Adam Wolfson, editor of The Public Interest, contributes new two “ness” monsters in a single essay (“Conservatives and Neoconservatives,” Winter 2004): “rapaciousness” for “rapacity” (p. 35) and “solictousness” for “solicitude” (p.44). (He does, however, use “acuity” correctly, sparing us “acuitousness.”)
The essay is otherwise well-written and well-argued (from the neocon viewpoint), making many useful distinctions and connections. Wolfson raises, without answering, the question what it is that ties traditionalists, paleocons, libertarians, and neocons together as “conservative.”
Naturally, Wolfson nowhere mentions that all flavors of “conservative” wind up voting for politicians whose programs will, as a practical matter, increase the share of the national income going to the top 1% of the distribution and decrease the shares going to the bottom tenth, bottom quartile, and (in most cases) bottom half.
I would never claim that everything progressives support in the name of decreased income inequality is good policy; much of it (e.g., the corporate income tax, public-sector unionization) doesn’t even decrease income inequality. I’d even be willing to listen — admittedly, without much patience — to arguments that decreasing inequality from its current level would not be a good, or would not be worth its costs.
But the pretense on the right that the left-right split is fundamentally about anything except what virtually everyone on the progressive side regards as its central issue gets old fast.
Or perhaps that’s just my irritableness speaking.