neo-conservative creepy spendthrift fascist
(Minor updates to fix typos)
David Brooks doesn’t want to be called a
neo-conservative anymore. There was a great deal of hub-bub last month over his Op-Ed column in the New York Times, in which he opines that there is no coherent group of
neo-conservatives, and that critics of the influence of
neo-conservatism in the Bush administration are nothing more than
full-mooner anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists:
In truth, the people labeled neocons (con is short forconservativeand neo is short forJewish) travel in widely different circles and don’t actually have much contact with one another. The ones outside government have almost no contact with President Bush. There have been hundreds of references, for example, to Richard Perle’s insidious power over administration policy, but I’ve been told by senior administration officials that he has had no significant meetings with Bush or Cheney since they assumed office. If he’s shaping their decisions, he must be microwaving his ideas into their fillings.
Now, this is a particularly silly bit of revisionism, well debunked by Michael Lind in his essay, A Tragedy of Errors (or, for that matter, by Irving Kristol, who explains at length what neoconservatism is, why he and others adopted the term for themselves in the 1970s in his Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea and more briefly in his recent essay for The Weekly Standard from August of last year, The Neoconservative Persuasion).
Nevertheless, it is possible for legitimate terms to become meaningless through uncritical overuse and misapplication, and there may be a case to be made that the uncritical uptake of the term by some anti-war activists to mean nothing more or less than
pro-war Republican has at least made the use of the term a bit iffy. And in any case, it is kind of rude to call someone by a label that they would no longer like to be called by.
Therefore, in respect of David Brooks’ wishes, I will no longer use the word
neo-conservative to describe him, or other conservatives advocating powerful, Executive-centric central government, traditionalist paternalism in domestic policy, economic command and control under the State-subsidized management of corporate leaders, belligerent military colonialism, a permanent wartime footing, and the revival of a sense of
National Greatness. But then we need a new name to describe Brooks, Dick Cheney, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Kristol, et al. I suggest: creepy spendthrift fascists.
What do you think, Dave?