Monday, August 11, 2008

Why Neo-Conservatism Deserved to Fail

As the veritable Thermidorian Reaction that began in 1980 with Ronald Reagan winds to a close with the failed presidency of George W. Bush, the failure of neo-conservatism seems to have been pre-ordained. Some analysts are concerned with why, wondering -- by way of the overdone "brand" cliché -- it is no longer "selling," but I'm more interested in why it never deserved to succeed, so we collectively learn the lesson once and for all.

Setting aside right-wing intramural disputes concerning the term, for my purposes "neoconservatism" is the generally new brand of U.S. conservatism that emerged from the first Reagan electoral campaign onward. Earlier U.S. conservatives had been elitist and roundly unpopular advocates of a puny misanthropy consisting of balanced budgets and neutrality in world wars, along with a dash of racialism.

Enter the Boomers of 1980-2008, a swarm of opportunists and demagogic ideologues who wrapped themselves in the flag, their professed love of (unborn) human "life," their avowed family values and their Christian faith.

Never mind that they became the most corrupt profiteers since the Grant Administration. Forget that they killed life for many infants and children who depended on public aid. Let's also overlook the many foreign and U.S. people killed in unprovoked military aggression from Grenada to Iraq. Nor shall we mention that their faithless, divorced Ronald Reagan papered over their cynicism about values and that his poll-reading henchmen manipulated religious opponents of abortion with empty promises. We shall turn eyes otherwise concerning the none-too-devout myriad sexual exploits of folks from Newton Leroy Gingrich to Larry Craig.

These inherent hypocrisies are only part of why neoconservatism richly deserves its grave. Consider the following qualities of neoconservatism:
  1. Anti-democratic: propounds a hierarchically ordered society, along the sex and ethnic lines that have traditionally divided American society (when "men were men" and "the colored weren't uppity"), with white males of northwest European origin at the top.
  2. Socioeconomically Darwinist: embraces beggar-thy-neighbor policies of extreme individualism and privilege for the asset-owning few, deemed under Calvinist ideas to be divinely rewarded with riches for their efforts;
  3. Authoritarian: touts notions of "natural law" and religious values, rather than unfettered inquiry, as bases for public policy (eg., stem cell policy);
  4. Anti-American: emerged aided, abetted and allied to foreign fascistoid movements alien to the ethos of the American democratic experiment, such as the right-wing axis of The Washington Times and the Unification Church, the more secretive Franco-era Spanish Catholic Opus Dei movement (in which Justice Antonin Scalia participates), and the even less well-known Tradition, Family and Property international movement;
  5. Aggressively lawless internationally: holds the United States unaccountable to U.S. ratified international law whenever convenient, such as in the peacetime mining of Nicaraguan ports, bombing of Iraq, unprovoked invasion of Iraq, Grenada, Panama, Dominican Republic (to name just a few) and also in a similar roster of abuses in international trade;
  6. Anti-intellectual: in a bid to appear "populist" the elitist neocons have bound themselves in a straitjacket of doctrines that fly in the face of the best that modern, current study teaches and, as a result, have failed to deliver broad-based prosperity (admittedly not their goal) or even its semblance (a propaganda necessity).
In sum, for these and manifold other problems in the very nature of neoconservatism, once they are kicked out of power, please, please ... never let them back in!

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