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Neoconservatism is a political philosophy which uses conservatism as a cover for power-oriented unprincipled and quite non-conservative political maneuvering. Neoconservatives (often called "neocons") claim to be conservative, and heavily emphasize largely irrelevant issues which tend to sway conservative votes in their favor (such as gay rights and abortion) as well as doing and saying things which tend to appeal to the authoritarian follower mindset (which predominates among conservatives), while actively pursuing radical non-conservative goals.

To the extent that neoconservatives actually have an ideology beyond the acquisition of personal power, it appears to be based in the Straussian school of thought that rule by elites is necessary in order to provide restraint to human sinfulness.


The neoconservative movement appears to have first come to public attention in the conservative backlash – often called the Republican revolution of 1994 – against the election of Democratic President Bill Clinton. They spent the remainder of Clinton's two terms in office relentlessly hounding Clinton and members of his administration; but were unable to uncover anything worse than personal indiscretion, and obtained no convictions despite many millions of dollars spent.

With the election of Republican President George W. Bush, the neocons gained significantly in power, and gained still further prominence after the beginning of the US Invasion of Iraq as they allied with Bush to give the office of the Presidency unprecedented powers ostensibly towards the pursuit of the War on Terror.

Neoconservatives in the post-9/11 era tend to support or favor most of the following:

  • the US Invasion of Iraq
  • President George W. Bush
  • the precedence of presidential authority over constitutional law
  • using Christianity as a basis for legislative decision-making
  • big government spending for political ends
  • the use of legislation and non-competitive contracts as rewards for those who support their goals

There may be other characteristics as well.

Neoconservatives generally reject the term "neocon[servative]" and instead self-describe as "conservative", despite the fact that they philosophically differ with the traditional conservative views on items such as:


It seemed at first that a new, more ruthless and less principled variety of neoconservative had emerged under Bush's leadership, but it is becoming apparent that there are significant areas of overlap (including personnel) between the two groups and that there are probably no significant distinguishing factors.

Brin definitions

Author David Brin says that the neoconservative movement consists of three main components [1]:

  1. A sub-set of aristocrats seeking (with great success) to use government as a free source of new wealth.
  2. A sub-set of messianic "Left Behind" Christianity that actively hungers for a final confrontation between Good and Evil, culminating in a stage-drama end of the world as predicted in the Biblical Book of Revelations.
  3. A movement of doctrine-focused intellectuals – many of whom are neither Christians nor aristocrats – pushing a particularly aggressive version of nationalism with a theoretical, neo-platonic basis and its own fervid sense of non-religious but messianic mission.

Related Pages



Filed Links

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  • 2007-05-12 Government shouldn't judge morality for us: the so-called conservative movement has drifted so far from its roots that it is now advocating the very thing it once fought: government intrusion into our personal lives. (Filed here as an example of how the party has been hijacked by neocons.)
  • 2005-12-02 "The Political Battle over Modernity" by David Brin: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4: Part 4 includes an analysis of some of the major tools used by Neocons



From David Brin:

on 2006-08-14, in The Worst Habit of Liberalism... Handing Karl Rove Every Advantage:

For 14 years and more, Rove & allies have bent all efforts toward maintaining a Big Tent coalition, uniting a melange of contradictory groups. With the sole aim of achieving and holding actual political power, they managed to wed together:

  • Xenophobic-isolationists... and interventionist-adventurers.
  • Free-marketers... and big government contract-parasites.
  • Lifestyle libertarians... with bedroom-voyeur fundamentalists.
  • Deficit hawks... and spendthrift pork barrel hogs.
  • Snooty Straussian neocon eggheads...and proudly anti-intellectual know-nothings.
  • Small business owners... with megacorp monopolists.
  • Nativist border worriers... and exploiters of cheap, undocumented labor...

... and so on.

A great... nay incredible... morass of contradictions! How on Earth did they manage that? There is one simple answer. By getting every last one of these forces to call themselves "conservative."

[ ...later, in the comments section... ]

The Roveans do not ACTUALLY GIVE ANYTHING to the teeming masses under their big tent. Only three of the many "conservative" groups in the Red America coalition have received anything more than lip service from the real masters of the movement.

  • Radical Straussian transcendentalist neocons were given their New Crusade in the Middle East. Driven by a utopianism fully as romantic, militant and intolerant as the first Crusades, this coterie of overcompensating, frenetically snooty-intellectual draft dodgers were given toy soldiers (our military) to play with... as part of the neo-feudalists' grander agenda.
  • Anti-future fundamentalists are given mostly lip service, but occasional sops of real policy. Millions of tax dollars for their foundations. Hundreds of appointments of young zealots to our military academies.
  • The Klepto-feudalists are the real masters. "nuff said about that (except that their topmost tier is not American, or even western... and its agenda is more destructive than anyone is yet willing to imagine).

Except for these groups, none of the "conservatives" gathered under Rove's Big Tent are getting a damned thing they wanted.

  • Nativists are seeing LESS control over our borders... yet they stay mostly loyal.
  • Small businessmen are raped by a government that favors top-level cronies... yet they stay loyal.
  • Deficit hawks should, by any rights, yearn for Bill Clinton... yet they stay loyal to people who betray their every desire.
  • Both lifestyle and economic libertarians get nothing, yet continue to call the GOP a "lesser of evils."
on 2005-10-23, in Propertarianism IV: the only (if crackpot) solution:

Right now, the very word "conservative" is used to mask the fact that one group wants dynamic markets and measures our success according to the rate of small business startups, vigorous investment in new business opportunities, social mobility for those who exhibit honest ambition and hard work, and rapid rewards for innovation. Sooner or later, champions of markets will realize that these traits are being systematically quashed by others who use "conservative" to mask a different agenda. The old agenda that destroyed every other market system on record.

in Neoconservatism, Islam and Ideology: The Real Culture War:

What appears stunning to me is how few have pointed out the deep commonalities between American neoconservatism, Islamic fundamentalism, and every other prescriptive dogma that wracked and afflicted the Twentieth Century. The one common theme uniting all of these ideology-based systems is a burning contempt for the secular, pragmatic, accountable and tolerant legacy of the Enlightenment. Especially its promotion of skepticism toward the subjective, self important mind games that allow each of us to play tricks upon ourselves.