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January 20, 1980 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-20
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The M higan Daily-Sunda

Page 6-Sundby, January 20, 1980-The Michigan Daily

The new right's armchair politicians,
and what they want for America

James Deans Cat
Forecast: Anhedonia in th

By Howard Witt
ONSERVATISM MAY BE sweeping the country
these days, but here in Ann Arbor it's difficult
to get anyone to admit to holding even a whisk
broom. A city that sports a liberal college campus and
a Republican government would seem to be open to
almost any political beliefs. Yet many students,
professors, and politicians who are broom-closet con-
servatives vehemently shun unpopular right-wing
labels as they would a Scarlet Letter "C."
Even if you can get a conservative to wear that label
without flinching, the mere whisper of "neoconser-
vative" will turn him or her white with fear. Or red
with rage. Or blank with confusion.
Some have heralded neoconservatism-the mention
of which rarely fails to elicit some type of reaction-as
the political philosophy of the future. Yet many know
little about it: they could not begin to speculate on
neoconservative influences in Ann Arbor, let alone the
nation.
There is no simple definition of the neoconservative
movement. Between the economists and sociologists in
the movement there is such 'division on some issues
that the two groups often sit at separate tables in the
brown-bag lunchroom of the American Enterprise In-
stitute (AEI)--the neoconservative "headquarters"
in Washington.
Neoconservatives can be members of any political
party; many are former liberals who became
disillusioned during the 1960s. A great many neocon-
servatives are intellectuals-writers, professors,
publishers, editors. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan is
perhaps the most well-known member of the
movement. Peter Steinfels, author of a book about the
movement and executive editor of Commonweal
magazine, creates for the reader two brief sketches
that begin to outline a definition of neoconservatism.
"An outspoken advocate of prison reform, affir-
mative action, the Equal Rights Amendment, open
admissions, and McGovernite reforms within the
Democratic party" is not likely to be a neoconser-
vative, Steinfels writes. "The individual with a good
word for censorship, capital punishment, consciously

vative movement was offered by one of its leaders in a
Newsweek article several years ago. Irving Kristol,
noted academic and editor of The Public Interest, ex-
plained that neoconservatism is not hostile to the idea
of the welfare state, but is critical of a paternalistic
state; that it has confidence in the free market as an
instrument to spread resources efficiently without
government interference; that it cherishes traditional
values and institutions such as cultural stability,
religion and the family; and that it affirms traditional
notions of equality of opportunity but rejects as
dangerous to liberty the idea that everyone should end
up with equal shares of everything.
Finally, Kristol noted-long before the current anti-
Americanism surfacing in the Mideast and the crisis in

splits between neoconservative economists and
sociologists.
This split is actually something of a paradox, Mit-
chell explains. "If everyone were unconstrained, it
would be difficult for the development of an orderly
society. Most successful societies permit people
freedom, but most people in those successful societies
behave conventionally, not exercising that freedom."
This, according to Mitchell, is the key to a successful
society: a few cause the changes, and the system
works.
Neoconservative ideas in Ann Arbor are certainly
.not limited to professors. "The free market and
capitalist system wouldn't last a week without the
stability that government creates,'' says another Ann
Arbor resident, echoing the argument for stability
favored by some neoconservative political scientists.
Yet this resident is certainly not a neoconservative;
indeed, she labels herself a reformer, which she says
"is a variety of liberal." Second Ward Democratic
Councilwoman Leslie Morris' opinions underline
another difficulty in attempting to define neoconser-
vatism: many of the movement's ideas are not ex-
clusive to conservatives.'
Consider Morris' opinions on the issue of equality in
society. "I think there has been much reaction to what
was perceived as quite rapid change in the sixties.
Some groups, for example, perceived that the blacks
were making a lot of noise and getting ahead, so they
started to make noise also. But if people took seriously
what they were demanding from government-equality
for everyone of everything-then they would see that
government can't possibly do everything they ask it to
do.'

