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Joshua Muravchik writes a lengthy consideration of the status of so-called "neo-conservatism" in light of the events of this new century. I’ll leave the commentary to those here who are better positioned to reflect on it--at least until I’ve finished reading it! But Muravchik is a serious person and what he has to say on these matters will inspire serious thought and not a little debate. Get a cup of coffee first.  

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The first part of the article is not bad. Where he explains the origins of neo-conservatism. He readily admits what the paleos have been saying all along. That it is a product of the left with a lot of leftist goals. That it represented a very different set of beliefs than the conservatism that preceded it. And that traditional conservatives have been skeptical of interventionism.



The overall tone is a bit self congratulatory, and he entirely leaves out one foreign policy option, non-interventionism. He offers as options neo-conservatism ("right-wing" idealism), realism, and left-wing idealism. All three are internationalist and interventionist in outlook. The other very obvious option is minding our own business, but he doesn't even consider that.



Is it because interventionism and internationalism is such an ingrained, default assumption for him that he can't conceive of another option? Or is this a deliberate attempt to brush off the real enemy of interventionism which is not realism or liberal idealism, but non-intervention (isolationism in boggy-man terms)? I suspect some of both.



So neo-conservatism is the only game in town? I think Ron "The Five Million Dollar Man" Paul and his enthusiastic followers might have a little something to say about that.

I still have no clue what a neo-conservative is...but I see Ayn Rand lurking in the shadows. If Daniel Bell's the cultural contradictions of Capitalism is the tome of choice then basically Ayn Rand agreed but said so much the worse for the altruistic premises of culture...

"For their passion against Communism, neoconservatives were accused of being “zealots” and “Manicheans.” To this, one neoconservative rejoined: “we face a Manichean reality.” That is to say, the struggle between the Communist world and the West involved, on the one hand, some of the most malign, murderous regimes ever created and, on the other hand, some of the most humane. The moral consequences were enormous."

Or as objectivists cartoonist Cox and Forkum title their work: "black and white world".

To which Mark Stein has this to say: "Many of us discovered Cox & Forkum in the days after September 11th. It was a strange time. After cartoonists had done their initial muted-in-sorrow Statue-of-Liberty-with-head-bowed-to-the-missing-towers tastefully tragic responses to the day itself, many seemed to have great difficulty finding a tone for the new era. And into the void stepped Cox & Forkum."Cox & Forkum

But maybe I am not really talking about neo-conservatives when I talk about Ayn Rand...fine then I will call them neo-libertarians and say that these neo-libertarians share all four characteristics ascribed to neo-conservatives...in particular that: "It was moralistic, accompanied by descriptions of the enemy as “evil” and strong assertions of America’s righteousness." and “an entirely unapologetic assertion of the need for and the possibility of moral judgment in the realm of world affairs.”

". ”In contrast to the suggestion of many, especially many Europeans, that America had somehow provoked the attacks, Bush held that what the terrorists hated was our virtues, and in particular our freedom." The objectivists/randian's or as I will relabel the group the neo-libertarians completly agreed...indeed it was axiomatic. If you don't believe me read the archives of Capitalism magazine!

Neo-Libertarians differ from neo-conservatives in that they are not in the least concerned with humanitarian aspects that they see as just another version of bowing before the Golden calf of altruism. Indeed Neo-libertarians agree with Michael Ledeen of the american enterprise institute...we should be in Iran, among other criticisms that chiefly stem from the acceptance of the wrong moral framework...i.e. ultruism, isothymia, egalitarianism.

I write this primarily to bring up what I think is a fundamental split between Libertarians intellectually. Ayn Rand's hawkish moralistic neo-libertarians vs. Ron Paul/Von Mises Manchester school/non-judgemental/non-interventionism libertarians. Or as I might say to be cute: neo-libertarians vs. paleo-libertarians.

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