Reply To: Books/articles on neoconservatism


Well idk because it’s sort of a personal choice.

If it were me, though, I wouldn’t make the Iraq War/last decade my focus, if only because it’s been done to death (if, usually, done badly – it’s not necessarily a defense of Neoconservatism to point out that many people get so wracked up about what they see as the wrongs of the Iraq War that they’re unable to look at the Neoconservatives involved with sufficient dispassion to understand their perspective and present it fairly, even while disagreeing with it).

If it were me, I’d write about the intellectual roots of neoconservatism, it’s early emphasis not just on foreign policy (“cold war liberals”) but on domestic policy, and the reason why what we might term “right liberals*” moved from the camp of the left to the camp of the right; then in the last part of the paper you could touch on why this led them to support an “activist” foreign policy.

That will allow you to get some distance from the passions of current events (which are certainly understandable, mind – if you think some group’s policies led to the unencessary deaths of tens, hundreds of thousands of people, well if that’s not something to get passionate about, then what is? – but the problem is, IMO, those emotions too frequently lead people astray in analysis. Again, it would be appropriate for a polemical paper).

But this suggestion on a narrower topic reflects my own personal, distinct outlook as to what I often find interesting; I like “history of intellectual development/intellectual movements,” so naturally that’s going to be how I recommend approaching it. But I do think it would have merit here, if the overall purpose of the paper is an understanding of a political-intellectual movement.

Plus I find that whole era (60s/early 70s) where so much developed to be fascinating, because it’s still not well understood just why everything unfolded as it did. It’s rather amazing the country went in 4 or 5 years from having one set of norms/cultural outlook to something rather unlike those (this can be seen visually – compare/contrast the typical image or film or tv program from, say, 1965/66 to that of 1970/71). The neoconservatives were a part of that, mostly in how they reacted to it.

*using “liberal” of course in the modern, conventional sense.