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Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Definition of Neo-Conservative?

Asked by Sueanne_Tremendous (11266points) October 2nd, 2008

I see this buzz word quite a bit here and some of it’s uses don’t seem to match with what my understanding of the word is. Can anyone help out?

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8 Answers

sferik's avatar

Traditional conservatives believe in smaller government, lower taxes, free markets, and a strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution.

Neoconservatives pair these traditional conservative values with Christian social values, for example, opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Neocons also break from their traditional brethren on international issues, favoring preemptive action over nonintervention.

Harp's avatar

Through the years, Neo-conservatism has actually been variously identified with both left- and right-wing movements, but the hallmark of neo-conservatism has been an aggessive, proactive foreign policy aimed at worldwide democratization.

It arose in America as a left-wing response to Stalinism and advocated a hard-line approach to counter Soviet influence. Neo-conservatives stopped identifying with the Left during the Vietnam era, because the Left took an anti-war stance distasteful to the Neo-cons.

Today, Neo-cons clothe themselves in the ideological trappings of the political Right, because the Right is more supportive of their militant foreign policy stance. The Bush Doctrine, the position that the US is justified in taking pre-emptive military action to avert any potential threats, epitomizes the Neo-con philosophy.

robmandu's avatar

That’s interesting, @Harp. From that perspective, a true neo-con isn’t ever truly Left or Right in leaning, but adopts the mantel of either for pragmatic reasons. They’re Right today, but could swing back Left tomorrow. Slippery.

Harp's avatar

Exactly. They’re pragmatists above all.

fireside's avatar

Sort of like lobbyists for their cause…

I remember Bill Kristol talking about how disappointed he was at the mismanagement of the war in Iraq after he had been such a proponent of going to the Middle East to spread democracy.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Thanks for your answers. The definition that I have found simply states that a neo-conservative is essentially a renegade liberal. Neo-conservatives parted with the left on matters of foreign diplomacy. No where can I find a reference to a neo-conservative as being one who pairs conservative values with Christian social values as sferik mentions.

fireside's avatar

Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, and William Kristol are prominent Neoconservatives and they are not Christians.

McHobbes's avatar

As far as I know… Neo-conservatives are a more upholding of tradition than groups that are more liberal or post-modern, but not to stubbornly set on keeping things the same way they always were… they feel there is room for change or adaptation, but only “within reason”.

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