What is a Neo-Con?

I’ve been referred to as a “neo-con” recently (looks at Brad Bull), and that got me to thinking, “Am I a neo-con?”  So, I thought I’d throw this out as a light pallet-cleanser before switching from longer-term war strategies to more immediate ones.  Plus, I thought this’d be a great opportunity to conduct an informal poll of the vast readership of my blog (both of you). 

I have to admit that I have always thought that the term “neo-con” carried a really distasteful connotation, until I looked it up.  The definition wasn’t offensive at all.  In fact, it was very interesting.  I think the weirdness comes from the fact that it’s become a “dirty word” among some liberals the same way “liberal” has become a dirty word among some conservatives.  Very interesting.

Here’s what the Wikipedia has to say about the term “Neoconservative”…

Neoconservatism is a political current and ideology, mainly in the United States, which emerged in the 1960s, coalesced in the 1970s, and has had a significant presence in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. It is today most closely identified with a set of foreign policy positions and goals: a hawkish stance during the Cold War and, more recently, in various conflicts in the Middle East. At times there have been distinct neoconservative positions in domestic policies; in particular, the first generation of neoconservatives were generally less opposed to “big government” and to social spending than other U.S. conservatives of the time, though they also called for significant restructuring of the goals and methods of many social programs.

The prefix neo-refers to two ways in which neoconservatism was new: many of the movement’s founders, originally liberals, Democrats or from socialist backgrounds, were new to conservatism; neoconservatism was also a comparatively recent strain of conservative thought, which derived from a variety of intellectual roots in the decades following World War II. While some (such as Irving Kristol) have described themselves as “neoconservatives”, the term is used today more by opponents and critics of this political current than by its adherents, some of whom reject even the claim that neoconservatism is an identifiable current of American political thought.

Within American conservatism, the foreign policy of neoconservatism is particularly contrasted to isolationism, especially as found in paleoconservatism. While the neoconservatives share some of the Christian right critique of a purely secular society, this is not as central to their politics as it is for the Christian right, nor are the neoconservative prescriptions always the same as those of the Christian right.

That said, here’s my question…  “Am I a ‘neo-con’?”    (Post your poll response as a comment.)

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About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Jesus, the long awaited King. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long, difficult, joyful adventure, learning to swim with the current of God's sovereign love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
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3 Responses to What is a Neo-Con?

  1. Brad Bull says:

    Yes, at least I assumed you identified as one. When I stated it in the previous post it was not intended as an insult.

    However, I identify Irving Kristol as the spokesperson for neocon ideas. The definition above leads me to belief that the term may have evolved over time.


  2. Neva says:

    Well, just to let you know someone other than Brad is still reading occassionally… *grin*
    I don’t think I can join in on your poll because I feel like that Wiki article was more a history lesson than a definition. I didn’t really get anything from it to use as a yardstick on what a neo-con does or doesn’t believe. So without a good definition, I’m not going to vote in your poll. I respectfully abstain.

    As for a completely random tangent on labeling, though, this made me think of something kind of strange that happened to me last week. I’m having an ESL Bible study with a pair of Korean women. (No, I’m not sure how exactly that happened, but the fact that there was no logical reason for them to have asked me to do it is precisely why I agreed.) As soon as religion came up in our first discussion, one of them asked me if I was born again. I muttered something about really not liking the term and not using it. So at our first real Bible study, she pulled out the passage it came from and got me talking about it. I realized that I really don’t have a problem considering myself born again the way Jesus meant it; I just don’t like the connotations a lot of modern-day Christians have added to it.
    So anyway, where am I going with this? No idea, but this discussion made me think about it. And I say if you find a good definition of neo-con and determine that it does match your views, go ahead and call yourself that because you know what you really mean by it even if someone else has made you feel like it’s an insult. (Not pointing fingers at Brad there, just at who or whatever in society has given the term negative connotations for you.)
    So that’s my babbling for the day, and I’ll let you go back to the real conversations that were going on here…


  3. Jeff Block says:

    Good to hear from you again, Neva. We missed you! 🙂

    Re: Wikipedia definition not really a definition…

    Guess I should have been more clear. I agree with you that this isn’t much in the way of a definition, and that’s one of the reasons I asked. I think “neo-con” is one of terms that’s new, still in flux, and all over the map in terms of what it really means. The Wikipedia doesn’t necessarily agree, seeming to indicate that this term has been around for decades. I guess the goal of my question is to get to the bottom of what we’re really talking about here.

    Re: “born again”…

    Labels are pretty hard, not the least reason being what you cite … that terms like this pick up additional meaning over time. Doesn’t help that the “additional meaning” is typically added by those most critical of the group being labeled.


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