, and the neoconservative hawks."

"There is conflict between neoconservatives and libertarian conservatives. Libertarian conservatives are distrustful of a large government and therefore regard neoconservative foreign policy ambitions with considerable distrust.

There has been considerable conflict between neoconservatives and business conservatives in some areas. Neoconservatives tend to see China as a looming threat to the United States and argue for harsh policies to contain that threat. Business conservatives see China as a business opportunity and see a tough policy against China as opposed to their desires to make money there. Furthermore business conservatives appear much less distrustful of international institutions.

There has been a sharp conflict over the years with "paleoconservatives", whose very name is taken as a rebuke to their "neo" (new) brethren. There are many personal issues but effectively the paleoconservatives view the neoconservatives as interlopers who deviate from the traditional conservative agenda on issues as diverse as States Rights, free trade, immigration, isolationism and the welfare state. All of this leads to their conservative label being questioned. They furthermore tend to see the methods of the neo-conservatives as simply those of right wing Trotskyites and not more civilised Conservatives."

My only problem with the article is that I'm not sure what is a "business conservative" supposed to be...