Friday, March 31, 2006

What Is a "Neocon"?

Recent (and not so recent) debate on American foreign policy has unfortunately, although perhaps not surprisingly, morphed into a debate on motive. I've always viewed an attack on motive as an inability to view an opposing view as simply a disagreement on the issues. Instead of, "you're wrong because of facts A, B, and C," debate often regresses into, "you're wrong because your motives are impure." The debate is "unfortunate," because an attack on motive is almost always impossible to rebut, and often not supported by facts.

Nevertheless, a characterization that has taken on a life of its own with regard to the impure motive has been the bogeyman otherwise referred to as the "Neocon." Individuals are labeled (or label themselves) as Neocons by different groups of people from various political persuasions for all sorts of different reasons.

Even the Rolling Stones have a song berating the evil Neocon.

That should beg the question: What is a neocon?

Most people today loosely (and lazily) refer to Neocons as those who supported an invasion of Iraq.

The long story is fairly well encapsulated in Wilkpedia on Neoconservatives. But the short explanation is this:

The term neoconservative was used to define, simply enough, new conservatives. The term was first used pajoratively by leftists who felt betrayed by their former intellectual allies in their strident opposition to the Soviet Union.

From Wilkpedia:

Historically, neoconservatives supported a militant anticommunism, tolerated more social welfare spending than was sometimes acceptable to libertarians and mainstream conservatives, supported civil equality for blacks and other minorities, and sympathized with a non-traditional foreign policy agenda that was less deferential to traditional conceptions of diplomacy and international law and less inclined to compromise principles even if that meant unilateral action. Indeed, domestic policy does not define neoconservatism — it is a movement founded on, and perpetuated by an aggressive approach to foreign policy, free trade, opposition to communism during the Cold War, support for Israel and Taiwan and opposition to Middle Eastern and other states that are perceived to support terrorism.

Meanwhile, middle eastern magazines and others have used neoconservative as a short-hand way to describe a "Zionist plot.":

Some neo-nazi conspiracy theorists such as David Duke have attacked neoconservatism as advancing 'Jewish interests.' Classic anti-Semitic tropes have often been used when elaborating this view, such as the idea that Jews achieve influence through the intellectual domination of national leaders. Similarly, during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, left-wing magazine AdBusters published a list of the "50 most influential neocons in the United States", noting that half of these were Jewish.

In the end, Neoconservative means many different things to many different people. It's a term misused by many, misunderstood by more, and often used as a not so subtle way to challenge an opponent's point of view without offering a competing point of view.

It's irrelevant what I think a neocon is. It's a label. And a moving target of a label at that. Full of sound and fury...


At 9:50 AM, Anonymous gato negro said...

That's REAL selective quoting of that wiki, man.

What's with the victimization the right employs as a coy defense? This article is rife with it.

"Wah wah"

It's no more a "moving target" term than how "libruls" has been rejiggered into an epithet.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Thanks for the help, Gato.

Of course the quoting was selective. Otherwise, I would have copied the entire thing.

Instead, for the benefit of the reader I linked to the entire article, which you can read at your leisure.

I learned how to do this yesterday, and I think I employed it fairly nicely in this instance.

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous gato negro said...

You cherry-picked quotes to back up your point that "Liberals are big meanies and ANTI-SEMITES! Wah wah wah". The definition is clearly stated in the opening paragraph of the wiki.

This coy semantic thing is totally amateur hour.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

This may be a waste of time, but anyway, just for the purposes of clarity, I do not think "libruls" are "big meanies" or "ANTI-SEMITES!"

I think some liberals are. Some conservative are. And some of both of them use the term "Neocon" in that fashion.

That is one of my biggest concerns with its use, which is why I quoted that portion of the article.

Once again, in case this is lost: I do not think liberals are meanies. Apparently, some are just a little angrier than others.

At 11:47 AM, Blogger Ben Miro said...

I think we can all agree they aren't as bad as the Decepticons.

Although, I heard Cheney <3's Energon Cubes. OMFG!!1!1ONE

At 1:02 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

This is good. This is exactly why I wanted Jaba posting here. Having a conservative perspective is important, especially when you may not agree with it.

Let's stir some shit up!

If we're going to say that neo-con is just a label, then shouldn't we discuss the RAMPANT use of "liberal" as code for "namby-pamby, flip-flpping, soft, overly-intellectual, ivory-tower, whatever"?

At 1:05 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

And personally, I'm curious to see whether Cheney has the ability to transform himself into an enormous gun.

We could have saved billions in Iraq just by shipping him and Donald "Soundwave" Rumsfeld over there to kick some ass.

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Thanks. Now I have the Transformers song in my head. Maybe you are meanies.


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