47 thoughts on “The Neocons: An Illustrated Progression”

  1. I’m surprised that Chuck Krauthammer didn’t get this spiked on the grounds that it is “antisemtic”.

  2. Personally, I can’t wait to see a review for a book entitled “The FALL of the Neocons”. Hopefully we’ll have a country left when such a book is written.

  3. But what about Leo Strauss? What about the Cold War liberals who were never on the Left? It seems a bit reductionist to put it all down to Leon Trotsky (actually, the neocons kind of shed all that was distinctive about Trotsky, namely his commitment to socialist revolution and anti-imperialism).

    1. Leo Strauss is in the full diagram; click on it to see the full original diagram in the Washington Post.

    2. Well said Lenin!

      How convenient it is for apologists to distort history with convoluted logic more spectacular than the physical distortions of the greatest contortionist. The success of the neocons is more to blame on the complicit media, Washington Post included, than on the long dead Trotsky who must be turning over in his grave. What the hell, now that they have been exposed for the consumate liars that they are, why not blame it on that dead commie. The public will buy anything.

      There is absolutely nothing in Trotskyism, except his internationalist approach to politics, that would permit the rabid imperialism, colonialism and national socialism of the neocons. They are the product of the inescapable evolution of the American corporate plutocracy.

      You don’t have to look for a foreign scapegoat gentlemen! They are pursuing American tradition from our earliest settlers who declared this land their promised land by divine will(a nasty habit acquired from Judeo-biblical mythology), through the raw social Darwinism of Manifest Destiny, to the conquest of the Philippines(after all Philippines does sound like Philistines). It is a more modern manifestation of an ingrained characteristic with a corporate twist. That is the main reason these despicable people have been able to get away with such crimes against humanity.

      No need to invoke the name of an anti-imperialist crusader who championed the cause of a more equitable distribution of the wealth of the earth. It is an inherent absurdity. That some of the neocons were former Trotskyite, does not make Trotsky the father of the neocons. It would be the same as saying that since Luther was a former priest, that the Catholic Church is Protestant. It is the same reductio ad absurdum.

      May I suggest that you all review Vladimir Lenin’s masterpiece: “ Imperialism: Supreme Stage of Capitalism”, or more recently Naomi Klein’s masterpiece: “The Shock Doctrine: The rise of Disaster Capitalism”.

      1. Trotsky and Communism anti-imperialist? Trotsky led the Army to hold together what had been the old Russian Empire.

        The Vanguard of the Proletariat, Soviet ideologists argued that their cadres needed the best of everything because they were leading the revolution: a new aristocracy! In 1919 Trosky called the military commisars a “new order of samurai”.

        Trotsky and his communist ilk were just as much imperialists and aristocrats as the people they replaced.

        1. No Pat,

          They were internationalists, not imperialists. There is an enormous difference. Internationalist communists did believe in spreading the “dictatorship of the proletariat” across borders and did not believe in non-interference in the internal affairs of other sovereign states. The same holds tue of imperialists, except replace the dictatorship of the proletariat with corporate take over(nowadays under the guise of privatization, it sounds less brutal). Therein lies the fundamental difference. The usurping of the wealth and natural resources of other people is the force motrice of imperialism. The opening of markets with the barrel of of a gun in order to perpetually enrich its oligarchy is its mission.

          The spread of communism on the other hand was never for the enrichment of the Soviet Union, no matter what crap is being said today. As a matter of fact Pat, the Soviet Union bankrupted itself supporting its less fortunate client states. It was the reverse of British, French or American imperialism. The net flow of weath was in the opposite direction. People seem to forget that the Soviet Union controlled more wealth, including oil, than present day Russia. But that wealth was constantly subsidizing its less developed comrades from East Germany,Cuba, Angola ect… That was bad business practice. But business played second fiddle to principle and ideology.

          The only guiding principle for today’s predatory capitalism is greed. No comparaison Pat.

        2. Stanley,

          I am not sure that your analysis is entirely accurate. Indeed, in Iraq as well as Afghanistan (in both of our misadventures there), it is safe to say that net/net, we are spending far more than we are taking in.

