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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Of Neo-Cons & Paleo-Cons & Paleo-Libertarians & Neo-Libertarians

Mastering the Sub-Brands of Conservatism...


Neo-Cons.

Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz are the Godfathers of Neo-Conservatism. These former liberal "mugged-by-reality" intellectuals of the 1950s and 1960s rejected much of the contemporary capital L Liberalism. "If Kristol was the grand strategist, calm in person and magisterial in his prose, then Podhoretz was the neoconservatives' main tactician, passionate in temperament and ever polemical in his essays and books," according to Lee Edwards, the Heritage Foundation's Distinguished Fellow In Conservative Thought (The Conservative Revolution, 1999, p. 195).

In the 1970s and 1980s, from the pages of Commentary, The Public Interest, and The National Interest, first-generation Neo-Cons made their case and cause for Conservatism. (For Neo-Con Michael Novak's view, see "Neocons," National Review Online, May 20, 2003.)

The second generation of Neo-Cons includes Bill Kristol and John Podhoretz and David Brooks, to name but three. Like their first-generation idea parents, these second generation NCs envision a large role for a large state:

"Editor William Kristol of the Weekly Standard and his colleague David Brooks would ask a pertinent question: 'How can Americans love their nation if they hate its government?' Government does have its great and legitimate purposes, they argued, and we should be guided not just by anger but by 'love of country and informed patriotism.'

"They urged a revival of 'national greatness' conservatism, modeled on the example of Theodore Roosevelt: a debatable choice because, as political historian Matthew Spalding has pointed out, TR's New Nationalism called for 'an activist state with strong regulatory powers,' a goal at cross purposes with modern conservatism. While conservatives might find Roosevelt's 'brand of vigorous leadership refreshing,' conceded Spalding, a better and more recent statesman to emulate was Ronald Reagan." (Lee Edwards, The Conservative Revolution, 1999, p. 328)

Under the moniker (dis) guise of "Progressive Conservatism," David Brooks updated this Big(ger) Government = Good Government view in The New York Times in August 2004.


Paleo-Cons and Paleo-Libertarians.

"Starting in 1989, traditional conservatives, libertarians, neoconservatives, and social conservatives began fussing and feuding like so many Hatfields and McCoys. They missed the soothing presence of Ronald Reagan and the unifying threat of communism....

"Often violent disagreements erupted between conservatives about trade, immigration, and the direction of U.S. foreign policy. One outspoken off-shoot was the paleoconservatives, who took particular delight in savaging neoconservatives. The paleoconservatives, who included political activist Llewelyn Rockwell of the Mises Institute and one-time National Review editor Joseph Sobran among their leadership, spawned the John Randolph Club and the America First Committee.

"They [paleoconservatives] attempted to forge an alliance with paleolibertarians [anarcho-capitalists] like Murray Rothbard, who had once argued that even a city's traffic lights should be privately owned. Casting about for a political leader, Rothbard declared at a 1992 meeting of the John Randolph Club, 'With Pat Buchanan as our leader, we shall break the clock of social democracy.... We shall repeal the twentieth century.'

"...Equally strained was the paleoconservative charge that a 'neoconservative empire' controlled the conservative movement from New York to Washington and beyond. In truth, conservatism's fundamental political problem, following the end of the cold war and the departure of President Reagan, was that no one was in charge of the movement." (Lee Edwards, The Conservative Revolution, 1999, pp. 328-329)

To be sure, Paleo-Conservatives such as Pat Buchanan agree with Paleo-Libertarians such as Lew Rockwell on foreign policy. They both support a pure isolationist military foreign policy. But Paleo-Cons and Paleo-Libertarians disagree on trade and immigration.

Lew Rockwell has recently referred to Red State Conservatives and Republicans as "Fascists"!


Libertarians & Neo-Libertarians.

We can view Libertarians as four segments:

(Paleos) This segment includes Paleos such as Lew Rockwell and the late Murray Rothbard "who hate the state" in all forms. Besides the Mises Institute, the Independent Institute falls in this segment.

(Catos) This segment includes the Cato Institute, which advocates a pure isolationist foreign policy and "strategic disengagement" from NATO and all other US military alliances. But Cato libertarians advocate a bigger government ("night watchman's state") than do most Paleo-Libertarians ("anarcho-capitalists").

(ROs) This segment includes (many) Randians and Objectivists. In the post-9-11 world, Objectivists have parted ways with Paleos and Catos on foreign policy. Some Objectivists even recommended invading not Iraq, but Iran (following the Afghanistan war). Like many Neo-Cons, many Randian-Objectivists want to use US military might now to smash Islamo-Fascism...and Iran is next on the list.

(Neos) This segment includes the Libertarian "Hawks" such as Max Borders and others who write for TechCentralStation.com. Neo-Libertarians see a more active role for the US military than Paleos or Catos, but Neos see a less active role than ROs.

For more on Libertarian Hawks, see my "Brand Libertarian Party" post in November 2004.

In sum: Not only is there a (still current) division among Paleo-Cons and Neo-Cons and other Cons (including Pro-Cons), but there is an ever increasing division among Libertarians, especially on the roles of US military beyond US borders.


Update:

The Neo-Libertarians now have their own website-blog (www.QandO.net).