The Paleoconservative Perspective: Egalitarianism

2 May 2024

By Dr Adi Schlebusch


In this series I provide a brief overview of the Paleoconservative perspective on various pertinent socio-political, socio-cultural and socio-economic issues facing our civilization today. I purposefully chose the Paleoconservative label as I believe this serves as an ideal umbrella term to include Christian Nationalists, Hoppean Paleo-Libertarians, Federalists and Theonomist Kinists under one category. This third entry of the series pertains to the Paleoconservative understanding of equality. 

As a political theory, Paleoconservatism advocates for a return to traditions, limited government, and an emphasis on local and national culture. Paleoconservatives offer a perspective that diverges significantly from the contemporary views on equality upheld by both liberals and Marxists. This article delves into the paleoconservative understanding of equality, examining its roots, implications, and the critiques it faces. 

In drawing heavily from pre-modern, tranditionalist Christian thought, Paleoconservatives generally espouse a form of equality that is closely tied to the inherent differences between individuals and peoples found in the natural order as God-given reality. This sharply diverges from the homogenizing, universalist notion of equality dominating liberal discourses and which essentially attempts to erase differences under the guise of fairness or social justice. Opposition to equality has a long history in Paleoconservative thought. Over against the idea of equality as embodied in the French Enlightenment, the British-Irish philosopher Edmund Burke (1729—1797), widely regarded as the father of conservatism, describes the equality that philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712—1778) envision as “that monstrous fiction, which, by inspiring false ideas and vain expectations into men … serves only to aggravate and embitter that real inequality, which it can never remove.” In contrast, he proposes what he considers the “true moral equality of mankind[:] … to seek and to recognize the happiness that is to be found by virtue in all conditions”. He also criticizes Rousseau’s egalitarianism by pointing out that the Revolutionary government in France’s imposition of unequal taxes, whereby wealthy citizens must continually pay more in the name of this equality ideal, leads to “a new inequality … of the most oppressive kind”1

Equality before the Law versus Egalitarianism

One of the central tenets of paleoconservatism is the emphasis on equality before the law as fundamentally different from liberal and Marxist notions of equality, as the latter has virtually nothing in common with the former. Whereas the former constitutes an indispensable legal principle, the latter represents an abstract ideal for a society that is not only undesirable but also fundamentally unpractical. The pursuit thereof leads to governmental tyranny that infringes upon the basic property rights and freedoms of citizens, subjecting people to never-ending state-interference, and ultimately granting the state the prerogative to arbitrarily suppress any resistance to these encroachments. Egalitarianism is therefore fundamentally incompatible with the preservation of civil liberties and any true socio-political and socio-economic progress.  We vehemently oppose the idea that it is the government’s role to ensure that everyone ends up in the same place. Accompanying this skepticism of government intervention, we strongly emphasise both personal and familial responsibility. Differences in outcome are often the natural result of differences in talent, drive, discipline and the choices that individuals and families make, and the desire to eradicate these are rooted in either envy or the desire for dominance.

Social Hierarchy and the Natural Order

A distinctive aspect of paleoconservative thought is not only accepting of a natural social hierarchy but also embracing it. We do not view this natural social hierarchy as undesirable. In fact, economic inequality is often the key to an overall increase in wealth as it allows entrepreneurs to create increased employment opportunities. Society organically develops a hierarchy whenever different roles are filled by different people, not out of oppression or injustice, but as a reflection of the diverse capabilities and interests of individuals. This hierarchy, if undisturbed by excessive governmental or external intervention, generally results in a more stable and functional society. Egalitarians who seek to level societal differences in the name of fairness, impose an artificial equality while ignoring biological, cultural, and intellectual diversities that contribute to the rich tapestry of human society. Instead of egalitarianism, we advocate for an environment where these differences are valued for what they are. 

An important distinction presupposed in the fifth commandment of the decalogue, for example, is between father and mother. God states this distinction not merely because the customary structure of the family has involved a male and a female, but because the normative and divinely ordained structure of the family is so. God’s law has a perspicuous foundation of patriarchy grounding social and familial ethics, a foundation intertwined with the commandment itself. This is one reason why Paul cites the fifth commandment when teaching the Ephesian church of the rules attendant to each family member: immediately following the obligations of wives to submit to their husbands and of husbands to love their wives, he cites the fifth commandment in informing children of their own familial obligations (Eph. 5:22-6:3). Though the commandment only presupposes this distinction and does not explicitly oppose egalitarianism, it still serves to wage war against those who argue that gender, for example, is purely the result of human social interaction—an arbitrary set of norms imposed upon unsuspecting women not innately desiring to be feminine, but only forced into such a mindset by an oppressive society. Against this ludicrous perversion of reality, God unequivocally states in His Word, in His law, that male and female are natural and irreducible categories, ordained by His decree and with their attendant obligations. Furthermore, the fifth commandment also militates against  universal suffrage and the social contract theory, both of which are based on the egalitarian idea that authority requires that every member of the citizenry have a share of that authority, and that every subject is also some sort of ruler. The fifth commandment is not some baseless order God arbitrarily decided to give, but is inextricably tied with the nature of our identity and existence as humans: children do not select their parents and have an unchosen obligation to submit to unelected superiors; they do not consent to be born. The premise that all lawful authority requires the consent of the subjects is thus plainly false, and democracy or universal suffrage is thereby overthrown. 

Traditions and cultural norms also play a crucial role in maintaining a balanced society. Traditions which have evolved over centuries reflect the accumulated wisdom of the past, guiding individuals in their interactions and maintaining the organic order of society. As traditional roles and distinctions in a given society tend to reflect the nature and character of nations, they must be embraced as beneficial for maintaining structure and stability.


In conclusion, the paleoconservative perspective challenges the prevailing notions of equality that dominate modern political discourse. By advocating for a return to traditional values, emphasizing the importance of natural social hierarchies, and rejecting the homogenizing impulses of contemporary egalitarianism, paleoconservatives provide a robust critique of universalist ideals. Our opposition to mass immigration, multiculturalism and globalism is rooted in our principled rejection of egalitarianism as a fundamentally destructive ideology. Our respect for cultural, linguistic and ethnic differences comes from understanding the destructive nature of the revolutionary doctrine of equality. In the fight against egalitarianism, we must apprehend how our obligations extend to include both our ancestors and our progeny. We must both understand and appreciate the created order as something ordained by God in his infinite wisdom and for our good. True social harmony and functionality emerge not from imposed equality but from respecting the inherent differences and roles within a community. We must therefore ultimately reject egalitarianism for what it is: a diabolical rebellion against divine wisdom as reflected in the created order—a rebellion rooted in the glorification of envy.

1. Burke, E. 1790. Reflections on the Revolution in France, and on the Proceedings in certain Societies relative to that Event in a Letter intended to have been sent to a Gentleman in Paris. London: Dodsley, p. 53—54, 333.