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Paleoliberalism: Wikis


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Paleoliberalism is a term that has at least a few distinct meanings, all relating to liberalism.



Extreme liberalism

'Paleoliberalism' can be a somewhat obscure term for extreme liberalism. The (slightly more common) adjectival form, paleoliberal is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, as "Extremely or stubbornly liberal in political matters." Because liberalism itself has several different meanings, this definition carries some ambiguity.

The term is often used to refer to an extreme or "unreconstructed" exponent of modern American liberalism. For example, Brian Doherty writing in Reason in 1997 used the term to refer to Richard Gephardt in his opposition to Clinton's free trade policies.[1][2][3]


It can also be used to describe liberals who are very socialist, socially libertarian, and opposed to neoliberalism. The term paleoconservative has been used to describe old conservatives while the term neoconservative has been used to describe new conservatives. The terms paleo- and neo- can work the same way for liberals, in describing older and more recent forms of liberalism. Paleocons and neocons are opposed to each other on issues such as international policy; paleoliberals and neoliberals are opposed to each other on many economic issues.


According to Michael Lind, in the late 1960s and early 1970s many "anti-Soviet [American] liberals and social democrats in the tradition of Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey and Henry ("Scoop") Jackson… preferred to call themselves 'paleoliberals'"; according to Lind, roughly this group of people later became known as the neoconservatives.[4][5]

Rüstow's usage

The term was used by Alexander Rüstow, to describe ardent laissez-faire liberals like Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Rüstow himself was a German ordoliberal.[6]


  1. ^  Doherty, "Swap Meat".
  2. ^  Gresser, "Trade Myths".
  3. ^  Sullivan, "Good Choice. Bad Speech", and "Hunger Stalks N.J. Suburbs" (on the site of also use the word in this sense.
  4. ^  Lind, "A Tragedy of Errors".
  5. ^  Nash, "A Cold War Paleoliberal".
  6. ^  A typical example of use in a blog is lowercase liberty: paleoliberalism (posted September 20, 2005, retrieved December 20, 2005) by B.K. Marcus. The article Paleoliberalism on the Libertarian Wiki uses this meaning of the term, but provides no references.
  7. ^  Oliver Jr., Henry M. (1960). "German Neoliberalism". Quarterly Journal of Economics 74 (1): 117–149. doi:10.2307/1884137.  


See also


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