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NeoConservatism Versus PaleoConservatism, Lindbergh, Goldwater, Buchanan, Barr are PaleoConservatives

The difference between a NeoCon and a PaleoCon - Dr Paul is PaleoCon with Libertarian leanings, Barr is more of a true PaleoCon as is Baldwin who endorsed Buchanan in 2000.

A conflict of values

The phrase paleoconservative ("old conservative") was originally a tongue-in-cheek rejoinder used in the 1980s to differentiate traditional conservatives from neoconservatives and Straussians. Pat Buchanan calls neoconservatism "a globalist, interventionist, open borders ideology.”[1] The paleoconservatives argue that the "neocons" are illegitimate interlopers in the conservative movement.

The roots of this conflict predate either the paleocons or the neocons. In 1950, Lionel Trilling, a forefather of the neoconservatives, said that liberalism is the "sole intellectual tradition" in the United States. He dismissed Old Right conservatives as expressing "irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas." [4] Three years later, future paleocon Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind challenged this thesis. [5]

The new neoconservative movement, as it rose in the 1970s, articulated a different vision from the Old Right. While they were not opposed to the New Deal, they thought the Great Society and the New Left went too far. Neoconservatives embraced an interventionist foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. They espoused especially strong support for Israel and still believe the United States should help ensure the security of the Jewish state. (see the neoconservatism article for fuller discussion).

In 1972, James Burnham commented that the neoconservatives still clung to "what might be called the emotional gestalt of liberalism, the liberal sensitivity and temperament." [6] He said they substituted abstractions about "compassion, kindliness, love and brotherhood" for indispensable civic virtues. These were "courage, duty, discipline, and especially self-discipline, loyalty, endurance, [and] yes, patriotism."[2]

The late Samuel Francis, a leading paleoconservative intellectual and a student of Burnham, wrote that during this time,

"Old conservatives who welcomed the neo-cons into their ranks soon found that their new allies often displayed the habit of telling them what was and what was not "permissible" to say and how to say it. Criticism of the New Left and domestic communism was fine, but what the neo-conservatives regarded as "McCarthyism" - calling for restoration of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, for example, or the FBI's domestic security functions - was not respectable. Criticizing affirmative action was also okay, but criticism of unconstitutional civil rights legislation, the civil rights movement, or Martin Luther King Jr. was not respectable. Old conservative heroes like Joseph McCarthy, Douglas MacArthur, Charles Lindbergh, Robert Taft, and even Barry Goldwater tended to disappear or earn scorn in neo-conservative journals, while Harry Truman, George Marshall, Hubert Humphrey, and Henry Jackson developed into idols before which conservatives were supposed to bend the knee. Almost none of the neo-conservatives showed any interest in American constitutional principles or federalist and states' rights issues and arguments based on constitutionalism were muted in favor of the "empirical" arguments drawn from disciplines like sociology and political science in which neo-conservative academics tended to concentrate." [7]

Paleo historian Thomas Woods elaborates on the divergence in the conservative movement, and the ascent of the neoconservatives, and their distinguishing features from more traditional conservatives:

The conservative’s traditional sympathy for the American South and its people and heritage, evident in the works of such great American conservatives as Richard M. Weaver and Russell Kirk, began to disappear... [T]he neocons are heavily influenced by Woodrow Wilson, with perhaps a hint of Theodore Roosevelt...They believe in an aggressive U.S. presence practically everywhere, and in the spread of democracy around the world, by force if necessary....Neoconservatives tend to want more efficient government agencies; paleoconservatives want fewer government agencies. [Neoconservatives] generally admire President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his heavily interventionist New Deal policies. Neoconservatives have not exactly been known for their budget consciousness, and you won’t hear them talking about making any serious inroads into the federal apparatus.[3]

In discussing neoconservative distinctives on state power, Irving Kristol wrote in 2003:

Neocons do not like the concentration of services in the welfare state and are happy to study alternative ways of delivering these services. But they are impatient with the Hayekian notion that we are on "the road to serfdom." Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable... People have always preferred strong government to weak government, although they certainly have no liking for anything that smacks of overly intrusive government. Neocons feel at home in today's America to a degree that more traditional conservatives do not. Though they find much to be critical about, they tend to seek intellectual guidance in the democratic wisdom of Tocqueville, rather than in the Tory nostalgia of, say, Russell Kirk. [8]

What made the neoconservative movement so potent was the number of influential intellectuals who attained positions of power in the government and media. Paul Gottfried argues that the neocons funded their efforts using funding originally intended to fight the New Deal or the Great Society.[4] Kristol remarked that "one can say that the historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would seem to be this: to convert the Republican party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy." [9]

By comparison, the paleocons were marginalized. Samuel Francis wrote,

Contemporary paleoconservatism developed as a reaction against three trends in the American Right during the Reagan administration. First, it reacted against the bid for dominance by the neoconservatives, former liberals who insisted not only that their version of conservative ideology and rhetoric prevail over those of older conservatives, but also that their team should get the rewards of office and patronage and that the other team of the older Right receive virtually nothing.[5]

Francis also argued that many on the Left minunderstood both the neocons and paleocons, as well as the conflict between the two. He said they disregarded the paleo's critiques and over-emphasized the influence of Leo Strauss on the neocons:

This silence about the paleocons was the result, in part, of the abysmal ignorance of the writers of most such articles but also of the hidden purpose that lurked beneath much of what they wrote. That purpose was not so much to “deconstruct” and “expose” the neocons as to define them as the real conservative opposition, the legitimate (though deplorable and vicious) “right” against which the polemics and political struggle of the left should be directed. The reason the left prefers the neocon “right” to a paleo alternative is, quite simply, that the neocons are essentially of the left themselves and, thus, provide a fake opposition against which the rest of the left can shadowbox and thereby perpetuate its own political and cultural hegemony unchallenged by any authentic right. [10]

Further, Francis also complained that the neocons never fought the left with anything more than elegant reprimand. If they saw serious criticism in return, they issued charges of anti-Semitism. He also said that if "the point is to wipe out Israel's enemies," such as in the Iraq invasion, "the [neocon] Likudniks don't care about American casualties very much." [11]