Monday, December 08, 2008

I’m Having a Neocon Day.

Category: Issue 13

I’m Having a Neocon Day.
08 December 2008

Irving Kristol, generally considered the founder of American neoconservatism, once described the term neocon as “a liberal mugged by reality”.  Now, however, it is more often used as a label for the boogeyman haunting the bad dreams of liberals confronted with reality.  To those who founded the movement, it was a realization that liberal views and strategies had not resulted in a golden age.  To those who currently understand the term and use it as a pejorative, it is a way to dissociate from the results of conservative strategies.  To those who do not understand and yet use it anyway, it means evil, a synonym of Republican.

To explain the first group, the original neocons, we can look at the rise of neoconservatism, brought about by the failure of liberal foreign policy and moral relativism to improve the ever-worsening world situation.  The social welfare state had become an endless money-swallowing black hole.  Strategies of non-interference had failed to save thousands of persecuted people around the world by pretending that genocide was merely an aspect of different cultures.  Liberals in favor of intervention began to be considered “hawks”.  Abortion was heavily supported by those into gun control (an amazingly enduring link exactly opposed by many conservatives); and the socialist “equalitarian” rather than egalitarian approach to policies, while intellectually fair, did not make sense when practically applied.  As one of Kristol’s more cynical statements says, “A liberal is one who says that it’s all right for an 18-year-old girl to perform in a pornographic movie as long as she gets paid the minimum wage.”  Many liberals balked at the realization that applying moral relativism in an absolute manner results not in a fairer system, but merely an open system whereby predation is tolerated and encouraged by events.  This led to a large migration of former liberals to the Republican Party.  Like any converts, this movement quickly became the most vocal group of Republicans to oppose liberals.

To explain the second group, the dissociatives with bad memories, we have to look again at the liberal interventionists, especially observant of several examples.  President Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, advocating the plan of intervention, regime change and democratic transition on the basis that “The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership”.  Of the overwhelming 360 yeas to 38 nays in the recognizably jingoist environment during the lead up to the war, 157 were Democrats.  Move ahead ten years of disastrous inability both to progress “democratic transition” and to accept the real results of war, and you find a great deal of blame lying at the steps of Capitol Hill.  Fortunately for those interventionists who were behind the war, George Dubbya and the keen sportsman Dick Cheney have broad shoulders.  Like the supporters of an unsuccessful coup, the names and faces are blurred, the history rewritten.  Now they pose as innocent bystanders who were duped into passing a bill they didn’t understand—duped by the neocon conspiracy.

The third group, to whom neocon means nothing more than “neo—new; con—conservative abbrev.”, are a recent addition into the world of politics.  Some have only recently been outraged by events into voting.  Some have little knowledge of either party, except that neocons started the war—little realizing that one of the people they are denouncing is Bill Clinton.  What is becoming all too clear is that the term is reaching a level of vague scare-word previously occupied by “commie”, “trotskyite” and “nazi”.  Neocon is merely another all-purpose label to designate what all right-thinking people should not like.  When critic Rick Groen characterized the film 300, a retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae, as having a “neocon” message, it should have been obvious to all that the word was becoming too vague to even be a scare-word.  No one knows whom to be afraid of if you yell “Neocon!”.  It doesn’t have the same specific power as “Rapist!” or “Pedophile!”, and therefore inspires only vague notions of dislike.  Further proof lies in the creation of new words to fill in the blanks about exactly whom we shouldn’t like:  traditional neocons vs reformer neocons (I’ll wait for the animation series, and personally I don’t think the action figures will be very marketable.), neo-neocons and paleo-neocons, neocon hawks and social neocons.  Current uses of neocon as a general scare-word begin to resemble dialogue from “A Clockwork Orange”, my droogs.

So why the dissociation, the blame and hate?  “Neocon” is simply the response to “commie” and “loonie liberal”, and denotes the way the speaker is polarized more than it does the person targeted.  The Red Scare and the recent jingoist period where “liberal” was acquainted by Ann Coulter with “traitor” have drawn a backlash, now that liberals are in a dominant political situation.  The ex-Babes for Reagan and grown-up Young Republicans now find themselves at a loss to recoup the ground lost by the evangelical born-again neocons.  Which leads to the biggest reason.  Why insult all conservatives tarring them as neocons?  Because they can!  To borrow the thoughts of author Stephen King regarding the abortion debate in his novel


, it’s not about winning.  Neither side will convince the other.  Neither the law, nor society’s current state, nor simple reality will allow for a complete victory.  It’s about being right.  Simply being superior, holding the higher ground, and being on the righteous team.  Many times it’s also about being popular; it’s certainly popular to hate neocons.  A recent forum joke regarding social networking begins “I am defriending your Neocon Ass”.  So, if neocon is everything paranoid, conspiratorial, evil, predatory and interventional—I wish you all a socialist day, my droogs, because my own has been pretty neocon.