Skip to comments.What is "Palaeo"conservatism?
Posted on 11/13/2001 12:10:56 PM PST by Zionist Conspirator
I do not post these musings of mine to be disagreeable or provocative, but I simply do not understand the consistent inconsistencies of "palaeo"conservatives. And I am not referring to their position on Communist Arabs vis a vis their position on every other Communist in the world. I am referring to something far more basic.
I do not understand someone calling himself a "palaeo"conservative who then invokes "liberty," "rights," etc., for the very simple reason that "palaeo"conservatism connotes a European-style conservatism that opposes these very things in the name of Throne and Altar. So why do our disciples of Joseph de la Maistre pose as followers of Murray Rothbard, Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, or Friedrich von Hayek?
I don't know. Honestly. I'm asking.
True, Charley Reese and Joseph Sobran (unlike their more honest and consistent fellow, Pat Buchanan) pose as across-the-board individualist Jeffersonian ideologues. But truly consistern libertarians, even the most "rightwing," took positions on civil rights and the new left in the Sixties that were (and are) anathema to some of these fellow travellers. I recently went to a libertarian site (this one here) where I was impressed with the fearless consistency of a true libertarian, such as Rothbard. I urge interested parties to read some of Rothbard's writings here (particularly "Liberty and the New Left") and honestly ask themselves if they can imagine "libertarians" like Sobran or Reese (or their supporters here at FR) saying such things.
Imagine, for example, the following quotation from Rothbard, from the article just cited:
It is no wonder then that, confronted by the spectre of this Leviathan, many people devoted to the liberty of the individual turned to the Right-wing, which seemed to offer a groundwork for saving the individual from this burgeoning morass. But the Right-wing, by embracing American militarism and imperialism, as well as police brutality against the Negro people, faced the most vital issues of our time . . . and came down squarely on the side of the State and agaisnt the person. The torch of liberty against the Establishment passed therefore to the New Left.
Okay, the militarism/imperialism quote is right in character, but can you honestly imagine Sobran saying such things about "police brutality against the Negro people" or heaping such praises on the New Left in an address before Mississippi's "Council of Conservative Citizens?" Or Reese saying such things before a League of the South convention???
Something doesn't fit here.
The thing is, the "palaeo"right has roots going back to the turn-of-the-century European right (eg, Action Francaise) as well as to the Austrian school of economics. In fact, sometimes these roots jump out from the midst of libertarian rhetoric--for example, when someone stops thumping the First Amendment long enough to bemoan the subversive, rootless, cosmopolitan nature of international capitalism (and surely no one expects libertarian Austrian economics to create a Pat Buchanan-style monocultural country!), or to defend Salazar Portugal or Vichy France.
In short, what we are faced with here is the same situation as on the Left, where unwashed, undisciplined, excrement-throwing hippies rioted in favor of the ultra-orderly goose-stepping military dictatorships in Cuba and Vietnam. In each case--Left and Right--the American section advocated positions that the mother movement in the mother country would not tolerate. For one thing, Communist countries exploit and use totalitarian patriotism; no one in Cuba burns the Cuban flag and gets away with it, I guarantee. Yet partisans of nationalist-communist Cuba advocate the "right" of Americans to burn their national flag. And can anyone imagine what Franco or Salazar would have done to some dissident spouting Rothbard's rhetoric back in Iberia in the 1950's or 60's? Yet once again, a philosophy alien to the mother country is seized upon by native Falangists as the essence of the movement.
I don't get it. Palaeos, like Leftists, don't seem to be able to make up their minds. Are they in favor of or opposed to "rights liberalism?" Do they dream of a reborn medieval European chr*stendom, or a reborn early-federal-period enlightenment/Masonic United States of America? Do they want a virtually nonexistent government or something like the strong, paternalistic governments of Franco, Salazar, and Petain that will preserve the purity of the ethnoculture? Or they for or against free trade? (It is forgotten by today's Buchananite Confederacy-partisans that "free trade" was one of the doctrines most dear to the real Confederacy.) Are you for Jeffersonial localism or against it when a Hispanic border town votes to make Spanish (the language of Franco!) its official language?
