Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Liberals, Conservatives, and Neocons — Learn the Difference!

Almost everybody is confused about the word "neoconservative" and its shortened form, "neocon." I find that liberals/Democrats seem to use it as a sort of disrespectful form of "conservative," and probably have no idea the the words have distinct meanings. On the other hand, I know of some conservatives who define it as "new conservatives," meaning people who were formerly something else, but have converted to conservatism. Both are wrong. As near as I can tell, "neo-" doesn't apply to any other word that way — formerly not X, but having become X.  No, "neo-" almost always refers to an ideology that is different from the root word in a significant way. Neoconfederates are not people who want to secede and become a separate country.  They want the ideals of the Confederacy to be applied to modern politics, more or less, but not all of them. Neoliberal is a more vague term, but it specifically applies to people who may have some of the attributes of liberals, but who contradict liberalism in their advocacy of free trade and privatization and other ideas usually thought of as conservative.  And, finally, neoconservatives are mostly those moderate cold war liberals who defected to the Republican party when the Democrats got totally flaky with McGovern and his ilk. Their ultimate origin, however, is not the Democratic party but the Trotskyite movement. Jack Kerwick elaborates.

Most "Conservatives" Are Secretly Neoconservatives

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A colleague of mine has drawn my attention to a Washington Post blog post — “Why Most Conservatives Are Secretly Liberals” — by a Professor John Sides, a political scientist at Georgetown University.
Sides agrees with fellow political scientists Christopher Ellis and James Stimson, co-authors of Ideology in America. Ellis and Stimson contend that America is, at bottom, a “center-left nation,” for while “30 percent” of self-described “liberals” are consistent in endorsing “liberal” policy prescriptions, the same sort of consistency can be ascribed to only “15 percent” of “conservatives.”  And another “30 percent” of “conservatives” actually advance “liberal” positions.
In short, Americans may talk the talk of “conservatism,” but they walk the walk of “liberalism.” That is, they favor Big Government.
Sides, Ellis, and Stimson, it seems clear to me, are “liberals.” It doesn’t require much reading between the lines to discern this. That they associate “liberals,” and “liberals” alone, with such virtues as “consistency” and such lofty ideals as “a cleaner environment” and “a stronger safety net” is enough to bear this out.  Yet in peddling the ridiculous, patently absurd notion that “conservatives” see the media as promoting “conservatism,” the verdict regarding their “liberalism” is seen for the no-brainer that it is.
There is, though, another clue that unveils Sides’, Ellis’, and Stimson’s ideological prejudices: They equate the term “liberalism” with a robust affirmation of Big Government. They treat “liberalism” synonymously with its modern, “Welfare-Statist” incarnation. There is no mention here of the fact that, originally, “liberalism” referred to a vision that attached supreme value to individual liberty, a vision in which government played, and had to play, a minimal role in the lives of its citizens.  And there is no mention of the fact that, if “liberalism” is now “an ugly word,” it is because the very same socialists who made “socialism” an ugly word hijacked “liberalism” when it enjoyed a favorable reception and visited upon it the same fate that they secured for “socialism.” 
In other words, if Sides himself wanted to be bluntly honest, he’d have to admit that “liberals” are secretly socialists.
Still, though their premises are bogus, Sides and his colleagues draw the correct conclusion that most “conservatives” are nothing of the kind. The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of contemporary “conservatives” are neoconservatives.
(Bingo! Read the rest HERE.)
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Quibcag: The little socialist cabal there is from Hetalia: Axis Powers (Axis Powers ヘタリア Akushisu Pawāzu Hetaria)

1 comment:

  1. Matching the terminology to the reality can be tricky. Rather than call myself a conservative, I use the term the late Joe Sobran used to describe his politics: reactionary utopian. I don't accept the neoconservative label because, unlike "those moderate cold war liberals who defected to the Republican Party when the Democrats got totally flaky ... [but whose] ultimate origin [was] the Trotskyite movement" I went directly from Trotskyism to a position of political sanity, somewhat like the late James Burhnam ("Suicide of the West"), although I would never presume to compare my poor powers of reason to his towering intellect. After being an Ayn Rand anarchist in high school, I was briefly a liberal as a college underclassman, but since then I have despised contemporary liberalism, first as a Red, then as an anticommunist.

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