why I am not a neoconservative
I used to believe in humanitarian intervention. I used to truly believe that the right thing for America to do as a global superpower was to intervene where necessary to stop violence or genocide, to promote democracy, to be the generous benefactors of freedom…and so on and so forth. I was a pretty fervent supporter of Israel against what seemed to me at the time, a wide sea of hostile forces, nestled as that small country is in the cradle of both civilization and the Muslim world. (I still support Israel though I cannot support their settlements). I was either a neoconservative or a liberal hawk, I’m not really sure. I wasn’t really sure at the time, though the neoconservative brand seemed fitting enough, and especially my UK counterparts – neoconservatives but also very socially libertarian – seemed like rational, well-meaning people with a real desire to change the world for the better. And yes, I even blogged about this at one point on a now defunct site that I no longer am willing to pay to run since I no longer blog there.
And then a few things began to trouble me about all of this. I realized, for one, how utterly naive this belief in American power (and goodness) was. Not only did I lose faith in the idea that meddling in the name of “humanitarian intervention’s” could be effective, but in the belief that it was even humanitarian to begin with. The neoconservative agenda, it turned out, was far more about expanding military might than it was about bringing peace or sanctuary to the weak and oppressed. The liberal hawks were essentially the same – all part of the larger neoliberal economic and globalist agenda.
So I re-evaluated everything, not just the foreign policy positions I had found so faulty, but the wider implications of the foreign policy itself, which it turned out were merely extensions of a wider domestic policy: expansionism, exceptionalism, and the push for a global economy which had at its core the cult of the individual. The conservative movement and the neoconservative movement, and honestly the neoliberal movement, have really become all one and the same, and at their heart lies this false idol – the Individual. Suddenly older, deeper ideas began to resurface, to bubble up from within and to creep in from without: community, tradition, history, fellowship, the Church. The local. The good, the true, and the beautiful. Peace. The order of things.
Suddenly the writings of people like Daniel Larison or Andrew Bacevich took on a much, much more important role in my emerging philosophy. The realities of this individualist, capitalistic society we live in began to come into sharper focus. Certainty in any cause, even this – political alignment I found myself entering, became a dangerous notion, which is often why I struggle exactly to pin down where I fall on the political spectrum – favoring at once decentralism of state functions and a weakened Executive (to prevent that seductive idealism that is internationalism and a very strong military) as well as decentralism of private industry and a weakening of the corporate powers that be – but also recognizing the very real societal need for safety nets. I wrote about all of that a while back here at the League. Corporatism and statism are both dangerous, and are equal partners with equal stakes in this larger economic project of which the neocons represent only the foreign policy wing, and the most obvious target now save for perhaps the bankers, in this larger, ubiquitous cult of the individual.
In other words, I found at the rotten – if often well-meaning – core of neoconservatism, the very essence of the conservative and neoliberal movements. I found all that was wrong and destructive to our communities, to our workers, to our middle class, to our chances at any sort of a peaceful non-imperialistic future. And that is why I ditched that philosophy, and denounced my belief in any form of American imposed “humanitarian interventionism” and that is why I distrust so wholly the conservative movement which is so entirely not conservative in its ambitions, and that is also why at the end of the day I still consider myself to be more of a conservative (in perhaps a very non-mainstream way) than I consider myself a “leftist” as some have deemed me. This is also why I have begun developing my thoughts on “civilizational conservatism” and its role as a balancing force for what are inevitably organic and ever-progressing societies. And this is why I am not a neoconservative.