I wonder if I could possibly be more confused than you yourselves seem to be.
Honestly, it does sometimes seem that the issue that defines "palaeo"ism is hostility to Israel. Why else would someone like "Gecko," a FReeper who openly admired 19th Century German "conservatism," which he admitted was a form of state socialism, be considered a member of the family by "disciples of Ludwig von Mises?" None of this makes any sense at all.
As a final postscript, I must add once more that I am myself a "palaeo" in all my instincts (except that I don't go around advocating a Biblical Theocracy for Israel and a Masonic republic for the United States, nor do I brandish the Bill of Rights like an ACLU lawyer). Whatever the intrinsic opposition between palaeoconservatism (at least of the more honest de la Maistre variety) and a reborn Halakhic Torah state based on the Throne and Altar in Jerusalem, I have never been able to discover them. I guess the rest of you know something I don't (although it sure as heck ain't the Bible). If there is some law requiring "true" palaeoconservatism to be based on European idealist philosophy, Hellenistic philosophy, or Austrian libertarian economics rather than the Divinely-Dictated Word of the Creator, I would like to hear about it. All I know is the rest of you "palaeos" seem to take hostility to Judaism (not just Zionism and Israel but Judaism itself) as a given for anyone who wants to be a member of the "club." And you seem to have a mutual agreement to act as though Biblical Fundamentalist Zionism didn't exist and that all sympathy for Israel originated in the philosophy of former Trotskyist/globalist/capitalist/neoconservatism (which is confusing because according to libertarianism capitalism is good). I have moreover learned from past experience that if I question any of you about your position on the Bible you ignore it with a smirk I can practically feel coming out of the monitor.
My attitude is as follows: for true libertarians who are actually sincere and consistent I have a deep respect, even though I disagree with you philosophy. For people who insist that one should be required to oppose the existence of a Jewish State on the ancient 'Eretz Yisra'el in order to even consider himself a conservative, you can all boil in hot excrement, since I have no desire to belong to your loathsome `Amaleq-spawned society. I simply wish I could understand why conservatism--which to me has always meant an acknowledgement of the Jewish G-d and His Word--has spawned so many people whose fundamental outlook is so diametrically opposed to this.
At any rate, while I do not expect any other than taunting, smart-aleck replies, I will most assuredly listen with an open mind to any explanation of the otherwise inexplicable Franco/Ayn Rand connection.
(Well, it's a bump at least.)
Do they dream of a reborn medieval European chr*stendom, or a reborn early-federal-period enlightenment/Masonic United States of America? Do they want a virtually nonexistent government or something like the strong, paternalistic governments of Franco, Salazar, and Petain that will preserve the purity of the ethnoculture? Or they for or against free trade? (It is forgotten by today's Buchananite Confederacy-partisans that "free trade" was one of the doctrines most dear to the real Confederacy.) Are you for Jeffersonial localism or against it when a Hispanic border town votes to make Spanish (the language of Franco!) its official language?
LOL! Youre going to make a few heads explode with this paragraph.
BTW, it would also be very gratifying to learn why America's "pacifists," both Left and Right, never make the same pacifistic demands of the foreign dictatorships they identify with that they do of the United States.
Paelo Conservitism is a replay of the 30's isolationist dogma, they didn't have a problem with intervention in WW1, merged with some socalist protectionism of the last half of the 19th century.
To the light
You wont get an explanation because the connection is only in your head. Bullshit on false premise sandwich.
Personally, I often think of myself as "paleo", but that is only relative to my mostly marxist friends. I mean I don't believe in income tax or the public schools, and I am strongly 2nd Amendment and pro-life (the last two are not open for debate, even amongst friends.)
I think English ought to be the official language because I understand what drove Webster to write his dictionary, but unless they try to prohibit English, I could not care less what is the "official" language of your hypothetical border town. What about the entire state of, say, California? I don't know about that one.
