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.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.