Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Das Neocon

I'm often guilty of being a bit nation-centric in my imaginings of the power of the Neocon movement. I tend to think that this is an American phenomenon, borne of phenomena more or less unique to the U.S., like the KKK, Focus on the Family, the homesteader mindset and the kind of blind, sportsfan, flagwaving patriotism that shows much but means little. But the key difference here between old-school conservativism and the new brand is that the Neocons have designs on the world. They are not the isolationists that their fathers and grandfathers were. As Recidivist, a UK-based blogger shows, the Neocons are trying to imply that Europe's problems in hammering out the EU constitution is a show of support for the Right and a sign of agreement with the Bush administration. But as Recidivist points out, nothing could be further from the truth.

First, here's part of the quote from William Kristol:
In Europe today, there are signs of Giuliani-Gingrich-ism in the rise of Nicolas Sarkozy in France, and of some fresh-thinking young (dare I call them) neoconservatives throughout Europe

But so far the fresh thinkers haven't been able to break through. It is as if it were in 1996, and there had been no Clintonian redefinition of the Democrats, and Bob Michel were still leading the House Republicans, and there had been no Giuliani mayoralty in New York, and no welfare reform from Congress, and no American intervention in Bosnia--and the alternative news media were still in their infancy, and no academic counterculture had emerged. That's Europe today.

This is a moment of hope for the prospects for a strong, pro-American, pro-liberty, more or less free-market and free-trade, socially and morally reinvigorated Europe.
(emphasis mine)

Uh huh. And here's what Recidivist has to say about that:

There is no sudden lurch to the right for the general population. In fact the general trend is still towards the left. What has happened – and what delights the neocons so much - is that yet another section of the selfish right has tipped in to neofascism.

He also ommits [sic] to tell you that by far the largest section of the 'NO' vote in both France and the Netherlands was a Socialist vote, because the constitution didn't go far enough for them .. and that if Poland rejects it, it will be because the majority of the population are harking back to the days of socialism, a stronger economy and near full employment.

What is troubling is that these guys have shown that if they keep saying something, it will become truth for large segments of the population. These are the salesmen who convinced 70 percent of Americans that Saddam was behind 9/11. While they probably will not convince Europe that they are, in fact, becoming the "strong, pro-American, pro-liberty, more or less free-market and free-trade, socially and morally reinvigorated Europe" that Kristol imagines, there will probably be at least a modest success rate for peddling that idea within the US. The entire Neocon agenda is predicated on perceived power and the awesome strength of groupthink. If you keep saying it, people will start to believe it.


  1. i'm not totally sure that particular brand name is a big seller across the pond - neoconservatism, or at least our choco-minty flavor of it - riffs on the ideas of american exceptionalism and the shining city on the hill. that's what makes it so appealing here - over there, they've had land wars and bombs dropped on them, as well as a better sense of their own colonial legacy.
    ideology always works best in conjunction with notions of an "ahistory," and that's harder when history is so near.

  2. I agree. I don't think the Europeans are going to get on board with the whole idea Kristol is peddling here. But I can see how Americans would get excited, thinking that the Bush Doctrine is working not only in the Middle East but in Europe as well. The perpetuity of the Neocon philosophy depends on the existence of people who believe it is working, not only within the country but outside of it (Those "The War Was Worth It, Traitor!"-types).

    I think Recidivist's point is that most Europeans can smell the distinct odor of fascism in the Neocon agenda, because it is so vaguely familiar.

    In other news, you missed a super time at Gabor's last weekend. After a long day of apartment hunting, my former roomie and I got into a Loretta Lynn sing-along with some hipster kid at the bar.