And since I am firmly in favor of a Jewish State, I guess your post doesn't really aply to me
Huh? There's always LaRouche.
What has come to be considered the "Right" in America today is really borne of three strands, not so very well integrated:
1) The classical liberalism born of Locke, Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, which was the liberalism of the Founders and the 19th century, and which now encompasses Austrian economics, neoclassical microeconomics and rational expectations economic theory, and political libertarianism, in the broad sense more than in the party sense.
2) A moderate conservatism that seeks gradual change and to preserve the essence of the good in traditional institutions, borne of Burke's revulsion at the French Revolution and being now essentially country club Republican ism. The relationship of this with classical liberalism is gradual and curious, consider how the Republican party began as an amalgam of conservative Whigs and anti-slavery radicals who were often classical liberals. and
3) Authoritarin conservatism, that of the high Tory or Ultramontagne Continental Conservative. Whether it glorifies the state in monarchal or religious terms, it still views the individual as subordinate to the state. It lacks being totalitarian only because of its traditionalism grounding in morality (in most places) and the sense of reciprocal obligation of all in society in the Great Chain of Being whereby each had is place.
The Paelos are authoritarian conservatives for the most part, but who rarely have the historical or philosophical training to understand the implications of their views.
Huh? There's always LaRouche.
I thought he went to prison or Europe or something.
The problem with the classification "conservative" is that it doesn't always refer to the same status quo being conserved. Those who would return to the social mores of the 1950s, for example, would probably have a claim to that name, but to those for whom that era's post-FDR federal government constitutes a terrible inflation of power over that of the Founders' day, they wouldn't be "conservative" at all. Making it worse, libertarians are referred to as "conservative" because the status quo they are trying to conserve most resembles the original plan (or more properly, an more or less fuzzy idealization) of the Constitution. But to return to that era's laissez-faire attitude toward, say, drugs, appears to many latter-day "conservatives" as "liberal" or even "libertine" (for those who prefer looser usages of the English language).
As you point out, it gets worse still when European definitions are used, wherein "liberal" means adhering to the policies most Americans would classify as "conservative." Worse still when "conservative" applies to old-line Communists in, say, the ex-Soviet Union, whose economic and political stance is diametrically opposed to "conservative" in the U.S.
I think, therefore, that if it isn't merely a relative term, it doesn't have a great deal of meaning at all.
Then there are the Israel haters like Sobran, Reese, Buchanan et al. They each have their own virtues and areas of clear thinking. However, they have swallowed whole the idea that somehow Jews and Israel have American foreign policy by the throat - all to the detriment of US interests.
I think what unites paleos, however, is the idea of the "old republic" - the devolution of power away from the federal government back down to the states and people. And the destruction or restraining of the "New World Order" - an even higher and more remote level of social and economic control.
For more insights into their thinking "Chronicles" is the magazine to read. Warning - reading it can be disorienting sometimes. FreeRepublic is the place for clear-thinking.
The subsequent intellectual history of the conservative movement has largely been the story of how the two great strands of conservative thought, classical liberalism and Burkean traditionalism (the "Blue and White Niles of the conservative movement," as I have sometimes called them), have come to recognize each other. They have recognized each other not as adversaries but as complementary aspects of a single overarching worldview. To borrow a military metaphor, it has sometimes seemed to me that the conservative movement's resolute opposition to the advance of world communism was its response to the great but essentially tactical problem of our time. Its commitment to political and economic freedom (the contribution of classical liberalism, as we have seen) was its profound strategic contribution, the enormously important insight that human freedom makes possible a level of political and economic well-being that no dirigiste system can hope to equal. But...traditionalism is neither a strategy nor a tactic; it is, in the fullest sense of the word, a philosophy. As such, it is the bedrock of American conservatism.For the full lecture containing this quote go here
Worse still when "conservative" applies to old-line Communists in, say, the ex-Soviet Union, whose economic and political stance is diametrically opposed to "conservative" in the U.S.
