Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Paleo Primer

Writing in a local paper for his fellow rural Nevadans, Ed Iverson offers some useful definitions in Those conservative cousins, Paleo and Neo. After a lengthy introduction giving background and addressing some local concerns, he gets to the heart of the matter:
    Many neo-conservatives are arrived (relatively) recently from the left. Some are former Marxists or socialists who became disillusioned with communist governments. Traditional conservatives on the other hand can legitimately trace their lineage back to Edmund Burke, the 18th century English politician whose compelling denunciation of the French Revolution remains a modern classic.

    In broad strokes, here are some further examples of the difference between neo-cons and paleo-conservatives. Neo-cons are internationalists and interventionists. They support the war in Iraq. Contrary to centuries of conservative thought, neo-cons think they can and should militarily convert the world to "democracy." Neo-cons generally favor big government and advocate massive spending on government programs. They have no problem with huge government deficits. And truth to tell, they are actually quite skeptical of states' rights.

    Paleo-conservatives on the other hand favor a small federal government and extremely limited federal spending. Not part of the "wage peace!" crowd, they will cheerfully support military action, but only in defense of America's "real interests." Aristotle is known to have taught that different forms of government (democracy, monarchy, etc.) are better suited for different cultures and histories. This explains why many of us remain opposed to intervention in Iraq.
So far, so good. I would only add that any war must be in keeping with Just War Principles. Back to Mr. Iverson:
    Many (not all) neo-cons think that the "nation state" is outdated and poorly suited for global capitalism. Perhaps this explains why the Republican Party in its current manifestation often supports such programs as amnesty for illegal immigrants, wide-open guest-worker programs and open borders that place few limits on immigration. Traditional conservatives such as Patrick Buchanan and Russell Kirk are skeptical of globalism and want to preserve the nation state as it is expressed in the sovereignty of the United States and Western European countries. They oppose amnesty, favor secured borders and work for a reduction in legal and illegal immigration.
This is where I find myself parting company with both the neocons and the paleos. I stand with the latter against Globalism, but I fail to see why the 19th Century's Nation-state is so idealized. I have not yet come up with a good answer to this dilemma, but I know it is to be found in small communities.

Finally, Mr. Iverson addresses education, and I could not agree with him more:
    Because of a bias in favor of local control, traditional conservatives usually support private schools, home schooling, charter schools and other opportunities for educational choice. Neo-cons promote a big-government approach to education typified by "No Child Left Behind" and other federally funded programs.
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1 Comments:

Blogger El Cid said...

I am not certain that we paleoconservatives are so much in love with the ideal of the nation state as we are with the notion of “conserving” against additional Enlightenment driven change – the sort of humanistic driven change that takes the concept of natural rights to a dangerous conclusion.

Now having said that it is possible that a significant number of paleoconservatives are not ambivalent to the notion of considering a solution other than the nation-state. Afterall at the very core our primary focus is on community, the family and home. Lee and Jackson are two prominent paleoconservatives from my profession – not political activist but everything about their philosophy bespoke of paleoconservatism. Neither of those men were opposed to the idea of doing away with older nation-states and creating a new one – their deepest loyalties were with their home.

I would also say that Jus ad bellum and bellum justum are certainly concepts paleoconservatives hold dear – those of us of a Protestant bent think highly of most everything Augustine came up with. Civil society is a key tenet of paleoconservative philosophy- this applies to domestic and foreign affairs. We are not pacifist by any stretch of the imagination but certainly not warmongers either. (guess I am a hypocritical paleoconservative for willing going to Iraq more than once)

I am still interested in an articulation of the reconciliation between the free market capitalism of libertarianism and the fractured paleoconservative view (ranging from agrarian distributism to protectivism)

9:53 PM  

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