Old Right

The Old Right refers to separate political groups in the United Kingdom and the United States.

U.S. Old Right

In the United States, the Old Right, also called the Old Guard, was a group of libertarian free-market, anti-interventionists, originally associated with the Republicans of the interwar years led by Robert Taft. They managed to split the Republican party in two during the 1912 presidential election, with the progressives following Theodore Roosevelt and forming the United States Progressive Party, and causing Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic Candidate, to win. They successfully fought to cut down immigration in the 1920s. They also opposed United States membership of the League of Nations and the New Deal, and opposed US military intervention in Korea.

According to historian and political theorist Murray Rothbard,

"The Old Right was formed in reaction against the New Deal, and against the Great Leap Forward into the Leviathan state that was the essence of that New Deal. This anti-New Deal movement was a coalition of three groups: (1) the "extremists," the individualists and libertarians, like H.L. Mencken, Albert Jay Nock, Rose Wilder Lane, and Garet Garrett; (2) right-wing Democrats, harking back to the laissez-faire views of the nineteenth century Democratic party, men such as Governor Albert Ritchie of Maryland or Senator James A. Reed of Missouri; and (3) moderate New Dealers, who thought that the Roosevelt New Deal went too far, for example Herbert Hoover. Interestingly, even though the libertarian intellectuals were in the minority, they necessarily set the terms and the rhetoric of the debate, since theirs was the only thought-out contrasting ideology to the New Deal.[1] (http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/ir/Ch1.html)

In addition to oppositon to the welfare State, the Old Right soon became the major anti-war ideology, opposing interventionism and the New Deal drive toward war in Europe and Asia. The Old Right denounced FDR's adoption of Wilsonian "global crusading," which had mired the US in an earlier European war - WWI. The Old Right's "America First" movement countered Wilson-Roosevelt interventionism.

"American foreign policy must neither be based on the interests of a foreign power such as Great Britain nor be in the service of such abstract ideals as 'making the world safe for democracy,' or waging a 'war to end all wars,' both of which would amount, in the prophetic words of Charles A. Beard, to waging 'perpetual war for perpetual peace.'"[2] (http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/ir/Ch1.html)

In short, the Old Right was ardently opposed to the welfare-warfare state. Influential members of the American Old Right, in addition to Taft, incluided Senate Majority Leader Nelson Aldrich, Congressman Howard Buffett, Senator James A. Reed, Governor Albert Ritchie of Maryland, businessman Robert E. Wood, journalists Robert R. McCormick and H.L. Mencken, and authors such as Frank Chodorov, Garet Garrett, Albert Jay Nock, Isabel Paterson, John T. Flynn, Leonard Read, and Felix Morley. They were called the "Old Right" to distinguish them from their anti-communist New Right successors, who were more friendly to big government, foreign military intervention, and domestic economic intervention.

Their successors and torchbearers in the late 20th century and present century are paleoconservatives and paleolibertarians. Both of these groups often rally behind Old Right slogans like "America First" while sharing similar views to the Old Right opposition to the New Deal.

U.K. Old Right

In Britain, the term Old Right is sporadically used to refer to conservatives of various stripes who predated the emergence of Thatcherism, initially in opposition in the 1970s and then in government in the 1980s. The term is used most frequently to refer to the sort of Right-wingers who held what are now generally considered to be racist views on many issues and were often members of the League of Empire Loyalists, but it is occasionally also used to refer to the Tory wing of post-war consensus politics (often called Butskellism).

The former axis of the British "Old Right" are known for their staunch opposition to immigration, European federalism and the break-up of the British Empire while also being more culturally fogeyish and wary of American influence than latter-day Tories; they are also often accused of anti-Semitism. The post-war centre-ground Tories who are sometimes (but much less often) also confusingly called "Old Right" are also often sceptical of the US and Israel, but much less virulently so than the former group; their wariness is of the political Right in Israel and its allies in the US, not of the very existence of Israel or of Jews more generally. One major difference is that the Butskellite Tories were often strongly supportive of European integration and Britain's role in it, which distinguishes them from both the group more frequently referred to as "Old Right" and the Thatcher generation in the party.

The (arguably resurgent) remnants of both wings have recently been described, somewhat contentiously, as "Michael Moore Conservatives" by the writer Adrian Wooldridge, a reference to the stocky American film director.

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