Almost every day one hears of liberals of the left and conservatives of the right. Constant revision of what these terms mean in a political sense has rendered them obsolete almost from the moment they first were used to describe political movements. Even the terms “liberal” and “conservative” constantly change meaning.
In general, the "right" supports nationalism, rejects egalitarianism, and denies that progress is inevitable. Egalitarianism (from French égal, meaning "equal")—or, rarely, equalitarianism favors equality for all people. Egalitarian doctrines maintain that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status. The term has two distinct definitions in modern English. It is defined either as a political doctrine that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights or as a social philosophy advocating the removal of economic inequalities among people, economic egalitarianism, or the decentralization of power. Some sources define egalitarianism as the point of view that equality reflects the natural state of humanity. In common usage the term right carries the meaning of conservatism. It falls to the right (as defined by these writers) to undertake "holding actions" not always marked by their brilliance, honesty, or effectiveness (consider the Republican Party since, say, 1952). In "democratic" countries the right generally advocates "a little less, please" to voters more likely to be swayed by promises of more. The "left," by contrast, is internationalist, radically egalitarian, and militantly progressive. Further, the left has been the aggressor in the war of ideas. In general, the term left describes the liberals.
Between world wars, the fascist movements combined themes of the right with much of the program of the left. Conservative or right-wing socialism describes support for social solidarity and paternalism as opposed to individualism, commercialism, and laissez-faire economics. The fundamental objective of “right-wing socialism" is to maintain the status quo by preventing the free exercise of entrepreneurship and creative human action from disrupting the pre-established framework of social organization. It supports social hierarchy and certain people and groups to hold higher status in such a hierarchy.
Fascism describes a nationalist socialism associated with anti-bourgeois, anti-democratic, anti-liberal, and anti-Marxist views. Nationalism, by its nature promotes the cult of the omnipotent state. Original Italian Fascism arose from the revolutionary syndicalism of Georges Sorel, who promoted an anti-materialist, voluntarist, and vitalist revolutionary socialist movement to produce a general strike to overthrow bourgeois society and establish a proletarian society. Sorelianism split from Marxism and adopted a national, moral, and psychological revolution rather than class revolution. Georges Sorel himself became associated with the political right by supporting Charles Maurras' French nationalist and royalist Action Française and turned to Maurrasian nationalism.
In Germany Bismark, enacted a form of socialism to offset the advances of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. By World War I these ideas morphed into full-fledged National Socialism. According to The French Revolution promoted the classic liberal ideas of the rights of man, democracy, individualism. By 1914, Germany replaced these with the "German values" of duty, discipline, law, and order. The idea was to conserve these values and conserve the German nation. By World War II, these ideas became manifest in the National Socialist (Nazi) Party. The conservatives of the Nazi party advocated for the concept of the omnipotent sate and largely denied individual rights. They created a totalitarian or statist government.
In the United States, a number of socialist movements became popular in our early history. A major point of contention during the Constitutional convention was over how extensive the role of the new government should be. Thomas Jefferson supported the more classic liberal view of a very limited government. Alexander Hamilton proposed a more expansive or big government concept. After the first Presidential election, national politics began to divide among the supporters of Jefferson’s ideas and the supporters of Hamilton’s ideas. Jefferson’s supporters became the Democrats, while Hamilton’s supporters became the Whigs.
As America moved towards the middle of the nineteenth century a group of disgruntled Whigs formed the Republican Party. Early Republicans and their support of large scale socialist programs found support among European refugees who fled Europe after their failed socialist revolutions. The socialists and communist helped Abraham Lincoln become the first Republican President. A number of these socialists and communist held leadership roles in the Union Army. This is documented in the book Red Republicans and Lincoln's Marxists: Marxism in the Civil War by Walter Kennedy (Author), Al Benson (Contributor). The Republicans are an example of conservative socialist
The Communist began with the progressive ideas of collectivism. The main political task of progressive Americans is the building of an anti-monopoly coalition to curb the corporate interests and dislodge them from power. From the 1870’s on there have been no lack of attempts to assemble an alliance of forces enduring and strong enough to defeat the monopolists. The history of the traditional “Left” since the 1870’s has been marked by oscillations between the alternatives of reforming the Democratic Party (and even, on occasion, the Republican) or challenging the “Gold-Dust Twins” with a “Progressive” third party coalition on an anti-monopolist but not anti-capitalist program. Both confined themselves to the aim of reforming capitalism, not replacing it with a workers’ government and a publicly owned economy. Communism is more of an economic system than a political system. Historically, the implementing of communism required the development of an authoritarian, totalitarian, and statist from of government.