Stated simply,

the neo-.

conservat Ives

expect

,public to lower its expec-
tations. If people expect-
less, they will not be dis-

appointed
don't get

when

what

they

By Bodensee
R ECENTLY, A FRIEND or ours-
with a gun to his head-an-
nounced that the 80's had arrived, and
pulled the trigger. This set us to
thinking. The new decade, arriving
right on schedule, promises all sorts of
problems and discouragements for
everyone, leaving even the most
sanguine and reasonable riddled with
grief and angst.
Yet taking one's own life as an alter-
native to facing the future, while a
time-honored remedy, may be a bit
rash, especially for those with long-
term investments or money on loan to
friends. Some may want to wait a few
years, just to see how things go, and
others may bravely commit themselves
to living out the decade-ALL TEN
YEARS -only to come upon another
one almost immediately. 0
Accordingly, we have objectively
surveyed the prospect of life in the next
ten years in order to help ourselves
reach a rational answer to this puzzling
problem. Ever the optimists, we con-
sidered first those reasons for sticking
it out until 1990.
First of all, we'll most of us graduate,
and this alone will bring untold advan-
tages: By 1990, we will face no more in-
sidious essay exams, pop-quizzes, and
recommended reading lists several
meters long. Far away from Michigan,
we'll never even blink when the foot-
ball team wears the habitual horns of
the goat each year around Christ-
mastime.
All of today's petty annoyances will
then seem as nothing. When we're
situated in our nice city apartments the
whining No-Nukes protesters will be
miles away, as will the self-righteous
Youths For Stalin who try to sell you
their miserable newspaprs during
every foray through the Fishbowl. You
will go days, nay, weeks without run-
ning into any noisy, cat-burning frater-
-nity , boys and their consequent
monogrammed-sweater clad sorority
girls. Should you chance to come bck to
Bodensee is a student un-coopera-
tive house.

Gird your loinsfor
the ten years. ahead

sire ...

Afghanistan-that American democracy is not likely to
survive for long in a world that is overwhelmingly hostile
to American values. Neoconservatives, he explained in
1976, are critical of isolationism and suspicious of
detente.
So it is possible to picture neoconservatives in a more
positive light. Kristol's brief analysis, however, also
turns out to be insufficient. Steinfels points out that
most liberals would also be for a welfare state and
against paternalism. Few people would insist that
equality of opportunity necessarily means that
everyone must have equal shares of everything. And
many who are not neoconservatives would readily
agree with the proposition that American democracy is
unlikely to survive in a world that is hostile to
American values. i
Clearly, then, a more complete and unassailable
definition of the neoconservative movement is in order.
Unfortunately, such a definition is something of a holy
grail.
Start, for instance, with the neoconservative political
scientist's belief held by many that social stability is
essential to the efficient operation of the free market
Immediately one must confront the neoconservative
economist's philosophy that stability is not necessarily
ideal for a strong society or economy-a philosophy
favored by one University professor cited as a "kissing
cousin" of neoconservatism in an Esquire magazine
article about the movement.
Business Administration Professor Edward Mit-
chell, one of three University professors cited in the ar-
ticle, is one Ann Arbor resident not reluctant to be
associated with neoconservatism. "I don't really care
whether someone thinks I'm part of some group or
other," he says. Of course, in Mitchell's case, it would.
be rather difficult to deny his affiliation with the
movement-he directs energy policy studies for AEI
and travels to the Washington think-tank and ren-
dezvous about once a month.
(Mitchell and the other two faculty members named
in the Esquire article-Business Administration Prof.
Paul McCracken and Psychology Prof. Joseph
Adelson-are the only three professors at the Univer-
sity .currently associated with the neoconservative
movement, according to Steinfels. McCracken has
been unavailable for comment recently, and Adelson
declined to be interviewed.)
OST CONSERVATIVE economists believe
that spontaneity and unpredictable change
are not bad words, they're good. It is
throug unexpected change that society moves ahead
and progresses. Government tends to dull this spon-
taneit"Mitchell says, outlinin* one of the ideological
,.,. c - T f _

