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Paleolibertarianism was a species of libertarianism developed by Murray Rothbard and Llewellyn Rockwell that combined cultural conservatism in social thought and behavior with a radical libertarian opposition to government intervention.
Tenets and history
Paleo-libertarianism developed in opposition to the social progressivism of mainstream libertarianism. The ideology was presented in Murray Rothbard's essay "Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement", in which Rothbard reflected on the ability of paleo-libertarians to engage in an "outreach to rednecks" founded on social conservatism and radical libertarianism. He cited former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and former U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy as models for the new movement.
In his essay "The Case for Paleo-Libertarianism", Rockwell accused mainstream libertarians of "hatred of western culture". He argued that "pornographic photography, 'free'-thinking, chaotic painting, atonal music, deconstructionist literature, Bauhaus architecture, and modernist films have nothing in common with the libertarian political agenda - no matter how much individual libertarians may revel in them." Of paleo-libertarians, he wrote "we obey, and we ought to obey, traditions of manners and taste." After explaining why cultural conservatives could make a better argument for liberty to the middle classes, Rockwell predicted "in the new movement, libertarians who personify the present corruption will sink to their natural level, as will the Libertarian Party, which has been their diabolic pulpit."
Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard supported Republican Pat Buchanan in the 1992 U.S. Presidential Election, and described Buchanan as the political leader of the "paleo" movement. In 1992, Murray Rothbard declared that "with Pat Buchanan as our leader, we shall break the clock of social democracy." Three years later, he said Buchanan developed too much faith in economic planning and centralized state power, which eventually led paleo-libertarians to withdraw their support for Buchanan.
Rothbard died in 1995 while in 2007, Rockwell stated he no longer considered himself a "paleolibertarian" and was "happy with the term libertarian."
Paleo-libertarianism has sometimes been identified with racism. Political scientist Jean Hardisty describes paleo-libertarianism as entailing "explicit racism, anti-Semitism, and sexism". She notes Murray Rothbard's praise of The Bell Curve, a "paleo-libertarian" work which argued that black people are genetically inferior to white people with respect to intelligence, and the Rothbard-Rockwell Report's publishing of an article, written by white nationalist Sam Francis, which asserted that "of the two major races in the United States today, only one possesses the [intellectual] capacity to create and sustain" suitable levels of civilization.
During Ron Paul's run for the U.S. Presidency in 2008, paleolibertarianism was identified by several sources as the ideological influence behind the racist sentiments and language expressed in the Ron Paul newsletters circa 1989-1994. The libertarian publication Reason asserted that "a half-dozen longtime libertarian activists—including some still close to Paul" had identified paleo-libertarian theorist Lew Rockwell as the "chief ghostwriter" of the newsletters. Rockwell denied it.
- Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. "The Case for Paleo-libertarianism" in Liberty, January 1990, 34-38.
- *Reason: Matt Welch, "Old News"? "Rehashed for Over a Decade"?, January 11, 2008 and Sanchez, Julian and Weigel, David, Who Wrote Ron Paul's Newsletters?, January 16, 2008.
- Gottfried, Paul (1993). The Conservative Movement. Twayne Publishers. pp. 146. ISBN 0-8057-9723-8. OCLC 16804886.
- Lee Edwards, The Conservative Revolution: The Movement That Remade America, Simon and Schuster, 1999, p. 329.
- Lew Rockwell, What I Learned From Paleoism, by LewRockwell.com, May 2, 2002.
- Do You Consider Yourself a Libertarian?, Kenny Johnsson interviews Lew Rockwell for The Liberal Post, as posted on LewRockwell.Com, May 25, 2007.
- Jump up ^ Hardisty, Jean (1999). Mobilizing Resentment, Conservative Resurgence from the John Birch Society to the Promise Keepers. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. pp. 165-167. Author holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University.
- The Rothbard-Rockwell Report - paleolibertarian journal, from 1990 to 1998 (featuring articles on paleolibertarianism; including "Why Paleo?" by Murray Rothbard)
- "Big Government Libertarianism" by Murray Rothbard
- "A Strategy for the Right" by Murray Rothbard
- "Libertarianism and the Old Right", 1999 interview with Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Ludwig von Mises Institute website.
- Brian Patrick Mitchell, Eight Ways to Run the Country: A New and Revealing Look at Left and Right, Chapter 7, "Breaking the Clock: The Paleolibertarian," Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, ISBN 0-275-99358-2, ISBN 978-0-275-99358-0
- H. Arthur Scott Trask, Was Nathaniel Hawthorne a Paleolibertarian?, LewRockwell.com, April 12, 2004.