What is a “neocon”, “paleocon”, etc. And WDTPRS POLL: Which are you?

I know that I have posted about this before, but it bears another round.

Sometimes in these electronic pages we see people tossing around terms such as

  • neocon
  • paleocon
  • crunchycon
  • theocon
  • etc.

What do these terms mean?

Also…. chose your best answer and give your reasons in the combox.

[HINT: It is okay to read some of the explanations of the terms and then vote.]

I consider myself to be a...

View Results

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. meunke says:

    I consider myself to be a Decepticon: I scheme for galactic domination through violence and guile, while my plans usually fall apart because my 2nd in command is incompetent.

    Also, I’m an enormous robot.

    [In that case, may I direct you to Peter’s Evil Overlord List? There are some good tips for your next attempt at domination of the cosmos. There are some good pointers about how to chose and, if necessary, eliminate bad advisors. If I am ever made I bishop, I will have this list on the wall of my throne room. Best wishes for your future endeavors!]

  2. Luke says:

    I, like many in my generation, am mostly apathetic. The cancer has spread too far.

    (meunke may be on to something…)

  3. MrD says:

    Fr Z:

    Neocons and Paleocons … both claim to be heirs of the conservative movement and are reactions to the 1960’s liberalism. Reagan successfully pulled these factions together and with the Cold War to respond to, the differences were not as apparent. Since 9/11 and the public’s lack of support for the Iraq War, the distinction between the two groups is becoming more and more apparent.

    # neocon – This is mainly used to describe conservatives that favor interventionist foreign policies. The major difference between neocons and paleocons is clear with regard to Israel, with the former being a clear supporter. “Paleocons” accuse most self-identified conservatives of being “neocons”. Neocons also tend to have more support for libertarian economic policies when it comes to free trade. The term “neocon” is sometimes used by others as code for “Jew”.

    Neocon = Most Republicans in office, National Review, Heritage Foundation, AEI, etc.

    # paleocon – This is a newer term and describes conservatives that favor more isolationist foreign policies. Paleocons are sometimes accused on being anti-Semitic due to their views on Israel.

    Paleocon = Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, The American Conservative, Rockford Institute, Lew Rockwell, Ludwig von Mises Institute

    # crunchycon – So called environmentally-friendly conservatives… they tend to be conservative on social issues but largely support government intervention for these issues. They are not as sensitive to the scale and scope of government as neocons or paleocons (as long as the government supports their views).

    e.g. Cap and Trade Tax, Public ownership of land expanding, etc.

    # theocon – Conservative on social issues but largely support government intervention for these issues. They are not as sensitive to the scale and scope of government as neocons or paleocons (as long as the government supports their views). They are basically big goverment conservatives or conservative Democrats in my view. This term is usually used as a negative label. They favor censorship and are the least likely to align with libertarian or limited government views.

    e.g. Mike Huckabee, Jerry Falwell, Dr. Dobson

    Hope this helps….

    I am more of a cross between paleo and neo con… and as Rush says… I am a Conservative… no modifier needed.

  4. MrD says:

    I like the decepticon post! Awesome.

  5. wanda says:

    You’ll have to forgive me, but, I have no idea what any of those things mean.

    [Ummmm…. okay. That’s is sort of the point of this entry. o{]:¬) ]

  6. spschultz says:

    An orthodox Catholic in communion with the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church. Anything else is completely irrelevant since it’s not oriented toward our ultimate end: glory of God.

  7. JayneK says:

    I don’t find any of the labels a very good fit. I chose cruchycon in this poll because I am a pro-life environmentalist, so that seemed closest. I am generally cynical about government and am mystified by economics. And I am totally into the principle of subsidiarity.

  8. contrarian says:

    I voted ‘crunchy con’ because I’m not quite sure what a theo con is. I guess I don’t see crunchy con and theo con as mutually exclusive labels, though I admit to not really knowing how the latter is defined. I guess I’m a cross between a Mark Shea and a Rod Dreher (where did he go, by the way?).

  9. mitch_wa says:

    all of these except other are part of the classical liberal tradition. So personally I have to claim other as I see myself as someone who votes for authentically traditional viewpoints. Distributist economics, community building initiatives, small government and small business, traditional families, etc. A great website is http://distributistreview.com/mag/
    which presents a look at economics and politics through the lense of Rerum Novarum, Chesterton and Belloc, as well as the rest of Catholic Social teaching on politics and economics.

  10. SimonDodd says:

    NeoCon: achieve conservative policy goals using liberal means.
    CrunchyCon: achieve liberal policy goals using conservative means.
    TheoCon: achieve Christian goals using unchristian methods.
    Liberal: achieve satanic goals using whatever methods are available.

    The odd men out are the paleocons, modern-day revanchists who appear to believe that the facade of the past can be rebuilt over a building whose structure has been completely altered.

