Neo-Cons = Trotskyists?

I’m submitting this here because I don’t currently posess sufficient background in these matters to make an informed judgement.

initial exhibits:

I hope that those with the necessary background knowledges of history and political science can help explain these things to me.
While, this may be a factual question, I know that a poor mod’d have to move this here to GD at some point anyway.

The problem here is that some people do not understand the basics of classification. Are dogs birds? Dogs have vertebrae. Birds have vertebrae. No, dogs are not birds. Dogs and birds are vertebrates. Are neocons Trotskyites? No. They are just both global totalitarians.

The concept of ‘pre-emptive war’ predates Trotsky by almost two thousand years, going back to times of Rome. Much of the early Roman expansion was nominally a defensive affair, born out of a sense of ‘Never Again’, following their near destruction in the Second Punic Wars.

First, let me ask a question. What do you think neoconservatism is? What is the difference between neoconservatives and paleoconservatives? Is George Bush a neoconservative? Is Rumsfeld? Is Cheney? If not, why not?

Why are some people called neoconservatives, and others called conservatives, and others called liberal?

Actualy, I’ve always thought of Neocons as the Jesuits of the Republican party.

>historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would
>seem to be this: to convert the Republican party, and American
>conservatism in general, against their respective wills,

>have helped make the very idea of political conservatism more
>acceptable to a majority of American voters.

Note the use of the words “very idea”, implying that the concept is inherently unpalatable and the EvilNeoCons ™ have converted all the BigFacelessMasses ™ to the unpalatable cause.

From the above two quotes, I can but conclude that the word Neocon is simply a new derogatory term for conservatives.

Yeah, I can see why you’d think that. But, did you actually look at the link? It’s written by Irving Kristol, the self proclaimed godfather of neo-conservatism. So I doubt if he meant these things to be condemnations of the neo-con movement.

Neo-con has always been a perjorative term since it was coined. In the sixties when some liberals began to question the welfare state or whether revolution was a good thing they were called neo-conservatives. Eventually neo-conservative meant a former leftist who became a conservative. Because some of the most famous of these were Jewish it has also been taken by some to mean Jewish conservative.

What does this mean?

There’s no mystery. The neoconservatives are a group of American political intellectuals (there is no equivalent mass-based movement) who believe the United States should pursue an aggressive and interventionist foreign policy. They emerged in the 1970s, and many of the early ones were converts from 1960s left-radical movements. Yes, many of them were and are Jewish, and from the start, neocons have been markedly pro-Israel. You can read the story in Up from Conservatism by Michael Lind (Free Press, 1996). In the course of the '80s, The New Republic became a markedly neocon magazine in its foreign-policy slant. No, I don’t know what Alessan mean by comparing the neocons to Jesuits. Perhaps it is because the Jesuits were founded to fight back against the Protestant Reformation and aggressively expand Catholicism; and because the Jesuits, since their founding. have been the most intellectual order of the Catholic Church.

The word paleoconservative usually is used to mean someone like Patrick Buchanan, who favors an isolationist foreign policy, withdrawal of the U.S. from the United Nations, strict limits on immigration, breaking the power of big business (especially international big business) limited and decentralized government, and preservation of traditional American (that is, Christian) social and moral values (very strongly pro-life). Buchanan consciously stands in the tradition of the pre-WWII “America First” isolationists, and before that, the late-19th-century Populists and the early-19th-century Know-Nothings. You can read more about his views on the website of his new political party, the America First Party (; and his “The American Cause” website (; and Buchanan’s new weekly magazine, The American Conservative, which you’ll find on any newsstand that also carries The Nation or The National Review or The New Republic.

Although there is some overlap, paleoconservatives of this kind are not quite the same as religious-social conservatives and white-supremacist conservatives. It’s really a matter of emphasis. Some statements in Buchanan’s books can be read as hostile to racial sensitivity and political correctness but there is little that is overtly racist, a la Mein Kampf. (In fact, sorting out this tendency has caused some trouble to the fledgling America First Party, which was forced to postpone its 2003 national convention to an undetermined date after furor arose over the influence of a racist wing led by Bo Gritz.) And Buchanan (although a Roman Catholic) probably agrees with Pat Robertson on most points, but chooses to emphasize different areas, i.e., foreign, military, and immigration policy.

Libertarians, radical and moderate, can be clearly distinguished from paleoconservative. They are likely to see eye-to-eye with Buchanan on the issues of isolationism and limited government, but would probably oppose his policies on immigration and foreign trade on the grounds of “freedom.” Libertarians want free markets and open borders, even if that means economic globalization and the American job markets being flooded with impoverished Third-Worlders.

