Friday, August 15, 2003

Here I go: Perhaps in line with what Eno was saying, but probably more knee-jerk, I can hardly agree with Kristol because I haven't the foggiest notion of what he is saying. He tries to define, as much as possible (a limitation he readily cops to) something with the word "neo" in it without adequately describing its progenitor. He says "neos" (my quotes, not his) don't like the welfare state. Well, did the old-guard conservatives? If so, give me more than one example.

He says "neos" have to be able to distinguish friends from enemies. I'll give him some slack and not call that completely idiotic. He gives the plausible example of the cold war and how reluctant many were to call the Commies our "enemies". Well, who exactly? Mostly the Democrats, wasn't it? Show me some doddering original conservative who was pushing for detente. Yes Reagan gave the U.S. a defining task to "take down that wall," but didn't JFK, Johnson and Nixon all try purty damn hard to bomb the bejesus out of the V-C to stop the expanding creep of communism? I don't remember too many in those administrations calling them our buddies. He equally disclaims Eisenhower (and by proxy, he must mean Nixon) - but I assume this is Ike the Pres, not Ike the General - again, not too much love lost for the Nazis or Imperial Japan.

Then he says the "neos" agree with the hard-line conservatives on things like strong education, pornography regulation and church/state boundaries (or the lack thereof) - again, he's only distinguishing them from Democrats - and in some cases, only by way of the means again.

The only real distinction he can seem to draw is that "neos" are "hopeful, not lugubrious; forward-looking, not nostalgic; and [their] general tone is cheerful, not grim or dyspeptic." This seems to me to be a kind of "ageism" - our parents were dull, slow and backward just because they came before us. Well, to their parents, they probably looked wildly out of control.

The only difference I see is that you can strongly argue the "neo" is bent on the expansion of "our way of life" - not just through war, but through a systemic insertion of our economy, democracy, and culture, whether directly or just by letting McDonalds creep up everywhere. We're going to be your big brother whether you want us or not. Certainly the concept is valid in that the more people around the world that walk and talk like you, the fewer who will impinge on your interests (a skeptic might say they're more controllable). The old conservative, by contrast, was wildly isolationist - content to deal with domestic issues and leave the rest of the world alone - joining in only when there was no other choice.

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