Twelve Steps to Admitting Neoconservatism is Progressivism

Joel Hills
Feb 1, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Liberty Through Superior Firepower

First off, my personal ideological testimony.

Having always had a healthy distaste for authority, I hate to admit I started my political journey as a “rebellious” liberal.  That is, until I realized the logical concessions one must make in persisting as a statist.  For instance, one must, all at once, distrust the government searching the home one harbors no umbrage toward the government having purchased for one in the first place. 

So, I moved on down the ideological line.

Being a passionate reactionary, I soon stumbled awkwardly into full-on mainstream, “kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out,” neo-conservativism.  My foreign policy position basically mirrored the plot of an episode of G.I. Joe.  I entered into every episode knowing who was the good guy and bad guy; I knew the good guy was always right; and knowing was “half the battle.”

Nevertheless, aside from the glaring moral implications of such a ruthless outlook on the world, and being all but forced to embrace huge nameless and soulless government-owned corporations as paragons of “the free market,” I found there to be glaring contradictions within that “ideology” as well.

As an aside, I assure you, dear reader, that I eventually continued in my ideological evolution towards just simply preferring to be plain old freedom, and shook off the shackles of the left/right dichotomy.

Anyway, fast forward to a recent GOP debate in which so-called “Christian Conservatives” literally booed the golden rule when applied to American foreign policy.  With the echoing sounds of derision in reference to the golden rule in the background, a light bulb suddenly went off in my mind:  My current mission is to show that neoconservatism is actually a form of progressivism.  So, here goes!

The current false patriotism, “hate de jour,” neoconservative, nation-building, imperialistic, empire building, waterboard everybody foreign policy position is a glaring contradiction which leaves its advocates holding a rather dull butter knife in the midst of an ideological gunfight.  In short, the aforementioned is no more “conservative” than the dead empires which have embraced its statist allure in times past -- that is, if conservatives actually believe  in the limited government they so vehemently espouse. 

In fact, the only ideology within the current pantheon of thought to which it can rightly be compared would have to be that Glenn Beckian buzzword, Progressivism! Progressivism is ubiquitous governmental impulse for forcing the individual to cede control to “better equipped” politicians and government bureaucrats, so that society may be involuntarily reformed into the image of its latest controller. 

Phew, crisis averted!  The people were almost afforded actual liberty.  But, I digress.

Thus, my overall thesis is that, while neoconservatives are extremely vocal in their opposition to progressive domestic policies, they advocate a paternalistic approach to foreign policy.

How, you ask, could I possibly make such a bold statement?  Well, it is easier exemplified than explained; and thus, I have compiled a list of twelve examples of “doublespeak,” or “steps” if you will, one must either embrace in order to persist in the neocon delusion or reject in the name of principle. 

By the by, I assert at this point that I agree entirely with the first portion of every one of these statements, and reject the latter to remain consistent in those beliefs:

  1. One must rabidly advocate “small government,” but blindly embrace a huge military as a part of the same government.
  2. On a similar note, one must lionize the Founding Fathers’ vision of a decentralized federal government, but wholly ignore the impulse amongst those same great men against a large standing military.
  3. One must assert the right of a sovereign nation to self-determination, unless one doesn’t agree with what is eventually determined.
  4. One must never cede to the state even an angstrom of the civil liberties guaranteed in our founding documents, unless the state assures one that it for one’s own safety.
  5. One must advocate the right to bear arms, but must clamor for the confiscation of weapons from people in other countries.
  6. One must rage against any attempt by those bastards in the federal government, in their haughty disdain for the common man and his “uneducated choices,” to mold society via authoritarian fiat, unless they are acting as “our bastards” and exporting authoritarian government overseas.
  7. One must believe in the sanctity of life and that life begins at conception, but must also be totally okay with the eventuality of pregnant women as “collateral damage.”
  8. One must advance the ideal of government frugality, but one must never deny any expense request the military-industrial complex may make, no matter how extravagant.
  9. One must sit atop his Hayekian high horse and decry government intervention in domestic economic processes, but must embrace the involuntary imposition of American-style consumerism upon those in foreign lands.
  10. Never trust “big government,” unless the same leviathan tells us whom we must see as our enemies, i.e. who we must all fear, and yet ideate about killing.
  11. One must defend against the onslaught of the secularist rabble on thoroughgoing theists, unless one finds secularism as currently expedient in another country.
  12. Last but not least, one must live by the truism that one ought “do unto others that which you would have them do unto you,” unless you don’t feel like it and the “others” live in a different country. 

See a pattern?  Neoconservatism espouses support for life, liberty, and property, but when push comes to shove, it actually shares progressivism's desire to use government to remake society.

Again, I must assure you, dear reader, lest you think me some "hippy" pacifist, I am not.  One need only break into my home to find that out.  Rather, I simply adhere to the Augustinian, or “barfight,” rules of aggression:  I only hit those who actually hit me first or have their fist cocked to do so; I never hit drunks simply spouting off at the mouth; and I certainly don’t punch another random bar patron who has nothing to do with the conflict.  In essence, I thoughtfully and reticently pick my battles.

As I pray you now concede, embracing neo-conservative foreign policy leaves one with little room to criticize liberals for their lack of principle or ideological inconsistency.  So, think twice (or just for yourself), embrace true liberty for all humanity, and live your own life.  Plus, I think we can all agree that things are extremely “off” here at home, so let’s just get our own house in order before we preemptively invade another’s back yard.  And remember, admitting you have a problem is the first step toward health and sanity.

The list part of this post is great.  Kudos!

Bonnie Kristian's picture
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Good piece. You should come up with a list of progressive examples so that the lists could be compared. I bet you would find them to be remarkably similar with the exception of the social / fiscal policies.

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Good work pointing out the many hyprocrisies of neoconservatism. Though I disagree with your implication that people should "defend against the onslaught of the secularist rabble." Though Jefferson was most likely a theist, he called for a secular state and coined the oft-quoted concept of a "wall of separation between church and state." Also, you're very likely to find a large number of agnostic or athiest individuals under the liberty tent.

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Great piece! Since Neo-Cons got their start as former Democrats, and progressives who assumed the title of "conservative" to further their political agendas, it is no suprise that their beliefs are easily compared to full blown progressivism.

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