Further thoughts on the evolution of neoconservatives into revolutionaries.
This is a continuation of the essay I wrote a few days ago.
Neoconservatism has always been defined as being against certain things—against the cultural left, against Communism, against radical Islam. But it is not for anything, except a generalized, thinned out “democratic capitalism.” It’s not for our civilization. During World War II our leaders spoke of defending civilization. Today our leaders, and their neoconservative supporters, speak in terms of spreading democracy. But democracy, in and of itself, is little more than a shell.
This explains why the predominant mode of today’s conservatism is the attack on the left, not the articulation of social order, which is the true job of conservatism. So, for example, you have Commentary, fighting against Communism, looking down its nose at the left, but having very little sense of what it was for, other than some received and barely articulated notion of bourgeois order. You have The New Criterion, which for the last 15 years has kept publishing the same identical annoyed diatribe against the cultural left, but has barely written anything about what our civilization and culture are, outside of some dessicated modernism. You have columnists such as Mark Steyn, whose entire “conservatism” consists of a hyperbolic mocking of the left. Indeed, Steyn so despises the left that he wants Europe to die because it is leftist. Opposing an ideological enemy (i.e. the left), but not having any concrete historical allegiance (i.e. to Western civilization and Western man), neocons would like to see the cradle of our civilization and our race destroyed by Muslims, because its current ideology is leftist.
So long as the neoconservatives have a seriously bad adversary, it provides them with endless targets to attack, justifying their own existence, and obscuring from view the emptiness of their own cultural and moral vision. (“National Greatness Conservatism,” anyone?) They need a big enemy if they themselves are to have a purpose. Terrorist Islam is that enemy. And having embarked on a supposed World War IV against this terrorist enemy, what is the weapon they employ against him? The procedural abstraction, the empty envelope, of democracy. They want to defeat our enemy by waging a global revolution devoted to the imposition of democracy on all humanity, including 1.2 billion Muslims. Again, the neocons are defined primarily by what they are against, which in this case is global resurgent Islam. The threat necessitated a global response. But because the neocons really do not believe in our own civilization, or, for that matter, in any traditional/transcendent good, they don’t wage this war by defending and upholding our civilization, they wage it by attempting to revolutionize the whole world through a procedural abstraction.
Thus it was the genuine global threat of terrorist Islam, combined with the neocons’ belief in universal democracy, combined with their lack of belief in our own substantive civilization, that turned them into global revolutionaries.