Neoconservatism (commonly shortened to neocon) is a political movement born in the United States during the 1960s. Many of its adherents rose to political fame during the Republican presidential administrations of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Neoconservatives peaked in influence during the administrations of George W. Bush, George H W Bush and Tony Blair, when they played a major role in promoting and planning the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The term "neoconservative" refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist left to the camp of American conservatism. A substantial number of neoconservatives were originally moderate socialists associated with the right-wing of the Socialist Party of America (SP), and its successor, Social Democrats, USA (SDUSA).
As the policies of the New Left made the Democrats increasingly leftist, these intellectuals became disillusioned with President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society domestic programs. The neoconservatives rejected the counterculture New Left, and what they considered anti-Americanism in the non-interventionism of the activism against the Vietnam War. After the anti-war faction took control of the party during 1972 and nominated George McGovern, the Democrats among them endorsed Washington Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson instead for his unsuccessful 1972 and 1976 campaigns for president. Neocons organized in the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation to counter the liberal establishment. During the 1990s, neoconservatives were once again opposed to the foreign policy establishment, both during the Republican Administration of President George H. W. Bush and that of his Democratic successor, President William Clinton. Many critics charged that the neoconservatives lost their influence as a result of the end of the Soviet Union.
The George W. Bush campaign and the early Bush administration did not exhibit strong endorsement of neoconservative principles. As a presidential candidate, Bush had argued for a restrained foreign policy, stating his opposition to the idea of nation-building and an early foreign policy confrontation with China was managed without the vociferousness suggested by some neoconservatives. Also early in the administration, some neoconservatives criticized Bush's administration as insufficiently supportive of Israel, and suggested Bush's foreign policies were not substantially different from those of President Clinton. Bush's policies changed dramatically immediately after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
During Bush's State of the Union speech of January 2002, he named Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as states that "constitute an axis of evil" and "pose a grave and growing danger". This terminology intentionally suggested a similarity between these nations and the Axis powers of World War II.
Bush suggested the possibility of preemptive war: "I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.
The Bush Doctrine of preemptive war was stated explicitly in the National Security Council text "National Security Strategy of the United States," published 20 September 2002: "We must deter and defend against the threat before it is unleashed ... even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. ... The United States will, if necessary, act preemptively."
The choice not to use the word 'preventive' in the 2002 National Security Strategy, and instead use the word 'preemptive' was largely in anticipation of the widely perceived illegality of preventive attacks in international law, via both Charter Law and Customary Law.
While neoconservatism is concerned primarily with foreign policy, there is also some discussion of internal economic policies. Neoconservatism generally endorses free markets and capitalism, favoring supply-side economics, but it has several disagreements with classical liberalism and fiscal conservatism: Irving Kristol states that neocons are more relaxed about budget deficits and tend to reject the Hayekian notion that the growth of government influence on society and public welfare is "the road to serfdom." In contrast, Libertarians would be more likely to support the views of Hayek. Indeed, to safeguard democracy, government intervention and budget deficits may sometimes be necessary, Kristol argues.
Further, neoconservative ideology stresses that while free markets do provide material goods in an efficient way, they lack the moral guidance human beings need to fulfill their needs. Morality can be found only in tradition, they say and, contrary to libertarianism, markets do pose questions that cannot be solved solely by economics. "So, as the economy only makes up part of our lives, it must not be allowed to take over and entirely dictate to our society."
When one looks at governments from the perspective of individual rights, as the classic liberals do, then the notion of left liberal and right conservative becomes obsolete. This view of politics ignores that both left liberal and right conservatives tend to rely on the theory of the omnipotent state to implement their views. Libertarians differ from these statist in that, Libertarians advocate for individual rights on all issues.