Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The neo-neo-conservatism revisited 

A few days ago I reflected on some leftists and moderates, who in the aftermath of S11 and Iraq have been increasingly rethinking some of their old beliefs and dearly held assumption about America and its place in the world. I compared this soul-searching and gradual movement to the right to the experience of an earlier generation of left-of-center intellectuals during the Cold War who subsequently went on to become known as neo-conservatives. I wondered whether we are perhaps seeing the repeat of the political journey and the birth of the next neo-conservative generation.

Some readers took it as an opportunity to reflect on their own current ideological stances; others weren't too happy about the old neo-cons, which suggests that even some on the right have now bought into the myth that this nefarious cabal is really in charge in Washington. Others still thought that we shouldn't waste time on talking about labels.

Glenn Reynolds, one of the people I had in mind as a moderate mugged by reality into supporting President Bush and the war on terror, wrote back "I thought only Jooz with names like Vulfervitz could be neocons!" thus suggesting to me an angle I haven't thought about before: if at least some of people I talked about - most of them Gentiles - turn out to be the neo-cons of the future, just imagine what spanner this will throw into the works of leftist and Islamist anti-Semites. Although I can still imagine some poor soul on a desperate search for the Zionist puppetmasters at the heart of the American Republic suggesting that Glenn's real surname is Reynoldsohn.

Dean Esmay, another pro-war moderate, wrote:
"I don't think I quite fit [the neo-neo-con] description for several reasons, not least of which is that I left the Democratic Party in disgust over the issue of school choice and their shabby treatment of small businesses some time ago. Then again, while I sometimes vote Republican, I'm no Republican either, and I staunchly refuse to call myself one. For a while I fancied myself a conservative but then realized that I wasn't one of those either. This was all before 9/11, although in many ways I came to consider myself less aligned with Republicans and less conservative after that watershed event."
Dean also noted that he feels a lot more comfortable with the term "neo-liberal." Lastly, he had this to say: "[T]he outcome of this November's election will say a lot about whether there is truly any 'neo-neo-conservative movement' to speak of." Maybe, maybe not. The point I made in my original post was that if we're indeed seeing the beginnings of the neo-neo-conservative movement, we are still at very early stages - the equivalent of the 1950s and 60s for the original neo-cons, where these former socialists and liberals only just started to break away from their former comrades over the issue of communism, but still had some years of thinking ahead of them before finally coming over to the right. The fact that Glenn and Dean and others don't feel themselves Republicans or conservatives yet at this point in time doesn't mean much - since it took the original neo-cons decades to get there, I don't expect any quick conversions today. Ultimately we will know - not after the 2004 presidential election, but the 2024 one.

It's nice to make such long term predictions - if I'm proven right eventually, I'll make sure to remind you all of that. If not - well - who will remember in twenty years' time anyway?


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