Paul Gottfried

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Paul Gottfried
Gottfried speaking in 2017
Paul Edward Gottfried

(1941-11-21) November 21, 1941 (age 82)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Alma materYeshiva University (BA)
Yale University (MS, PhD)
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
American philosophy
Doctoral advisorHerbert Marcuse
Main interests
Welfare state, pluralism, Romanticism
Notable ideas
Therapeutic state, movement conservatism, alternative right, white nationalism (denied)

Paul Edward Gottfried (born November 21, 1941) is an American paleoconservative political philosopher, historian, and writer.[1][2][3] He is a former Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. He is editor-in-chief of the paleoconservative magazine Chronicles.[4] He is an associated scholar at the Mises Institute, a libertarian think tank,[5] and the US correspondent of Nouvelle École, a Nouvelle Droite journal.[6]

He helped coin the term paleoconservative in 1986 and alternative right (with Richard Spencer) in 2008.[2][1] The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has described him as a "far-right thinker".[7] He founded the H.L. Mencken Club, which the SPLC considers a white nationalist group.[7][8] Although noted for working with far-right and alt-right groups and figures, he has said that he does "not want to be in the same camp with white nationalists" or associated with pro-Nazis, "as somebody whose family barely escaped from the Nazis in the '30s".[2][1]

Early life and education[edit]

Gottfried was born in 1941 in the Bronx, New York City. His father, Andrew Gottfried, was a furrier in Budapest who fled Hungary after the July Putsch of 1934. The family relocated to Bridgeport, Connecticut, soon after Paul Gottfried's birth. Andrew Gottfried had a fur business in Bridgeport and was involved in its Hungarian Jewish community.[1]

Gottfried attended Yeshiva University in New York as an undergraduate. He returned to Connecticut to attend Yale for graduate school, where he studied under Herbert Marcuse (with whom he disagreed).[1][9]


Gottfried had written 13 books as of 2016.[1] With Thomas Fleming in 1986 he coined the term paleoconservative (a term he identifies with), and with Richard Spencer in 2008 he coined alternative right.[2][10] He has aimed to revitalize the Old Right to counter neoconservative and neoliberal influence in the conservative movement.[3]

He is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient.[citation needed] He moved to Elizabethtown after his first wife died, and taught at the college until "a school official encouraged his early exit", according to a 2016 article in Tablet.[1]

Gottfried was a friend of Richard Nixon after Nixon resigned from the presidency.[11] Gottfried was expelled as a contributor to National Review in the 1980s; interviewed in 2017, he said National Review "didn’t throw anybody out because they were racist," but alleged that it and the conservative movement had been captured by interests supportive of immigration and multiculturalism.[12] In the 1980s, he edited the journal Continuity for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which included some neo-Confederate writing.[13] He was a key advisor in the 1990s to Pat Buchanan, notably during Buchanan's campaign in the 1992 Republican primaries against President George H. W. Bush.[14][1] He worked for the journal Telos, which embraced some far-right causes.[9] He is opposed to nation-building and is a critic of American interventionist foreign policy;[citation needed] he additionally opposes the Zionist movement and the creation of the State of Israel.[15] He has written that Murray Rothbard was a close friend and influence.[16]

Gottfried is an associated scholar at the Mises Institute, a libertarian think tank.[5] In 2018, he joined the Institut des sciences sociales, économiques et politiques (Institute of Social, Economic and Political Sciences), founded by Marion Maréchal and Thibaut Monnier, in Lyon, France.[17] Gottfried is the US correspondent of Nouvelle École, a Nouvelle Droite journal founded by GRECE in 1968.[6]

In 2008, Gottfried founded the H.L. Mencken Club, a group the SPLC has described as white nationalist.[7] Richard Spencer was a board member.[18] It is named for the famous writer H.L. Mencken; a Village Voice article about the club in 2013 noted Mencken's casual racism. The Village Voice said the club was "overwhelmingly geriatric" and met in airport hotels near Baltimore. Marilyn Mayo of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Center on Extremism said the ADL did not consider the club a hate group, but that it "attracts a number of white supremacists to their conferences".[18]