    Me, I’m just an unhyphenated conservative. If I had to hyphenate, I’d be a National Review conservative—a nice deep roast with a shot of libertarianism.

  11. Thomas in MD says:

    I am just a Catholic.

  12. revs96 says:

    I’m waffling between theocon and autobot. I’ll probably settle in favor of the Social Reign of Christ the King, although Starscream does provide some comic relief.

  13. Ossus says:

    I prefer to follow the Chaka Kahn school of thought: All policy is determined on how big I can make my hair.

  14. contrarian says:

    I’m with you re the subsidiarity, solidarity, distributivism, Chesterton and Belloc, et al (let’s throw John Medaille on that list). I guess I was under the impression that crunchy cons were on board for all of that. Though maybe we are defining these labels differently. I guess I saw the ‘crunchy’ con as being both cognizant and skeptical of the ‘classical liberal tradition’. I mean…would you consider Wendell Berry to be a classical liberal? Again, no need to get into label disputes, as we can define these things however we want. Good to link to the D-Review! Nice!

  15. rakesvines says:

    I am a theocon. I understand my theological conservative identity as someone faithful to the Author of life and the natural order. Knowing God and His Ways as best as we can regardless of religion or ritual will point to certain inalienable truths about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those truths and ways are not negogiable; other aspects that are not governed by Natural Law are open for exploration, experimentation and the lessons of praxis.

  16. wolfeken says:

    The overwhelming majority of those who attend the traditional Latin Mass exclusively (i.e. never attending the novus ordo) are paleoconservatives. It is a very interesting thing to witness, reflected in The Remnant and other traditionalist publications.

    I have also noticed those who sometimes attend the traditional Latin Mass, but still go (or offer) the novus ordo tend to be neoconservatives. Another interesting observation.

    A book, or at least article, could be written on this.

  17. Elizabeth D says:

    I’m Catholic, and opposed to being identified according to secular political categories that ill describe the perspective of my faith.

  18. prairie says:

    Maybe “other” should be split into “other” and “no idea because I just don’t actually fit ANYWHERE”.

  19. Tina in Ashburn says:

    “Looking for good beer”. That is not on the list. Why not?

    LOL “misfit” is missing from the list too.

    How about Monarchist.
    I’m so tired of doing EVERYTHING these days: housework, self-education, pumping my own gas, hauling groceries, mowing my lawn, cooking, blah blah blah …and we have to govern ourselves too?!? I’d like a chance for silence, reading, thinking, giving…and finding my true place in a real society… but where does all this overachieving busyness stop? Is there a name for that?

  20. I’m a crunchycon. Extremely socially conservative, but I grow a garden, keep backyard chickens, homeschool my children using a mostly “experience-learning” model, drive a Subaru, wear Birkenstocks, eschew makeup, have ‘natural’ hair and am working to set up rainbarrels under my downspouts.

  21. Lirioroja says:

    I am a Catholic and I do my best to inform my conscience according to the teachings of Holy Mother Church. As far as that regards politics, let the chips fall where they may.

  22. Bill Haley says:

    I’m a familicon. Long term planning by procreating, loving, and educating fresh, truthful contributing members of society who see Our Lord as the last best hope for themselves and mankind.

    I have no faith in the human governing of our country at this time. What Pragger said in the previous post about American exceptionalism is a sure sign of our demise. When the Tea Partiers are those running for office with a semblance of principle, and their first principle is that this nation is the last best hope for mankind, we are in serious trouble. What kind of first principle is that?

  23. Martial Artist says:

    Similarly to Lirioroja, I strive to conform to Catholic teaching and to act and vote in accord therewith. I selected paleocon because you don’t list Old Whig, sometimes referred to as a classical liberal. If the definitions/descriptions provided by MrD are accurate, the Lew Rockwell & Ludwig von Mises Instititute listings points to paleocon as the best available fit.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  24. asophist says:

    I voted “Other” because I have no political ideology. All I know is that as long as abortion is legal in this country, I will vote for the pro-life candidate, knowing that I do so with the full approval of my bishop, and with a clear conscience, satisfied of having done all that is politically required of me. However, before God grants us that day when there is no more legal abortion here, I believe it is also my duty to promote safe and inviting places for expectant mothers to live and conceive – that is, for women who would otherwise seek an abortion. The whole issue for me isn’t just about being against legal abortion, it is about supporting expectant mothers in their crises. My advice: don’t just vote, act in charity on the beliefs that motivate your vote.

  25. cblanch says:

    I 2nd what you’ve said, Lirioroja.

  26. TomG says:

    In my heart I’m totally with mitch wa and contrarian. But in my head … I’m just a plain vanilla conservative of the National Review type (for over 40 years).

