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Paleoconservatism is a political philosophy and variety of conservatism in the United States stressing Christian ethics, nationalism, paternalism, regionalism and traditionalism. Paleoconservatism's concerns overlap with those of the Old Right that opposed the New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s[1] as well as with paleolibertarianism.[2][3]

The terms neoconservative and paleoconservative were coined following the outbreak of the Vietnam War and a divide in American conservatism between the interventionists and the isolationists. Those in favor of the Vietnam War became known as the neoconservatives (interventionists) as they marked a decisive split from the nationalist-isolationism that the traditionalist conservatives (isolationists) had subscribed to up until this point.[4][5][6]

According to the international relations scholar Michael Foley, "paleoconservatives press for restrictions on immigration, a rollback of multicultural programs and large-scale demographic change, the decentralization of federal policy, the restoration of controls upon free trade, a greater emphasis upon economic nationalism and non-interventionism in the conduct of American foreign policy".[7]


The prefix paleo derives from the Greek root παλαιός, meaning "ancient" or "old". It is somewhat tongue-in-cheek and refers to the paleoconservatives' claim to represent a more historic, authentic conservative tradition than that found in neoconservatism. Adherents of paleoconservatism often describe themselves simply as "paleo". Neoconservative Rich Lowry of National Review claims the prefix "is designed to obscure the fact that it is a recent ideological creation of post–Cold War politics".[8]

Samuel T. Francis, Thomas Fleming and some other paleoconservatives de-emphasized the conservative part of the paleoconservative label, saying that they do not want the status quo preserved.[9][10] Fleming and Paul Gottfried called such thinking "stupid tenacity" and described it as "a series of trenches dug in defense of last year's revolution".[11] Francis defined authentic conservatism as "the survival and enhancement of a particular people and its institutionalized cultural expressions".[12][13]


Paleoconservatives support: restrictions on immigration; decentralization; trade tariffs and protectionism; economic nationalism; isolationism and a return to traditional conservative ideals relating to gender, culture, and society.[14] Paleoconservatism differs from neoconservatism in opposing free trade and promoting Republicanism in the United States. Paleoconservatives see neoconservatives as empire-builders and themselves as defenders of the republic.[15][16]

As with other conservatives, paleoconservatives tend to oppose abortion on demand, oppose LGBTQ rights, and gay marriage.[14][17][18][19]

Human nature, tradition and reason

Paleoconservatives believe that tradition is a better guide than reason. Mel Bradford wrote that certain questions are settled before any serious deliberation concerning a preferred course of conduct may begin. This ethic is based in a "culture of families, linked by friendship, common enemies, and common projects",[20] so a good conservative keeps "a clear sense of what Southern grandmothers have always meant in admonishing children, 'we don't do that'".[21]

Pat Buchanan argues that a good politician must "defend the moral order rooted in the Old and New Testament and Natural Law"—and that "the deepest problems in our society are not economic or political, but moral".[22]

Southern traditionalism

According to historian Paul V. Murphy, paleoconservatives developed a focus on states' rights and political localism. From the mid-1980s onward, Chronicles promoted a Southern traditionalist worldview focused on national identity, regional particularity, and skepticism of abstract theory and centralized power.[23] According to Hague, Beirich, and Sebesta (2009), the antimodernism of the paleoconservative movement defined the neo-confederate movement of the 1980s and 1990s. During this time, notable paleoconservative argued that desegregation, welfare, tolerance of gay rights, and church-state separation had been damaging to local communities, and that these issues had been imposed by federal legislatures and think tanks. Paleoconservatives also claimed the Southern Agrarians as forebearers in this regard.[24]


The alt-right movement emerged out of the younger generation of paleoconservatives. The movement was founded in 2010 by former paleoconservative and American white nationalist Richard B. Spencer, who launched Alternative Right to disseminate his ideas after working as an editor for a number of paleoconservative outlets.[25] The alt-right was influenced by paleoconservatism, the Dark Enlightenment, and the Nouvelle Droite. Unlike paleoconservatism, it is an explicitly white supremacist movement.[26]

