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Neoconservative VS Conservative: Similarities

Neoconservative VS Conservative: Similarities

Irving Kristol (father of neoconservatism) said that a neoconservative is a term used to describe a “liberal mugged by reality” who has become more conservative when they saw the consequences that liberal policies had. 

Kristol identified three distinct characteristics of neoconservatism that differ from other forms of conservatism.

Neo-conservatives were forward-looking that was rooted in their liberal past and not the dour and reactionary conservatism of earlier conservatives. They also took a more positive stance in recommending alternative reforms, instead of merely slamming social liberal reforms. And they took philosophical notions and ideologies seriously.

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What is a neoconservative?

Newspapers stacked on top of eachother
 Neoconservatives generally advocate for the advancement of democracy

Neoconservatism (commonly abbreviated to neocon) is an American political movement that began in the United States during the 1960s in the 1960s among conservative-leaning Democrats who were dissatisfied with the foreign policy of their party.

“Neoconservatism” or “neoconservative” refers to those who made the transition between the Stalinist-friendly Left to the side that is American conservatism. Neoconservatives generally advocate for the advancement of democracy as well as the promotion of American national interests in international affairs, which includes using military force. They are also known for their disdain for communism as well as political radicalism.

Black Power advocates, who have accused White liberals, as well as Northern Jews of hypocrisy on integration, as well as accusing them of promoting perceived settler colonialism in the Israel-Palestinian conflict and “anticommunism”, which included significant support for Marxist-Leninist political ideology in the 1960s. 

A lot of neoconservatives were frightened by what they believed to be Anti-Semitic views that were exhibited by Black Power advocates. Irving Kristol edited the journal The Public Interest (1965-2005) which featured political scientists and economists and emphasized how government policies in the liberal state caused unintended harm. 

Many of the earliest neoconservative political leaders were dissatisfied Democratic intellectuals and politicians like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was a member of both the Nixon as well as the Ford administrations, as well as Jeane Kirkpatrick, who was in the capacity of United States Ambassador to the United Nations in the Reagan administration. Many left-wing academics, like Frank Meyer and James Burnham, later joined the conservative movement of the period.

For more information about this topic, have a quick look at this video.

A quick explanation on neoconservatism

What is conservatism?

Conservatism within the United States is a political and social philosophy that puts a premium on American traditions of republicanism, classical liberalism, and a limited federal government with respect to the states.

It is often referred to simply as states’ rights and limited government rights. Conservative as well as Christian media organizations, as well as American conservatives, are influential and American conservatism is among the most popular political ideologies in the Republican Party. 

In terms of social issues, American conservatives generally support Christian beliefs, moral absolutism traditional family values, American individualism, and the concept of exceptionalism but oppose the idea of marriage equality and abortion. 

Concerning economic issues, it tends to be pro-capitalism and in opposition to trade unions. In national matters, it usually calls for a robust national defense and gun rights, as well as free trade, and the protection from Western culture from the perceived threat that is posed by communism as well as moral relativism. 

Conservatives tend to be more likely than liberals and moderates to have a negative view of science, specifically the field of medical science, climate science, and evolution.

Therefore, it is somewhat similar to neoconservatism, but they have their differences present too.

Different Types of Conservatism

The United States map in red and blue
There are a variety of forms of conservativism. One of them is neoconservatism.

The conservatism of the United States is not a one-way thought. Barry Goldwater in the 1960s advocated a “free enterprise” conservatism. Jerry Falwell in the 1980s advocated the traditional moral and religious social values. It was the challenge of Ronald Reagan to bring these groups together into a coalition that could be elected.

In the 21st century of the United States, types of conservatism are:


Neoconservatism is a new style of conservatism that supports a more aggressive and interventionist foreign policy that aims to promote democracy overseas. It’s not averse to an active government in the home but is more focused on international issues. 

Neoconservatism was initially defined by a group of liberals discontented with the liberal system, and that is why Irving Kristol, usually credited as its intellectual ancestor described a neoconservative to be “a liberal who was mugged by reality.” Though initially viewed as a method of addressing domestic policy (the primary instrument of Kristol’s The Public Interest periodical, didn’t even include foreign matters) by virtue of the influence of people like Dick Cheney, Robert Kagan, Richard Perle, Kenneth Adelman, and (Irving’s son) Bill Kristol, it is now most well-known for its connection to policies of foreign affairs under that of the George W. Bush administration in the Middle East that used aggressive military actions to defend Democracy and American interests.

1) List includes public people identified as neoconservative at an important time.

  • George W. Bush
  • Jeb Bush
  • Dick Cheney
  • Chris Christie
  • Tom Cotton
  • Mike Pompeo
  • Marco Rubio

2) List includes traditionalist conservatives, including a few Americans:

  • Ralph Adams Cram
  • Solani Hertz
  • William S. Lind
  • Charles A. Coulombe

Christian Conservatism

Christian conservatism, which supporters are mostly focused on the traditional family values that are rooted in religious beliefs. The most common positions are of it is believed that the United States was founded as a Christian country, rather than a secular which is why abortion is not acceptable and should be a matter of prayers in public schools and the concept of intelligent design, or Creationism must be taught in schools along with evolution and that marriage is a relationship between two people. 

Many criticize the sexuality and profanity present in contemporary media and in society, usually in opposition to pornography, and in favor of sexual education that is abstinence-only. This group strongly backed Reagan during the 1980 presidential election. However, they strongly opposed the 1981 appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court because she supported the right of women to have abortions. The Supreme Court confirmed her anyway.

