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Paleoliberalism is a term that has at least a few distinct meanings, all relating to liberalism. Generally, it is used as a somewhat obscure term for extreme liberalism. The adjectival form, paleoliberal is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, as "Extremely or stubbornly liberal in political matters." but because the term liberalism itself has several different meanings, this definition carries some ambiguity.
A paleoliberal believes in moderate government intervention on personal matters and economic matters. They tend to be opposed to war, police powers and victimless crimes. They believe in a social safety net, but to a lesser extent than more left-wing politics. They generally believe in protecting personal liberty, both through individualism and state protection. They support self-ownership and privacy. Some paleoliberals may lean towards embracing capitalism as an economic system.
The term is often used to refer to an extreme or "unreconstructed" exponent of modern American liberalism. For example, Brian Doherty writing in Reason in 1997 used the term to refer to Richard Gephardt in his opposition to Clinton's free trade policies. 
It can also be used to describe liberals who are more socialist or libertarian socialist in political outlook, and liberals who are opposed to neoliberalism. Paleoliberals and neoliberals are opposed to each other on many economic, social and political issues.
According to Michael Lind, in the late 1960s and early 1970s many "anti-Soviet [American] liberals and social democrats in the tradition of Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey and Henry ("Scoop") Jackson… preferred to call themselves 'paleoliberals'"; according to Lind, roughly this group of people later became known as the neoconservatives.
Footnotes and references
- ^ Gresser, "Trade Myths".
- ^ Sullivan, "Good Choice. Bad Speech", and "Hunger Stalks N.J. Suburbs" (on the site of TimesWatch.org) also use the word in this sense.
- ^ Lind, "A Tragedy of Errors".
- ^ Nash, "A Cold War Paleoliberal".
- ^ A typical example of use in a blog is lowercase liberty: paleoliberalism (posted September 20, 2005, retrieved December 20, 2005) by B.K. Marcus. The article Paleoliberalism on the Libertarian Wiki uses this meaning of the term, but provides no references.
- ^ Oliver Jr., Henry M. (1960). "German Neoliberalism". Quarterly Journal of Economics (The MIT Press) 74 (1): 117–149. doi:10.2307/1884137. JSTOR 1884137.
- —, Hunger Stalks N.J. Suburbs from TimesWatch.org, a project of the Heritage Foundation, March 24, 2004, accessed December 12, 2005.
- Doherty, Brian, Swap Meat: Friends and critics miss the point on NAFTA, Reason, October 1997, accessed December 12, 2005.
- Gresser, Edward, Trade Myths: Book Review, Blueprint Magazine (magazine of the Democratic Leadership Council's Progressive Policy Institute), May 7, 2004. A review of In Defense of Globalization by Jagdish Bhagwati. Accessed December 12, 2005.
- Lind, Michael, A Tragedy of Errors. The Nation, posted February 5, 2004 (February 23, 2004 issue), accessed December 12, 2005.
- Nash, George H. "A Cold War Paleoliberal". New York Times Nov 10, 1991. p. BR26
- Sullivan, Andrew. Good Choice. Bad Speech., TNR online, July 7, 2004. Accessed December 12, 2005.