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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Neoconservativism and the Labor Market

Neoconservativism and the Labor Market

by Norman Birnbaum
Years ago, a tale was told of an experiment in which thousands of primates (chimpanzees and Hollywood scriptwriters) were set to work typing to see if Shakespearian texts would result. What came out was mostly gibberish, though occasional strands of English could be discerned here and there. A similar process seems to be at work inside certain sections of the Republican Party. Donald Trump certainly has the intelligence, if not the manners, of one of the higher primates—but it remains a considerable puzzle how he arrived at his foreign policy notions.
These opinions of Trump disturb the experts and ideologues who have attached themselves in recent decades to the Republican Party and who go by the name of “neoconservatives,” despite their remoteness from what remains of the nation’s conservative intellectual traditions and the civilized habits of discourse.
Their present dilemma may be as much a matter of the labor market as a concern about our national destiny. The electoral campaign has brought a recrudescence of the project of American renewal through investments in bridges and highways, urban and rural infrastructure, public transport, and high speed railways now so familiar to travelers to Asia and Europe. Those who bemoan our backwardness in these respects often overlook a striking American achievement—begun in 1940 and constantly expanded since. Our imperial resources include large and ever-increasing numbers of intellectual and political combatants. The budgets for the CIA, Department of Defense, State Department, and other federal agencies—known and less known, open and covert—include direct and indirect subsidies for an interminable project of explanation and justification of our global role—or, rather, several global roles since the projects are not infrequently in conflict. To actual employment in government there are added consultancies, appointments in centers of research and universities, and subsidized posts of all kinds. The physicists assure us that the universe is expanding, and it is singular that the neoconservatives should fear for their futures: none can sight a hand turning off a spigot.

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