Beltway Libertarianism
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Beltway Libertarianism

Paleolibertarianism is a variety of libertarianism developed by anarcho-capitalist theorists Murray Rothbard and Llewellyn Rockwell that combines conservative cultural values and social philosophy with a libertarian opposition to government intervention.[1]


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"[2] 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".[2][3] 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".[1] 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".[1] Of paleolibertarians, he wrote "we obey, and we ought to obey, traditions of manners and taste".[1] 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".[1]

Early history

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 U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy as a model for the new movement.[4][5]

In the 1990s, a "paleoconservative-paleolibertarian alliance was forged", centred on the John Randolph Club founded by Traditionalist Catholic Thomas Fleming.[6] Rockwell and Rothbard supported paleoconservative Republican candidate Pat Buchanan in the 1992 U.S. presidential election, and described Buchanan as the political leader of the "paleo" movement.[7] In 1992, Rothbard declared that "with Pat Buchanan as our leader, we shall break the clock of social democracy".[8]

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.[9] 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".[10]

Rothbard died in 1995, while in 2007 Rockwell stated he no longer considered himself a "paleolibertarian" and was "happy with the term libertarian".[11]


Political scientist and activist Jean Hardisty describes paleolibertarianism as entailing "explicit racism, anti-Semitism, and sexism".[12] She notes Rothbard's praise of The Bell Curve, a controversial work which presents the intelligence of black people as statistically inferior to other races, and the Rothbard-Rockwell Report's publishing of an article, written by Sam Francis, which asserted that "of the two major races in the United States today, only one possesses the capacity to create and sustain" suitable levels of civilization.

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." Rockwell denied it.[13]


United States

In 2012, former National Review writer John Derbyshire argued that "since Lew Rockwell joined La Raza" (referring to a's 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[14][unreliable source?] and Justin Raimondo both continuing to use the term to describe themselves both during and after Ron Paul's presidential campaigns.[15][unreliable source?]

In a move similar to his and Rothbard's support for Pat Buchanan, Lew Rockwell was sympathetic to celebrity real estate mogul Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, particularly for his stance on Mexican immigration,[16] along with Justin Raimondo, who voted for Trump on the basis of his foreign policy.[17]Austrian School anarcho-capitalist economist Walter Block, in a 2016 preelection debate with editor Nick Gillespie, 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[18][19] Ilana Mercer,[20][21][circular reference] in June 2016, authored a book about now-President Donald J. Trump. "The Trump Revolution: The Donald's Creative Destruction Deconstructed," was the first critical examination of then-candidate Trump from a right-libertarian perspective.[22] Objectivist-libertarian scholar Dr. Chris Matthew Sciabarra,[23][circular reference] in discussing Mercer's book, observed that Mercer endorsed "not necessarily the policies of Trump, but 'The Process of Trump'".[24] "The most interesting of her arguments," notes Sciabarra,[24] "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."[24]

Jeff Deist, President of the Ludwig von 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".[25] In 2017, Deist concluded a speech at the Mises Institute titled 'For a New Libertarian' with the words, "In other words, blood and soil and God and nation still matter to people. Libertarians ignore this at the risk of irrelevance."[26] This led to criticism from 'Bleeding Heart Libertarian' Steve Horwitz. Horwitz 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." He 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."[27]

White supremacist blog The Right Stuff also exhibits features of paleolibertarianism.[28] 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."[29] They have also been largely supportive of Rockwell, yet have criticised his "move away from inflammatory newsletters".[30]


Controversial voluntaryist blogger and podcaster Stefan Molyneux circa 2014 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,[31]immigration,[32] and group differences in cognitive ability.[33] He, like Rockwell, has supported Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States.[34]

Property and Freedom Society member Christian Robitaille has argued for an alliance of libertarians and traditionalists in Quebec.[35]

United Kingdom

In October 2013, the Traditional Britain Group showed interest in certain paleolibertarian ideas and in March 2014, it hosted a seminar including a track led by Dr Andrew Linley, 'Politics: destroyer of natural order'.[36] A Vice-President of the Traditional Britain Group, Professor John Kersey, describes himself as a 'radical traditionalist and paleolibertarian'.[37] In October 2014, former UKIP MEP and Mises UK President Godfrey Bloom gave a speech to the annual conference of Traditional Britain entitled "Why Traditionalism and Libertarianism are Not Incompatible".[38]

