Neoconservatism

  • Posted on: 29 July 2017
  • By: benfell

Neoconservatism arose largely in reaction to the social tumult of the 1960s counterculture movement and to the perceived failure of ‘bleeding heart’ liberal and Keynesian ideas in the 1970s.1 Its idea of ‘good government’ entails neoliberalism as a moral system.2 Neoconservatives are very much at odds with traditionalist conservatives and with paleoconservatives, with traditionalists and paleoconservatives seeing neoconservatives as ‘usurpers’. Traditionalists, paleoconservatives, and capitalist libertarians often oppose war and emphasize limited government, but neoconservatives accept the risk of larger and more intrusive government in order to ensure national security, that is, the protection of purportedly “good government,” which they pursue preemptively and aggressively. Though capitalist libertarians are usually credited for neoliberal ideology, neoconservatives, haven risen rapidly to power during the 1970s, are probably responsible for its adoption as political orthodoxy.3 Daniel Stedman Jones points out that the arguments for neoliberal economic policy, as made by capitalist libertarians, avoid morality,4 so it would indeed seem that neoconservatives would be necessary to resolve the paradox of a somewhat social conservative president, Ronald Reagan, adopting an otherwise amoral economic policy.

Neoconservatism at least profits from a widespread and incorrect5 interpretation of the fall of the Berlin Wall, as a symbol for the failure of the Soviet system, among the United States political mainstream as vindication for the U.S. system and its associated ideologies.6 This is a false dichotomy combined with a red herring: First, it poses the failure of one system as validation for another; and second, it conflates authoritarian socialism with communism.7

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