And big-business Republicans are yet another group. They agree with the neocons in a lot of ways, with the Libertarians in some ways. The Libertarians, however, are pro-market, which is not the same as pro-business; they would never support corporate welfare.

The point is, paleoconservatives are diametrically opposed to neoconservatives in many ways. The neocons are running the country right now; the paleocons are relegated to the margins. The neocons were all for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the paleocons dead against them. The neocons are for NAFTA, the WTO, and economic globalization; the paleocons are against these things and are economic nationalists. The neocons are for the interests of big business and Wall Street, the paleocons hate these things as much as Communists do. The paleocons want to stop or restrict immigration; most neocons probably regard their cheap foreign nannies as basic necessities of life.

Another difference is that neoconservatism is purely an intellectual-elite movement and paleoconservatism has an actual mass base among the voters.

As for neoconservatism being equivalent to “Trotskyism” – if a parallel can be drawn, it doesn’t help us much in analyzing the situation. Remember that the neocons, together with the big-business Republicans, are running the country right now. In all aspects of foreign and military policy, the Bush Administration follows the neoconservative line. There was never any analogous situation in Soviet history; the interventionist, expansionist Trotsky fled the country shortly after the isolationist Stalin came to power.

It means that like they’re the intellectuals of the American right, the rationalists. They try to live in the real world, and are willing to deal with their opponants in their own language. They’re practical, unsentimental and tend to avoid spouting dogma.

If I’m not mistaken, the Jesuits were formed as a reaction to the Reformation. Aren’t the Neocons likewise a reaction to '60s-era liberalism?

BrainGlutton, thank you. I wasn’t completely ignorant on the issue, but I in no way had this sort of understanding of conservative division as a whole. You filled in gaps and put it in perspective. I’m kinda in awe. :slight_smile:

The Bush administration does not completely follow the neo-con line. The steel tariff and farm subsidies are widely despised by neo-cons, as is the big spending of the Bush administration.

The best description of the Bush administration is political pragmatism. Bush throws bones to the neo-cons, the paleos, liberals, trade unions, etc. His tax policies shore up the ‘base’ to the extent that they’ll hold their noses and be quiet while he pumps huge dollars into government programs that workers, liberals, and others love.

Bush’s ultimate strategy is to occupy the center, while keeping the base happy, This, by the way, is exactly what Clinton’s strategy was, except his ‘base’ was on the left. But both men covet the center, and that’s where they’ll govern from. For all this rhetoric about Bush being a right-wing extremist, the only thing you can point to to support that is the tax cut. On almost all other matters, Bush is very much a centrist. The fact is, it’s a very successful way to get into office.

Yeah, but how do you feel about the assertion that’s made by some that neo-conservatism has roots in Trotskyism? I tried to mention it in the OP.

Well, I just wrote a long message about it, but the hamsters ate it. The gist of it was that after reading the article, it seems to me to be a pretty tenuous linkage. And the bottom line is that Trotsky was a socialist, and neocons are anything but.

Then you’re certainly not talking about neoconservatives, who spout a lot of dogma. Neoconservatives have applied the totalitarian mindset to conservativism in ways that it had hitherto not been used. They are “conservative”, and YOU will be “conservative”, whether you want to be or not, and the rest of the world will be forced at gunpoint to obey them.

As for being living in the “real world”, where are all those “real” weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that were supposedly the reason for invading the country? Neocons live in a fantasy world and are an embarassment to conservativism as a whole.

IIRC, and I am not sure I do in fact RC, Trotsky became a sort of idol to 60’s-70’s leftists who wanted to cling to communist ideology but could no longer ignore Stalin’s slaughterhouses. Since many neo-cons are former leftists it is not too surprising that they may have held some affection for Trotsky in the past. However I can’t see any connection between neo-con ideology and any form of communism, although that qote for Schwartz in the OP sure threw me.

As a side note, David Brock reports that Bush Political Guru Karl Rove has a portrat of Lenin on his wall. He doesn’t admire Lenin’s ideology, but rather his fanatical devotion to his cause and his ruthelessness.

I would like some cites for this assertion. Some neocon writings that support this view, for instance. Because I don’t believe the above paragraph bears any relationship to reality.

Bush’s constant hammering that Iraq was filled with weapons of mass destruction. That counts as spouting dogma and disconnection from reality. Neoconservatives are totalitarians who would have loved Stalin.