At one time, the term “neocon” referred to a specific group of presumably-reformed Trotskyites who had migrated away from the anti-Stalinist left. They had found dissatisfaction with the way the conflict in Vietnam was being handled in the 1960s, and using the Cold War as an impetus, sought to limit the expansion of the Soviet regime through extremely active foreign involvement. This involvement could have taken the form of minor espionage operations, but don’t be fooled: the neocons of the time were no strangers to advocating for the intervention of foreign affairs with the full might of the United States military.
But the Cold War ended, and with it, the overt excuse to permanently park US aircraft carriers in the South China Sea and have chinooks within a ten-minute flight from the most remote desert regions in the world. Or at least, that’s what it seemed like; Islamic insurgency proved throughout the 80s and 90s to be a threat not to be taken lightly—characters like Jeane Kirkpatrick provided the ideological means to keep the military-industrial complex active and in shape. Anywhere there’s a revolution taking place, it was believed, the US should be propping up authoritarians strong enough to counter Marxist-Leninist rabble-rousers. And despite the Soviet Union’s collapse, third-world revolutionaries are and remain a dime a dozen.
Unfortunately, despite some claims of their defenders, the meaning behind the neocon label has almost entirely dissolved. The only consistency that remains is a dedication to foreign intervention—the political arm of a military obsession that has held American politics between its jaws since the formation of Israel. And the neocon interest in defending Israel isn’t any surprise, either, considering the most prominent ethnicity that pops up when discussing the history of the neoconservative movement. That said, of course, their history seems to have reached its end, more or less.
In the wake of George W. Bush’s administration, the neocon swell had witnessed its peak and had already receded. Their influence in government remained secondary throughout much of Obama’s administration, with their overt presence being little more than an imprint on foreign policy and some rubber stamps domestic surveillance issues—both of which were carry-overs from the Bush days. The old guard, what was left of it, last reared their head with the Never Trump movement in 2016, some even going so far as to tacitly endorse Hillary Clinton; to the left they seemingly returned, completing the cycle.
It’s almost as if, maybe, the entire neoconservative movement was just a trick to drag the nationalistic elements of the American right toward the center—and I don’t mean the fringe movements or the paleocons, since they only entrenched themselves in their positions when they stood opposite the neocons. I mean the social consensus of what it means to be conservative in the United States. Radical hawkishness in foreign policy acted as a cover for their inconsistent views on domestic affairs. They were Evangelicals when it suited them, on topics of abortion and same-sex marriage, but they were ambivalent fiscal conservatives when the Overton Window made holding such views distasteful. Only their eagerness to fire rockets at enemies remained the same.
The New Conservatives
Sometime during Obama’s first term, it became clear to everyone that a horrible mistake had been made. The average Republican voter felt resigned acceptance to the Obama regime since the Republican party had failed to field a worthwhile candidate. The average Democrat, on the other hand, was beginning to realize that Obama’s message of hope and change was all bullshit.
It took until his second term, however, for the conservative base of middle America to finally lose their patience. By that point, it was clear that the recession which began in 2008 had not, in fact, ended, despite what he and his Wall Street experts told everyone on the television. It was also clear that the wages and jobs that Americans had gotten used to over the previous two decades were never coming back, and worse, that the president had no intention of even trying to replace them. And it was clear that he had in fact lied about the entire apparatus of the Affordable Care Act, which destroyed incomes, crippled the entirety of the middle class, and put quality health insurance out of reach for most of the people who had obtained it before.
What made people angrier was that all the while, the liberal media-entertainment complex that had fully entrenched itself during George W. Bush’s administration was operating at full steam and completely unopposed during Obama’s tenure in office. While working-class Americans were doing their best to make ends meet, the people they looked to for entertainment in the evenings were telling them everything was going just fine. Worse still, in order to distract from the absolutely awful state of the Obama white house, the politically correct narratives involving race, gender, and sexuality were pumped up into high gear.
So the playing field had been appropriately prepared for a right-wing alternative. The rise of places like Rebel Media, PJ Media, and Breitbart were tailor-made to appeal to the disenfranchised America that had a hard time swallowing the crap pouring out of the White House, while older sites like InfoWars and Drudge Report were going strong. As the pivotal election year approached, Daily Wire and CRTV stepped in after PJ Media’s collapse. Figures like Milo Yiannopoulos, who gained fame from being an outspoken and vulgar supporter of Gamergate, along with the likes of Ben Shapiro, managed to secure speaking engagements on unfriendly college campuses due to the support of burgeoning young conservative groups.
By 2015, conservatism seemed to be dominating YouTube. Popular lefties like Dave Rubin migrated to the center and, later, begrudgingly adopted “right-wing” ideals by becoming libertarians. People who had used the platform for years found that the vitriol surrounding left wing politics was too sharp a double-edged sword to handle safely. Soon enough, the LA conservative, a term that seems like it should be a contradiction, began to thrive.
