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Neo Con

By ATWadmin On January 10th, 2007

….Neocon has become the ultimate term of political abuse, a description of an alien idea foisted on an unwary nation by hardline conservatives…it is thought to be a doctrine of the Right.  It isn’t. It is a critique of the Left. And the difference is important.  There is nothing ‘neo’ and certainly nothing conservative about it.

US foreign policy has almost always been a liberal foreign policy. And if this is right, it means that the policy advocated by neocons will long survive their own departure from the scene….

(Well let’s hope so)

Daniel Finkelstein writing about sociologist and political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset who died last week aged was 84.

His name is unknown to almost everybody in this country. Not so the political grouping of which he was a founder member. The small group of Trotskyites with whom Lipset associated when he was a student at City College in New York grew up to become known as the neocons. Lipset’s contribution to their thinking was critical.

85 Responses to “Neo Con”

  1. The neo-cons were almost all originally democrats in the 60’s and 70’s.

  2. I still think the abuse for ‘neo-cons’ from the left stems simply from the fact that their candidate in 2000, Gore, was beaten by Bush. Gore is a priviledged, East Coast, wealthy liberal. In their eyes the White House was rightfully his. It was his birthright. There’s nothing the egalitarian left like better than a bit of good old patronage and priviledge. When a bloke who lives in Texas beat him to it they couldn’t take it – hence, Bush Derangement Syndrome.

    Bush has been nothing like a Republican in office. His administrations have taxed and spent far too much for any conservative liking. His foreign policy, in that persecuted, third world peasants are as deserving of life’s fruits as the rest of us would have done any leftie proud in the past. He done showed he had the balls to back his convictions and make things happen.

    If the left could shake off their attachment to inherited power and nutty derangement over Bush they’d like the fella.

  3. Thanks for the link, Alison. The piece is really enjoyable, especially Lipset’s central theme – American exceptionalism.

  4. Excellent book on the subject here, highly recommended


  5. Really interesting read i thought – to be honest if id had more time i wanted to focus on that and other bits in it! eg There is a lot of push and pull between us – But i see no reason at all that we should all see ourselves so very differently. Europe becoming more like America is a natural process in some areas stems from the fact that we have shared values which America embraced from us and vice versa.

  6. Come off it! Hitler was liberal compared with American imperialist foreign policy. At least he didn’t turn on his allies for invading and occupying smaller countries like Saddam did.

  7. The whole neo-con phenomenon is interesting.

    A separate but related issue is the amazing success of the US right to associate with, and then woo the votes of working-class Americans.

    Is this in part due to the neo-cons "left" background? Look at Reagan. Was he able to appeal to people of a democrat background because that was where he came from himself?

    Was it Disraeli who first referred to the innate conservatism of the working man (or something like that)?

  8. Pete: Actually Al Gore is from Tennessee which is in the south central United States and pretty far from the ocean. An argument can be made that the Bush family roots are far more East Coast (if you are claiming by that some sort of a priviledged life) than the Gores. Al did attend school in the East Coast, as did Bush. They both hailed from familys who had historys of public service. If anything, Bush is more of an Ivy League Blue Blood than Gore, and his family history is far more establishment, despite the hookey cowboy image.

    One of the things the deranged among the right wing forget is that Gore won the popular vote and merely utilized the appropriate channels to challenge a close electoral vote (something the Bush crowd also planned for prior to the election if it hadn’t fallen their way). He abided by the Court’s decision and called for the nation to support the president once the decision was rendered.

  9. Adrian: Shouldn’t you be back at the seminary learning how to date altar boys?

  10. most people are up in arms about the neo conservative (over)use of executive powers. and the distinct lack of oversight inherent in that use.

    intersting times ahead for the US. the other houses should slowly begin to exert some power from here on. leahy is the one to watch.

  11. Mahons,
    That happens only in American seminaries!

  12. Adrian: So you have apparently taken the denial class already.

  13. A lesser man would take the opportunity to make a joke about ‘semen’aries…. I am that lesser man 🙂

  14. Colm,
    Same root. Seminary means a collection of seeds in Latin.

    You’ve got a sense of humour but you don’t know much about seminaries…

  15. Adrian: Thank God.

  16. How can a Post about the roots of the neo-con movement in the United States end up discussing the supposed sexual releases amongst the men in Catholic Seminaries in India…. truelly a Tangled thread on A Tangled Web.

