Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Neoconservatives, Republicans, and John McCain

Neoconservatives, Republicans, and John McCain; By Jack Kerwick; Intellectual Conservative

The overthrow of this old, crusty, opportunistic politician in favor of a younger, more charismatic, and more conservative candidate is what is needed in order for American conservatives to convince themselves and others that the neoconservative Republican is about to be relegated to the dustbin of history.

As Rachel Alexander recently reminded us, National Review has cast its vote for John McCain over J.D. Hayworth in Arizona's Republican primary race for the United States Senate. That a publication long recognized by friend and foe alike as the staple of American conservatism would endorse a politician like McCain definitively confirms what some of us have known for quite some time: National Review is decidedly and emphatically not a genuinely conservative outlet at all.

This isn't to say that there wasn't a time when it was. Yet for a great many years now NR — not unlike The Weekly Standard, Wall Street Journal, FOX news, and virtually all of so-called "conservative" talk radio — has become but an appendage to the Republican Party. To put this point a bit differently, NR is a venue, not for conservative, but neoconservative thought.

As I have argued in past articles, "neoconservatism" is not, as some of its more defensive exponents have asserted, a pejorative term; rather, it designates a distinctive political-moral orientation that differs in kind from conservatism as it has been traditionally understood by those over the centuries who have contributed to its self-image. The formal epistemological, moral, and political philosophical presuppositions underwriting neoconservatsm are the inheritance of what is fashionably referred to as "Enlightenment liberalism," "Enlightenment liberal Rationalism," or, as I prefer to say, just plain "Rationalism." The substantive policy prescriptions — particularly, his prescriptions regarding foreign policy — contributes in no small measure to the formation of the neoconservative's identity, but from the specific substance of those positions it is not at all difficult to discern a more or less internally self-consistent constellation of assumptions regarding the natures of reason, morality, and a modern state. ...

Read the rest here.

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