2004-12-06

 

The unreasonable

MacGuffin in his comment here asked:

"What the hell is a neocon? Is it a new approach to conservatism? How can people talk about neocons if they don’t have the slightest idea about conservatism? How can you call neoconservatism to a policy that has nothing to do with conservatism? At least some signs of conservatism should have been noticed, don’t you think?"

I agree with everybody who says that neoconservatism is an undefined political position. It really is a label ascribed to a group of people (some prominent) more than to an ideology. As usual the Wikipedia offers a very nice treatment of the term.

What does it have to do with conservatism? At the very least it has to do with the culture, institutions, and practice of present day conservatism. On the pragmatics of election politics in the US, neoconservatism rides the traditionally conservative positions of rural areas. By traditional conservatism here I mean general opposition to rapid change in the political, cultural, and social realms. Indeed, a reactionary response to what is perceived as very rapid changes in urban culture (e.g. Bioscience advances such as Stem Cell Research, Gay Culture, Feminist Culture, Multiculturalism, Agnosticism, etc.)

Where neocons depart from traditional conservatism is on foreign policy and vision of government. They are very aggressive on foreign policy and have abandoned the idea of minimal government, so dear to many types of American conservatives. Unfortunately, foreign policy is one of those issues that always murks the ideological divides. I notice that a large strain of conservatism is naturally more isolationist. These are the people who think that American and Western values are not necessarily universal. Among these are early American presidents such as John Quincy Adams, but also socialist conservatives such as Gore Vidal and right-wing (paleo-) conservatives like Pat Buchanan

So, I do agree that the neocon label is just a means to refer to the people responsible for the current US foreign and fiscal policy -- who do not seem to be following a traditional form of conservatism. However, their vision of exporting American ideals as universal truths, resonates quite well with the religious, missionary rural America. Probably because missionary motivations are more revolutionary than conservative: the zeal to spread the good news, the word, the truth. Some even say that neocons are more Bolsheviks than conservatives...

In summary, it looks like neocons are geopolitical revolutionaries arising from, or at least enabled by, the reactionary zeitgeist of conservative rural America that also happens to be missionary in its nationalism. While I find all missionary approaches unreasonable, I also concede, for better or worse, what Bernard Shaw said best:

"the reasonable man adapts himself to the World. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the World to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man"

This, of course, does not mean that all unreasonable acts lead to progress. Unfortunately, perhaps, progress also depends on a good measure of sustained competence. It was not only an unreasonable Prince Henry, in his missionary and chivalric zeal (see Peter Russell's Book), who lead the Portuguese around the World. It really took a lot of tedious, trial and error accumulation of competence.

For now, it looks like, whether we like it or not, the future of our World depends on the neocon progressives...So far I have seen more of the unreasonable than the competent. For everybody's sake, if neocons/neoprogs insist on the unreasonable path, I hope that at least they become more competent at it. Maybe then we'll get somewhere.

Comments:
uahu boy.. you and this MacGuffin need to go to some political debate on tv... this is deep. It is like talking whether rock&roll is dead or not... does it really matter? it is like trying to define yellow: you point to something yellow and tell the other that is yellow: the ones in power neocons the rest complaining liberals or whatever. I don't belive either of them have any ideology than keeping their piece of influence.
 
One of these days I'll post a rockist rant again rockism!!

Hope you are feeling better!
 
The one above is mine, I was logged off...
 

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