  27. Marius2k4 says:

    I posted Theocon, although I most often describe myself as a paleo-conservative. That, however, is misleading, as my definition of “paleo” is really much more drastic than 75 years.

    In short, I am a legitimist monarchist, and put very little credence in the validity of democratic governments, as they are but an abstracted form of mob rule. Sine Dei gratia, no one has the right to rule, and by an aggregated act of our imperfect wills, no democratic government can be said to rule by said grace.

    I attribute my general political tone to that of Edmund Burke (RIP), the great orator, and while being quite bound up in the things of modernity (I am a programmer, after all), I have the greatest diffidence toward novas res, to paraphrase the Romans. All acts of revolution against valid Catholic monarchies institute an illicit state of interregnum, and as such, at least philosophically, I’m waiting for a valid descendant of Edward the Confessor or Louis XX Bourbon himself to claim their rightful lands.

    As one might tell, there really wasn’t an option for me.

    Valete omnes, et sperate semper in Domino Nostro Jesu Christo Rege

  28. mitch_wa says:

    yeah i suppose cruncycon does reject classical liberalism at least to a degree, but I personally find it best to move away from all those labels… because most people will clump them together and strike out to identify those who believe such things as something separate from other conservatives

  29. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    I chose Paleocon, although I strongly lean towards outright Libertarian. Non-interventionism both in foreign policy and in the markets.

  30. Patikins says:

    I voted “other.” I don’t like these labels and don’t find them particularly helpful.

    I am generally fiscally and socially conservative. I think governments (at all levels) need to reign in spending. The federal government is bloated and needs to be pared down but I don’t agree with the goal of some libertarians to make to extremely limited. Keep it when and where it benefits the common good; pitch everything else. I believe state rights are being trampled upon.

    I would like to see the death penalty abolished but only after mandatory life without parole sentencing is in effect in every state for capital crimes, but that’s not a defining issue for me. I have mixed feeling on a number of other issues such as foreign policy and environmental issues.

    Above all, the government needs to recognize the value of every human life from the moment of conception to natural death. I don’t like tinkering with the constitution but I would support a human life amendment. I doubt I will see it in my lifetime; we need to change hearts first.

    So what does this makes me? Hopefully, a faithful Catholic.

  31. mike cliffson says:

    First entry: Love it!
    I´m just an unreconstructed catholic agabelter, with combox troll tendencies.
    How about the Guardsman’s song from”Iolanthe”?

  32. rakesvines says:

    @Bill: Re: “that this nation is the last best hope for mankind” In terms of faith and freedom, I would agree. My perspective comes from Asia, Europe and Central America. Everytime I come home to VA, I feel like prostrating myself at Dulles airport and kissing the runway. My next trip is in the Middle East where I was advised to take cabs instead of public transport and wear kevlar always. So, I know the USA is pretty good, not perfect though but the best I’ve seen so far.

  33. teaguytom says:

    I’m a paleocon. The perfect example would be Pat Buchanan. The difference is neoconservatives were originally liberals and converted, but not entirely. They retain many liberal stances and are not entirely conservatives. Hannity would be an example of a neo-con. Conservatives that tend to be orthodox only to the teachings of V2 are neo-cons. Paleocons are the old traddie conservatives. They followed a very just-war doctrine and wanted to stay out of other countries issues. They were very traditional in there beliefs as well, not just holding orthodox to the current rules but traditions as well. Pat Buchanan is a paleocon. Cardinal Spellman would have been a paleocon in the church.

  34. Hieronymus says:

    Where is the option for ‘monarchist’? Or perhaps there should just be a different poll: what kind of monarchist are you? [I am betting there are more than a few that frequent this site].

    Call me quixotic, but if someone could point me toward a confessional kingdom or principality that is looking for so much as a janitor I will send my application for citizenship tomorrow.

  35. jamesg042 says:

    I voted “paleocon” along the same lines as Keith Töpfer gave.

    I am a Strict Constructionist who believes that Man’s fallen nature should always be kept in mind and a firm believer in Federalism (the Madison kind); Subsidiarity; natural rights and in an objective reality informed by the natural law. I also believe that the mark of a free man is the right to bear arms and that the best lens with which to view how a State looks upon its citizens is in regards to said right.

    I am not a Distributist but have no problem with people who want to live their lives that way and think of it as a laudable but naïve ideal. Nor am I a Libertarian (even though I have common cause with them on many issues) because there is a place for Duties, Imposts and Excises – they should be the Federal Government’s only source of income – and too easily Libertarianism degenerates into Libertinism. I am not a Monarchist because I have no king but Christ; and I believe that it is better for a man to die on his feet than live on his knees.

    James G

  36. I am an “other” — also, in fact, a citizen of a British Crown Realm (God save the queen, and all of us, too) — so it maybe doesn’t signify for present discussion. Anyways, there it is.