Constitutional Conservatism

Constitutional conservatism is a type of conservatism within the boundaries set by the United States Constitution, defending the constitutionalism structures and protecting the fundamentals of the United States Constitution. The most prominent of these principles is the protection of liberty. This type of conservatism grew within the Republican Party in the early 20th century, as a response to progressive tendencies within the party. It is also believed to be influential in today’s Tea Party movement. Conservatism in the Constitution has also been linked to judiciary originalism.

Fiscal Conservatism

Fiscal conservatism is a kind of conservatism that is based on low taxes and limited government spending.

Libertarian Conservatism

Libertarian conservatism is a combination of libertarianism and conservatism. This type of ideology is focused on a strict definition of the Constitution, especially with respect to federal power. 

Libertarian conservatism is comprised of an expansive, and sometimes discordant, a coalition of social moderates who favor business, also known as “deficit hawks”, those who prefer a more strict application of rights for states and individual liberty advocates, and a lot of people who put their liberal social philosophies above their fiscal values. 

This kind of thinking is characterized by the laissez-faire economy and an unbiased opinion of the federal government as well as its surveillance programs, and its military intervention in foreign countries. The emphasis of libertarian conservatives on individual liberty often results in them having views that are in opposition to the social conservatives, particularly in regards to issues such as abortion, marijuana, and gay weddings. Ron Paul and his son Rand Paul have been influential supporters of the Republican presidential race but they also maintain many conservative social values.

Movement Conservatism

Movement conservatism is an internal term for conservatives as well as it is also known as the New Right within the United States.

National Conservatism

National conservatism is a contemporary form of conservatism that focuses on preserving the identity of national and cultural significance. The ideology is supported by the supporters of Donald Trump. Donald Trump breaks with the “conservative consensus, forged by Cold War politics” of “markets and moralism”. 

It aims to protect national interests, focuses on American nationalist values as well as strict law-and-order policies, and the concept of social conservation (family as a family unit and a symbol of identity) and opposes illegal immigration, and favors freedom of market or laissez-faire policy. A political conference in 2019 featuring “public figures, journalists, scholars, and students” has been dubbed this type of conservatism “National Conservatism”. The critics say its adherents are simply trying to pull “a coherent ideology out of the chaos of the Trumpist moment”.


Paleoconservatism is, in part, it is a revival from it, a rebirth of the Old Right arising in the 1980s as a reaction to neoconservatism. It emphasizes tradition, specifically Christian tradition, and the importance of society and society’s needs for the family tradition. 

Some, like Samuel P. Huntington, argue that multiracial, multicultural, and egalitarian states are unbalanced. Paleoconservatives are typically isolationist and skeptical of influence from outside. They are the editors of The American Conservative and Chronicles. Chronicles along with The American Conservative are generally thought of as being paleoconservative in the sense that they are akin to a paleoconservative.

Social Conservatism

Social conservatism is a type of conservatism focusing on the protection of moral values that have been a part of the past.

Traditional Conservatism

Traditionalist conservatism is a type of conservatism opposed to the rapid changes in politics as well as social systems. This form that is conservative is anti-ideological as it emphasizes meaning (slow changes) over goals (any particular type of governance). 

For the traditionalist, whether one ends up with a right- or left-wing political system is not as significant as the fact that change occurs through the laws instead of through revolution or utopian ideas.

What do neoconservatives generally advocate?

A red and blue masks on an envelope
Neoconservatives believe that the United States should take an active role in world affairs.

Neoconservatives generally advocate a free-market economy with minimum taxation and government economic regulation; strict limits on government-provided social-welfare programs; and a strong military supported by large defense budgets.

Unlike most conservatives of earlier generations, neoconservatives maintain that the United States should take an active role in world affairs.

Neoconservatives also believe that cutting tax rates will stimulate steady economic growth and that the steady decline in our democratic culture unites neoconservatives with traditional conservatives.

Here’s a quick comparison of Neoconservatism, Paleoconservatism, and Neoliberalism:

Paleoconservatism “Old Right”Neoliberalism “Liberatarians”Neoconservatism “New Right”
1. Oppose the New Deal
2. Support Protectionist and
Isolationist measures
3. Favor Social Conservatism
and Traditional Values
1. Prefer Small Government
2. Favor Negative Liberty
3. Safeguard Individual Freedom
4. Promote Free Market Capitalism
5. Want Greater Protections for Private Property
1. Tolerate Larger Government and Federal Budget to Promote Favorable Policies.
2. Support Some Social Programs.
3. War Hawks
4. Encourage the Spread of Democracy
5. Favor Corporate Power
6. Promote Free Market Capitalism
7. Want to Restore Class Power.


Conservatism refers to the political belief that seeks to preserve American traditions of republicanism, classical liberalism, and a limited federal government with respect to the states. Neoconservatism, on the other hand, is a type of conservatism that supports a more aggressive and interventionist foreign policy.

Summing up the concept of conservatism by quoting one of Buckley’s chapters “Up from Liberalism” In it, Buckley praises the conservative view founded upon “freedom, individuality, the sense of community, the sanctity of the family, the supremacy of the conscience, the spiritual view of life.” In only two paragraphs, Buckley offers a concise outline of conservatism’s fundamental principles.

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