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Paleoconservatism is a political philosophy and strain of conservatism in the United States stressing American nationalism, Christian ethics, regionalism, traditionalist conservatism, and non-interventionism. 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] By the start of the 21st century, the movement had begun to focus more on issues of race.[5][6]

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.[7][8][9] 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.[10]

Historian George Hawley states that although influenced by paleoconservatism, Donald Trump is not a paleoconservative, but rather a right-wing nationalist and populist.[11] Hawley also argued in 2017 that paleoconservatism was an exhausted force in American politics,[12] but that for a time it represented the most serious right-wing threat to the mainstream conservative movement.[12] Regardless of how Trump himself is categorized, others regard the movement known as Trumpism as supported by,[13] 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 and the entire country.[14]


The prefix paleo derives from the Greek root παλαιός (palaiós), 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".[15]

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.[16][17] 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".[18] Francis defined authentic conservatism as "the survival and enhancement of a particular people and its institutionalized cultural expressions".[19][20]


Paleoconservatives support restrictions on immigration, decentralization, trade tariffs and protectionism, economic nationalism, isolationism, and a return to traditional conservative ideals relating to gender, race, sexuality, culture, and society.[21]

Paleoconservatism differs from neoconservatism in opposing free trade and promoting republicanism. Paleoconservatives see neoconservatives as imperialists and themselves as defenders of the republic.[22][23]

Paleoconservatives tend to oppose abortion, gay marriage, and LGBTQ rights.[21][24]

Human nature, tradition, and reason[edit]

Paleoconservatives believe that tradition is a form of reason, rather than a competing force. 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",[25] so a good conservative keeps "a clear sense of what Southern grandmothers have always meant in admonishing children, 'we don't do that'".[26]

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".[27]

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.[28] 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 paleoconservatives 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 legislation and think tanks. Paleoconservatives also claimed the Southern Agrarians as forebears in this regard.[29]

Opposition to Israel[edit]

Paleoconservatives are generally strong opponents of Israel and supporters of the Arabist cause in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; they have argued that supporting the country damages foreign relations with the Islamic world and American interests abroad.[30] Buchanan has asserted that "Capitol Hill is Israeli occupied territory". Kirk argued that "Not seldom has it seemed... as if some eminent Neoconservatives mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States".[31] During the 2023 Israeli-Hamas War, paleoconservative Tucker Carlson[32] argued Israel was guilty of war crimes, and that President Joe Biden's support of the country risked American complicitness in the actions.[33]

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. Archived from the original on October 16, 2019. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "'Paleoconservatives' Decry Immigration". Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on December 19, 2019. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  6. ^ Greenberg, David (December 11, 2016). "An Intellectual History of Trumpism". Politico.
  7. ^ Gottfried 1993.
  8. ^ Gottfried 2006.
  9. ^ Scotchie 2017.
  10. ^ Foley 2007, p. 318.
  11. ^ Hawley 2017, p. 129.
  12. ^ a b Hawley 2017, p. 29.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Francis 1994.
  17. ^ Foer, Franklin (July 22, 2002). "Home Bound". The New Republic. Archived from the original on October 1, 2009. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  18. ^ Gottfried & Fleming 1988, p. xv.
  19. ^ Francis, Samuel (July 1992). "The Buchanan Revolution" (PDF). Chronicles. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 23, 2004. Retrieved January 27, 2018 – via
  20. ^ Francis, Samuel (March 2004). "(Con)fusion on the Right". Chronicles. Archived from the original on April 4, 2007. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  21. ^ a b Matthews, Dillon (April 18, 2016). "The alt-right is more than warmed-over white supremacy. It's that, but way way weirder". Vox. Vox Media Inc. Archived from the original on August 31, 2017. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  22. ^ Larison, Daniel. "How Paleo and Fusionist Conservatism Differ". American Conservative Union Foundation. Archived from the original on February 5, 2004. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  23. ^ Judis, John B. (October 3, 1999). "The Buchanan Doctrine". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Bradford, M. E. (1990). The Reactionary Imperative: Essays Literary and Political. Peru, Illinois: Sherwood Sugden. p. 129. Quoted in Murphy 2001, p. 233.
  26. ^ Bradford, M. E. (1990). The Reactionary Imperative: Essays Literary and Political. Peru, Illinois: Sherwood Sugden. pp. 119, 121. Quoted in Murphy 2001, p. 233.
  27. ^ Pat Buchanan Responds To Lenora Fulani's Resignation – Buchanan Campaign Press Releases – theinternetbrigade – Official Web Site Archived October 5, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Murphy 2001, p. 218.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ Postel, Danny (November 7, 2023). "The Conservative Fault Lines Revealed by Debates Over Israel". New Lines Magazine. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  31. ^ Fuller, Adam (2019). Israel and the Neoconservatives: Zionism and American Interests. Lexington Books. p. 8. ISBN 9781498567343.
  32. ^ a b Continetti, Matthew (June 1, 2019). "Making Sense of the New American Right". National Review. Archived from the original on August 5, 2020. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  33. ^ Schorr, Isaac (October 24, 2023). "Tucker Carlson and Douglas Macgregor Suggest Israel Is Committing 'War Crimes' and Mock 'Moral Victories'". Mediaite. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  34. ^ Hawley 2017; Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50.
  35. ^ Clark 2016, p. 77; Dueck 2010, p. 258; Hawley 2017; Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50.
  36. ^ Ansell 1998, p. 34.
  37. ^ Robertson, Derek. "The Canadian Psychologist Beating American Pundits at Their Own Game". Politico. Capitol News Company. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  38. ^ Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50; Wilson 2017.
  39. ^ Dueck 2010, p. 258.
  40. ^ "Re: Paleocons On Immigration". National Review. March 19, 2003.
  41. ^ Matthews, Dylan (May 6, 2016). "Paleoconservatism, the movement that explains Donald Trump, explained". Vox. Archived from the original on June 23, 2022. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  42. ^ "Re: Citing Threat, Student Withdraws from BU After Attending Charlottesville Rally". USA Today. August 17, 2017. Archived from the original on April 25, 2020. Retrieved January 30, 2021.
  43. ^ a b Clark 2016, p. 77.
  44. ^ Dueck 2010, p. 258; McDonald 2004, p. 216.
  45. ^ "InfoWars' Alex Jones Stole Over 1,000 Articles From Kremlin-Backed Russia Today". The New York Observer. November 9, 2017.
  46. ^ Dish, The Daily (February 18, 2008). "Family Besmirch Council". The Atlantic.
  47. ^ Frum, David (March 25, 2003). "Unpatriotic Conservatives". National Review. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  48. ^ "The American Conservative Crackup". May 1, 2007.
  49. ^ Nash 2006, p. 568; Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50.
  50. ^ "An intellectual history of Trumpism". Politico. December 12, 2016.
  51. ^ Newman & Giardina 2011, p. 50.
  52. ^ Matthews, Dylan (May 6, 2016). "Paleoconservatism, the movement that explains Donald Trump, explained". Vox. Archived from the original on June 23, 2022. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  53. ^ Schneider 2009, p. 212.
  54. ^ Clark 2016, p. 77; Hawley 2017; Schneider 2009, p. 170.
  55. ^ "Why I Love Taki's Magazine". Charleston City Paper. May 30, 2008. Archived from the original on March 18, 2021. Retrieved March 18, 2021.


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