  37. teomatteo says:

    As an Italian American eastcoaster i’m an: “whatsamatterUconn”

  38. Supertradmum says:

    I voted for “other”, as I am a monarchist.

  39. Seraphic Spouse says:

    I am a Canadian who lives in the UK, is a Roman Catholic and isn’t sure political designations make much sense, especially as it is so-called “right-wingers” that are doing all the heavy lifting in the fight to preserve freedom of speech and freedom from sharia. So-called liberals no longer seem very liberal.
    I suspect I must be some kind of conservative because I go to Latin Mass, read the Telegraph and the Catholic Herald (UK) and the National Post and Toronto’s Catholic Register (Canada). However, I am all for universal healthcare (in small countries–can’t imagine how anyone could possibly organize a national healthcare system in the massive USA), arts grants… Perhaps I am a socon (a social conservative). Anyway, I voted “other.”

  40. Jason Keener says:

    I’m an advocate of Christ’s social kingship. Pope Pius XI taught in “Quas Primas” that Christ is the salavtion of both man and society. There certainly may be different legitimate approaches to solving practical political problems; however, all governmental decisions should be made in accord with man’s supernatural destiny and the teachings of the Catholic Church, the interpreter of the whole moral law. Also, it will be much easier to solve practical problems of politics when governments finally acknowledge the basic truths of man and Reality. So many practical political decisions today go haywire because they are based on an improper understanding of man and his supernatural destiny. As St. Thomas Aquinas taught, “An error in the beginning is an error indeed.”

  41. kat says:

    I’m just a simple Roman Catholic striving to do what the Church has always taught.

  42. PaterAugustinus says:

    I guess I blend strains of theocon and paleocon, plus a dash of “genuine agnosticism” about how to continue the application of paleocon principles to modernity.

    My strain of theocon is this: all law is ultimately rooted in the moral tradition, and is therefore rooted in religious Truth. The idea of legislating apart from religious/philosophical values, is as absurd as the idea of cooking apart from gastronomical principles.

    My paleocon strain is this: after the wars of religion provoked by the Protestand Deformation, our intelligent, founding fathers realized that a wholesale commitment to enforcing a particular Creed’s religious doctrines in toto, leads to lots of bloodshed and civil wars. So, a balance was struck, whereby individual liberties exist, entitling men to deviate somewhat from the orthodoxies of their neighbours, while still recognizing that society’s laws clearly hang upon morality (and therefore religion) for their founding principles. The best kind of government limits its power to over-reach on these questions by keeping itself small and obstructing its own operation by many checks and balances upon power.

    I illustrate how I blend them by way of example. The just State recognizes Marriage as a natural law, common-good principle. It is the matrix from which society is engendered and within which society is nurtured. The State has an interest in fostering healthy marriages and the nurturing of the next generation of the commonweal within this healthy paradigm. With that in mind, the State promotes marriage as a thing in and of itself, and not primarily in terms of a personal right to have whatsoever kind of private relationship honoured with the title of marriage. Thus, no homosexual may complain that he has been denied “the right to marry the man he loves;” the State should reply to such a complaint, by saying that nobody has “the right to marry whomever he loves” per se; each man has only the right to marry the woman, with whom he wants to start a family (and all the norms of natural law are taken for granted in terms of family life, adoption rights, etc). Many marriages through history have been arranged or formalized without much question of Romantic love; marriage is not primarily about the personal right to fall in love and have the fact notarized; it is about the bonds of Charity and the perpetuation of human society. All the above recognizes the “theocon” element (of seeing religious truth as the guiding force behind just laws); the “paleocon” element would affirm that, in addition to the right to pursue marriage for the right reasons, all individuals have the right to form private relationships and contracts, with whomever they wish (i.e., contracts to hold goods in common, give consent in the case of grave illness, inherit property, etc.). The state may also see some benefit in recognizing long-term relationships between persons, who have no intent (or ability) to produce children, whether hetero- or homosexual (I don’t, but I admit to not having thoroughly considered contrary arguments yet).

    Where I admit my agnosticism, is in applying paleo-conservative principles to the broader problems of modernity. In a time, when there was less industry to worry about, less possibility for whole companies to pack up and move overseas, less infrastructure (roads, electric grids, sewage systems) to build and maintain, less devastation when companies engaged in fiscal crimes or negligence, etc., etc., it seems that a nation could easily ask the government to keep its expenses and taxes to a minimum, and stay well out of the regulation of businesses.

