Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Jonah has an interesting piece on paleocons, as does Mr. Holtsberry. This leads me to take a second look at what a paleoconservative is and whether Pitchfork Pat is a good exemplar. Both Neos and Paleos are small-government fans, believe in a strong military and are generally moral conservatives. What seems to separate the two that paleocons tend to be xenoskeptics. They tend to have a discomfort of things and places that aren't American. It doesn't, in most cases, equate to xenophobia (fear of foreign stuff), so I'll coin xenoskeptic to describe a milder form. This xenoskepticism makes them reluctant to be militarily involved overseas unless absolutely necessary, while the "National Greatness" neocons are happy to help out the rest of the world when they can do some good. Immigration is a sore point, as the xenoskepticism will show as ethnocentrism. They will be uncomfortable with unassimilated immigrants and will work to hold their tongues with assimilated ones. The paleocon will also tend to be more of a status-quoian "conservative", not wanting too much change; the creative destruction of the free market, magnified by free-trade changing the job mix, will grate on both the status-quoian and xenoskeptic fronts. Xenoskeptics tend to be less intellectual than the chattering classes, thus they are easy targets for elite pundits. Often, it's a lack of exposure to real people from other cultures that magnifies their discomfort. They might like the Pakistani doctor at the hospital or the Vietnamese family that moved in five doors down, but may not have a lot of experience with foreigners compared to people in more cosmopolitan areas. "Yeah, Dr. Khan's nice, but I still don't feel comfortable with 'em." More worldly neocons (and libertarians and internationalist liberals) will have to be patient with Grandpa and Aunt Lorraine as they learn to accept the rest of the world. It's often fear and ignorance, not malice, that are motivating their actions Buchanan has both a pronounced xenoskepicism and a bad case of status-quoism, thus making him a caricature of a paleocon. He seems to have a optimal world-view that is set in about 1950, before the US had a lot of non-European immigrants. He doesn't like all these strange accents and all the changes that have happened in the last half century, be it large numbers of Hispanics or Wal-Marts doing in rural downtowns. His presidential fiasco last year, combined with a more internationalist tone in the body politic after 9/11, will put him into crank status in short order.

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