Notable people


Philosophers and scholars


Radio and podcasters

Notable organizations and outlets


Periodicals and websites

See also



  1. Raimondo 1993.
  2. Rockwell, Lew. "The Case for Paleo-libertarianism" (PDF). Liberty (January 1990): 34–38.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. De Coster, Karen (December 2, 2003). "Paleolibertarianism". 27, 2018/ Archived September 27, 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  4. Gottfried 1993.
  5. Gottfried 2006.
  6. Scotchie 2017.
  7. Foley 2007, p. 318.
  8. Lowry, Richard (2005). "Reaganism v. Neo-Reaganism". The National Interest. No. 79. Center for the National Interest. pp. 35–41. ISSN 1938-1573. JSTOR 42897547. Retrieved January 27, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Francis 1994.
  10. Foer, Franklin (July 22, 2002). "Home Bound". The New Republic. Archived from the original on October 1, 2009. Retrieved January 27, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Gottfried & Fleming 1988, p. xv.
  12. Francis, Samuel (July 1992). "The Buchanan Revolution" (PDF). Chronicles. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 23, 2004. Retrieved January 27, 2018 – via<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Francis, Samuel (March 2004). "(Con)fusion on the Right". Chronicles. Archived from the original on April 4, 2007. Retrieved January 27, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 Matthews, Dillon. "The alt-right is more than warmed-over white supremacy. It's that, but way way weirder". Vox. Vox Media Inc. Retrieved August 4, 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Larison, Daniel. "How Paleo and Fusionist Conservatism Differ". American Conservative Union Foundation. Archived from the original on February 5, 2004. Retrieved January 27, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Judis, John B. (October 3, 1999). "The Buchanan Doctrine". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Chu, Jeff (August 20, 2006). "10 Questions for Pat Buchanan". Time. New York. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved May 21, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Fleming, Thomas (September 8, 2005). "Ethics 01A.1: Gay Marriage, Democracy". Chronicles. Rockford, Illinois: Rockford Institute. Archived from the original on September 27, 2006. Retrieved August 27, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Francis, Samuel (October 15, 2003). "Gun Control: The Final Blow". Chronicle. Archived from the original on March 13, 2005. Retrieved September 1, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Bradford, M. E. (1990). The Reactionary Imperative: Essays Literary and Political. Peru, Illinois: Sherwood Sugden. p. 129.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Quoted in Murphy 2001, p. 233.
  21. Bradford, M. E. (1990). The Reactionary Imperative: Essays Literary and Political. Peru, Illinois: Sherwood Sugden. pp. 119, 121.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Quoted in Murphy 2001, p. 233.
  22. Pat Buchanan Responds To Lenora Fulani's Resignation – Buchanan Campaign Press Releases – theinternetbrigade – Official Web Site 5, 2006/ Archived October 5, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  23. Murphy 2001, p. 218.
  24. Hague, Euan; Beirich, Heidi; Sebesta, Edward H. (2009). Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction. University of Texas Press. pp. 25–27. ISBN 9780292779211. Retrieved December 3, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. CQ Researcher (2018). Issues for Debate in American Public Policy: Selections from CQ Researcher. SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-1-5443-0395-6. One such group, called "paleoconservatives," was the early political home of Spencer.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. CQ Researcher (2017). Issues in Race and Ethnicity: Selections from CQ Researcher. SAGE Publications. pp. 4–6. ISBN 978-1-5443-1635-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Considering Bannon". Chronicles Magazine. March 2, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Dueck 2010, p. 258.
  29. Hawley 2017; Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50.
  30. Clark 2016, p. 77; Dueck 2010, p. 258; Hawley 2017; Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50.
  31. Ansell 1998, p. 34.
  32. Robertson, Derek. "The Canadian Psychologist Beating American Pundits at Their Own Game". Politico. Capitol News Company. Retrieved August 6, 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50; Wilson 2017.
  34. 34.0 34.1 Clark 2016, p. 77.
  35. Dueck 2010, p. 258; McDonald 2004, p. 216.
  36. Nash 2006, p. 568; Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50.
  37. Newman, Kalina (August 17, 2017). "Citing threats, student withdraws from BU after attending Charlottesville rally". USA Today. Retrieved April 17, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. "InfoWars' Alex Jones Stole Over 1,000 Articles From Kremlin-Backed Russia Today". New York Observer. November 9, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50.
  40. Schneider 2009, p. 212.
  41. Clark 2016, p. 77; Hawley 2017; Schneider 2009, p. 170.


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