    In today’s world, however, financial crises can imperil national security, corporations could easily destroy local ecosystems, the poor can be and often are defrauded of their wages, etc., etc. It all becomes very complex. For example, the free market should tell us that a job is worth what a person is willing to be paid for doing it. However, plenty of people work at or just above the minimum wage, because those are the only jobs they can find. In a world where hunter-gathering is essentially a dead art, corporations know that people simply have to work at the wages they want to pay, unless they actually require a skilled worker for a particular task. In reality, most of the lower-middle class people are sinking further into debt and their minimum wage job only just keeps them from utter ruination within a few, short months. And, with the average CEO making a salary at 250 times the rate of their companies’ lowest (full-time) workers, one truly does see a corporate America sucking the financial freedom of ordinary Americans away. When society was more moral, more business owners took pride in seeing their employees prosper, too. Now, this is rare.

    Governmental attempts to counter-act this are just as bad, and encourage the same kind of poverty by slowly robbing the successful and encouraging lay-abouts to keep laying about. The Socialist programs to redistribute the wealth, enforce minimum wages, etc., only have the effect of chasing businesses away, making everything worse. I used to think that the limited regulation of requiring a salary cap (say, you can only make ten times as much as your lowest paid worker – after your business’ outstanding debts are paid off, of course) would keep the government from punishing success while allowing for the just treatment of workers. But, I’m sure that plenty of big businesses would still rather go overseas, than submit to even so slight a regulation.

    While I don’t believe in Athropogenic Climate Meandering (or whatever we’re supposed to call it this week), I do believe that a company can make air unhealthy on a local level, or kill all the fish in a river. I think that does need to be regulated. The Constitution prevents ongoing taxation for a national military, but I think times have changed on that count. In short, modernity and the world of technology, media and mobility have changed everything. If we were willing to live with less luxuries, and did not mind learning to be more self-sufficient even in terms of our use of electricity and other amoenities, justice could be more easily attained. The price of modern creature-comforts, however, involves the sacrifice of some freedoms.

    So, I believe the government should be limited and that its laws should promote the Natural Law while leaving some lee-way for private apostasy. But, on many points of modernity, it seems the government simply has to take a larger role, with larger taxes and spending, than it used to. I absolutely think that programs, which encourage feel-goodery and do-nothingness, should be scrapped unrepentantly. But, sensible regulation has to exist on many public matters of concern. The problem is, once allowance is made for such things, it becomes very difficult to remind people of why government can spend money on roads, but not healthcare, and why government can regulate water pollutants but not gender/ethnic quotas of employment. And even on the things that legitimately need to be governed, the kind of vigilance and endurance required to prevent profiteers or eco-nuts from inflicting themselves on the process, in today’s world, is simply monumental. In many ways, I think our great advances in technology and media have outstripped our moral capacities, rendering us lazy and detached and addicted, and we are now the victims of our own success.

    I guess I’ll call myself a “restraint conservative;” I believe in the general principles of traditional conservatism (limited goverment, moral truths, individual responsibility), but I do believe that these principles have to be held in balance with all legitimate goods, and the complexities of procuring them in modernity. Individual responsibility is really where the rubber hits the road.

  43. There’s no term out there for a Catholic who insists on the absolute sovereignty of Christ, that the people can not give what they do not possess (authority), adherence to the Catholic faith in its entirety, and the Traditional Latin Mass.

    Oh, wait. That’s a traditional Catholic. That’s me.

  44. Sam Urfer says:

    The best example of a Neo-Conservative I know if is Christopher Hitchens: literally a former Trotskyist turned political conservative, while retaining a Marxist epistemology, metaphysics and ethics. Many in the modern Church have turned to Orthodoxy, but they maintain a liberal way of approaching the world. This is what a neocon is.

    I voted “other.” I’ll go with European style Christian Democrat politics, thanks.

  45. Dr. Eric says:

    I voted crunchy con, but didn’t notice that I could use my write in vote for Monarchist. I would like to change my vote to Monarchist.

    Democracy doesn’t work.

  46. mysticalrose says:

    I picked “other.” Like some people above, I am a distributist.

  47. brianjbyrne says:

    I went with crunchycon, though I would disagree with MrD on its definition. Its origin goes back to a 2002 piece in National Review by Rod Dreher who expressed feeling somewhat out of step with the traditional conservative caricature, what with his Birkenstocks and a preference for natural, whole foods for his family. Crunchycons for the most part, in my experience, are family-centered traditional conservatives with sort of an agrarian, pre-industrial bent, who seek to be in touch with the social doctrines in their daily lives, in the practice of subsidiarity and solidarity – and have a very healthy respect for things natural, such as the natural and moral law, which is embodied in their conclusions leading to a clear social conservatism (as well as a decidedly Catholic fiscal conservatism, bordering on the distributism of G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and the economic perspective of a Russell Kirk, Wilhelm Roepke, or today, a Thomas Sowell) and a love of Nature, without unnecessary or over modification, or processing and preservation, which is seen in their penchant for providing organic, free range, pasture fed, whole foods for their family, preferably from a local farm – with a willingness to sacrifice and pay more for them, recognizing their value over industrially produced, factory farm products.