  17. Mahons,
    God should be thanking you!
    Let’s come to an understanding that whenever there’s a problem between us, it’s Colm who gets the blame…

  18. I always get the blame…. especially when any smutty innuendo rears it’s ugly head !!

  19. Colm: The Neo-Cons support the outsourcing of so many other things to the Third World, why not ATW topics?

    Adrian: I already blame Colm for all the bad puns on ATW (especially the ones I come up with) so it wouldn’t be fair to do that to him. But I must say that your instinct to blame the innocent will stand you well among the clergy.

  20. Colm innocent??? He’s a lapsed Catholic, for your information. Of course I’m going to blame him…

  21. NeoCon Joke:

    I’ve just got a new Sadam t-shirt.
    It’s a bit tight around the neck but it hangs well.

  22. Mahons,
    Al Gore was born and educated in Washington D.C. His family owned a tobacco farm in Tennessee, where he would spend most of his summers, but he was largely raised on the East Coast.

    As for the election, he didn’t merely challenge the electoral results. The jerk actually had the nerve – while he was making an appearance on television talking about how important it was for every vote to count – to send a team of attorneys into Florida to manipulate laws that would disallow the absentee ballots from military personnel living overseas from being counted (military folks largely vote Republican).

  23. >>military folks largely vote Republican<<

    I doubt if they will next time round.

  24. Cunningham,

  25. Emily

    Armies generally don’t like being hoodwinked, being led by an ass (British usage) into a war it can’t win on falsified grounds, being used as a tool of political propaganda and being seduced into committing criminal acts and making a complete fool of itself in the world’s eyes.

  26. Cunningham,
    They also aren’t very likely to share your opinion on that subject. My dad’s a retired Air Force pilot. I grew up around military people my whole life. I know my dad and some of his buddies may not particularly care for some of the choices the Bush Administration has made, but they do largely support the war in Iraq. You’re projecting your own ideals and politics.

  27. >>they do largely support the war in Iraq.<<

    It’s pointless if the military "support" a war, their job is to WIN it, and they won’t be winning this one because of the foolishness of the present administration. Another reason why they shouldn’t vote Bush or his heir.

  28. Emily: And George W was born in New Haven, Connecticut (still whistling Dixie?) and educated on the East Coast at Philips Academy and Yale. He spent a sufficent amount of time on the East Coast (collecting his Driving While Intoxicated near the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine). I will grant you he spent some of his formative years in Texas and Alabama during the Vietnam War protecting the people of those states from an invasion by the Viet Cong, but if anyone is claiming he has a less privileged background than Gore they are inhaling. In any event, Bush comes from the same class as Gore: wealth, privilge and power.

    Emily, if my memory is correct the Bush team also flooded Florida with its own legal eagles, each side contesting issues in a light favorable to them. Gore won a plurality of the national vote and the Florida vote was critical and close enough that I would want both candidates to vigorously advocate for their side.

  29. Mahons,
    What’s your point? I wasn’t talking about George Bush. I was talking about Al Gore. Doing that does not in any way imply the innocence, support, or lack of accountability towards Bush and the things he’s done himself.

  30. Emily: Scroll up to the beginning and you’ll see that you jumped into a discussion between Pete and myself regarding a Bush v. Gore comparison.

    Plus admit you secretly liked the part about Bush protecting Texas and Alabama from the Viet Cong.

  31. Mahons,
    I realize that and if someone had described GWB as an East Coast Ivy Leaguer and it was pointed out that he was from Texas, a far toss from the Atlantic, I would have given the same response in regards to Bush.

    Secretly? Nope. I thought it was hysterical and I’ll admit it openly.

  32. Emily – You have restored my belief in fairness. Please refresh my recollection – a West Coast resident yourself?

  33. Enjoyed the old flick "Where the Boys Are" with Connie Francis (and several real stunners) on Slovene TV over Christmas. That "Ivy League Blue Blood" stuff comes up a lot in it, which was quite new to me. US snobbery looks even more ridiculous than even the British variety when viewed from this side of the pond.

  34. Cunningham: Snobs do not stop at borders. Even Ireland has its upper class (you know, those people with the new Wellingtons).

  35. Cunningham,
    On the East Coast, the snobbery becomes particularly absurd when it’s of the "old money versus new money" variety. There are actually people who think that they’re better for coming from a family that’s been wealthy for generations than a person who’s earned their fortune with their own grit, talent and hard work.

  36. Emily: Give me Truman’s My Fellow Immigrants speech anytime.

  37. My bad, it was FDR.

  38. There are actually people who think that they’re better for coming from a family that’s been wealthy for generations than a person who’s earned their fortune with their own grit, talent and hard work.

    Sounds like the setting for a modern day Elizabeth Gaskells North & South!

  39. Cunningham,

    One hotty from "Where the Boys Are" (Dolores Hart) became a nun.