          With respect to the Philipines, please tell me again what great natural resource are we getting from that chain of tropical islands?

          The fact that the USSR was forced to subsidize its ‘less fortunate’ client states (weren’t they all less fortunate?) points to the abject failure that was Communism. Contrary to your implication, I would choose private ‘business’ over collectivist ‘principle and ideology’ everytime.

          None of this is in any way meant to justify the inherent evils of imperialism. Nations and their peoples should certainly be allowed self-determination. Even though we would love to see contitutional republics the world over, citizens must come to that conclusion on their own and not at the open end of gun. We certainly can not and should not force that ideal upon them.

          Peace be with you.

        3. Cfountain72
          I am really not trying to present a case for communism. Just emphasizing its acute differences with capitalism and their motives.

          The Philippines chain was essential in controlling the sea lanes for vital commerce. It was an essential as a base in the Pacific. That of course is why the Japanese empire zeroed in on its conquest and later its defense at all cost. They never bothered to invade Hawaii that laid beyond the operational radius of the time with the weapons of war available at the time.

          The Philippines were also an agricultural paradise that Americans quickly took over from the former Spanish masters. Enormous wealth was derived from these plantations. As Fidel Castro aptly pointed out: “Cuba and the Philippines were ripe fruits ready to fall off Spain’s colonial tree into the mouth of the Yankees.”

          Do a little reseach into the insurgency that followed the US’s “liberation” of the Philippines.

          Peace and health be with you too brother/sister.

    3. Leo Strauss is the key indeed.

      This diagram was very likely approved by some of the Neo-Cons themselves.

      They are in place among both Democrats and Republicans.

  4. Leo Strauss is in the full diagram; click on it to see the full original diagram in the Washington Post.

    Thanks – still a strange diagram, I must say. William F Buckley included in the ranks of neoconservatism, via James Burnham! I think Buckley was always a very old-fashioned kind of High Tory intellectual, not a neocon.

    I might that many of those included as sharing the lineage of Leon Trotsky – such as Josh Muravchik – joined the Socialist Party when it was under the influence of Shachtman in his later stage. Namely, when he had largely abandoned socialism and was preaching hardline anti-communism.

    One last point – shouldn’t the CIA be in this diagram? Without the alliance between former left-wing intellectuals and the more ‘enlightened’ wing of the state, none of this was possible.

    1. William Buckley is not smart enough, or well educated enough politically, to be anything but a tool of the Neo-Cons.

      Never underestimate the enemy.

      Neo-con “political science” is exoteric and esoteric. Buckley is a mark for the exoteric.

      The exoteric works by the manipulation of very cunningly crafted emblems.

  5. Buckley is quite smart, as reactionaries go. His intriguing pro-imperial sentiment, expressed to Cory Robin in 2000, sounded quite neoconservative (but then, that also raises the question of whether there should be such a strict intellectual distinction between the neocons and the paleocons):

    “The trouble with the emphasis in conservatism on the market,” Buckley told me, “is that it becomes rather boring. You hear it once, you master the idea. The notion of devoting your life to it is horrifying if only because it’s so repetitious. It’s like sex.” Conservatism, Kristol complained, “is so influenced by business culture and by business modes of thinking that it lacks any political imagination, which has always been, I have to say, a property of the Left.” Kristol confessed to a deep yearning for an American empire: “What’s the point of being the greatest, most powerful nation in the world and not having an imperial role? It’s unheard of in human history. The most powerful nation always had an imperial role.”

    1. Kristol: “What’s the point of being the greatest, most powerful nation in the world and not having an imperial role? It’s unheard of in human history. The most powerful nation always had an imperial role.”

      What an asinine and vile remark. There are lots of things that “always” were so, and then they just weren’t any more. Get over it, Kristol.

      Should we repudiate everything that hasn’t “always” been so? I’m sure in the early 20th century there were American men who said, “What’s the point of being men if we’re not the only ones who get to vote? Men have always been the only ones who get to vote!”

      Oh, that’s just brilliant, Mr. Kristol! We’re so lucky to have you to clarify everything for us!