    A crunchycon might also be more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt (and possibly a sling for baby) than a coat and tie (not quite fitting the mould of an Alex Keaton) and doesn’t find a Catholic stewardship at all incompatible with a morally aware free market capitalism. And in my book, a crunchycon is not a pro-life Greepeace activist. A crunchycon approach to the environment is not where they depart from conservatism, or traditional moral values, or Church teaching, but rather where perhaps they have considered, in light of the family, and in light of those principles, a deliberate and rather developed approach which is absent in other common branches of the conservative tree, where some common sense issues like, say, a consumer preference for BPA-free plastic, or an avoidance of high fructose corn syrup or genetically modified foods – or the desire to know from the producer if something has been genetically altered or treated with hormones or systemic pesticides – is somehow suspiciously left wing, or anti-business and hence anti-conservative, in a rather knee-jerk response which can easily be seen as insensitive to valid human concerns of the family, and placing a greater value on economic interests.

    Most crunchycons I know do NOT subscribe to theories of anthropomorphic global warming, would NOT support cap and tax, are concerned with wrongheaded government intrusions and over regulation in many areas, while would at the same time point to others where common sense is sorely needed, and more could be done in ways that respect business need and cost, while at the same time keeps lead coated toys and melamine enhanced milk products off the market.

    In the near term, I can easily see a fusion of crunchycon developments in conservative thought, extending traditional conservative principles into present realities, and with new scientific information, with fiscal conservatism, such that many of these concerns and associated policy preferences, originating out of the family, will become more and more part of the ordinary definition of conservatism.

    Pax et bonum

  48. David Collins says:

    I subscribe to Chronicles magazine, edited by Thomas Fleming. So I picked paleocon.

    Bill Haley is right; American exceptionalism is wrong. It is borderline blasphemy.

  49. nola catholic says:

    I think these labels definitely show a split in conservatism. Modern conservatism (as I see it looking back on the past three decades) drew many different strands of conservatism together, especially in the movement that backed Ronald Reagan for president. Reagan Republicans were conservative on three “planks”: foreign policy (strands of the neocon), economic policy (strands of the libertarian), and social policy (strands of the theocon). I believe in a strong defense which often requires interventionist polices (therefore not a paleocon, in keeping with Reagan Republicanism), small government and less interference in the market, and the importance of religious values within society including protection of society from abortion and attempts to pervert marriage.

    Ten years ago beliefs of this kind in these three areas used to be known as “conservative” as a one word concept. Now some call themselves conservative who only are economically conservative or only socially conservative, hence the rise of these terms (neocon, theocon) which have split off from the modern concept of the conservative. If it is no longer accurate for me to call myself a straight up “conservative,” I guess a more accurate description would be a Reagan Conservative. That’s why I chose “other.”

  50. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you all, this has been very interesting! (I’d never heard of ‘crunchycon’ or ‘theocon’ before: ‘theocrat’ is still a favourable term in some European party politics, and I have seen ‘Green Right’ in contrast to ‘Green Left’ bandied about, a bit.)

    I remember at the time of the Bicentenary of the death of Samuel Johnson someone (Enoch Powell?) saying they could not find a real Tory to commemorate him as none of the Conservatives were really Tories any more. (And how that Party has changed since then!) (Johnson was also, as I recall, something of a Jacobite.)

    I would propose George Grant to your attention, as someone who was thinking interestingly (from a Canadian perspective) about ‘conservatism’ from at least the 1950s on. One of his points was, that (much) ‘conservatism’ looked back no further than ‘the Age of Progress’ – for instance, describing Edmund Burke as “a Rockingham Whig”, and for his own part looking to a tradition including Johnson and Swift. Grant himself was called a ‘Red Tory’ by some, which he did not think accurate, but which perhaps tried to capture something ‘social’ that was not (Enlightenment) statist. (This was before anyone had dreamed up “Red States” in the current U.S. sense.) (I learning about varieties of 19th-c. British Whigs from Trollope, at present…)

    I admire the efforts of various reigning (or recent) monarchs, but I do not see anyone succeeding as Chesterton saw monarchy as having done in the past, and I am not impressed by most of what I see of European ‘Christian democracy’.

    I admire the American Constitutional Republic as, so far as I can see, the closest thing to the sort of ‘Senatus Populusque’ government which significantly underlies the political philosophy of John of Salisbury and St. Thomas, but which had been largely paralyzed in practice by the time of St. Paul. How vital it is now, or can still become again, is a very important question.