A neoconservative could hardly express this sen-
timent more clearly.
The neoconservatives believe that governement is
the victim of overload-"attempting too much, it has
naturally failed and thereby undermined its own
authority," as Steinfels puts it. Further, Steinfels says,
"if impossible demands doom a high proportion of
government programs to failure," it is the neoconser-
vative strategy to shield the government's authority by
dispersing responsibility for this failure. Sounding
peculiarly Machiavellian, Moynihan writes: "Dif-

the Old School, you won't have to read
what all the children paint on the rock
everytime whimsy strikes them, and
the chemistry building will be gone. As
an added bonus, all the engineers will
be safely exiled to North Campus.
Of course, once we're out of here, we
won't be able to spend the whole decade
reflecting upon our college careers and
resting on our laurels. There'll be a lot
to elevate and cheer us in the everyday
world.
Lycra spandex jeans, the
breathtakingly revealing garb of the
very chic and svelte, will soon be worn
by people further and further away
from the centers of fashion. This should
occasion merrymaking by all. Contem-
ptable trendy ,things, such as disco
music; will surely begin to recede back
into the Stygian depths from which they
rose.
Soberer magazines than this one
proclaim that the 80's will be the decade
of the computer, with micro-technology
proceeding space and revolutionizing
everyday items like toasters and
children's toys. The latter, in fact,
promise to become sufficiently com-
plex and automated that, by the time
we have kids, children will no longer be
needed in order to conduct "play."
This does not mean that children will
become obsolete. Instead-and this is
certainly encouraging-all the children
we now know will grow up. Even the
most intractably snotty among our
younger brothers and sisters will
become older and older, until even-
tually they will cease to trouble us at
all. In addition, a similar aging process
will affect our parents, ensuring that
they do not, in their mischief, create
any further siblings to upset the
situation.

All this in the 80's: We'll worry less
about the future because it will be ob-
vious in our jobs, family lives, and
financial obligations; advances in birth
control technology will insure the
health of the sexual freedom movement
of the 70's, while the increasing
popularity of powerful recreational
drugs will help to neutralize a segment
of the population no one cares much
about anyway.
Still depressed? Try to remember
that both dusty entertainer Bob Hope
and age-enrusted politician Ronald
Reagan will, at some point in the
coming decade, drop dead in their
tracks. ,
Y ET ALL IS really not well; we all
sense it. The 80's promise to be
filled with disappointment and trauma.
The energy crisis will not get any bet-
ter, . and thus the heightened
sophistication and sensitivity of young
people will not help them make per-
sonal relationships any easier; they
will become unable to get anywhere to
meet anyone.
. The economy will no doubt persist in
its discouraging downward trend,
making sure that, although we'll make
more money than our parents ever did,
we'll never be nearly as successful. At
the same time, our dwindling health
will be in the hands of those slavering
pre-meds we know and avoid today.
There's more: Children everywhere
will grow up, but Bob Talbert will con-
tinue to write "Out of My Mind Monday
Moanin"' for the Detroit Free Press;
Mike Douglas's song (you all heard it),
"Happy Birthday Jesus" will surely be
played on every radio station
throughout every Christmas season for
the next ten years; Gary Coleman, the

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Noted intellectual Irving Kristol: the 'godfather
of neoconservativism'
elitist higher education, backroom methods for-
nominating presidential candidates, the Cold War, and
meritocracy, is quite likely a neoconservative," Stein-
fels coitixues in The Neoconservatives: The Men Who
Are Changing America's Politics.
Not exactly a flattering profile by almost any stan-
dards. But these descriptions are, as Steinfels readily
admits, much too simple. Neoconservatives would
seem to oppose many basic tenets of American
democracy and civil liberties. Yet the movement's
proponents maintain that neoconservatism represents
sober, straightforward, and often painfully direct
analyses of what's wrong with America today, and how
those wrongs can be righted.
Another, more favorable profile of the neoconser-

University Business Administration Professor
Edward Mitchell: frequent trips to the think-tank
fusing responsibility for social outcomes tends to
retard the rise of social distrust when the promised
outcome does not occur."
Stated simply, the neoconservatives expect the
public to lower its expectations. If people expect less,
they will not be as disappointed when they don't get
what they desire, the reasoning goes. Neoconser-
vatives do not, however, explain how the public is to
cope with these lowered expectations, or which social
classes will have to do the most lowering. In fact,
because the lowest social classes-who have the
least-make most of the demands on government, it is
these people who will bear the worst burden of lowered
expectations. The neoconservatives, understandably,
do not readily point this out.
Clearly, ideas such as this one are not going to gain
See NEO, Page 8

. I

Howard Witt, Daily editorial page editor-elect, is
a neoconservative dressgr-r.

M
.,-.

.. . _ . . . ..A.. .
* ,- i

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