      1. Kristol: “What’s the point of being the greatest, most powerful nation in the world and not having an imperial role? It’s unheard of in human history. The most powerful nation always had an imperial role.”

        This is asinine and sophistic, but also, and typically, a vicious circle with no historical value whatsoever. How to define “the greatest, most powerful nation in the world” as a matter of “human history”.

        Well, clearly, according to Kristol, because it had an imperial role.

        Since it had an imperial role, it was therefore “the greatest, most powerful nation in the world”.

        Upon this is layered a second level of purpose–being “the greatest, most powerful nation in the world” has no purpose except being imperial.

        Got it? Even if one is not historically trained, one can easily see the endless loop, which is another trademark of the Straussian.

        In fact, Strauss himself, and the Neo-Cons, despite shallow attempts at erudition, are singularly incompetent historians.

        In this case, however, rather than untangle Kristol’s blunders, it suffices to point out the obvious ambiguity of his use of “history”.

        Is it the human past or the recorded past? Or simply what Kristol would like someone even more miseducated than himself to believe Kristol has heard and not heard about?

    2. Buckley’s comments on the Phillipines when the Marcos regime was in the process of collapsing in the face of the pro-democracy uprising are also telling. I’m too lazy to look up the exact quote, but I remember it went something like this: “Our imperial responsibilities outweigh any sympathies we may have for the Filipinos efforts at civic self-improvement.”

    3. Kristol confessed to a deep yearning for an American empire: “What’s the point of being the greatest, most powerful nation in the world and not having an imperial role? It’s unheard of in human history. The most powerful nation always had an imperial role.”

      I must admit I had to look that one up to maek sure it was legit. That is, as another reader said, utterly vile. Before the US came along, the most powerful nation always had an emperor/king/fuhrer…so what? Many of our ancestors came here to get away from all the squabbling and poverty and oppression of Europe. Liberty is the highest ideal, and a nation that can provide that to its citizens is 'the point' that Kristol seems unable to grasp. Searching for monsters to slay abroad should hold no appeal to Americans truly interested in liberty or prosperity.

      Peace be with you.

      1. kristol is so stupid and so false.when a state invests in army is said always that it does it to improve its defensive capacity.such ,improving all the time is defensive capacity the state should become,according with kristol,imperialistic.therefore the nature of a state is defensive-imperialist.

  6. Interesting article–establishing what I said above.

    Merely by the way, the United States is no superpower, nor does it have the military or economic power to impose an imperium anywhere in the world.

    The appearance that it is such a power is another emblem exploited by Neo-Cons like Kristol, who is eminently Straussian in all his tactics.

  7. An argument can be made here for the theory of de-evolution with this chart of knuckle-draggers.

  8. I notice Irving Howe is included in this chart, along with his Dissent magazine and the anti-Stalinist Left generally, yet Howe split with Schactman over the Vietnam War. Though it’s true, as someone here noted, that Schactman had moved from socialism to “hardline anti-communism” (of the neo-con variety) by the time he and his followers took over the old Socialist Party, he did lose some followers along the way, including Howe and Michael Harrington and their followers, who formed the Democratic Socialists of America and seemed to stick with their politics and principles. I’m not a fan of Howe or Dissent any more, though I was involved in this grouplet for a while. Still, I don’t see how they belong in the neo-con camp.

  9. What polititians SAY is quite unimportant, what they DO is important.

    Original russian communists – such as Lenin and Trotsky were mostly concerned not about the well being of Russia, but about the well being of the World Revolution. Russian state was supposed to be used as a material for them taking the World under control, for the goal of the World Government.

    Even distribution of goods never seemed to be their goal, but rather a good pretext for conquest of power.

    Needless to say that none of the promises given to the people in Russia were fulfilled, i.e. Workers did not get factories, and peasants did not get land (as were the slogans of the October 1917 coup).

    The hate that is cultivated in the West towards Stalin is driven mostly by the fact that he indeed killed the majority of the original communists – with very few exceptions, including Trotsky. Then Stalin completely abandoned the goal of the World Revolution, and in fact after the 2nd World war did not get interested even in controling West Europe, which had always been the choice territories to control according to Trotsky.

