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The term "paleoconservative" (sometimes shortened to paleo when the context is clear) refers to an American branch of conservative thought that stands against both the mainstream tradition of the National Review magazine and the neoconservatives. They trace themselves to the Old Right Republicans of the interwar period who successfully kept America out of the League of Nations and cut down non-European immigration in 1924, and not so successfully opposed the New Deal.

They tend to be more critical of federal power over state and local authority, more willing to question free trade, harshly critical of further immigration and to follow an isolationist foreign policy. They are also more critical of the welfare state than the neoconservatives tend to be.

The name "paleoconservative" was chosen to differentiate itself from "neoconservatism". Where the neos were (Latin for) new the paleos were old. The rift is often traced back to a dispute over the director of the National Endowment for the Humanities[?] by the incoming Reagan Administration. The preferred candidate was professor Mel Bradford[?] and he was replaced after an effective media and lobbying effort (focussing on his dislike of Abraham Lincoln) by the less experienced William Bennett. The paleoconservatives view the neoconservatives as interlopers. They furthermore tend to see the methods of the neo-conservatives as simply those of right wing Trotskyites[?] and not more civilised Conservatives. Their view of the mainstream conservative movement is that of a self interested movement lacking the self confidence to defend its old ideas.

Paleoconservatives specialise in breaking what they regard as liberal taboos. Two particular targets of their ire are Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln. They regard American culture as an offshoot of the European cultural tradition, and so will also defend French foreign policy or attack the idea that all Germans were equally complicit in the holocaust. Although not a racist movement per se, some paleo-conservative figures, especially Samuel Francis[?] have links to racist groups such as American Renaissance[?].

The best known paleoconservative is probably the commentator Patrick Buchanan, whose culture war speech[?] is probably the most widely known paleoconservative critique. The main paleoconservative magazine is Chronicles Magazine[?]. There are many libertarian followers of Murray Rothbard who although not Paleoconservatives are sympathetic to many of the themes and are involved in many of the same activities

Prominent Paleoconservatives

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