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November 04, 2003

Neocon schmeocon

Some readers might find this long article on Neocons interesting (warning: they term Noam Chomsky a "paleocon"-I thought he was "libertarian socialist"? Yeah, you read that right....).

Posted by razib at 04:52 PM





Applying a high level of abstraction, seeing the world through a lens of theory, doesn't do you any good unless you test the theory and find it to be valid. Of course, in political science, nobody does this. It is merely a way of going more elaborately wrong: someone who sticks to what has worked in the past will do better. Someone who had a valid predictive theory of history would do better yet, but no such thing exists.
Often people who take this approach are called idealists, and the word is used approvingly. In practice, it just means that their predictions, which of course their plans are based on, are unlikely to come true.

History is not physics: you do better by knowing a lot of facts than by applying a few simple principles.

Posted by: gcochran at November 4, 2003 06:54 PM


"libertarianism" in this case just means social/cultural permissiveness, it is unrelated to economic questions (to quote myself). libertarian socialism is meant to differentiate itself from Stalinist and third-world socialism which tends to be undemocratic/Authoritarian (no gay pride, multiculturalism, womens lib, etc).

Posted by: Jason Malloy at November 4, 2003 07:35 PM


In fact its the 'libertarian' part that makes Chomsky very unPaleo. Paleoconservatism is based on cultural/religious/racial/national purity and group obligation before individual ones. That is not Chomsky.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at November 4, 2003 07:45 PM


How anyone could apply any sort of "conservative" lable to Chomsky is beyond me...

And Jason, I would be careful about using that rather loaded term "purity" about the paleos. Opposing unrestricted immigration, free trade and favoring "traditional values" may not be your cup of tea, but it isn't some sort of neonazi program...

Posted by: jimbo at November 4, 2003 08:21 PM


Fair enough, Jimbo:

. . . on the principle of maintaining cultural/religious/national (and for some, racial) distinctness. Usually with economic and foreign policy platforms that correspond closely with that primary goal.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at November 4, 2003 11:23 PM


Nothing scientific, but as a former neocon and avid reader of anything Irving Kristol wrote, I believe that neoconservatism is the new direction "mugged-by-reality" liberal social engineers normally take, perhaps focused on new targets and enemies, perhaps not as sharply etched as before, but with the same original mentality. The rest of the ideology is the neeed to be more papist than the Pope once you convert. My recent criticism of the war on terror and my post on Roger Kimball yesterday express this belief.

Posted by: Val at November 5, 2003 08:16 AM


I didn't read the particular article, but I'm pretty familiar with them. Neocons are extraordinarily realistic (amoral) about military force and extraordinarily anti-populist and anti-egalitarian. Some of the stuff they say is to accomodate themselves to American politics. They have no problems with saying one thing to the general public while intending something rather different. Unfortunately for themselves, this fact has leaked out. They generally believe (as does George Will) that the better folk have few obligations to their lessers.

Where people here probably disagree with them most is on their globalism. They don't really think that non-involvement is possible -- someone will fill the vacuum if we don't. They also have a strong devotion to Israel which is touchy to talk about.

I don't like them at all but I've read enough of their stuff that I end up explaining them a lot.

Posted by: zizka at November 5, 2003 07:14 PM