Sunday, June 17, 2007

Origin of the Term Neoconservative

Yesterday we had a thoroughly delightful afternoon with our friends Jack and Debby in the garden Brasserie of the historic Closerie des Lilas on Boulevard du Montparnasse here in Paris. I'll go into more detail about our experience of the restaurant in my Omyword blog but in this blog I'd like to focus on some of the political topics we discussed.

Jack, Bart and I differ in our political leanings, so the conversation was lively while Debby the Minister prayed for us all. I jest a bit about Debby's prayers but actually, as things became heated, Debby was quick to remind us of the bottom line at all times:

  • That the four of us love each other very much
  • That we would not be so passionate if we didn't care...about our country, about people, about our beliefs and values
We all, and I mean all of us in this world, could do with a whole bunch of Debby in our lives.

With that said, at one point I think that Debby said she had never heard of the term Neocon or Neoconservative. Jack replied, "It's a term that the Liberals made up." I hadn't heard that before and really couldn't jump to the defense of Those Darn Liberals because I didn't really know the facts.

So today I Googled "Origin of Neoconservatism." Here is the results page if you'd like to follow along.

And following along is a funny thing because if you go to that page and start clicking on links, you'll be busy for many years. If I waited to completely understand all of this, or to read a balanced number of posts from both the right and left, I would never get a blog post written. It is now that I wish I had hundreds of blog subscribers because people could jump in and post comments and we would all learn from the process. So all 7 of my subscribers - please feel free to go nuts on this one, ok?

ANYway, was Jack right? Well kinda and kinda not.

The first article I read was from a post entitled "Irving Kristol reveals the true meaning of neoconservatism" on a blog called " View from the Right - The passing scene and what it's about viewed from the traditionalist politically incorrect Right." In order to figure out the leanings of this blog I went to the main page and got sick reading the Xenophobic blatherings about their outrage at Bush's immigration bill. Anyway again...the article claims that Irving Kristol is the father of Neoconservatism and that it started in the 60s as a bunch of Liberals who were unhappy with Liberalism and became conservatives but since they were a new kind of conservative they were called neoconservatives. Is Irving Kristol the father of William Kristol of PNAC (Project for a New American Century), that group of Neoconservatives that have been begging for an attack on Iraq and Saddam Hussein since 1998 and then gained control of the White House and all government departments so they could implement their plan? Dunno...I need another 5 years of research time. And PNAC was another subject that arose in our garden debate while the winds blew and rained poured down around us, but I'll have to address that with another post.

But if it's true what Irving said, that the first neoconservatives were actually unhappy Liberals then Jack was kinda right, it was Those Darn Liberals (or rather ex-Liberals) that made up the term neoconservative or neocon.

The next link I clicked on was the Wikipedia page on Neoconservatism, which I know is not necessarily reliable but it's a good place to start an investigation. In relation to Jack's claim that the term was invented by Liberals, here's some interesting info:

"The term neoconservative was first used derisively by democratic socialist Michael Harrington to make clear that a group, many of whom called themselves liberal, was actually a group newly conservative ex-liberals. The name eventually stuck, both because it was reasonably accurate, and because neoconservatives came to accept that they were, in fact, conservative.[2] The idea that liberalism "no longer knew what it was talking about" became one of the central themes of neoconservatism,[3] and by the 1980s, being considered a conservative was far from an insult.[2]

The etymology of this type of conservatism is based on the work and thought of Irving Kristol, cofounder of Encounter and its editor from 1953 to 1958,[4] Norman Podhoretz,[5] and others who described themselves as "neoconservatives" during the Cold War.

Prominent neoconservatives are associated with periodicals such as Commentary and The Weekly Standard, and with foreign policy initiatives of think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA).

Neoconservative journalists, policy analysts, and politicians, are often dubbed "neocons" by supporters and critics alike; however, in general, the movement's critics use the term more often than their supporters.[6][7]"

There's a whole basket o' links for you to follow.

So according to this info, the first derisive use of the word was by a democratic socialist, so I guess you can say he was a Liberal. I also read somewhere but I'm too tired to find it, that actual Neoconservatives aren't always comfortable calling themselves by that name but some are.

I for one, say the word with a sneer. And I'm a Liberal. I will continue to sneer because I think the neocons are ruining/have already ruined our country. My reasons center around PNAC so I will continue with a separate post about them thar varmints.