The former Director of the Libertarian Alliance, Sean Gabb, is a close friend of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, attending his Property and Freedom Society conferences every year in Bodrum. Gabb is a conservative in some respects and a critic of mass-immigration.[39] Gabb has addressed Traditional Britain Group conferences in efforts at classical liberal outreach to traditionalists.[40] Gabb's successor, Keir Martland, 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".[41] In an essay 'On Left and Right, Libertarianism, and The Donald', Martland, like Jeff Deist, is sympathetic to the nationalism of Donald Trump: "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."[42]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Rockwell, Lew. "The Case for Paleo-libertarianism" (PDF). Liberty (libertarian magazine) (January 1990): 34-38.
  2. ^ a b "Paleolibertarianism" by Karen De Coster,, December 2, 2003
  3. ^ "The Importance of Beltway Libertarianism".
  4. ^ Murray Rothbard. "Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement". 1992.
  5. ^ Sanchez, Julian; Weigel, David. "Who Wrote Ron Paul's Newsletters?". Reason Foundation. 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
  6. ^ Martland, Keir (2016). Liberty from a Beginner:Selected Essays (Second ed.). p. 62. ISBN 9781326524715.
  7. ^ Gottfried, Paul (1993). The Conservative Movement. Twayne Publishers. pp. 146. ISBN 0-8057-9723-8. OCLC 16804886.
  8. ^ Lee Edwards, The Conservative Revolution: The Movement That Remade America, Simon and Schuster, 1999, p. 329.
  9. ^ Lew Rockwell, "What I Learned From Paleoism", at, May 2, 2002.
  10. ^ Martland, Keir (2016). Liberty from a Beginner:Selected Essays (Second ed.). p. 64. ISBN 9781326524715.
  11. ^ "Do You Consider Yourself a Libertarian?", Kenny Johnsson interviews Lew Rockwell for The Liberal Post, as posted on LewRockwell.Com, May 25, 2007.
  12. ^ Hardisty, Jean (1999). Mobilizing Resentment, Conservative Resurgence from the John Birch Society to the Promise Keepers. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. pp. 165-67. Author holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University.
  13. ^ Reason: Matt Welch, "Old News"? "Rehashed for Over a Decade"?, January 11, 2008 and Sanchez, Julian and Weigel, David, Who Wrote Ron Paul's Newsletters?, January 16, 2008.
  14. ^ "About" Karen De Coster
  15. ^ "Ron Paul and the Prospects of Paleo-Libertarianism" Justin Raimondo
  16. ^ "The Trump Phenomenon" The Tom Woods Show
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-31. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Talk:Paleolibertarianism#Leading Voices
  22. ^
  23. ^ Chris Matthew Sciabarra
  24. ^ a b c
  25. ^ "Alt-Right vs. Socialist Left" Mises Institute
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ "About Us". The Right Archived from the original on 30 August 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  29. ^ "Why the Weak Right is Wrong". The Right Retrieved 2016.
  30. ^ "Après Paul, Le Déluge". The Right Retrieved 2016.
  31. ^ "The Impending Collapse of Western Civilisation" Stefan Molyneux
  32. ^ "The Truth About Immigration" Stefan Molyneux
  33. ^ "IQ and Immigration" Stefan Molyneux
  34. ^ "The Untruth About Donald Trump" Stefan Molyneux
  35. ^ Robitaille, Christian. "Pourquoi libertariens et traditionalistes sont des alliés naturels". Contrepoints. Retrieved 2016.
  36. ^ Linley, Andrew (March 2014). "Politics: Destroyer of Natural Order". Traditional Britain Group. Retrieved 2016.
  37. ^ Kersey, John (October 2013). "Preserving the substance of a nation". Traditional Britain Group. Retrieved 2016.
  38. ^ Bloom, Godfrey. "Why Traditionalism and Libertarianism are not incompatible". Traditional Britain. Retrieved 2016.
  39. ^ "Must Libertarians Believe in Open Borders?". Mises UK. Retrieved 2017.
  40. ^ Gabb, Sean (2012). "In Defence of English Civilisation". Traditional Britain Group. Retrieved 2016.
  41. ^ Martland, Keir (January 26, 2014). "Paleoism and the Traditional Britain Group". The Libertarian Enterprise. Retrieved 2016.
  42. ^

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