  51. pjthom81 says:

    Maybe I can help. I’m a member of the Philadelphia Society where many of these terms got bandied about. A bit of history perhaps can explain:

    Originally there were Classical Liberals and Claissical Conservatives. The Liberals tended to be republican in government, and economically akin to Adam Smith: ie, pure laissez-faire. Ironically, the Democrats were the Classical Liberal party until 1896 when William Jennings Bryan came in. Classical Liberalism was known for a lassiez-faire attitude both in morals and in economics, and arose ultimately from the Whig Party of Britain. The value for Classical Liberals is…liberty. Monarchical Austria sided with the Liberals on matters of economics, and so the Austrian school led to the Chicago school of Milton Friedman.

    Classical Conservatives tended to be monarchists, and disagreed economically with the Classical Liberals on some economic grounds, arguably with a basis in Mercantilism. (1) Protective Tarrifs to keep out foreign competition, (2) Internal improvements, (3) A Bank of the United States or equivalent and an elastic money supply. This was associated with the Prussian school of economics and with Alexander Hamilton. Also, conservatives tended to support isolationism, but liked higher rates of military spending than the Classical Liberals. (Look to Jefferson’s defense cuts for further details). The conservative value is virtue.

    When Progressivism took over the Democratic Party (1896) and won a heavy majority of the population (1932) all opposed gathered in one party..the Republican. Unfortunately, they were for historical reasons split. These splits helped cause the debacle in 1964. No real unified conservative movement existed when William F. Buckley started National Review. In the debates following 1964 two sides emerged, one advocating Classical Liberalism, one advocating Classical Conservatism. Frank Meyer urged that the two be blended. This “Fusionism” was different from each product. It called for greater internationalism, but also wished for increased military spending. It abandoned the Tariff, but kept up the emphasis on moral values. It was the platform that elected Reagan.

    Fusionist Conservatism was therefore different from the old Conservatism, which became known as Paleo-Conservatism over time. The Paleos have attempted to blast all Fusionists as Neo-Conservatives, but that is largely a conceit. The Neo-Conservatives were ex-Progressives or Socialists who did not care about the size of government whatsoever in their original form. Their differences with Fusionists have lessened with time. Crunchy Cons are, so far as I can tell, Rod Dreher’s creation. Basically, Hippie Conservatives, many of whom are Hippie in culture but personally religious. This arguably makes them a subset of Theocons. Theocons are similar to Neo-Conservatives in that they are ex-Progressives who have abandoned ship after 1972 when Progressivism went Bohemian. The Neo-Cons jumped ship for fiscal reasons, the Theocons for reasons of moral policy.

    To the present: Paleo-Conservatism has not gained much ground with the population as a whole. Fusionism has largely replaced it. Its now joined by the Tea Party, which is largely Classical Liberal in outlook. In addition to these two groups we also have ex-New Dealers who left Progressivism due to the changes of 1972 in the Democratic Platform. National Security differences created Neo-Cons, and the Social Issues created the Theocons and the Crunchy Cons (and delivered the South to the Republican Party). I personally am a Fusionist. I have a great many doubts about getting rid of the Federal Reserve and am more motivated by the Moral issues, and so am not a pure Tea Party guy. I also favor a smaller welfare state and would never have been part of FDR’s Progressive coalition, and so I could not adequately be described as a Neo-Con or a Theocon. Fusionists often identify themselves as Traditionalists. Hope this helps.

  52. CM Collins says:

    At the risk of being repetitive, I’ll also start pretty much from the beginning. Paleo-con and neo-con are somewhat mocking terms. But, as I’ve learned from that paleo-con editor of Chronicles Magazine, it is not unusual for political factions to proudly take up as a name that which was meant as a put-down. Now I don’t know who actually invented these terms, whether they were opponents, neutral third-party wags, or even if they were ironically self-deprecating inventions. But it doesn’t matter. The neocons proudly state that they are something new and something old at the same time; that they are attempting to lead some sort of counter-reformation. Meanwhile, the paleocons are proud of the label that tags them as not merely ancient, but literally pre-historical in their version of conservatism. Both of course mock each other as being, respectively, incoherently compromised by ‘new’ ideas such as socialism, expansionism, American exceptionalism, etc. or irrelevantly out-of-touch with realpolitik, dangers from abroad, the lessons of the Austrian school of economics, the need for Judeo-Christians to compromise on social issues in a significantly more inter-connected world.

    I think I’m being fair. This is my 4th attempt to write this summary and I’m imagining that I am explaining it to my neocon brother’s teenage son.

    Unlike those two names, Crunchy-Cons is a term that appears to be wholly attributable to Rod Dreher. It’s not clear that anyone’s really taken up that mantle and run with it. Serious agrarians seem to me to run the gamet on social issues, and only coalesce on, aside from environmentalism and a more modest, autarchic and devolved economy, things such as reducing military spending, home-schooling, a skepticism about new technology, and a few other things. So, for all intents and purposes, it strikes me as they belong in the paleo-con camp.