    In re Irish snobbery, the definition of lace curtain Irish is folks with flowers on the table when nobody’s dead.

  40. Mahons,
    That’s another form of snobbery you see from some Americans – people who boast about being able to trace their lineage back to the colonies before the Revolution. Whatever, folks. I happen to be quite proud that my great-grandfather drunkenly hopped a boat out of Belfast one night and didn’t regain his sobriety until he woke up in his vomit somewhere in Chicago. Colonists shmolonists. Top that, Daughters of the Revolution.

  41. Emily: Good one but I think I got you beat. My Great-great Grandmother came over in an arranged marriage as a young girl to a much older gentleman who was a widower with six children. The first evening, she presented him with his dinner, he didn’t like it and struck her. She waited until he went asleep and then proceeded to set him on fire. After a brief period of incarceration in the Worcester, MA Woman’s prison he apparently either bailed her out or had the charges dropped. The woman in my family have had the upper hand ever since.

  42. Alan – love that and I intend to use it at every opportunity.

  43. Emily,

    Belfast to Chicago by boat, and drunk the whole way! Your great-gandpa was quite the sponge.

  44. Mahons,
    As they clearly should! What a great story.

  45. Alan: We were told that another relative drowned by falling into a vat of Guiness Stout while working at the Guiness Factory. When his widow asked if it was a quick death, they had to tell her no, because he got out to pee three times.
    Should we be giving Andrew this ammunition?

  46. Thanks Emily. It is a true story unlike the Guiness Stout joke above which I only wish was true.

  47. >>One hotty from "Where the Boys Are" (Dolores Hart) became a nun.<<

    That’s incredible, Alan, she was my favourite in the film and I was inspired by her such that I was almost grabbing the legs of the Christmas turkey, lovingly prepared by mother-in-law. A face to dream of.

    Is that true, mahons? A brilliant story.
    An insane gene in the family, perhaps?

    My grannie Margaret left Cavan as a young girl to work as a servant in NY just before WWI. All she related was that the first day the master of the house asked her to bake "cookies" for him and when they were done he said they were like stones and flung them one after the other out the window. Cavan standards of hygiene were obviouisly also not up to the mark, and master used to say
    "Oh Margarite,
    go wash your feet,
    the Board of Health’s
    across the street".
    The Board of Health in question later became the Dakota Buildings beside Central Park, where John Lennon was killed.

  48. Cunningham,

    What was your mother-in-law doing cooking a Christmas turkey in Slovenia? Wouldn’t a goose be more appropriate?

    (Come on, Mahons and Colm, lots of cheap opportunities there.)

  49. Right, Alan, they do do geese more there. But my cultural input this time was a turkey for the family to show them how civilised people celebrate Christmas.

  50. Cunningham: The Great-great grannie story is 100% true. I often wonder if I could find the actual penal record. As for the insane gene -surely you’ve seen signs of that in my writings before today.

    My wife cooks like your grannie (she must worship me as she brings me burnt offerings). Must be a Cavan school of cuisine. Not to put a damper on family history, but I am not sure if the Dakota Building ever housed the Board of Health. My understanding was it was always residential apartments and named the Dakota because at the time it was built it was so far from the downtown it might as well have been in the Dakotas.

  51. >>I often wonder if I could find the actual penal record.<<
    Do try. And it has a happy ending, as he must have loved her to bail her. Echoes of Springsteen "Only you..can cool my desire. Ooooooh, Im on fire"

    Re. Dakota. I’m not familiar with the geography of Manhattan, but the story is as related by one of the 16 grandchildren of grannie’s twin sister, who accompanied her but stayed in the States.
    But, my, do you know your home town!

  52. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dakota

  53. Cunningham: Very good. It would have been their song I suppose.

  54. Mahons

    I’m aware of Bush’s background, family, wealth etc, and you’ll have noticed that I described Bush as a resident of Texas rather than as a Texan. But being a wealthy liberal, Gore and his ilk have that feeling of entitlement which normal people don’t. When you have that feeling and it’s thwarted you end up with what they exhibit: Bush Derangement Syndrome.

    As for Gore winning the popular vote, well as (IIRC) Colm saying on another thread, that’s democracy. It’s also the collegiate system, and Bush won it.

  55. Pete – I am not sure what the real difference is between Bush and Gores’ backgrounds. Each came from a wealthy established political dynasty. Except for their respective detractors, the Bush family was never really that ultra conservative and the Gore family never that ultra liberal.
    I suppose the real difference I see between them is that Gore has an empathy for people who didn’t get the head start in life that he got that Bush has never demonstrated.
    As for feelings of entitlement, well I am not sure that that particular feeling runs any less deep in the Gore family than it does in the Bush family.
    If you were Pete_New York, Pete_New Orleans, Pete_Chicago, or Pete_Sacramento instead of Pete_London you might have a closer appreciation for those with BDS as you describe.

