Paleolibertarianism: Our Best Path Forward
We live in exciting times: for the first time in decades, a genuine right-wing people’s movement is emerging and successfully taking on the mainstream media, political elites, and cultural leftists. Though nominally led by Donald Trump, this movement is greater than any single politician. Being an incredibly talented marketer and a true political outsider, Trump was merely the best positioned out of all the Republican presidential candidates to break with political orthodoxy, distinguish the traits of this budding populist movement, and craft his message around it.
To call Trump’s message a mere “success” would be an understatement: he defeated more than a dozen highly qualified presidential candidates, conquered the Republican establishment, upended the entire right-wing of the political spectrum, survived millions of dollars in negative advertising despite barely spending a penny on his own campaign, and became seemingly impervious to any attack from the mainstream media. In short, Trump became the political disruptor that the likes of Rand Paul could only dream of becoming.
The sad thing is that radical political change is in the making, yet most libertarians are too caught up in ideological puritanism and ineffective forms of activism to take advantage of it. While most libertarians have for decades tried the Hayekian education approach of training more libertarian economists, philosophers, journalists, etc. with little to no results, Donald Trump, much like Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012, used his campaign to appeal directly to the people, bypassing the political establishment and the intelligentsia entirely.
Despite the natural horror that some libertarians respond to Donald Trump with, there is a strong libertarian streak in the movement that he’s nominally leading. Consider these policy positions of Trump’s:
- a largely non-interventionist “America First” foreign policy that is opposed to NATO and the UN;
- abolishing the EPA and the Department of Education and repealing Common Core;
- a massive $16 trillion privatization of federal lands and other government assets, with the proceeds used to pay down the national debt;
- a huge, pro-growth $10 trillion income tax cut; and
- a mostly free-market health care reform plan.
Though there is ample reason to doubt Donald Trump’s willingness to implement all of the above policies, it is clear that Trump’s message, which is clearly resonating with the Republican grassroots, has many libertarian undertones to it. There’s no reason why libertarians shouldn’t capitalize on the Trump phenomenon and use it to grow our movement.
When taken as a whole, including his opposition to open borders and advocacy for protectionist trade policies, Trump is nearly identical to the leader of the last populist right-wing revolt against the political establishment: Pat Buchanan. In response to Pat Buchanan’s paleoconservative anti-war and anti-globalist views, libertarians in the 1990s, led by Murray Rothbard, realized the potential for a paleoconservative-libertarian alliance – and they dubbed their position “paleolibertarianism.”
Now that libertarians are much greater in number than we were in the 90s, we are in a much better position to exploit the budding paleoconservative movement that is represented by Donald Trump. That being the case, it is high time that we do our best to revive paleolibertarianism and start capturing the grassroots support of Trump.
The Three Legs of the Paleolibertarian Stool
Every political project whose goal is to unite disparate factions into a greater popular movement must create a “fusionist” ideology that combines the different sub-ideologies in a way that doesn’t cause them to contradict each other. The way I see a new paleolibertarian fusion working is like a bar-stool, with each “leg” of the stool representing a necessary ideological subset to the greater whole:
“America First” Patriotism – a non-interventionist “peace-through-strength” foreign policy combined with opposition to illegal immigration and sovereignty-eroding trade deals.
Cultural Conservatism – resistance to forced compliance with abortion and alternative sexualities.
Principled Antistatism – opposition to taxes, welfare, corporate bailouts, government surveillance, etc.
Required Reading for Paleolibertarians
A Strategy for the Right, by Murray Rothbard
The Religious Right: Toward a Coalition, by Murray Rothbard
A New Strategy for Liberty, by Murray Rothbard
Right-Wing Populism, by Murray Rothbard
On Free Immigration and Forced Integration, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
The Case for Free Trade and Restricted Immigration, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Time for Economic Nationalism, by Pat Buchanan
Teaching Leaders How to Achieve a Free Society Through Cultural and Political Activism