Beginning in the 1970s into the 1980s there was an influx of former Leftist and ex-Trotskyite intellectuals and writers, who had become anti-Communists and who began to move to the right into the older conservative movement. These were denominated the Neoconservatives, or Neocons. At first the Neocons were welcomed as ex-Marxists “coming in from the cold.” The problem was, and still is, that the Neocons brought with them not only their welcomed and spirited anti-Communism, but also their intellectual template of across-the-board egalitarianism, internationalism, and an a priori liberal and global interventionist foreign policy, which has, as its underlying principle, an almost chiliastic belief in imposed “liberal democracy” as the “final stage” of human (and secular) progress. And it is that Idea of (irreversible) Progress, which means the destruction of older traditions, customs, and those things considered “reactionary” that stand in the way of Progress, that characterizes most of Neocon thinking. Such ideas, needless to say, run counter to traditional conservative principles.Share
With strong academic connections and financial sources, the Neocons soon took control of most of the older conservative foundations, think tanks, and publications, and they did so with an iron hand, reminiscent of older days, when their Marxism was readily visible. And, more significantly, through this control of most “conservative” institutions, especially those centered in Washington, D. C., they very soon began to provide experts and advisors to the national Republican Party and its candidates. Their dominance manifested itself in organs such as the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and in publications like Commentary, The Public Interest, and National Review (which shed its previous attachments to the older conservatism). The advent of the Rupert Murdoch media empire, with Fox News television, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and the New York Post as its notable voices, cemented this influence, which manifested itself abundantly in post-Reagan GOP policies and prescriptions.
With the triumph of the Neocons, conservatism soon no longer resembled what it once was. The principles which so characterized the Old Right were replaced with an ideological zeal for the very opposite of those principles. Older conservative icons such as John Randolph and John C. Calhoun, included prominently in Kirk’s pantheon of great conservatives, were, due to their opposition to egalitarianism, expelled from the Neoconservative lexicon, to be replaced by Abraham Lincoln, and later figures such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. (And Southerners like Sam Ervin, Harry Byrd Sr., Robert E. Lee, Wade Hampton, etc., were now uniformly condemned and rejected by the new “mainstream conservatives.”)
Lincoln, who was not included in Kirk’s pantheon, became the new and real “Founder” of the American republic, as the editor of the post-William Buckley National Review, Rich Lowry, contends. The civil rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, with its far-reaching and radical court decisions, was pronounced to be “conservative,” and, at the same time, Southern conservatives, such as the brilliant Mel Bradford, and anti-egalitarians, such as Dr. Samuel Francis, were purged out of the “movement.” Scholars such as Bradford, Joseph Sobran, and the internationally-recognized political scientist/historian, Paul Gottfried, had their careers attacked, were denied well-deserved professional positions, and were banished from formerly conservative publications and access to the largesse of formerly conservative foundations. (Read more.)