An e-friend responds to Beinart:
Traditional conservatives, of course, said the same thing. But traditional conservatives were as immodest about the redemptive power of capitalism as liberals were about the redemptive power of government. What distinguished the early neocons was their skepticism about both.
What? Beinart surely knows better than this. The redemptive power of capitalism? Since when were Kirk, Weaver, et al preaching the redemptive power of capitalism? Supply siders can certainly be accused of this, but traditionalists? Please.
Me: This is a fair point, but I think the problem is that there are a lot of people who were once “new conservatives” we now call “traditional conservatives.” And it is difficult to speak about these various branches without conflating different people or their thought and losing some nuance in the process. Also, I think it is fair to say that Buckley, Meyer and other pioneers of the modern conservative movement were full-throated champions of free-enterprise (and Buckley still is). Whether they thought it had “redemptive power” is another issue. I doubt that Buckley would have objected to Irving Kristol’s slogan “two cheers for capitalism,” for example.