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Paleoconservatism is a political philosophy and variety of conservatism in the United States stressing American nationalism, Christian ethics, regionalism and traditionalist conservatism. 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] and right-wing populism.[4]

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 then 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.[5][6][7]

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".[8] Historian George Hawley states that although influenced by paleoconservatism, Donald Trump is not a paleoconservative, but rather a right-wing nationalist and populist.[9] Hawley also states that paleoconservatism is today an exhausted force in American politics,[10] but that for a time it represented the most serious right-wing threat to the mainstream conservative movement.[10] Regardless how Trump himself is categorized, others regard the movement known as Trumpism as supported by,[11] if not a rebranding of paleoconservatism. From this view, the followers of the old right did not fade away so easily and continue to have significant influence in the Republican Party.[12]


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". 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".[13]

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.[14][15] 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".[16] Francis defined authentic conservatism as "the survival and enhancement of a particular people and its institutionalized cultural expressions".[17][18]


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.[19]

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.[20][21]

As with other conservatives, paleoconservatives oppose abortion, gay marriage and LGBTQ rights.[19][22]

Human nature, tradition and reason[edit]

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",[23] so a good conservative keeps "a clear sense of what Southern grandmothers have always meant in admonishing children, 'we don't do that'".[24]

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".[25]

Southern traditionalism[edit]

According to historian Paul V. Murphy, paleoconservatives developed a focus on localism and states' rights. 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.[26] 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.[27]

Influence on the alt-right[edit]

The alt-right movement emerged from 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.[28] The alt-right was influenced by paleoconservatism, the Dark Enlightenment, and the Nouvelle Droite.

Notable people[edit]


Philosophers and scholars[edit]

Commentators and columnists[edit]

Notable organizations and outlets[edit]


Periodicals and websites[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Raimondo 1993.
  2. ^ Rockwell, Lew. "The Case for Paleo-libertarianism" (PDF). Liberty (January 1990): 34–38. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 7, 2018. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  3. ^ De Coster, Karen (December 2, 2003). "Paleolibertarianism". Archived September 27, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  4. ^ Mudde, Cas (August 28, 2015). "The Trump phenomenon and the European populist radical right". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  5. ^ Gottfried 1993.
  6. ^ Gottfried 2006.
  7. ^ Scotchie 2017.
  8. ^ Foley 2007, p. 318.
  9. ^ Hawley 2017, p. 129.
  10. ^ a b Hawley 2017, p. 29.
  11. ^ Drolet, Jean-Francois; Williams, Michael (2019). "The view from MARS: US paleoconservatism and ideological challenges to the liberal world order". International Journal. 74 (1): 18. doi:10.1177/0020702019834716. S2CID 151239862.
  12. ^ Morris, Edwin Kent (December 24, 2018). "Inversion, Paradox, and Liberal Disintegration: Towards a Conceptual Framework of Trumpism". New Political Science. 41 (1): 21. doi:10.1080/07393148.2018.1558037. S2CID 149978398.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Francis 1994.
  15. ^ Foer, Franklin (July 22, 2002). "Home Bound". The New Republic. Archived from the original on October 1, 2009. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  16. ^ Gottfried & Fleming 1988, p. xv.
  17. ^ Francis, Samuel (July 1992). "The Buchanan Revolution" (PDF). Chronicles. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 23, 2004. Retrieved January 27, 2018 – via
  18. ^ Francis, Samuel (March 2004). "(Con)fusion on the Right". Chronicles. Archived from the original on April 4, 2007. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  19. ^ a b 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.
  20. ^ Larison, Daniel. "How Paleo and Fusionist Conservatism Differ". American Conservative Union Foundation. Archived from the original on February 5, 2004. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  21. ^ Judis, John B. (October 3, 1999). "The Buchanan Doctrine". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Bradford, M. E. (1990). The Reactionary Imperative: Essays Literary and Political. Peru, Illinois: Sherwood Sugden. p. 129. Quoted in Murphy 2001, p. 233.
  24. ^ Bradford, M. E. (1990). The Reactionary Imperative: Essays Literary and Political. Peru, Illinois: Sherwood Sugden. pp. 119, 121. Quoted in Murphy 2001, p. 233.
  25. ^ Pat Buchanan Responds To Lenora Fulani's Resignation – Buchanan Campaign Press Releases – theinternetbrigade – Official Web Site Archived October 5, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Murphy 2001, p. 218.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ "Considering Bannon". Chronicles Magazine. March 2, 2017.
  30. ^ Dueck 2010, p. 258.
  31. ^ Hawley 2017; Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50.
  32. ^ Clark 2016, p. 77; Dueck 2010, p. 258; Hawley 2017; Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50.
  33. ^ Ansell 1998, p. 34.
  34. ^ Robertson, Derek. "The Canadian Psychologist Beating American Pundits at Their Own Game". Politico. Capitol News Company. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  35. ^ Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50; Wilson 2017.
  36. ^ Continetti, Matthew (June 1, 2019). "Making Sense of the New American Right". National Review. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  37. ^
  38. ^ a b Clark 2016, p. 77.
  39. ^ Dueck 2010, p. 258; McDonald 2004, p. 216.
  40. ^ Newman, Kalina (August 17, 2017). "Citing threats, student withdraws from BU after attending Charlottesville rally". USA Today. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  41. ^ "InfoWars' Alex Jones Stole Over 1,000 Articles From Kremlin-Backed Russia Today". New York Observer. November 9, 2017.
  42. ^ Frum, David (March 25, 2003). "Unpatriotic Conservatives". National Review. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  43. ^ Nash 2006, p. 568; Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50.
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^ Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50.
  51. ^ Matthews, Dylan (May 6, 2016). "Paleoconservatism, the movement that explains Donald Trump, explained". Vox. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  52. ^ Schneider 2009, p. 212.
  53. ^ Clark 2016, p. 77; Hawley 2017; Schneider 2009, p. 170.
  54. ^
  55. ^


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