But take a look at what these characters are espousing. Despite their infighting, their platforms all consist of the same failed libertarian doctrines that have been known to be wrong since the nineteenth century. They like free markets but they support Free Trade at the same time. Any form of legal immigration is a nonissue. Half of them are atheist, and the other half have surrendered all moral authority to the state, the media, or the school system. The only conservative thing about them is their desire to prevent innocent children from being killed in the womb. This new wave of conservative entertainment and “journalism” is nothing more than a series of talking heads that don’t actually say anything.
Take, for example, the recent round table discussion that our aforementioned Dave Rubin put on last week. The figures depicted, alongside the likes of Sam Harris, have been played up as vanguards of a controversial strain of thought—so virulent as to deserve its own moniker: the intellectual dark web, a term so ridiculous it’s incredible anyone actually believes its veracity. And yet such an opinion editorial, which at once reveals and discusses the ideas of these edgy renegades, was published in the New York Times.
This is a common theme. Ben Shapiro regularly ends up on mainstream media—from Fox News to MSNBC. Jordan Peterson—a guy who doesn’t even identify as conservative or right wing—is thrown into studios and put in front of cameras at almost every opportunity. Just a week ago he was even on Comedy Central. And Sam Harris has had his feet wet in academic guest-lecturing for more than a decade now. These guys aren’t an intellectual vanguard of taboo ideas; they’re repeating the same milquetoast centerline talking points that have been part of the Republican party since the Clinton days, but they’re somehow even less radical than those since none of them espouse anything resembling an evangelical or religious ideology.
Yet this is what we’re supposed to believe is the rising conservative movement in America. We’re told that the Ben Shapiros and Jordan Petersons are the ones who are going to make a difference—the guys that support a globalized hegemonic order in which the United States is but a small piece, where the term “nation” is defined merely as a set of policed boundaries that allows admittance so long as the proper paperwork is filed, and where defending free speech is still considered a radical concept.
None of these guys have debated serious people that disagree with them. Every debate they’ve participated in has been the sort of staged publicity stunt involving far-left caricatures. And there’s a reason for that: these people hold no ideas that are worth discussing. Just listen to a bit of that round table discussion. Most of it is spent with each person patting himself on the back for being so good at talking into the ether. Saying something? Making assertions? Pursuing the truth and the good? Why would you want to do any of that when you’ve got million-dollar media deals in the pipeline? It’s a joke.
Where the neocons of ten years ago were actively engaged in policy decisions, the new conservative contingent represented by Ben Shapiro have taken a different and, likely, more effective one: use the new media to engage directly with the populous. Get into the culture. Become a living meme, because if you become the meme, you have pretty much secured your brand. And the brand gets you out there. And you can bet that Shapiro had help getting propelled into the national spotlight.
The reality is that the present position of American politics seems almost entirely unprecedented in the post-Cold War period: a genuine attempt at reestablishing a government for the people. Obama’s 2008 campaign of optimism and hope, embodied in the populism of his platform, was immediately destroyed upon his cabinet reveal and subsequent early-term policies. His economic policies—if you could call them that—revealed another Democrat crook who shilled for international interests, and his foreign policy of seemingly indiscriminate drone warfare expanded the legacy of his support base’s hated enemy: George W. Bush. He was less charming, worse at lying, and more pretentious than the previous Democrat who occupied the White House, and the state of the market when he took office didn’t help any of that.
Barack Obama was not the man of the people that he billed himself as, and his 2012 election, lacking accomplishments and having thoroughly wrecked healthcare, was run not according to a message of hope and change but to a message of virulent bloodlust for his political opposition. Four years of treading water revealed the reality of Obama’s administration.
Accusations of Trump being another Obama have been flying even before the election night two years ago—most common is, of course, his being yet another puppet for Israel and a slave to the international banking interests. And yet, watch his appointees. Watch his cabinet. Watch his administration personnel.
His first confirmed Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch turned out not to be the limp-wristed moderate dilettante that the Never Trumpers expected, but a hardline constitutionalist worthy of succeeding the late Scalia. Meanwhile, Trump has played fast and hard with his hiring and firing inside the White House staff. Part of this could just be media circus, but it’s more likely that he’s doing this to keep the administration mobile and independent. No one advisor stays in favor for any significant length of time. He plays the Washington elite for fools and mocks the press at almost every opportunity.
The defeated Never Trump movement was part of a greater effort. This new contingent of internet conservatives, like the neocons before them, occupy a position in broader scope of the Republican party that serves to undermine genuinely conservative interests. What at first appears to be a welcome change of pace from the liberal mainstream turns out to be another method of pulling would-be conservative interests back to that mythical “center” of American politics, but it’s a center that, up until 2016, had been drifting further and further to the left for decades.
These people are not doing America any favors. What America needs isn’t staid and insubstantial conversations about free speech and how stupid Social Justice Warriors are. The internet has done such a good job making fun of those idiots that it’s considered outdated to even bother now. What America needs are a lot of things that these intellectual renegades won’t touch with a ten foot pole: a coherent definition of nation and family, and the strong defense of both. They’ve proven already that don’t like what those definitions entail.