OCALA, Fla., June 5, 2014 — What we call “conservatism” in today’s America was not always so.
While the center-right is now associated with endless wars, runaway defense spending, decreased civil liberties in the name of national security, and moral hypocrisy, this is an anomaly.
Once upon a time, our nation’s conservatives stood for non-interventionism, supported a military-industrial complex that served practical goals, emphasized constitutional rights, and were not susceptible to allegations of hypocrisy because they didn’t claim moral superiority.
The answer is complex, but it can be boiled down to a single word: Neoconservatism.
“I’ll have to refer you to my blacklisted books, such as “Conservatism in America” (2009) for a discussion of the core beliefs of the neoconservatives,” says Dr. Paul Gottfried. An active paleoconservative thinker who recently retired from Elizabethtown College, Gottfried’s views attract agreement and derision with equal ease. Considering his friendship with modern legends such as Richard Nixon and Herbert Marcuse, that is no surprise.
“These publicists and ‘foreign policy advisors’ bring with them a cluster of ethnic hang-ups, such as hating Russians and Germans and constantly invoking Hitler as a recurrent menace who continues to come back in successive reincarnations,” says Gottfried. “That said, I’m not sure the neoconservatives have a coherent ideology that can be ‘boiled down’ in a few sentences. Hang-ups and ambitions are not the same as a worldview. I would suggest because of the compatibility of neocon fixations with what much of the leftist media feel or believe and the fact that neocons pose no existential threat to the Left that they have succeeded as a ‘conservative’ opposition.
“Needless to say, the corporate establishment is also delighted to have the neocons on their side because these wire-pullers are great on certain things that big business and the defense industries want, e.g., cheap foreign labor produced by a very liberal immigration policy, getting along with the social Left by not raising unseemly objections, and, not least of all, a foreign policy that pours money into ‘defense,’ which really means military interventionism.”
Considering all of this, might traditional conservatism make a comeback?
“I don’t see how the present disparity in power and resources between the neoconservatives and the Old Right will ever change,” Gottfried says. “Right now one side holds all the good cards; while the other side has been marginalized and treated as non-existent in both the neoconservative and liberal presses. By the way, I don’t buy the argument I sometimes hear that neoconservatives are being ‘outflanked’ on the left by some even softer fake rightwing opposition. There is no leftist position that the neocons will not run to embrace or at least quietly endorse if it helps keep them where they are.
“Although not as deeply imbued with the Cultural Marxist mindset of the Left as the rest of the Left, hardly any neocon on Earth would resist the judicial imposition of gay marriage or any other social ‘reform’ the Left is now pushing through. Moreover, because of the extensive neocon influence over the GOP and the ‘conservative’ movement, it is for me inconceivable that either organization would hold out very long in opposing what the neocons and Fox-news tell them is ‘good’ for the party and the movement.
“The one exception may be abortion. But here the neocons can finesse the issue by advancing pro-Israeli, pro-global democracy candidates (like Joe Lieberman and Rudolph Giuliani) who are on the left on social issues.”