Three Cheers For Paul Gottfried’s REVISIONS AND DISSENTS


Paul Edward Gottfried, who might be called the “Moses of the Alternative Right,” has just released another collection of essays, Revisions and Dissents. Dr. Gottfried is often overlooked, but his influence is overwhelming. The fingerprints of his intellectual prowess can be found all over the writings of the alt right’s better known names: Richard Spencer, Sam Francis, James Kirkpatrick, Chris Roberts, Alexander Hart, Gregory Hood, Jared Taylor, etc. To mark his thirteenth book, here are thirteen quotes from his earlier books that show his invaluable erudition, and inimitable polemic.

1) “[Russell] Kirk bestowed on the Buckleyites a genealogy deeply rooted in the European past. Such a pedigree is different from attributing humble New World antecedents to oneself and one’s companions. It is by far more pleasurable than having to trace one’s political traditionalism to the small-town dissenters, nonconformist isolationists and bohemian litterateurs who had made up the anti-New Deal Right. Although Kirk, who chose to live in a small Michigan town, would not have scorned them, the conservatism that he devised while not claiming to have uncovered it with The Conservative Mind did not focus on such identifiably American types.” Conservatism in America

2) “The Post-Marxist Left represents… a distinctive political religion. It should therefore be understood as a would-be successor to a traditional belief system, one parasitic on Judeo-Christian symbols but equipped with its own transformational myths and end-of-history vision.” The Strange Death of Marxism

3) “In its peculiar way, the modern state has revived the alliance of throne and altar once cherished by nineteenth-century enemies of the French Revolution. The complementarity of the secular and ecclesiastical swords has been restored, in the sense that the dominant religious culture gives aid and direction to state purposes.” Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt

4) “One could organize a welfare state that provides social services without instilling a liberal democratic ideology. Similarly, one could have built the German autobahnen and increased the social benefits of German workers in the 1930s without carrying out a Nazi revolution. Likewise, it would be possible for the American government to provide entitlement programs for its middle class without enforcing what are now unpopular quotas for designated minorities.” After Liberalism

5) “Yuppies who plunge into every politically correct fad in France and Germany pretend to be Marxists broadly understood. By carefully cherry-picking Marx’s collected works, they can depict a mast who is forever fashionable, whether as an ecologist, an advocate of open borders, or someone who would have championed homosexual marriage. Among my liberal Christian colleagues all the same attributes are heaped onto Jesus, by reducing the New Testament to two or three overworked or deconstructed verses. An honest disciple would abandon a master whose teaching he can no longer accept, before twisting his words into pretzels.” War and Democracy

6) “An unfathomable mystery from my perspective is how right wing populists who often stress the doctrine of original sin forget their grim theory when they turn to politics. If one truly believes that human nature is fallen, why do sinners suddenly become angelic when they make electoral decisions? Like Russell [Kirk], who preached “authority” and “degrees and hierarchy,” I grimaced when the others talked positively about the “people.” When I was recently invited to discuss with libertarians from the Cato Institute whether the people have the government they deserve, I responded that “the government is far better than the masses actually merit.” I doubt that Russell would have come to a different conclusion.” Encounters

7) “Whatever the differences that characterize their various schools of thought, conservatives, as much as Leftists, are united by a distinctive approach to reality – particularly nature. For the Left, the concept ‘nature’ suggests infinite plasticity; for the Right, by contrast, it is something fixed, and even normative. One sees nature as a material condition to be adapted to the ‘rational’ goals of social planners; the other sees it as a source of unchanging truth in a world otherwise in flux. This sense of human limitation is an important link between Old Right ‘reactionaries’ and those neoconservatives who have effectively documented the ‘unintended consequences’ of many social programs.” The Conservative Movement

8) “Although Western Communists lent themselves to far worse knavery and spent years glorifying notorious mass murderers, they also displayed an intellectual seriousness that the American conservative movement has rarely approximated. Because the Communists started with a materialist theory of history and a related body of commentary, they also inherited a coherent understanding of the modern age and a standard for verifying historical conclusions. This was the case despite their reprehensible faults, including the bureaucratic manipulations of truth that Communist parties and regimes practiced and their indulgence of Procrustean conclusions that dialectical materialism once produced for Marxist scholars. In comparison to the Communist tradition, the conservative movement has been a plaything of political activists. Their vague language and shrill war against relativism have been attempts to invest the movement with a deep intellectuality and moral purpose that it lacks. Its shallowness remains obvious despite its journalistic success and its occasional borrowings from Catholic ethics.” Conservatism in America

9) “Although I courted well-placed academics and enjoyed the smells and sounds of famous universities in my younger years, as I have grown older I have developed a distaste for academic culture. Most precisely, I have developed a Nietzschean reaction to the girly men and virago women that populate university settings.” Encounters

10) “The Left is about purity of intention, which must be demonstrated through ceaseless combat against the impure. Moreover, since ideological impurity, as understood by European intellectuals of the Left, is always “lurking” or offering those who are vulnerable “tempting foods,” it is imperative to remain vigilant in the face of this peril.” The Strange Death of Marxism

11) “The fact is, multicultural and designated-victim considerations have become inseparable from American public virtue, and center-right politicians now shiver at the thought of violating these new moral standards.” Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt

12) “The impetus toward liberal internationalism may be determined less by an economic outlook than by a commitment to a particular vision. Once liberalism came to signify the march of Progress and the advance of social policy, it could also be made to mandate a civilizing mission. That explicitly progressive mission explains why European imperialism attracted many on the left, including Karl Marx, the militantly secularist French Radicals of the 1880s, and English Fabian socialists twenty years later. Western imperialists were seen to be the midwives of modernity, who would bring the non-western world into the new age of science, materialism, and equal rights.” After Liberalism

13) “Asserting that most people would like to avoid suffering is not the same as demonstrating that they would like to incorporate the features of our late modern society, starting with secularism, an atomistic society, children liberated from parental control, a right to abortions, and the open exhibition of gay lifestyles.” War and Democracy