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Interesting Definition Of Neoconservatism

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Post 24 Aug 2016, 23:06
I was doing some research on the Victor Grossman book that was alluded to by one of our new members. Along the way, I came across this interesting definition of the Neoconservative ideology.

New Oxford Review wrote:
Neoconservatism, of the authentic variety, is usually traced back to the faction fights in the Communist and socialist movements in the U.S. The main pedigree of neoconservatism is Trotskyism, a dissident ultraleft brand of Communism. When Stalin came to dominate the Communist movement, and had Trotsky assassinated in Mexico, many Trotskyites gradually became more anti-Communist than anti-capitalist, with certain of them embracing capitalism pretty much without qualification, and with it an aggressive U.S. foreign policy against Communism — and now against the Muslim world.

Did the Trotskyites do a flip-flop? Yes — and no. The Trots (or ex-Trots) still carry with them the dream of world revolution. Stalin, a cagey tactician, realized during the 1920s and 30s that world socialist revolution was not possible, and came up with his doctrine of “socialism in one country.” The Trots would have none of this, and pushed for immediate world socialist revolution. In essence, the ex-Trot neoconservatives transferred their allegiance from world socialist revolution to world democratic revolution, hence their eagerness to export the democratic revolution everywhere and have the U.S. intervene militarily in the affairs of (supposedly) sovereign nations. Just as the Trots abhorred Stalinism as a kind of isolationist socialism, so they abhor an isolationist Americanism and a non-interventionist U.S. foreign policy.

I've got a few issues with this definition, but I thought I'd share it with the board to see what the rest of you might think. Any opinions, comments, insights?
Post 25 Aug 2016, 23:07
Think it's a pretty good, compact, concise definition. I think we've all been hearing about Neocons being ex-Trots since the Bush II era. Anyway, all I can add is that Khrushchev (a closet Trot himself, some say) helped turn the remaining true believers in Soviet socialism among the Western intelligentsia away with the secret speech bullshit. Hence the rise of Soviet-hating eurocommunism and, for part of these groups, particularly in the US, neoconservatism.
Post 26 Aug 2016, 07:15
I actually think it's a pretty poor definition, parroting old Buchananite/far-right myths about neoconservatism's supposed origins as a bunch of communist infiltrators. It's basically sour grapes going back to three-way tensions within the Reagan administration, between the quixotic Richard Perle/Elliott Abrams "Team B" nutjobs (the Republican foreign policy "new guard"), the Kissinger/Bush oligarchists (the Nixonian foreign policy "old guard"), and the Buchanan/Alexander Haig reactionaries. The latter want to be able to say their biggest enemies were the same ones they fought when they were the Joe McCarthy crowd, and "you're a bunch of commies" is still a viable slur for most middle-aged and above people in America. It's a fun narrative, but really doesn't hold up.

In truth, the only ex-Trots (and uber-unorthodox ones at that) among the neocons of any major importance were Irving Kristol and Jeane Kirkpatrick. Kristol self-declared as a conservative due to domestic policy rather than foreign policy. He had gone from Shachtmanite to social democrat, not that there's much of a difference between those two anyway. He was safely describable as a center-left (Trumanite) social democrat, prior to the Great Society ("giving bums a free ride") and subsequent rise of the New Left in the Democratic Party. Kirkpatrick had become a Scoop Jackson Democrat long before her conversion to conservatism as well. She did bolt from the Democrats over foreign policy in the mid-'80s after being the Reagan administration's token anti-Carter Democrat, but considering the fact that she was anti-Iraq War I would describe her as neocon-adjacent rather than a neocon proper.

Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, and Paul Wolfowitz were Scoop Jackson Democrats and students of Kennedy advisor Albert Wohlstetter (actually a relative of mine and an inspiration for Dr. Strangelove
), who left their party both over the Great Society and anti-Vietnam War sentiment. John Bolton was a lifelong Goldwater Republican who happened to network with the former Scoop Jackson crowd in the "Team B" panel arguing for much greater defense spending in the late '70s. Francis Fukuyama was a Hegelian, but a liberal one whose earliest political engagement was as a Reagan conservative.

The neocons, as a whole, are an ex-social democratic, ex-Truman Democrat network.