I always thought it amusing when the NY Times would refer to the forces in the Soviet Union that clung desperately to communism as the conservatives while those fighting for individual liberty and freedom from state power were the liberals.
I realized then that in NY Times-speak, political terms were fungible, mostly sticking to the formula conservative=mean and liberal=nice.
Whittaker Chambers, of course, was an American version of Arthur Koestler -- the Continental/British intellectual who had really realized how he'd been snookered by the Marxists and so became more anti-communist than McCarthy, if you will.
Conservatism in the US has always meant something very different (at least since our Revolution) than in Europe, as we haven't had any monarchists since the highest of high Federalists who wanted Washington as king, and the fundamental notions of liberty and individual responsibilty are the fabric of our political philosophy. Traditionally, there was never much of a place here for the European ultramontagne Caltholic right, the unreconstructed English Tory supporter of the Stuarts or even the enlightened despotism that characterized the German and Austrian monarchies, let alone the truly reactionary views of the Russian monarchy. [Witness Bismarck's rows with the Catholic Church and the top down socialism as an instrument of control in the Prussian state and the various reforms and evolution in the dual monarchy] Those views came here mostly through intellectuals writing in Europe and through the Roman Catholic Church, especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as the Church fought valiantly against modernity. One needs to understand that this is the worldview in which many such as Pat Buchanan grew up.
However, the question still remains. Why would America's counterparts of Ultramontanism (Sobran, for example) adopt the very un-Catholic, un-Ultramontanist doctrine of rights libertarianism as their message? Why not simply shout "Throne and Altar?" I believe at least the elder (late) Brent Bozell openly identified with the Spanish Carlists and refrained from posing as Thomas Jefferson.
For whatever reason the First and Third strands of conservatism you mention seem to have blended into a single stream. But it still doesn't make any sense.
Please forgive me for repeating myself, but this paragraph of yours is simply delicious.
Now--why would someone with this view of the individual invoke Rothbardian libertarianism? That is the question.
At this particular point in time in American politics, many wish for a return to traditional America which happened to enjoy small government and respect for individual rights as well as respect for Christian tradition, and so the wishes of libertarians and conservatives align -- not due to a common philosophy, but due to a circumstance.
Excuse me, O Unbelieving One, but you must be about two years old. My little crusade against people like you grows directly out of my experience with rightwing groups during the Cold War, when my simple little Bible Belt beliefs were shaken to their foundation by what I discovered.
Your implication that "paleos" merely began criticizing Israel when the Cold War ended is false and disengenuous. I was a member of a rightwing organization during the height of the Cold War, and the Right Wing was rabidly anti-Israel throughout the course of that conflict. This was at the same time that it was rabidly interventionist in every other case. They wanted us to support Rhodesia. They wanted us to support South Africa. They wanted us to support Somoza. They wanted us to support Taiwan. They were interventionist and national-security oriented to a fault, but they made one exception: they did not want to intervene on behalf of Israel because they didn't like Israel.
Any perusal of far right publications and literature during the Cold War era will illustrate the truth of my words and your own disingenuousness.
Furthermore, you illustrate well the arbitrary nature of your own prejudices when you call support for Israel "globalist." Support for Israel against its enemies is no more inherently "globalist" than is support for Taiwan against Communist China, as you are well aware. Your arbitrary classification of pro-Israelism as globalist as opposed to (for example) support of Taiwan outs you completely.
This is the guy who thinks Fundamentalists are "stooges," right?
Bet you don't say that to them when you need them to march in anti-abortion protests with you. Assuming you're even against abortion in the first place.
Interesting. Makes more sense than ones I've seen that separate libertarianism and authoritarianism from right and left without specifying what right and left mean. I have a question, though. Traditional and novel what? Morals can't be it, unless you're already at the state end of the first axis, because for a libertarian, tradition vs. novelty is simply not a political issue He may care about it passionately, but would never get the government involved.
For creating and perpetuating the most mature discussion/debate I have yet seen on FR.
