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Template:Conservatism The term paleoconservative (sometimes shortened to paleo or paleocon when the context is clear) refers to an American branch of conservative Old Right thought that stands against both the mainstream tradition of Republicanism and the National Review magazine. Paleoconservatives particularly target those whose beliefs they classify as neoconservative. The term derives from the Greek root palaeo- meaning "ancient".



Many paleoconservatives identify themselves as "classical conservatives," and trace their philosophy to the Old Right Republicans of the interwar period who successfully kept America out of the League of Nations, cut down non-European immigration in 1924, and stood opposed to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal proposals.

Some historians, such as Paul V. Murphy and Isaiah Berlin, see the paleoconservatives' intellectual ancestors as those anti-modern writers who defended hierarchy, localism, ultramontanism, monarchy, and aristocracy. European precursors to paleoconservatives include Joseph de Maistre and Pope Pius X. Likewise, the continental conservative Jacques Barzun has a mode of thought and criticism esteemed by paleoconservatives. In America, the Southern Agrarians, Charles Lindbergh, Albert Jay Nock, and Russell Kirk, among others, articulated positions that proved influential among paleoconservatives. The southern conservative thread of paleoconservatism embodying the statesmanship of nineteenth-century figures such as John Randolph of Roanoke, John Taylor of Caroline and John C. Calhoun has influenced many modern paleoconservatives.

Paleoconservatives esteem the principles of subsidiarity and localism in recognizing that one must surely be an Ohioan, Texan or Virginian as they are an American. They embrace federalism within a framework of nationalism and are typically staunch supporters of states' rights. They are also more critical of the welfare state than the neoconservatives tend to be. They tend to be more critical of overreaching national power usurping state and local authority. They are more willing to question free trade, harshly critical of further immigration and tend to embrace an isolationist foreign policy, although few call themselves isolationist, and during the Cold War many supported overseas committments as necessary to the defense of the United States. Many paleoconservatives supported NATO when it was a defensive organization despite its being an "entangling alliance" but dropped their support when NATO was used as a mechanism for intervention in Yugoslavia where they believed US interests were from marginal to non-existent. Paleoconservatives often esteem their America First principles as being commensurate with those of the Founding Fathers as embodied in the Neutrality Act. Perhaps a more appropriate organization of the between-wars era was For America. It should be noted that Taft and the paleoconservatives upheld the principle that politics stops at the water's edge and supported World War II once the US was involved. John Quincy Adams avowed, "America does not go abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

Paleoconservatives in modern America

The phraseology "paleoconservative" ("old conservatism") was a rejoinder issued in the 1980s to differentiate itself from "neoconservatism". The rift is often traced back to a dispute over the director of the National Endowment for the Humanities by the incoming Reagan Administration. The preferred candidate was professor Mel Bradford and he was replaced after an effective media and lobbying effort (focusing on his dislike of Abraham Lincoln) by William Bennett. The trends preceding that pronounced schism go back as far as the 1950s.

The paleoconservatives view neoconservatives -- or those whom they identify as such -- as interlopers. This tends to be a one direction political fight as most neoconservatives do not identify themselves as such and focus their energy on opposing the liberal left, not the extreme right. The paleoconservatives' view of the mainstream conservative movement is that of a self interested movement lacking the self confidence to defend its old ideas.

Many American Paleoconservatives see themselves as iconoclasts, breaking what they regard as liberal taboos. Three particular targets of their ire are the widely popular figures of Martin Luther King, Franklin Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, but this is not universal, and Ronald Reagan held all three in high esteem. However some targets are far more obscure and less generally admired. The Council of Conservative Citizens attacks the Frankfurt School in particular. Some paleo-conservative figures, especially the late Samuel Francis, have had close ties to allegedly racist groups such as American Renaissance and the journal The Occidental Quarterly. Paleoconservatism has recently become the principal operating philosophy of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI). In its publications and conferences it often champions pre-WWII ideas, such as isolationism and cultural homogeneity, They do not engage in the market idolatry that characterizes so many libertarians and neoconservatism, and promote various agrarian and distributist works.

The best known contemporary paleoconservative is probably the commentator Patrick Buchanan, whose culture war speech is probably the most widely known paleoconservative critique. The main paleoconservative magazine is Chronicles Magazine. There are many followers of Murray Rothbard who embrace paleolibertarianism, and being culturally conservative, they are sympathetic to many of the same themes of paleoconservatives.

Since the end of the Cold War, paleoconservatives have attempted to enlarge a rift within the conservative movement with those they call neoconservatives. Although the demarcation line is often indistinct and shifting, harsh words have of late been exchanged between David Frum of National Review and Patrick Buchanan of The American Conservative. Frum charged that paleocons, in their sometimes harsh criticism of President George W. Bush and the war on terror, have become unpatriotic supporters of America's enemies and, at times, anti-Semitic. Buchanan and others have retorted that "neocons" run the U.S. government in pursuit of global empire and for the benefit of Israel and corporations with whom they have close ties; in doing so, paleoconservatives charged, they violate conservative principles of sovereignty while creating new enemies and fomenting Anti-Americanism abroad. As a result, in matters of modern foreign policy paleoconservatives actually share much in common with the American left, and have opposed much of the Bush administration's post 9-11 policy, especially the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Though paleoconservatives may often hold views considered to be out of the "mainstream" in terms of conservative thought, a distinction should be drawn between them and right wing extremists. While paleoconservatives remain engaged in political discourse and promote academic and intellectual discussion, the latter group is characterized mostly by their pursuit of isolation and fringe status, as well as a general obsession with race and violence at the expense of broader political concerns. Nevertheless, similarities between paleoconservatives and extremists on issues such as immigration have sometime raised concerns and prompted accusations of paleocon "sympathies" for a more radical agenda. When such logic was applied to the Left it was denounced as "guilt by association" by intellectuals.

Prominent paleoconservatives

Paleoconservative organizations

External links


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