    At large – the line of Trotsky is the line of World Government, and the tools of building such are WARs and REVOLUTIONs.

    Stalin’s line is the Eurasian Empire, dating back to Bysantine Empire, and the tool of building such is the slowly expanding Citadel.

    Who will win after all – Trotsky or Stalin? We’ll see…

  10. Workers did not get factories, and peasants did not get land

    That’s not quite true, actually. Initially, and for some years even during the civil war, workers’ control of industry remained in place. The system was eroded to some extent by the system of one-man management, which was applied in some areas due to a massive shortfall in productivity. Land was indeed redistributed, and peasants were encouraged to take the land. In fact, much of the civil war was spent defending that gain against the richer landholders who wanted to regain their control. However, any support the Bolsheviks might have gained on this account was lost not only by the bloodiness of the civil/international war (never forget the Entente powers, who knew a thing or two about global domination), but by the grain requisitions required to keep the cities functioning.

    Essentially, in order to save one sixth of humanity from dire poverty and the rule of a proto-fascist, pogromist White Army, the Bolsheviks steadily diluted all the gains of the revolution, and engaged in state-led terrorism against its enemies. The upshot was that by the early 1920s, workers’ control of industry was substantially diminished and even the right to strike was one that was difficult to assert. One-man-management allied with the old Tsarist bureaucracy (which had never really been expelled) and elements in the Bolshevik party bureacracy gradually ossified into a new ruling class, hostile to the workers.

    But this was a process, not a program. It was a product of circumstance, not of ideology. And a large part of that circumstance was supplied by military anti-communism, precisely of the kind that would later be championed by the neoconservatives. For all those who want to reduce the neoconservative movement to the influence of a dead revolutionary, there remains the problem of context – in order to become neoconservatives, they had to become hardling counter-revolutionaries.

  11. the United States is no superpower, nor does it have the military or economic power to impose an imperium anywhere in the world.

    It already has an imperium, silly. It has an iron wall of military bases stretching from the Arctic circle through Europe, Asia Minor, southern Asia, all the way to the edge of China. It has formal occupations in operation in two countries, and sponsors major multinational occupations in Haiti and parts of the former Yugoslavia. It has sent an occupation force into Somalia too, under the rubric of an Ethiopian invasion. It runs a system of client elites in several states, and readily metes out violence to those states which get out of line. There has hardly been a year when it hasn’t had to whack someone. Through organisations like the NED it helps manipulate elections and guide pro-American opposition forces. It has a heavily militarised fortress state in the Levant, which can be relied on to attack Arab countries when America looks too bogged down to do so. What exactly is not imperial about this?

    1. The only imperium the United States has ever successfully managed is the empire of the Federal government, dominated by a small and incompetent elite, over the States and Territories that are the United States itself, as well as over conquered people like the Hawaiians, Puerto Ricans, and various and sundry Amerindian tribes.

      How much of this territory was in fact purchased, like Louisiana and Alaska? Or entered the United States as the secession of entities, like California or Texas, from another sham “empire” to the South, Mexico?

      These states and territories are indeed the true provinces of the Federal Imperialists, who tax them as subjects, draft and otherwise raise armies among them, impose and arbitrate their law, and now claim also the right to prohibit their secession from a “Union” that is forced and often tyrannical.

      What then of the supposed “imperium” abroad?

      That supposed “empire” abroad is mostly the myth and play-acting of the same national elite.

      Far from being provinciae in the ancient Roman sense, these areas outside United States territory proper, instead of being dominated and taxed, drain the blood and treasure of the domestic subjects, so that a Clinton or a Bush, a Roosevelt or a Wilson, can act out the sham of being world “imperialists”, which role they play as incompetently as they manage the financial and economic affairs of the genuine empire at home.

      Despite having putatively the most advanced military technology in the world, what did the supposed American imperial armies accomplish in Korea and Vietnam, and what are they accomplishing in Iraq and Afghanistan, save the killing of vast numbers of foreign civilians and the bankruptcy of the empire’s subjects at home?

      Looked at in the cold light of a short winter day, is the United States really a serious military power on the world stage?

      Only if military might means destruction without conquest.

