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—Sen. Billboard Rawkins, Finian's Rainbow

Paleoconservatism is a neologism created by those within the larger conservative movement who wish to distinguish their so-called "traditional" values from neoconservative ones. Paleoconservative policies are primarily based on the idea that producerism moar capitalism and racism xenophobia can solve everything, and they reject globalism, a lasting progressive goal of the early New Right.

Paleoconservatism is characterized by a strong mixture of Christian social conservatism (with a related tendency toward antisemitism, homophobia, and a fondness for patriarchy), nationalism, isolationism, and economic protectionism. Most paleoconservatives are opposed to immigration, modern economic theory, and any intervention by the US anywhere, and have little regard for any benefits of an egalitarian society. Their economic views are more likely to tend toward distributism and producerism than modern capitalism, although there is a contingent of ultra-capitalist Austrian schoolers as well. They claim to stress rigid "traditionalism", a sense of self gained from understanding their personal and cultural heritage, and being "deeply rooted" in history and place. However, their definition of that history is a bit off.

The most notable living paleoconservative is Patrick Buchanan, who is the only important political figure to have openly identified with the ideology. While "paleoconservatism" typically refers to an intellectual movement that has had little public influence, a more "popular" form of the same (or a very similar) ideology has been seen in the militia movement, elements of the Tea Party movement, and even the Ku Klux Klan. Paleoconservatism in this sense overlaps heavily with right-wing populism, and has seen growing influence since the rise of Donald Trump; many paleoconservatives have also been identified with the Alt-Right in recent years. Paleoconservatism can also overlap with neo-Confederate ideology.

Old Right origins?[edit]

Paleoconservatism claims its roots in the "Old Right", a loose grouping of people, many of them former liberals, who emerged during the Great Depression and World War II as opponents of Franklin D. Roosevelt's domestic and foreign policy. As the Cold War got underway after WWII, these people remained isolationist and opposed the Cold War, grouping post-war foreign and domestic policy together as two sides of the same coin, the "welfare-warfare state".

Contemporary far-right activists identifiable with paleoconservatism are associated with and frequently praise the New Right over the Old Right.[1][2]

Early examples include journalists John T. Flynn, Garet Garrett, Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Albert Jay Nock, revisionist historian George Morgenstern (who claimed that FDR had dragged America into WWII by deliberately goading the Japanese to attack), libertarian Murray Rothbard, and U.S. Senator Robert A. Taft. With internationalist anti-communism in vogue on the American right, they found themselves marginalized within the conservative movement and shut out from outlets like William F. Buckley's National Review, their continued isolationism getting them accused of being useful idiots for Moscow. However, they continued as an outside tendency through such groups as Leonard Read's Foundation for Economic Education and an emerging Austrian school of economics led by Ludwig von Mises and Henry Hazlitt, who later became libertarian icons. It was not until the fall of the Berlin Wall that isolationism re-emerged on the right (outside of the libertarians, who had become a distinct movement from conservatism), led by people like Pat Buchanan who had been interventionist during the Cold War.

However, the laissez-faire economics of the Old Right are at odds with the protectionism and anti-immigration views espoused by modern paleoconservatives. Similarly, the strong religious conservatism of today's paleocons was not a significant factor in the Old Right. More likely influences on modern paleocons include Cold War-era groups like the John Birch Society and the Liberty Lobby, which espoused all the elements present in today's paleoconservatism (conspiracism, religious conservatism, isolationism, etc.)

See also[edit]