Dec 18, 2023Liked by Justin Stapley

Good to see a young person that isn't willing to be bullied by lazy slogans!

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Jan 20Liked by Justin Stapley

Extraordinary text by a young man who thinks clearly. I agree with his views. Congratulations, Lincoln.

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So cool to see such young, intelligent folks writing insightful and thoughtful pieces for this newsletter. Like a clearer definition for neo-cons as well. And DO NOT get me started on the term "squish."

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Oh, also, it’s worth noting that this whole slander of the neoconservatives by turning that word into a pejorative is totally just a dirty trick employed by paleoconservatives engaged in rearguard action. The paleocons ALWAYS hated the neocons (indeed, that’s why they used the paleo- prefix). Jonah Goldberg claims for some of them it was antisemitism (Kristol and Podhoretz were Jewish). But in other ways the neocons represented everything paleocons opposed and the paleocon coalition formed from people who felt they had unfairly lost right-wing internecine debates in the past and disliked the Reaganite moment (Pat Buchanan’s attacks on Bush being case in point).

Buchanan, of course, LEFT the conservative movement, only to see his moment during the Bush II years. The paleocons saw an opportunity first to use the presence of hawkish neocons in the Bush II White House (along with other hawks who weren’t neocons) to associate neocons with “endless foreign wars.” Then Trump came along (Pat Buchanan’s revenge) and the paleocons formed the basis for the “New Right” and tried to simultaneously argue that they represented a truer, older form of conservatism, and that they were the wave of the future (they call themselves nationalists or populists now, which is perhaps a better term than paleocon). Along the way, they sought to do as much damage to neoconservatism as possible by using it as an epithet. I’m not a neocon, but I have a lot more respect for them than I do for the Buchananites.

By the way, if you’d like to learn more about this history, Matt Continetti (possibly a neocon, definitely married to the daughter of one) wrote a book called “The Right” which I reviewed for Justin a while back.

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I generally only use the word “neoconservative” to refer to members of the neoconservative movement (or thinkers associated with the neoconservative debate). Irving Kristol, “the godfather of neoconservatism,” said that it meant “a liberal who was mugged by reality.” A group of intellectuals (Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Matt Glazer, etc.) began on the left and moved to the right and these intellectuals became known as neoconservatives both for their intellectual journey and to distinguish them from earlier movement conservatives (Buckley, Kirk, Meyer, etc.). Earlier conservatives opposed the New Deal and neocons largely supported it but opposed Great Society (or as Kristol suggests in Two Cheers for Capitalism - a good book to read to understand what neoconservatism was all about, and one I reviewed in these pages - neocons believed that the New Deal couldn’t be undone and we should focus on preserving capitalism as it was rather than returning to more laissez faire).

Neoconservative thought was associated with The Public Interest (Kristol), Commentary (Podhoretz) and later The National Interest (also Kristol) which is where the hawkish foreign policy connection mostly came from. Also later The Weekly Standard.

Jonah Goldberg likes to say that the neocons brought the language of sociology to conservatism and this was especially true on domestic issues like crime. James Q. Wilson comes to mind.

Other important neocons (I’m leaving some out): Gertrude Himmelfarb, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Bill Kristol, John Podhoretz.

I agree that we should use a different term to refer to hawkish foreign policy, especially since neoconservatism wasn’t originally about foreign policy. I prefer “hawk” and would refer to myself as one.

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