      The myth of American empire abroad is rooted in World War I, which the intervention of the United States supposedly won single-handedly.

      That myth is itself ungrounded in fact, but even were it true, what did the United States gain by the supposed victory save another worse and more expensive war in World War II?

      Did United States win that war single-handedly as well? That again is the myth enshrined among the domestic subjects, but in fact that war was won in Europe in alliance with another very similar “empire”, the Soviet Union.

      Did the United States in the Far East singlehandedly defeat Imperial Japan and win the war in the Pacific? Again that is the myth, but there too this was a partnership with another empty and decrepit empire, China, which, as any objective student of military history will tell you, did the real damage to the Japanese Army, despite horrendous losses of its own.

      On the basis of two such fragile and close victories, the national elite claimed world power, and the myth was swallowed hook, line and sinker by the real imperial subjects, Americans at home.

      Do the imperial play actors now have clientela around the world?

      Indeed, they seem to, but clients who are well paid to accord the Federal elite every trapping of imperialists without any of the substance.

      Worse, at least one client, Israel, considers the status of ally mainly an instrument to bleed the real empire and its people, the United States proper, of its men and money and in the interests of its own foreign policy in the Middle East.

      And another ally, Egypt, is only too happy to play the same game, getting almost as much treasure as the Israelis.

      But we are still not at the bottom of the barrel.

      What was the first Gulf War but the renting out of the Federal Empire’s troops and military might to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, again supposed imperial clients, but in the end tails wagging the straw dog of the American sham imperium–in part no doubt so that someone like Bill Buckley can act the part of British Victorian deciding fates in the Philippines.

      The old Soviet Empire, having come to final grief in Afghanistan, had at least a small, clear-headed elite of Russian patriots who realized the emptiness and cost of empty empire.

      Given the chance to get off their end of the seesaw, they took it, and, after some initial difficulty, prosper.

      In the process, they left the expensive and disastrous title, “the world’s only remaining Superpower” to the morons of the American Federal elite, and their gulled, overworked, increasingly impoverished and diseased imperial subjects at home.

      1. I would like you to explain to those Iraqis grieving for over a million of their kins blown to bits, buried alive, incinerated with napalm, poisoned with depleted uranium, starved to death or gunned down at intersections routinely, while the so-called civilized world participated or complicitly turned the other way, that there is no such thing as the American empire.

        Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are occupied territories. Their monarchies were created as mere facades for western oil companies. They are the Herods of the Roman empire.

        1. You have it backwards, and I know my Herods.

          It is quite easy to explain it all to a civilized nation, secular and urbane, literally decimated by the United States.

          The Americans are barbarians, like the Mongols, and will soon pass.

          Besides destruction what do they have to offer except force and death, and killing civilians, even women and children at a distance, because they are so few in number, and so fearful of death, that they cannot afford killed in action and casualties.

          Or are you so unacquainted with history not to realize that much technology, even as with the Mongols, is often invented or mastered in new ways by barbarians.

          Unlike the Mongols, however, the American troops, in the way they fight, have also proved themselves cowards.

          And what imperium do you know that is run by cowards, except over other cowards?

          That explanation, which is partial, will have to do for the nonce.

          Go back to your misreading, your pretended moral outrage, and your jumping to easy ideological conclusions.

        2. So unacquainted with history??
          Pretended moral outrage??

          Such totally baseless pontificating and lashing out are the symptoms of the failed “prima dona” syndrom. Go have a session with your analyst.

  12. It’s a good if confusing chart, but I agree that I had never heard Ayn Rand as being an influence on them.

  13. Joseph Lieberman was left out of list of “The Committee on the Present Danger”. As Honorary Co-Chair of this organized paranoia creation machine, he is hard to miss.

    1. Indeed–the Lieberman of the Gore and Lieberman ticket, is it not?

      It may or may not ever dawn on Gore to thank his lucky stars that he was not elected president.

      After all, not only has he got a Nobel Prize, but he was not assassinated in office.

      Imagine the war in the Near East that would have ensued.

  14. Educated people encourage the people with disabilities to get the education and by doing so play their important role in the development of the country or the society in which they are living.

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