American Neoconservatism: The Politics and Culture of a Reactionary Idealism

Paperback
In this book, Jean-Francois Drolet contributes to a critical engagement with American neoconservatism at the level of its intellectual foundations. Situated at the interface of the disciplines of International Relations, political theory and the history of ideas, the book moves beyond recent debates over the intricacies of the Bush administration's foreign policy to offer a deeper look at the philosophical premises of this 'new' conservatism in light of the historical events and changing social compacts that have created a demand for it over the past decades. It surveys neoconservative discourses on a wide range of issue areas such as democracy, the liberal state, capitalism, national security, international law and global liberal governance, and draws attention to the systematic links between the domestic and international dimensions of neoconservative political sociology. Taking issue with its self-image, Drolet argues and demonstrates that American neoconservatism is not the centrist 'liberal' conservatism that it pretends to be - and that many analysts have diagnosed in recent years. To the extent neoconservatism is committed to the Enlightenment discourse of liberalism, these commitments are firmly subordinated to an authoritarian form of cultural and philosophical conservatism, which is in fact ferociously predatory on liberal values and practices. Neoconservatism is not a conservative variant of liberalism but a deeply atavistic reaction to liberal modernity. It owes a lot more to the authoritarian intellectual milieu of interwar Europe than to the liberal tradition that its protagonists allegedly want to reform and protect against its enemies.