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“”Forward, America! Forward! —to the hallowed principles of our forefathers! Forward! —to the sweet tranquility of the status quo! Forward to yesterday!
|—Sen. Billboard Rawkins, Finian's Rainbow|
Paleoconservatism is a neologism created by those following within that movement to distinguish their so-called "traditional" values from the neoconservative ones. Their policies are based on the idea that
producerism moar capitalism and racism xenophobia can solve everything, but they reject globalism and multiculturalism, i.e. the last, lingering progressive goals of the New Right.
The movement is characterized by a strong dose of religious conservatism (including homophobia), nationalism, isolationism, and economic protectionism comprises its ideological content. Most paleoconservatives are against 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, though it is has seen a comeback with Donald Trump. It appears paleoconservative types have increasingly shifted towards, or have overlap with, the increasingly powerful Alt-Right.
The Old Right
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."
Early examples include journalists John T. Flynn, Garet Garrett, Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Albert Jay Nock, revisionist historians Harry Elmer Barnes (one of the first major Holocaust deniers) and 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 militant 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.)