    Theocons are another blind spot for me. If MrD is correct and examples of Theocons include Mike Huckabee, Jerry Falwell, Dr. Dobson, then I’d put them in the neocon camp since they generally seem ok with the idea of gaining the central federal power so they can change things such as Roe vs. Wade, prevent things such as gay marriage, and preserve things such as our current foreign policy.

    Since the list was an all -con list, I won’t try to mention any more but Libertarians. The real -con split, and as far as I’m concerned the only one useful to talk about, is the paleo/neo split. Again, the crunchies seem to belong in the Paleo camp and the Theos in the Neo camp. Libertarians, however, are usefully mentioned because, as alluded to above, they argue so strongly for small “l” liberalism. That and they are a significant political phenomena over the last 30-40 years or so. They deserve their own post, but I’m running out of time at the moment.

    I’ll close with a quote and a few more words of comment:

    “The only political measures or movements that should be supported are those that devolve government away from Washington to state capitols, from state capitols to the governments of counties and cities, and from counties and cities to the real communities of villages and neighborhoods.” Thomas Fleming, Chronicles of Culture, October 2010.

    This is subsidiarity as far as I’m concerned. The paleos, libertarians and crunchy cons seem to want this –vehemently on the paleo’s part, and significantly on the part of the others.

    The neos and theos. Unfortunately, for us and for them, I don’t think the same can be said.

  53. CM Collins says:

    Now that I have another moment, I should probably retract and maybe correct one thing: I’m not sure if my brother is a neocon; we haven’t talked politics in a long time, not since around the start of the Iraq 2003 invasion or so, at which time we were both in favor of it.

  54. brianjbyrne says:

    I’ve found the following reference perhaps most informative (of those offering a brief synopsis) on the varying branches of conservatism, from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute: http://www.firstprinciplesjournal.com/articles.aspx?article=36&theme=cotho

    Also, Russell Kirk’s “Ten Conservative Principles” should not go unread by any conservative: http://www.kirkcenter.org/kirk/ten-principles.html

    (I would also edit my earlier post to change anthropomorphic to anthropogenic, and to include the “n” in Greenpeace, among other subtle changes)

    Neither mention chrunchycons as the moniker is rather new. It seems some find it necessary to detract from the term crunchycon, that in some area or another, they lack for some conservative principle that makes them true conservatives; I disagree. See here, from the hardcover edition of Rod Dreher’s book which came after the article that coined the term, his…

    “A Crunchycon Manifesto:
    1. We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly.
    2. Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.
    3. Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.
    4. Culture is more important than politics and economics.
    5. A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative.
    6. Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.
    7. Beauty is more important than efficiency.
    8. The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.
    9. We share Russell Kirk’s conviction that “the institution most essential to conserve is the family.”

    Pax et bonum

  55. Daniel Latinus says:

    @pjthom81: Thank-you. I now know where I stand. I guess I’m a fusionist, too.

    @CM Collins: I don’t think “paleoconservative” was a term of derision. I may be mistaken, but I think Dr. Paul Gottfried may have coined the term to describe himself and his allies.

    I always followed the categores of George Nash in The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945:

    – Classical Liberals/Libertarians: believers in free market economics and constitutional government
    – Traditionalists: believers in the Great Tradition of Natural Law Philosophy
    – Cold War Anti-communists: those who saw Communism as a threat to peace and liberty
    – Neoconservatives: Liberals admitting the failures of the welfare state, and put off by the anti-Americanism and social radicalism of the New Left (Liberals mugged by reality)
    – The New Right/Religious Right: people concerned about social issues, growing secularism, and subversive trends in education.

    Of those four categories, I suppose I identify mostly with the Traditionalists and the New Right/Religious Right. But then, coming from a traditional Democrat background, some aspects of neoconservatism also appeal to me.

    I do note one disturbing tendency among self-identified paleoconservatives: recent visits to Takimag and Alt Right revealed a number of articles and combox posts from people who are disdainful of Christianity and religion, occaisional apologiae for neo-paganism, a soft-sell version of White Supremacy, a desire to create a white faction in political victimology, and the glorification of bullying as a form of social control. I fear that once more traditional and learned exponents of paleoconservatism (e.g. Patrick Buchanan, Paul Gottfried, and the late Joseph Sobran) pass from the scene, paleoconservatism will become anti-Christian, openly and belligerently racist, and generally a mirror image of the more stridently radical New Left.

  56. Melody says:

    I voted crunchycon, although I’m close the theocon as well. I don’t like how Republicans are so dismissive of environmental policies and programs for the poor.
    As part of my training in social work I learned a lot about these programs. They cost the taxpayer too much because they are as disorganized as tax law, but they still do a lot of good work. For example, a disabled man who cannot longer do his old job needs support so he can go school and learn a desk job.

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