Neo-Cons = Trotskyists?

The neoconservatives would never have loved Stalin. The reason that some of them once flirted with Trostkyism was because it allowed one to critcize Stalin while still remaining communist.
Iraq being filled with WMD is not dogma, it is a factual question based on a reading of available evidence. Dogma involves ideological questions.


I’m still getting a big disconnect here. Assuming Bush was wrong about WMD, how does that make Neoconservatives totalitarian?

If you want to throw around labels and accusations in Great Debates, you have to back them up.

I decided to revive this thread because I came across a string of relevant articles:

“The Weird Men Behing George W. Bush’s War,” by Michael Lind, New Statesman, April 7, 2003 – Excerpt:

This provoked a rebuttal from Alan Wald, professor of American Culture, University of Michigan: “Are Trotskyites Running the Pentagon?” – published in the on-line forum History News Network, June 23, 2003 – Excerpt:

Lind responded with his own HNN article, “I Was Smeared,” on June 30, 2003 – Excerpt:

(Lind also notes that, based on his identification of the “Jewish-American” element in Trotskyism, he has been accused of anti-semitism, even though he is partly Jewish in descent.)

Wald then published his own rebuttal of Lind’s rebuttal –
“Who’s Smearing Whom?” – but you get the idea. What’s more, there’s been an HNN discussion thread on the controversy. And we all know how nasty and obsessive those pathetic nerds can get with their online discussion threads, don’t we?

Anyway, it appears there is a very real controversy over how far the neocons have been influenced by the remnants of Trotskyism. And it is clearly a relevant controversy, since the neocons are, for the moment, calling the shots in American foreign policy.

I wonder if there are physical ties?

For example, Frank Meyer, an editor for National Review, was a former communist, but I don’t think he’s usually described as a “neoconservative” thinker.

I know that Irving Kristol has conceded that the original neoconservative movement had adherents who were former communists, but I don’t recall him ever admitting that he was one of them.

However, the Wikipedia minces no words:

Irving Kristol is the father of Bill Kristol, co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, producers of what might be considered one of the more important documents which identifies the prominent modern neoconservative members, the 1998 letter to Bill Clinton advocating the plastering of Iraq.

Signers of that document include Kristol, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Robert Kagan (another co-counder of the PNAC and son of historian Donald Kagan, the perhaps inadvertent elucidator of the neocons’ hubris), (director of the CIA under Clinton) R. James Woolsey, and a host of other usual suspects.

Are those guys Troskyites? I don’t think so, but their intellectual forebears might have been, I guess. It’s pretty tough for me to see how you can get there from here unless you strip the ideology of anything but foreign policy attitudes.

Sofa King,

Hmmm…you make a good point. I was going to reply to BrainGlutton’s comments, but you beat me to it. I read through the argument that Lind puts forth, but I came away agreeing with Wald (from an academic perspective - although Lind does raise intersting issues that might bare fruitful results via a more thorough examination).

Lind would have made a stronger argument by linking the tactics used by the neocons in their foreign policy initiatives viv-a-vis PNAC and Iraq and those of the Trotskyites (the similarities, that is, and whether these similarities can be traced backward to the Troskyites). If that was his goal, though, I don’t think he made a very compelling case. Smacks a bit too much of conspiracy.

Posted by eponymous:

Lind would have made a stronger argument by linking the tactics used by the neocons in their foreign policy initiatives viv-a-vis PNAC and Iraq and those of the Trotskyites (the similarities, that is, and whether these similarities can be traced backward to the Troskyites). [/QUOTE

His point is not that the neocons have copied Trotskyist tactics but that they have absorbed a mutated form of Trotskyist attitudes – i.e., the Trotskyist ideal of permanent socialist revolution exported abroad has become the neocon ideal of invading foreign countries to impose liberal democracy and free-market capitalism. What these ideals have in common is hubris.

*Originally posted by BrainGlutton *

Well, in that case, Lind does provide an interesting thesis - but I would like to see a bit more evidence vis-a-vis the linkage between Trotskyites and neocons. Which is why, I believe, Wald was criticizing Lind (among other things).

Sofa King pretty much nailed it - the intellectual forebears of the current neocons could have been said to be Trotskyites, but one needs to strip away a host of other elements from the ideology to get at the similarities in the foreign policy of the neocons. They may share a commonality in hubris - but I really don’t think that was the point Lind was emphasizing (or if it was, then what’s the point? Hubris is hubris, regardless of the political stripe).

It’s not really hubris though. Liberty is a universal human value. You don’t have to export liberty, all you have to do is remove the impediments to it, mainly dictators. More often than not, the people can sort things out for themselves if given the chance.

Communism, on the other hand, was a philosophy that had to be taught, it required the subjugation of natural human desires. The idea that other cultures could be taught to abandon what came naturally to them was pure hubris.

Posted by adaher:

At the end of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Arthur is slain in battle by Mordred, leaving no heirs. His prime minister, the Boss, Hank Morgan, issues a proclamation that Britain is now a republic, a republic being the “natural” state of human society in the absence of any other government. It doesn’t work; the people of the are accustomed to taking orders from their lords and bishops. Morgan and his crew are soon holed up in a fortress, besieged by an army of knights, and get no support at all from the common people. Hubris is hubris.

Look back over the span of human history. What we Americans think of as “liberty” is not a normal condition of human society, it is highly abnormal. Most human beings live, and always have lived, under arbitrary governments in which they have no voice. When a tyranny goes down, what usually happens is that some other tyranny steps in. Democratic government and the rule of law are not natural things that emerge spontaneously in the absence of oppression; they have to be built, through an error-laden learning process lasting generations. It is hubris to think we can build democracy quickly in a country like Iraq, which has absolutely no history or tradition of democratic government. It is not something that “comes naturally” to them, it is an entirely foreign idea.

I see. I would agree with you if this was say, 1850. But the each new democracy shows the way to other peoples.

Are you trying to say indirectly that the only reason there are over 100 democracies today is because of the US? Can’t be!

Here’s a bit from a fellow who is apparently a neo-con, a Jew, and a former Trotskyite.

Very interesting read. It is history I suppose. It’s an interesting counter point to the others of the persuasion who studied under Strauss.

Anyone have any idea who the hell the “U.S. neofascists” are or who the stainists he’s discussing are?

The new Iraqi government in exile consists of 65 members. Only 3 of them are women. I would say they are off to a bad start. Perhaps each person values her or his own liberty, but not that of other people.

That’s an astute observation.

People are always willing to support the idea of their own liberty. The challenge is to get them to accept that others should have the same liberties. Like women, people who worship God a different way, or people who speak a different language, or who have a different skin color.