A Challenge for Aaron (and Mark, and Bill, and Larry, and C…)

Hola de Puerto Rico

One of Thomas P.M. Barnett’s main theme is that they “do know better” — that enemies are not stupid, but understand the world and see where the current trends are leading. That is why they are enemies — they do not like that future.

When I watched it, I thought one of the weaknesses of “The Power of Nightmares” was its cartoonish claim of a secret alliance between “Neoconservatives” and Evangelical Christians. A throw-away line in Niall Ferguson’s “Colossus” has made me re-evaluate that criticism. I need to think it through, but after that one sentence the naturalness of a “neocon” and “religious right” alliance is clear as it never was before.

I will blog on that (with diagrams!) when I get back. But in the meantime: what is the current relationship between “neoconservatives” and religious conservatives? Is there anything natural about that relationship?

-Dan (en San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Update: For answer see here

4 thoughts on “A Challenge for Aaron (and Mark, and Bill, and Larry, and C…)”

  1. There is nothing secret about the neocon alliance with the christian right. Both are part of the general center-right coalition that generally votes Republican in the US. The religious right is there pretty much by definition as long as the Republicans are the center-right party and the neocons have been in alliance since they realized that Ho Chi Minh wasn't a lovable land reformer and were excommunicated by the left for their apostasy.

    There are two general christian responses to a future that they do not like. One is the Benedictine response of monastic fortresses holding fast to keep the light lit through the dark times. The other is defensive war to push back the invaders (the crusades, however imperfectly executed, fit this tradition). The two responses work in tandem, not in conflict.

    I'm not quite sure I see the religious right as being fundamentally unhappy with current trends. It's the religious left, with their fast emptying churches, that has much more to worry about in the US.

  2. hey Dan

    You should be downing margaritas by now and chasing women, not blogging- but a challenge is a challenge….

    First, I'll yield on the Christian intellectual tradition to TM, a subject on which I'm spotty at best.

    Second, I'll start by saying that you should throw out everything that Juan Cole has ever said about neoconservatism – he's just flat-out wrong in his analysis and views the movement only through a ME -Israel-Palestinian prism. Which is,frankly, ahistorical ( and I've told him so in online debates).

    Third, I'm not sure it is an alliance so much as a set of congruent objectives held by two very dissimilar demographic groups. Outside of Ralph Reed, I can't think of too many Religious Right leaders who are culturally comfortable schmoozing at a Bill Kristol cocktail party. They are simply two groups gifted with the same enemies.

    The Neocons originally gelled with the Christian Right on anti-Communism and issues of public morality in the 1980's. Gertrude Himmelfarb and Bill Bennett played just as large a role here in finding common ground with Evangelicals as did William Casey, Jeane Kirkpatrick and Norman Podhoretz. Israel really wasn't a top-tier concern before Intifada I. with both parties strongly being pro-Israel.

    Today, some Evangelicals are religiously motivated to support Israel by what they interpret as God's scriptural injunction toward Israel*” I shall bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you “* others Evangelicals are not because Christian anti-semitism is just as much a traditional strand within Evangelical Christianity as ” Christian Zionism” ( recall the leader of the Southern Baptists who told the media that ” God does not hear the prayers of a Jew” ? ). Neocons are pro-Israel and some though not most are Jewish, leading to charges of dual loyalty and Likudnikization on the far Left or far Right.

    My take is that Richard Perle doesn't spend his time hobnobbing with Jerry Falwell and the neocons are happy to have the help the Religious Right provides the GOP but it is an alliance of convenience.

  3. I yield both to TM and Mark on this subject. I really don't have any insight into the different political parties. However, I did catch an interview on C-span not long ago in which Richard Perle said he would have been out of Iraq a long time ago if he had his way. This leads me to believe the Neocons don't think too much of globalization, but I don't even know that for sure. I suspect, by definition alone, they do not support it.

  4. I can't say that I think it's natural. I know that in my eyes, Republicans are the enemy so their deviousness may be exaggerated, but it seems like I have seen time and again that the mainstream right is willing to use what resources are at its disposal. Bush is giving money to faith-based organizations, but I have yet to see him push the abortion issue as hard as he could, and the gay marriage issue seems to have fallen by the wayside. It almost seems like the electable Right used the malleable RR to get somewhere, made some meager concessions to them, but are unwilling to seal the deal. Bush has said “Give my nominees a vote” but hasn't gotten as involved with Frist as he might if his faction of the party were a little more zealous. I'm sure you'll have a number of abbreviations and diagrams when you return to explain it, but it seems to be a marriage of convenience.

    In regards to TM Lutas' comment, I must agree. As a former member of the religious left before Intelligent Design won me over (mocking) I do see declining numbers and declining influence. And I fear that it's the issue of guilt and fear that's not keeping the pews full. The Catholics and Lutherans are saying “smoke pot, sleep around, Jesus loves you anyways (as long as you confess, Catholics)” but the Baptist and other further Right denominations I've attended were more “God hates fags and you'll go to hell if you don't attend church consistently” I think this society of soul-fear combined with the air of superiority they're constantly washed in (we're saved, therefore you are trash) makes membership not so much appealing as compulsory or even to some, intoxicating. As I've told Dan many times, I'm quite concerned about the coming theocracy in America. My only hope is that Falwell and Robertson are indicted in some awful child pornography scandal before the next election so McCain can win the primaries.

    I didn't mind the small government, pro-business, lower taxes Republicans. I liked it when my business was my own. The new breed frightens me. If I choose to sodomize Antonin Scalia's wife, and she consents, that's our business, not the government's. I'm still trying to figure out where in the original Republican manifesto record-setting deficits were approved. The PAYGO Republicans weren't too shabby. The GOTOHELL Republicans are rather.

  5. Aaron's words deserve a better treatment than I can give from a metered 'net cafe in Aruba, but quickly:

    Bush has energetically pushed the pro-life agenda. The revival of the Mexico City policy is having great effects internationally (if the America media doesn't care, because its over there). Likewise, the partial-birth-abortion ban would have more effect if the courts weren't blocking it.

    The fight for the courts is seen by all parties as part of the abortion struggle. Saying “We are dealing with courts, not abortion” is like saying “Americans were fighting in France in World War I, not Germany.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *