There's fear in the atmosphere these days among the Neoconservatives... there always has been. Fear is the strong drink that gets their minds right, their morning constitutional. If you look at their words, on a clear-headed day, you can see the fear behind their attempts at philosophy or ideology or what ever passes for reasoning among them.
Necessity, necessity, necessity. Never questioning, or even really illuminating or explaining, the murky premises under their rhetoric. Which is what makes them very tricky little devils indeed. Though I'm not one to go all into the "Straussian Connection", certainly in this way, his influence has touched them, methodologically, if not ideologically (which becomes difficult to prove one way or the other, given this very methodology).
Keep things grey and dark and cloudy, but push the fear button.
But what I am talking about is a different kind of fear... not the invigorating fear of terrorism or islamic ascendancy, or liberal social values, but a paranoiac sweat, a shaky hand on the reins of hegemony. The neocons are starting to realize what those of us who have a Certain Awareness have seen for quite some time - namely:
They are losing ground. Their time draws near to a close.
What neither they nor their Neoliberal opponents can see clearly however, is why
They've done everything they can do, regardless of any moral or long-term pragmatic considerations, to ensure their grip on the world, or at least the parts of it they have access to, and yet, they can almost smell their own defeat. They sleep less soundly these days, and the one word goes through the twists and turns of their nihilistic minds over and over, unceasingly: "Why?" Why is it all starting to crumble, and why so quickly? The more practical among them must have known, just from a cursory glance at history, that they couldn't keep it up forever... but the vast rottenness of their foundation is startling even to them. The Orkin man can't save it.
One thing that has often puzzled "left-wing" observers of the neo-con ascendancy is why there is this bitter infighting between the neo- and paleo- branches of "conservativism". The quotes offer a clue. The reason is that either one or the other is not actually conservativism. Which is which really matters little, a semantic cat-chasing-tail. The neo-conservatives and neo-liberals are opposites only in the sense that your reflection is "opposite" of your actual image. That's why they are able to hold onto power, because they are "the same thing, only more so" compared to the "liberals" in this society. There are differences. The neo-cons are more ruthless and less subtle about how they go about things. The neo-libs don't mind taking the abject poor along for the ride, in fact, they want to create more and more of them to take care of. The neo-cons on the other hand are more open in their contempt for their victims. But underneath both of these wings of the same bird, there is the body of Statism. Social democracy without the pesky civil rights getting in the way, really. The Managerial/Technocratic class whether "public" or "private" have reached and in fact surpassed their apotheotic moment.
But paleo-conservativism is something else altogether, it is much more of a real opposition to this "vital center". And this opposition has its roots in the classical values of whatever was good about America in the first place. Paleo-conservativism basically understands that Society and the State are two different forces competing for the same space in people's lives. Traditional social order is destroyed, not bulwarked, by the growth of the State. And many (not by any means all) of the paleo-conservatives are well-read enough, and thoughtful enough, to put up solid reasoning behind their criticism of politicising society. That makes them both a danger to the neo-cons and a potential ally to the right kind of libertarians. You could see paleo-conservatives as proto-libertarians. Or rather, libertarians are what you get when paleo-conservatives liberalize. And by libertarians I don't mean the variety co-opted by the state as "loyal opposition". Now even among the libertarians, you get a lot of lunk-headed simplistic people who are into it for all the wrong reasons, like you do with any movement.
For those of us in This Thing of Ours, our attachment to liberty is not a cause, but a by-product of a certain larger viewpoint about the universe.
We value the libertarians of the left and right (yes both kinds exist -> read this if you don't believe it: http://www.mutualist.org/id10.html
) for their commitment to a consistent philosophy of liberty - even when they stumble, they are at least walking in the right direction.
Increasingly, the philosophy and ideology of liberty is coming under fire. There is a sense of panicky haste in these attacks.
While in drier times, there have been at least arguable, reasonable critiques of libertarian thought, these are not among them. It's not the "neo's" style anyway. But the focus of neocon smear campaigns has begun to turn away from the leftist varieties of social democratism and towards libertarians and quasi-libertarian "conservativism".
Because that's who they are afraid of. If the populist ideas about civil society and the natural order get linked to libertarianism, that is extremely
dangerous for neo-con hegemony. For one thing, it represents a real option that does not hand the game right back to them. But beyond this, it scares their masters
, and shit rolls down hill.
Even the most brainwashed flag-waving thugs are starting to back-pedal. In general most people tend to be mostly utilitarian in their thinking. And the media is having a really really hard time covering up the fact that this modern way of life doesn't work so well in the long run
Libertarian ideologues are not "winning the war of ideas", even though they are mostly right, on the issues that they define themselves by. Reality is winning the war against idealism. The simple historical truth is, for the past 100 or so years, America (and thus our dependents as well, like Europe) has thrived by stealing resources, as much or more than by improving patterns of production. And in the past 50 or so years, that theft has started to tear away at those patterns of production to an accelerating degree. We've been addicted to inflation and passing costs along to the third world for far too long, and it is biting us in the ass now. We have only gotten this far by being really really good at this game of brinksmanship. We have some of the smartest people in the world, trained to outsmart everyone else, keeping this game going. But as the complexity and underlying instability mounts, we are coming to one of those moments where a collapse is imminent. You can't outsmart the laws of thermodynamics.
The libertarians are now becoming a threat because they seem sane compared to more of the same of this crap. Or at least the libertarians that understand how liberty actually works. The others will be just as shocked as everyone else, when the stock market implodes and real wage growth drives profits close to zero.
The only thing the neo-cons can offer at this point is "if violence doesn't solve our problems, we must not be applying enough of it..."
But their overlords don't want to rule over a pile of rubble. They will try to work out some third way, some new way to simulate freedom enough to keep themselves on top. They might even pull it off for a little while longer. But they are running out of time and space. If the simulation gets too realistic, people will make the connection. If it is not realistic enough, it won't work.