Whats in a name?

The so-called neo-conservatives have the wrong name. They aren’t really neoconservatives at all. They are neocolonialists.

Like the old-fashioned colonialists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they are intensely nationalistic, and firmly believe in maintaining a strong military force as the ultimate means of enforcing their views. Diplomacy is for dealing with allies and other equals, not for managing outcomes with lesser breeds like Iraqis or Afghans. As concerns these “lesser” types, the modern neocolonialist has a somewhat updated version of the old French “mission civilizatrice”, in which “civilizing” is equated with uprooting traditional political and social habits and replacing them with modern institutions patterned on ours, that happen to be favorably disposed to the metropole’s mercantile interests.

The differences between the neoconservatives and what we always used to consider regular conservatives are as striking as the similarities between the neoconservatives and the colonialists. I grew up understanding that real conservatives wanted the government to leave them alone as much as possible and favored fiscal frugality. The neoconservative love affair with a strong military establishment has led them to plunge us into the worst spending spree in our history and their obsession with terrorism has brought us to the brink of an Orwellian future where the state has its finger on the pulse of every citizen. The true conservative’s own obsessions, notably on abortion, bore the true neocon.

Why do we let these atavistic retreads from a past that is justly buried in history get away with pretending to be the bold new incarnations of American conservatism? Wouldn’t it be more truthful simply to refer to them, henceforth, as neocolonialists? And wouldn’t that help clarify our thinking as to what is happening to our country?

Carl Coon

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