  56. Mahons,
    Sorry to be pedantic, but Al Gore cannot experience "empathy" for people who didn’t get a head start in life, as he himself did. You can only empathize with somebody if you’ve shared a similar experience. I’m not sure how much of his sympathy is political lip service, though.

    And I don’t think being American gives anyone a uniquely justifiable case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Irrational hatred and believing anything terrible you read just because you want to is not excusable no matter where you live. Don’t get me wrong; Clinton Derangement Syndrome ran riot when he was in office as well and was just as unreasonable and stupid.

  57. Emily – You could be right, so I’ll say sympathy instead. And indeed some of Gore’s is political lip service.

    Anywho, I am off. Have a good night!

  58. Mahons

    I’m talking about liberals in general and their reaction to defeat in 2000. For a bunch of meritocrats, no-one does entitlement like they do.

  59. Emily

    To be fair to Clinton’s critics, he is a rapist.

  60. Emily,

    "You can only empathize with somebody if you’ve shared a similar experience."

    I don’t think that’s entirely true. There is such a thing as imagination.

  61. Pete – Getting late here on the liberal East Coast so I’ll have see talk to you tommorrow. Adios.

  62. Frank,
    In terms of "imagination," the word would only apply aesthetically at best. When it comes to human relations, you cannot empathize with somebody who you do not have a shared experience in common, by definition. That doesn’t mean you don’t care or have no compassion for someone. Al Gore can bleed his heart dry caring about the poor and disenfranchized. He cannot empathize with them; he’s never been among them.

  63. Emily,

    "When it comes to human relations, you cannot empathize with somebody who you do not have a shared experience in common, by definition."

    I don’t agree – or at least it doesn’t have to be exactly the same experience. I don’t think you have to have literally been in the same position as somebody in order to imagine what it would feel like.

    I don’t really disagree with your point about Al Gore, just the general point about empathy.

    Do you think that someone can empathise with an innocent person on death row for example or a victim of 9/11 or 7/7, or do they have to actually have been through it?

    I think it is probably a matter of degree. Perhaps nobody can fully get another’s experience but some have a better idea than others, and also some are more willing to try than others.

  64. "I don’t agree – or at least it doesn’t have to be exactly the same experience. I don’t think you have to have literally been in the same position as somebody in order to imagine what it would feel like."

    I agree with you that you don’t have to have been in the same position to imagine what it would feel like. But you cannot empathize. There is a distinct difference in the definitions of "empathy" and "sympathy" for that reason.

  65. The word ‘neocon’ is code for Jewish Conservative. All that other stuff is bull.

  66. Good one, Monica. The actor Ron Silver comes to mind.

    BTW, we finally got some snow here on the banks of Lake Ontario. How about you?

  67. "Come off it! Hitler was liberal compared with American imperialist foreign policy. At least he didn’t turn on his allies for invading and occupying smaller countries like Saddam did."

    Hitler was more liberal than Bush? Adrian, I hope sincerely that you read this before DV deletes it:


  68. DSD

    Adrian obviously didn’t mean that literally. He was using Hyperbole which many others here often use in their comments to make a point.

  69. Im not so sure about that. Regards the US (Black Hawks) -Mogadishu in 93- Adrian on another thread seemed quite pleased at how it turned out – mahons was quite restrained over that but thats the most upset ive seen him for a while. Perhaps Adrian could limit his hyperbole so that he didnt look like he was revelling in peoples deaths especially since that is often an allegation directed at posts and comments on this site generally.

  70. Colm: I think you are missing the inner Adrian. I enjoy hyperbole as much as the next guy but Adrian’s rabid anti-Americanism was on full unmitigated display yesterday. I think he had more time in the past to dilute it, but he was in a rush to get back into the seminary (is the Church really reduced to pool of candidates?) due to the short break they provided him. I must remind myself to refrain from contributing to any special collection for vocations abroad this Sunday.

    I welcome anyone who wants to debate any issue, but when Adrian gloats at the deaths of servicemen and offers Hitler as a more liberal alternative, he crosses the line. And when he does that, I am happy to expose him as I did yesterday and fully understand the sentiment of DSD.

  71. "I am happy to expose him…

    Mahons , If he becomes a priest you may have to defrock him!

