John Spargo, first US neoconservative?

This video from Britain is called Adam Curtis – The Power of Nightmares [Part 1: “Baby It’s Cold Outside”] (2004). The first part of the series explains the origin of Islamism and Neo-Conservatism.

Neoconservatism today is often said to include George W. Bush in the USA, and the Stephen Harper administration in Canada.

From Lenin’s Tomb blog in Britain:

Markku Ruotsila‘s impressive new biography of John Spargo is an incisive assessment of one of the earliest architects of neoconservatism.

Spargo, a British socialist who spent most of his life in the United States, had moved gradually to the right of the socialist movement, advocating a gradualist and anti-revolutionary interpretation of Marxism. Having defended the American intervention in WWI, he was an early and avid critic of the Bolshevik Revolution. It was Spargo who composed the Colby Note that formalised the Wilson administration’s anti-communist doctrine, and engaged in a political alliance with Benito Mussolini which he maintained through Italy’s Fascist years on account of Mussolini‘s intransigent anti-communism.

A harsh critic of the Roosevelt administration’s ‘New Deal’ and its recognition of the USSR, he moved to the hard right in his domestic politics, supporting the Dies Commission and McCarthy, and later supporting first Richard Nixon then Barry Goldwater in the 1964 elections.

This review examines Spargo’s journey to the right in the light, not only of the peculiar Hyndmanite Marxism into which he was initially inducted and the reformist socialism to which he later graduated, but also of his social Darwinism, his support for colonialism, and his perceptions of the global racial order. I argue that Ruotsila, while providing an unprecedented glimpse into a neglected prehistory of neoconservatism, is mistaken to see Spargo’s transition as a logical and linear progression in which he successfully preserved the core of his ‘Social Gospel‘ even as he became a Republican activist. He also understates, I will maintain, the role of Spargo’s racial concerns in the fervent anti-communism that he espoused after 1917.

The latest batch of White House tape recordings from January and February 1973, released Tuesday by the Nixon Presidential Library, give a taste of the political atmosphere in which Richard M. Nixon conducted the office of the presidency: here.

Briefly, in the nastiest of times, Roy Cohn did certain things that made him worthy of a historical footnote. In the eighteen months he served as Senator Joseph McCarthy‘s chief counsel, he contributed in some degree to the establishment of what Nicholas von Hoffman calls our ongoing era of two dreadful isms: loyaltyism and securityism: here.


29 thoughts on “John Spargo, first US neoconservative?

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