Principalities & Powers

(Con)fusion on the Right

For the last year or so, neoconservatism has been the subject of an astonishing number of discussions, examinations, and denunciations by the far and “mainstream” left as well as by the right, soft and not so soft.  The reason for the scrutiny, of course, is that you cannot expect to engineer an entire war, concoct a series of bold-faced lies about why the war should be fought, and identify the interests of Israel as being indistinguishable from those of the United States, and then denounce everyone who disagrees or criticizes you as “unpatriotic” and “antisemitic” without inviting comment.  Nevertheless, the neoconservatives’ poor cousins, the paleoconservatives, have not been entirely exempt from scrutiny and criticism themselves.  There was the botched hatchet job undertaken by David Frum in National Review last year, but, more recently, two other writers, both hostile to the paleos, have delivered their own 40 whacks at the paleo head.

The first is Adam Wolfson, editor of the Public Interest and virtually unknown outside of it.  In the Winter 2004 issue, Mr. Wolfson, himself a neoconservative, published an article entitled “Conservatives and Neoconservatives.”  Much of what he says about conservatism, its history, and the various subspecies included in it is simply wrong, and, in general, the article is not worth reading.  What...

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