There is a lot written on neoconservatives. You can read about it many places, using google or the blogosphere, or whatever it is you kids use these days. In fact, you can read some of the very nice information listed above. But for all the talk of neoconservatives, and all the influence they may have on our government, there is a very good chance that all the talk is just talk because neoconservatives don't exist. If this seems like a strong statement to make, my first argument would be to ask the reader if they have ever met a "neoconservative". I certainly can't recall ever meeting one.

If you take other American political movement or stance, it can be summed up in a few sentences, describing its emotional and pragmatic appeal. For examble, traditional liberals are liberals because they want their children to get a good education, and they want social security in their old age; and they believe on an emotional level that people in a society should support each other. Traditional conservatives are that way because they have had to fill out too many forms, and pay too many taxes; and because emotionally they believe that people should be self-reliant. The Greens get their belief from wanting clean air and clean water, and because they like to hug trees. And so on. Most other American political movements' basic drives can be understood, and summed up, relatively briefly. It doesn't mean that people holding these beliefs are stupid; or that they don't understand that there are complexities involved. Most people would consider me a liberal, but when a small business owner complains about having to apply for permits for the fifth time, I understand his ideological and pragmatic point of view.

Which brings us back to neoconservativism. The fine people above who have written at some length almost prove my point here: would it be possible to explain the neoconservative viewpoint in two or three sentences? Would it be possible to explain how a standard citizen, a small business owner, a family member, a worker, a concerned member of the community, would set up "neoconservatism" as his stated political belief system? Does it have a simple, consistent pragmatic and emotional appeal to people? My own answer is no, although perhaps I just don't know the right people.

Above, I said there are no neoconservatives. I perhaps overstated my case in saying so. There are neoconservatives, but they do not form a political movement or a political party. They have a series of magazines and think tanks, and a few dozen, few hundred, or maybe even a few thousand thinkers and commentators and university professors who spread and share their views. But I get the feeling that neoconservatism is created by the think tanks, not the other way around. There would still be libertarians without the Cato Institute, but I doubt there would be neoconservatives if their elaborate infrastructure of academic and media institutions weren't there.

Which is not to say that there are not motivations for being a neoconservative, or for at least casting in lots with them. Some of the neoconservative clique that controls certain segments of society today is probably there for a desire for money, or for power, or fame. Some are probably sincerely on a mission to save the world. Some of them want to play secret agent man, and some want to have real ultimate power. I think most of the power base behind the clique is there for several reasons: some because they are pragmatically concerned about the threat of war and terrorism, and some because they have an emotional attachment to the idea of a nation that is strong militarily.

But this still doesn't mean that there is a "neoconservative party" that is growing and will become a major player in American politics. The forces that shaped the different political movements in the United States today will still be there in twenty or thirty years. The network of academic alliances and polemics that made neoconservatism will probably not be sustained by a wide section of people.