Paleolibertarianism Defined

Paleolibertarianism is a school of thought within American libertarianism founded by Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard, and closely associated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. It is based on a combination of radical libertarianism in politics and cultural conservatism in social thought. Austrian economics, anti-federalism, Misesian libertarianism, and anarcho-capitalism heavily influenced the movement’s attitudes toward ideas on trade, commerce and statecraft.


“Paleolibertarianism holds with Lord Acton that liberty is the highest political end of man, and that all forms of government intervention — economic, cultural, social, international — amount to an attack on prosperity, morals, and bourgeois civilization itself, and thus must be opposed at all levels and without compromise. It is ‘paleo’ because of its genesis in the work of Murray N. Rothbard and his predecessors, including Ludwig von Mises, Albert Jay Nock, Garet Garrett, and the entire interwar Old Right that opposed the New Deal and favored the Old Republic of property rights, freedom of association, and radical political decentralization. Just as important, paleolibertarianism predates the politicization of libertarianism that began in the 1980s, when large institutions moved to Washington and began to use the language of liberty as part of a grab bag of ‘policy options.’ Instead of principle, the neo-libertarians give us political alliances; instead of intellectually robust ideas, they give us marketable platitudes. What’s more, paleolibertarianism distinguishes itself from left-libertarianism because it has made its peace with religion as the bedrock of liberty, property, and the natural order.” – Lew Rockwell