Every few years, a word or bit of terminology comes along and captures the political imagination. During the George W. Bush years, the magic word was “neocon.” For years, it was used as a term of abuse by the Left; later, it was adopted as a term of abuse by some elements of the Right. What they had in common is that neither camp had the faintest idea of what the word meant.
“Neoconservative” was first brought to popular usage in the American context by left-wing intellectuals (the socialist Michael Harrington most prominent among them) to describe the thinking of a few critics of American progressivism and the American Left — especially Irving Kristol and Daniel Patrick Moynihan — who didn’t smell like conservatives. The classical conservative — the cartoon conservative — was Babbitt, a Midwestern businessman who was Republican, conformist, and, above all, anti-intellectual. Kristol was a Jewish intellectual from New York and a former Trotskyist; Moynihan was a Kennedy confidante, a diplomat, and, eventually, a Democratic senator. The neoconservatives, in essence, were those who began criticizing progressivism from within. Eventually Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, among others, would embrace the label.
There were and are many prominent Jewish neoconservatives, and as the neocons turned their attention more intensely to foreign policy and the Middle East in the post-9/11 era, the word “neocon” acted as a kind of catalyst enabling a political reaction that revived a great many stupid and ugly myths about Jewish bankers orchestrating wars for profit, and so by 2005 or so, “neocon” in the mouth of a man of the Left came to mean “Jew with politics I don’t like.” Google what’s been written about my friend Jonah Goldberg for a taste of that sort of thinking.
Before the neocons were the neocons, they were in more fanciful minds “the Illuminati.” For Henry Ford, the neocon was “the international Jew.” (The Stalinists called them “rootless cosmopolitans,” a term recently revived by Donald Trump enthusiasts.) The idea is always the same: that somebody, somewhere, is operating secretly behind the scenes, that there is a covert, monolithic enemy pulling the strings of history in ways that are obscure to the uninitiated. The reality of George W. Bush’s “democracy project” program for the Middle East — to bomb the Arabs until they became Canadians — just wasn’t crazy enough for his critics. There needed to be something more.
But it is a complicated family tree. The neocons used to be the Illuminati, but then, so did the new favorite conservative bugbear: the Deep State.Read the rest from Kevin D, Williamson HERE.
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