  72. Colm: I am so not trying to have an image of that.

  73. DSD,
    Re your 4:03 post, I’m not allowed to do those things in the seminary.

    Colm and others with a fairly balanced mind would have caught the point I was bringing out. Mahons, I didn’t know you took me seriously when I said that Hitler’s policies were an alternative to Bush’s brand of imperialism. I promise to understimate my readers in future.

    Mahons, Alison, I apologise for "gloating" at the deaths of servicemen who of course are innocent victims merely following orders issued by the REAL war criminals who are generally beyond justice in this life.

    Alison, suggestion taken but I suggest you also make similar suggestions to people who have been calling for the execution of the innocent prisoners at Guantanamo. And whereas my rejoicing was mere rhetoric and hyperbole, theirs isn’t.

  74. Adrian: I’d spend less time concerned with underestimating people in the future and more time with overestimating yourself (humility apparently is not in the first year curriculum at your seminary).

    The context of the debate in which you utilized the Hitler statement clearly makes your hyperbole claim suspect. But if you want to crawl away from that statement now I’ll forgive you.

  75. Mahons,
    I kind of overestimated the ability of my audience to distinguish between stupid things I say because I don’t know what I’m talking about, nonsense I write for the heck of it, smart things I really believe in, and irritating things I just say (generally about America) to annoy people. And yes, that means that I a crawling away from the Hitler remark, on all fours.

  76. Of course i musnt forget – on the left it is mere rhetoric and hyperbole, colourful language if you will.

  77. Alison,
    I give you full permission to use my identity and type whatever apology you consider appropriate for my misunderstood remark.

  78. Adrian – forget it. Who precisely do you mean by the REAL war criminals. their superiors, their superiors superiors or Clinton? I ask because i was hugely privileged to meet these guys and their humility over the events that day actually did bring me to tears at one point.

  79. Alison, who are the "these guys" whom you met?
    US military attitudes and values are governed by Pattons "don’t die for your country, make the other bastard die for his country." That’s exactly why loss of American lives is such a tragedy whereas if enemy civilians somehow manage to survive, that’s such a tragedy too in the eyes of America.

  80. It hasn’t taken long for you to start misbehaving, Adrian. Go to confession right now! There is a pox on your soul for saying such a thing about American servicemen and women believing that innocent civilian lives lost is something to revel in. You also said that about Americans in general. You are a sick, sick young man. Shame on you.

    No snow here yet, Alan. We finally plunged from the 60’s to the 30’s though. (That would be degrees Farenheit) Enjoy the beauty of the snow – lucky dog.

  81. Monica,
    The recent celebrations (even here on ATW) over the air strikes in Somalia in which innocent civilians were killed vindicate my position.

    America decided to remove Saddam despite the exceedingly high probability that a few hundred thousand Iraqi civilians would lose their lives in the ensuing chaos. Naturally they’d say that they didn’t intend these deaths. I believe them but don’t thank them one bit.

    The White House has just begun a propaganda war for some reason which we’ll no doubt find out in the near future. In recent days we’ve had the air strikes on Somalia, the announcement of the increase in troops stationed in Iraq, and today’s statement by Negroponte on Al Qaeda having a hideout in Pakistan. I wouldn’t be surprised if this political campaign is meant to prepare the ground for something more sinister, unless it’s an internal war between Republicans and Democrats that’s going on.

  82. Monica,
    When I say America I am referring to your establishment and not to the ordinary American (such as you?) who minds his/her own business and never hurts a fly.

  83. "don’t die for your country, make the other bastard die for his country."

    No that exactly why America is great. That you cant see that Adrian reflects what a product you are of the media more than anything else. Any right minded individual can see that America and the West in general is a step removed from the general barbarity and backwardness of most. That they havent heaved themselves into the 21st century and look around liked green eyed morons at the rest of us is an issue they need to deal with. Perhaps we could send in some shrinks.

  84. Monica: during the Irish Famine it was said that no priest ever starved. Our modern day priest in the making Adrian sits in an Indian seminary surrounded by abject generational poverty, environmental degradation, malnutrition, harrowing living conditions for children, and a rigid caste system and somehow is only able to focus on the alleged failings of the United States. In sympathy, we have to afford him the anti-American mantra because to have him focus on the horror that is his own nation would be too cruel.

  85. Alison, Mahons,
    Me a product of the media? We don’t have a TV connection at home and I don’t read the newspaper more than once in two weeks (and then it’s generally the comics section). In the seminary I’m allowed to watch TV for half an hour a day and since there’s fifty people sharing it I prefer to sulk in a corner and play chess.

    Anyway I’ve been deviating from topics a bit too much of late and since David has been good enough to tolerate my presence I shall try to stick closer to the actual subject being discussed from now on.