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Paleolibertarianism is a political philosophy and variety of right-libertarianism developed by American anarcho-capitalist theorists Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell that combines traditional conservative cultural values and social philosophy with a libertarian opposition to government intervention.
According to Rockwell, the paleolibertarian movement hearkens back to such thinkers as "Ludwig von Mises, Albert Jay Nock, Garet Garrett, and the entire interwar Old Right that opposed the New Deal and favored the Old Republic" and distinguished themselves from neo-libertarians, Beltway libertarianism (a pejorative term used by hardline libertarians to describe libertarians who have gained traction in the Beltway, i.e. Washington, D.C.), left-libertarianism and lifestyle libertarianism. According to Rockwell, paleolibertarianism "made its peace with religion as the bedrock of liberty, property, and the natural order".
Paleolibertarianism developed in opposition to the social progressivism of mainstream libertarianism. In his essay "The Case for Paleo-Libertarianism", Rockwell charged mainstream libertarians with "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 paleolibertarians, he wrote that "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".
In the essay "Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement", Rothbard reflected on the ability of paleolibertarians to engage in an "outreach to rednecks" founded on social conservatism and radical libertarianism. He cited former Senator Joseph McCarthy as a model for the new movement.
In the 1990s, a "paleoconservative-paleolibertarian alliance was forged", centred on the John Randolph Club founded by traditionalist Catholic Thomas Fleming. Rockwell and Rothbard supported paleoconservative Republican candidate Pat Buchanan in the 1992 presidential election and described Buchanan as the political leader of the "paleo movement". In 1992, 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 paleolibertarians to withdraw their support for Buchanan. In addition to Buchanan's economic nationalism, Paul Gottfried later complained of a lack of funding, infighting, media hostility or blackout and vilification as "racists" and "anti-Semites".
Rothbard died in 1995. In 2007, Rockwell stated he no longer considered himself a "paleolibertarian" and was "happy with the term libertarian".
Main article: Ron Paul newsletters
The libertarian publication Reason asserted that "a half-dozen longtime libertarian activists—including some still close to Ron Paul—all named the same man as Paul's chief ghostwriter: Ludwig von Mises Institute founder Llewellyn Rockwell, Jr.", although Rockwell denied it.
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In 2012, former National Review writer John Derbyshire argued that "since Lew Rockwell joined La Raza" (referring to a LewRockwell.com article with a soft open-borders advocacy), Hans-Hermann Hoppe was the last real paleolibertarian standing. Yet paleolibertarianism had hardly disappeared from America, with Karen De Coster[unreliable source?] and Justin Raimondo both continuing to use the term to describe themselves both during and after Ron Paul's presidential campaigns.[unreliable source?]
In a move similar to his and Murray Rothbard's support for Pat Buchanan, Lew Rockwell was sympathetic to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, particularly for his stance on illegal immigration, along with Justin Raimondo, who voted for Trump on the basis of his foreign policy. In a 2016 pre-election debate with Reason editor Nick Gillespie, Austrian School anarcho-capitalist economist Walter Block advised libertarians living in battleground states to support Trump rather than cast their votes for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, citing critical foreign policy differences between the Republican and Democratic frontrunners.
In line with these views, paleolibertarian columnist Ilana Mercer authored a book in June 2016 about presidential candidate Trump titled The Trump Revolution: The Donald's Creative Destruction Deconstructed, the first critical examination of then-candidate Trump from a paleolibertarian perspective. In discussing Mercer's book, Objectivist-libertarian scholar Chris Matthew Sciabarra observed that Mercer endorsed "not necessarily the policies of Trump, but 'The Process of Trump'". Scabbarra further noted that "[t]he most interesting of her arguments is the bolstering of liberty by Donald J. Trump [...] smashing an enmeshed political spoils system to bits: the media complex, the political and party complex, the conservative poseur complex. In the age of unconstitutional government—Democratic and Republican—this process of creative destruction can only increase the freedom quotient".
Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute, a right-libertarian think tank for promoting Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism and the Austrian School of economics, said of the alt-right that he found their writings "interesting [...] and somewhat refreshing". In 2017, Deist concluded a speech at the Mises Institute titled "For a New Libertarian", arguing: "In other words, blood and soil and God and nation still matter to people. Libertarians ignore this at the risk of irrelevance". This led to criticism from bleeding-heart libertarian Steve Horwitz, who argued that "the invocation of 'blood and soil' as something that libertarians should recognize as a valid concern and should appeal to should be chilling. That phrase, which has a history going back at least to the 19th century, was central to the Nazi movement and was at the core of their justification for eliminating those people who did not have connections to the German homeland". Horwitz ultimately concluded that libertarianism was not about a narrow view of family, religion, culture and civil society, but instead "liberal tolerance, universalism, and cosmopolitanism, putting the freedom and harmony of all people ahead of the supposed interests of any parochial sub-group, and especially ones defined by the artificial boundaries of nation-states and their subsets".
White supremacist blog The Right Stuff also exhibits features of paleolibertarianism. One post has criticised the mainstream right in the following terms: "While they lost or ignore topics like race, nativism and the culture war, they have an obsession with neoliberal economics and neocon geopolitics". They have also been largely supportive of Rockwell, yet they have criticized his "move away from inflammatory newsletters".
In 2014, controversial voluntaryist blogger and podcaster Stefan Molyneux started to become more culturally conservative than he had been previously. He has released podcasts of his Freedomain Radio show addressing topics such as Western culture, immigration and group differences in cognitive ability. Like Lew Rockwell, he has supported Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States.
Property and Freedom Society member Christian Robitaille has argued for an alliance of paleolibertarians and traditionalist conservative in Quebec.
In October 2013, the Traditional Britain Group showed interest in certain paleolibertarian ideas. In March 2014, it hosted a seminar including a track led by Andrew Linley titled "Politics: Destroyer of Natural Order". John Kersey, vice president of the Traditional Britain Group, describes himself as a "radical traditionalist and paleolibertarian". In October 2014, former UK Independence Party Member of Parliament and Mises UK president Godfrey Bloom gave a speech to the annual conference of Traditional Britain entitled "Why Traditionalism and Libertarianism are Not Incompatible".
Sean Gabb, the former Director of the Libertarian Alliance, is a close friend of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, attending his Property and Freedom Society conferences every year in Bodrum. Gabb is a paleolibertarian in some respects and a critic of mass immigration. Gabb has addressed Traditional Britain Group conferences in efforts at classical liberal outreach to traditionalists. Keir Martland, Gabb's successor, has written favourably about the prospects for a new "paleo-alliance", arguing that "a conservative society cannot exist under an oppressive state just as much as a libertarian society cannot exist in a cultural and moral vacuum". In the essay "On Left and Right, Libertarianism, and The Donald", Martland is sympathetic to the nationalism of Donald Trump, writing: "When compared with rule by a socialist mob or rule by a hostile oligarchy of globalists, neither giving a damn about the Nation but only about plunder, nationalism comes off comparatively very well indeed".
Rothbard pointed to David Duke and Joseph McCarthy as models for an "Outreach to the Rednecks," which would fashion a broad libertarian/paleoconservative coalition by targeting the disaffected working and middle classes