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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Tim Blair watch « Previous | |Next »
May 18, 2003

I see that Tim Blair is having a bit of fun at my expense. (See Saturday 17 May, 6.38PM) He quotes this text from National Review Online about the use and abuse of the term "neoconservative" by liberals by one no less that Jonah Goldeberg himself. Tim quotes this:

"In fact, neoconservative has become a Trojan Horse for a vast arsenal of ideological attacks and insinuations. For some it means Jewish conservative. For others it means hawk. A few still think it means squishy conservative or ex-liberal. And a few don't even know what the word means, they just think it makes them sound knowledgeable when they use it."

And public opinion is fingered by Tim as being the local example of being someone who don't even know what the word means and who just thinks it makes them sound knowledgeable when they use it. No particular web entry is mentioned so it must be all of them.

I do use the term neo-con a lot on this weblog because there is such a political beast. And just to set the record straight, see this text.

At public opinion neo-con means two things. It means

".....former liberals (which explains the "neo" prefix) who advocate an aggressive unilateralist vision of U.S. global supremacy, which includes a close strategic alliance with Israel." There is a bit more on the foreign policy side of things here and here

The historical background to US neconservatism can be found here. This book gives a deeper levelled and historical meaning to neo-con.

So neo-con also means favoring the self-organizing market and minimal state; support a minimal welfare as safety net, the rule of traditional elites, and the return to traditional cultural values. In short they are a mixture of libertarian and conservative.

I reckon that should do for starters.

Oh, by the way, Tim Blair is an Australian neocon. So is Christopher Pearson.

And John Quiggin is a social democrat.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:34 PM | | Comments (16)


I'd say the neocons are getting a little nervous that too much information about their history, makeup and m.o. is being disseminated to the masses. As they prefer to masquerade as nonchalant outsiders rather than the fanatical and impassioned partisans operating from smack in the middle of a massive power base, they hope to throw up a little smoke to obscure the facts. Not that they need worry in reality. With the backing of Murdoch's market penetration they're pretty secure from any real exposure. (The alternet link was the type of thing I've been after for ages - thanks.)

The neo-cons of current global society are the new cancer in the body of human evolution. They believe the best of aims are theirs and only theirs, all other considerations must fall by the way. I'm sure Hitler, et al thought likewise. Neo-cons don't like the limelight either, especially when the limelight paints them for exactly what they are. Divisive scare-mongerers railing against anyone and anything that doesn't conform to their thought processes. Tim Blair strikes me as one such. Why no comment function on that site of yours, Tim?

Wow I'm a cancer? That's another of my life ambitions fulfilled!

I'd rather be a malevolent virus, but cancer is ok too.

I wanna be lupus!

As far as Australia is concerned, neocon is a misnomer. Australia simply has no serious conservative tradition which can be 'neo'd'.
Those journos/commentators who'd consider themselves neocon - Blair, Ackerman, Pearson, Shanahan, Milne etc - are just storm troopers for the federal Liberal government. But like their idol Howard, they lack substance and depth. Their 'ideology', as far as it goes, is materialist, and has very little intellectual basis beyond a confused attitude towards the role of the state and a reverence for economics (which they raise, quite undeservedly, to the level of a science instead of an imprecise art). Most marked is their use of vituperation, irrational invective and character assassination when attacking those with whom they disagree.
Blair is contemptible. On his w3 site he does nothing but quote out of context, build straw men (women) and make smart-assed, half-baked comments, while avoiding debate. His ongoing ridicule of Margo Kingston, whatever you may think of her or her writing, is immature, undergraduate. It might be time to stop picking the wings off flies, Blair, and show us what you're really capable of. And what the substance of this putative Australian neocon ideology really is.

Compared to the US, the Aust'n strain isn't especially virulent... they're really neo-neocons, as they seem to flick thru the Speccie and the Weekly Standard over a cappucino or chardonnay on the weekend in order to furnish themselves with up-to-date and Rove-approved subjects for the next column or two. Original they're not.

Blair's lack of a comment facility aligns with his superiors Reynolds and Sullivan. They always get the last word, glib as it normally is.

Complaints from that quarter about nomenclature are a bit rich. So says a self-confessed hand-wringing, tree-hugging, bleeding heart, blame-America-first knee-jerk leftist. (Horrible feeling I missed something.. Mr Blair would no doubt be able to help. In Gary's comments box.


you can be you know. It is just a question of choice.

Nothing like the Guilt-By-Association tactic to attack those you don't like, eh? Save you that hard job of dissecting what they say.

Label them as Neo-con and Bingo! you have a new ad hominum attack in your arsenal.

Yeah, what Glenn said.


I thought I was providing some intellectual background to my use of the word neo-con and gave two examples. I do not see that the post was abusive. To indicate that I said John Quiggin was a social democrat.

I have often analyzed the writings of Christopher Pearson in the Weekend Australian. There have been lots of posts on Australian conservatism at

How about you analyzing where I've gone wrong in sketching an account of what the Australian neo-cons stand for. If you did then maybe where we could have a debate and sort some of the issues out.

Remember when liberals were funny and conservatives were boring? And when liberals were smart and conservatives stodgy? How'd everything get turned around?

That may be so, but it definitely seems as though you are using Neo-con as a term of disaprobation.


They are a political opponent for sure. But so is the left an opponent for conservatives.

Its not a question of goodies and baddies. You can have a debate with opponents of issues that matter to us.

Trouble is, in Australia, we don't. We avoid it----on both sides.

You could say its the evasion of philosophy.

I guess it happened when some people were asleep at the wheel.

See what I mean?