There is, however, a loosely affiliated group with a considerable amount of ex-reds in it. The Goldwaterite/Reaganite National Review group, between Frank Meyer and Whittaker Chambers' defections in the '40s, but these were ex-CPUSA and tended to be loosely friendly with the McCarthy/Haig/Buchanan Catholic reactionary milieu before the Gulf War and NAFTA. William F. Buckley, National Review's founder, even was McCarthy's propagandist-in-chief. They're still friendly with the neocons, but tend to be less "I don't care at all about social issues," tend to be significantly less economically "centrist," and tend to be mildly less hawkish. This has led to some differences between the National Review's editorializing and the (neocon) Weekly Standard's. They obsessively pumped up Bob Dole/Pete Wilson/Steve Forbes rather than Jack Kemp/Colin Powell/John McCain in the '90s, backed Bush over McCain in 2000, Romney over McCain in 2008, Romney over Gingrich in 2012, Cruz over Rubio in 2016.
Last edited by MissStrangelove on 26 Aug 2016, 18:54, edited 5 times in total.
Post 26 Aug 2016, 10:32
Good post Strange. What I Am missing form many of this group is ex-this, ex-that or ex-whatever is to point out by name : guy X is former Trot party member or gal Y was an editor in a Trot journal and so forth. A briefer summary of self declared Trots or Trot party / media / orgs members turned neocon or neocon sympathizer is what is needed more than just overall statements like trots turned neocon which is just toot general.

In addition is it not interesting how many reds or pinks turned full capitalist when given highly paid corporate jobs or bord / managerial positions?
Post 26 Aug 2016, 21:39
Thanks for all the informative replies.

I'm still trying to work out where the LaRouche gang has their fingers in this pie.

As an avowed ex-Marxist who pole-positioned from the "Young" to "Orthodox" Hegelian ideology, did LaRouche ever seriously count as an influence?
Post 26 Aug 2016, 21:43
Comrade Gulper wrote:
I'm still trying to work out where the LaRouche gang has their fingers in this pie.

As an avowed ex-Marxist who pole-positioned from the "Young" to "Orthodox" Hegelian ideology, did LaRouche ever seriously count as an influence?

LaRouche never had any influence on neoconservatism, and in fact has been mostly critical of them because Jews and the fact that Wolfowitz was a student of Leo Strauss who LaRouche believes "perverts" Plato "in the service of materialism." Though they were allied in vehement support for the Star Wars missile defense system. Thus, in his hilariously failed attempts at currying favor in Reagan's Defense Department, he backed the Reagan foreign policy and its accompanying commie-baiting. He had numerous theories that Mondale's campaign was a plot by the KGB and the Minnesota wing of the Swiss international grain cartel, and that Dukakis was a bipolar Soviet agent who would steal the election from Bush. Somewhat ironic considering the line from Michael Ledeen (another leading neocon; lifelong Republican) theorized that LaRouche was a Soviet agent on the extremely thin grounds that he vehemently supported Gaullism.

He was essentially a left-com wannabe philosopher-king of dialectical theory, who turned into some bizarro would-be Platonic technocrat who networked with the Liberty Lobby (Buchananite-adjacent but more radical) fascists, and who currently couches the latter ideology in New Deal Democrat wording combined with bizarre "OBAMA IS HITLER, STOP WWIII BY STOPPING OBAMA!" stuff.
Post 26 Aug 2016, 21:52
See, that's exactly why I think it's so important to remind people that there are always multiple strains of right wing ideology, from simple Klan mentality through academic-conservative reaction, all the way to "next step beyond Smilin' Ronnie" eternal hawkishness.

I tend to think of Neocon ideology as a hard core of hawkishness ("permanent revolution" in Trotspeak) and racial/cultural exclusivity, garnished (or, sometimes, camouflaged) with a veneer of Puritan Christian morality and the occasional appeal to "hard working, salt of the Earth, American Pioneer" values.

Caveat: Clinton and Co. are pretty damn near as hawkish on much the same principles (exporting democracy is the new White Man's Burden). Hillary appeals to "the masses" in much the same language, although strategically minus (for obvious reasons) the racial/cultural exclusivity.
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