If only more of the posts concerning Israel, Political Philosophy labels/definitions, Personalities, etc. could be so polite and erudite.
You recall that Goldwater, whom many of us would consider to have been our particular Pied Piper, always described himself as a "19th Century Liberal".
What you get is what you get, regardless of labels.
BOSWELL: Is it necessary to believe all the Thirty-nine articles[of the Church of England]It is quite possible for a man to agitate for certain principles, yet not be a True Believer in them. Not because he is a two-faced liar, but because he knows that far worse principles are running about, and the common good of the nation requires a modicum of peace between competing systems, lest we perish in an ideological civil war. I do not know if this method is at work within paleoconservative thought.
JOHNSON: "Why, sir, that is a question which has been much agitated. Some have held it necessary that all be believed. Others have considered them to be only articles of peace, that is to say, you are not to preach against them.
-Boswell's Life of Johnson
U.S. support for Israel is inherently Globalist. Israel is on the other side of the globe. Globalists created the modern state of Israel. U.S. supports Israel often in contradiction to it's own self-interest.
Well, it was good while it lasted.
Anything that is the topic on hand: economic, political, cultural. A conservative would argue that the traditinal way is better and a liberal would argue that the innovative way is better. Depending on where the proponent of a certain view happens to stand on the Libertarian/Socialist axis, he would proceed to argue for an individualist or statist implementation of that view.
For example (intentionally contrived a bit), a liberal would argue that the Eastern religions should be taught in schools because that would refresh the minds of mostly Christian kids. If he is also a libertarian he would press for relaxation of government immigration and education policy so that American kids could more easily get their high school education in Tibet; if he is a statist he would push for a federal mandate effect the same change. A conservative would argue the opposite: that since most are traditionally Christian, Christian basics should be taught in schools: a statist conservative would again push for a mandate and a libertarian conservative would place his hopes on the free market to deliver Christian education.
Taiwan is on the other side of the globe. It was created by socialist revolutionaries like Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek.
Globalists are currently trying very hard to create a "palestinian" state. Arafat has spoken before the Council on Foreign Relations and is an associate member of the Socialist International. But I'm sure you would never regard such a "palestinian" as "inherently globalist" under any conditions . . . would you?
The United States of America was created by Illuminati-Masonic type enlightenment radicals and deists (or in the case of Franklin, a satanist). The American Revolution was the first project of the Globalist Left and was a testing ground for the social revolution that later took place in France. The international soldiers of fortune who came to America during our Revolution were the exact counterpart of the Red International during the Spanish Civil War. I guess that means all true conservatives should oppose the evil United States of America.
And btw, my reference to the age of jimmydean was not a reference to his behavior but to his lack of knowledge of Cold War history. I simply meant he is obviously too young to remember the Cold War, whereas I am not.
All that being said, thank you for letting us know where you stand, but no thanks at all for addressing none of my initial questions.
Uncalled for comment. I don't know about Sobran or Reese but Buchanan is for America first. Now being for America first is an 'Israel hater' to only the Israel first and free Pollard crowd.
1) You ignore the fact that "liberty" is a motto of Jacobinism and therefore anathema to European-style conservatives. Why therefore do America's "Euroconservatives" pose as its greatest champions?
2) Kindly explain why paleoconservatives who echo Jefferson Davis when it comes to distribution of power in the United States are such ardent admirers of arch-centralists in other countries, such as Chiang Kai-shek, Francisco Franco, Antonio Salazar, and Henri Petain. If Lincoln was a tyrant, why were these other men heroes of liberty? Can you explain this? Or do you even know about it?
P.S.: The late John G. Schmitz, the John Bircher who spent his entire legislative career fighting centralization of power, apparently in his last days despaired of this remedy and leaned toward a Franco-style revolution. How would such a solution be justified in Rothbardian libertarian, or even Jefferson Davis-style, terms?
Goverment falls within the context of three axes: popularly enacted law, centralized plenary authority, and anarchy.