The single greatest threat to America, according to many neocons, is not communism or radical Islam but nihilism, and they see nihilism as the inevitable outcome of Enlightenment liberalism and America’s founding principles. The real problem with liberal-capitalist society for Strauss, Kristol, and Brooks is that individuals do not sacrifice themselves to anything higher than themselves and their petty self-interest. What America needs, therefore, is a two-step antidote for its cultural malaise: the inculcation of public virtue and the promotion of nationalism. The neocons seek to restore a public philosophy that promotes sacrifice as the great moral ideal and patriotism as the great political ideal.
I almost choked reading that passage. If there are any Americans who have wholeheartedly embodied a complete negation of anything other than self-interest, it has been the neocons. On the purely economic side, they successfully fought for the removal of all reasonable regulation of the financial markets, which led to the greatest global economic crisis in 78 years, one from which we're still recovering. They also successfully fought for deficit-exploding tax cuts that sunk precious little into the economy to spur increases in jobs, real wages, or American wealth (except for the top 0.1%, of course). And they did this, in large part, by convincing hard-working middle-class Americans, for whom there would be no benefit, material or otherwise, to vote against their own interests for candidates whose largest contributors were raking in record corporate profits. Plus, they paid lip service to the idea of sacrifice for a pie-in-the-sky social agenda, while during this whole time, gay marriage has become more widely recognized, abortion remains legal and safe, and God remains largely out of the public sphere. What a scam they have pulled. I want to see how Grover Norquist has sacrificed. I want to see how John McCain has sacrificed (and losing an election for president doesn't count). I want to see how Dick Cheney has sacrificed (well, he might be one of the only ones who has sacrificed. After all, he risks arrest for war crimes if he ever leaves United States soil).
On the non-economic side, neocons have done nothing to embody self-sacrifice. How many neocons in positions of power have sent their sons and daughters to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan? How many of them are buying American cars? Vacationing in Hawaii and the Florida Keys rather than on non-American-registered cruise ships? How many of them are volunteering and donating more of their incomes to charity? Sarah Palin is right about one thing: the neocons like the Bushes and Cheneys are "blue bloods," elites whose idea of sacrifice is riding in a town car instead of a double stretch limo, or foregoing memberships at toney tennis clubs to play at a local park.
In the neocon view, Leona Helmsley said it best: taxes are for the little people.
Neoconservatism stands for nothing -- no government regulation of corporations, no restrictions on American hegemony, no restrictions on Executive Power, no paying for any big government spending with corresponding increases in revenue, no acceptance of anything except American exceptionalism even in the face of America's decline in influence all over the world, no reality except that which they define, no objectivity in the corporate owned media, no net neutrality, no Fairness Doctrine, no free primary and secondary education for everyone, and no end to the party in D.C. celebrating their attachment to corporate welfare from the government they despise.