A neoconservative is really the modern version of the conservative. Neoconservatives are frequently ex-leftists, such as David Horowitz. Generally, they don't support limited government, they just want the government to support their own social agenda rather than that of the liberals. Neoconservatives tend to love war, and support war more often than not, particularly if the war is being waged by a fellow neoconservative, such as George W. Bush. The neoconservative movement can probably be traced back to William F. Buckley, Jr., patient zero for the contagion. To my knowledge, the first person to use the term to describe his own ideology was the godfather of the movement, Irving Kristol. In stark contrast to more traditional conservatives, such as Robert Taft, the neocons support interventionism, a large standing army, and government handouts to corporations. Most of those who have traditional conservative and classic liberal viewpoints have moved towards libertarianism. Traditional conservatives hold the right of the individual to be trancendent, whereas neoconservatives believe in violating individual rights for "the public good." They are therefore primarily different from liberals only in the specifics of whose life, liberty, or property they wish to violate, not whether or not the violation would be justified.

Picture this for an example. The "Old Right" conservatives did not want to entangle the country in either World War I or World War II. They regarded these matters as European affairs, with European solutions. Could anyone imagine the modern conservative movement taking a similar stance? Going even further back, conservatives considered Abraham Lincoln a brutal dictator and tyrant (which he was, and a racist to boot, most likely, or even worse, a spineless opportunist. I say this despite the fact that his actions benefitted me personally by leading to the abolition of slavery). Neoconservatives embrace Lincoln as our greatest President, and revere Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson as well, even though these men were probably the most meglomaniacal men to ever occupy the office. Neoconservatives seem to think that man is at his best when death and destruction surround him, and actively seek to avoid peaceful solutions to foreign policy problems in many cases. Another sign that someone might be a neoconservative is if they support slavery, so long as that slavery is conscription and it happens to someone else. But even the liberals are jumping on that boat.

Joseph Sobran, an old school conservative, and former editor of National Review, recently succinctly described the neocons:

The older conservatives were wary of foreign entanglements and opposed on principle to foreign aid. But these are the very things the neocons favor most ardently; in fact, they are the very things that define neoconservatism and separate it from genuine conservatism.