Gottfried has spoken at American Renaissance conferences and written essays for VDARE.[8] An Intelligencer article about the far right in 2017 summarized Gotfred as a "nativist strategist" who had "spent a career agitating for an ethno-nationalist conservatism that celebrated white Western values and lamented what feminism and multiculturalism had done to dilute them".[19]

Coining of alt-right and associations[edit]

Gottfried helped coin the term alternative right with a speech to the H.L. Mencken Club in 2008 envisioning a nationalist and populist right-wing movement; it was published by Richard Spencer in Taki's Magazine with the title "The Decline and Rise of the Alternative Right".[2][1][20] Gottfried has been described as a former intellectual mentor to Spencer.[21][1][22] As of 2010, according to the SPLC, Gottfried was a senior contributing editor at Alternative Right, a website edited by Spencer.[23] He and Spencer co-edited a book in 2015.[3][1]

In a 2016 article in the online magazine Tablet titled "The Alt-Right's Jewish Godfather", Gottfried said, "Whenever I look at Richard [Spencer], I see my ideas coming back in a garbled form." He also said, "I just do not want to be in the same camp with white nationalists," and "As somebody whose family barely escaped from the Nazis in the '30s, I do not want to be associated with people who are pro-Nazi." Jacob Siegel, author of the Tablet article, described Gottfried as having "tried to build a postfascist, postconservative politics of the far-right" for the past 20 years, but that "Spencer and his acolytes wanted to cross the threshold into fascist thought and beliefs".[1]

In 2018, Robert Fulford of the National Post described Gottfried as the "godfather of alt-right" and wrote that Gottfried's paleoconservative ideas were a major source of the alt-right phenomenon.[24] Three weeks later, Gottfried published a response article objecting to some of its points. He wrote, "I do know Richard Spencer and worked with him in 2010 when he edited the Taki's Magazine website. We did develop the term 'Alternative Right' together — it was a headline he put on one of my articles. But my subsequent strategic differences with him are a matter of public record, which should have been noted."[25]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Jacob, Siegel (November 30, 2016). "Paul Gottfried, the Jewish Godfather of the 'Alt-Right'". Tablet Magazine. Nextbook, Inc. Retrieved January 14, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Meet the Jewish 'Paleoconservative' Who Coined The Term 'Alternative Right'". The Forward. August 29, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Drolet, Jean-Francois; Williams, Michael C (2022). "From critique to reaction: The new right, critical theory and international relations". Journal of International Political Theory. 18 (1): 27. doi:10.1177/17550882211020409. ISSN 1755-0882. S2CID 236406021.
  4. ^ "Paul Gottfried". Chronicles Magazine.
  5. ^ a b "Paul Gottfried". Mises Institute. June 20, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  6. ^ a b François, Stéphane (2018). "Réflexions sur le paganisme d'extrême droite". Social Compass. 65 (2): 275. doi:10.1177/0037768618768439. ISSN 0037-7686. S2CID 150142148.
  7. ^ a b c Piggott, Stephen (November 4, 2016). "White Nationalists to Gather in Baltimore for the Ninth Annual H.L. Mencken Club Conference". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  8. ^ a b "Prominent Racists Attend Inaugural H.L. Mencken Club Gathering". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Braune, Joan (2019). "Who's Afraid of the Frankfurt School? "Cultural Marxism" as an Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory" (PDF). Journal of Social Justice. 9 (2164–7100): 1–25.
  10. ^ Drolet, Jean-Francois; Williams, Michael C (2022). "From critique to reaction: The new right, critical theory and international relations". Journal of International Political Theory. 18 (1): 27. doi:10.1177/17550882211020409. S2CID 236406021.
  11. ^ Jay, Martin (2020). Splinters in your Eye: Frankfurt School Provocations. London. p. 164. ISBN 978-1-78873-604-6. OCLC 1122921518.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  12. ^ Nwanevu, Osita (March 23, 2017). "National Review Wants Credit for Opposing the Alt-Right Movement It Helped Create". Slate Magazine. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  13. ^ Sebesta, Edward H.; Hague, Euan; Beirich, Heidi, eds. (2009). Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction. United States: University of Texas Press. p. 31.
  14. ^ Drolet, Jean-François; Williams, Michael C. (January 2, 2020). "America first: paleoconservatism and the ideological struggle for the American right". Journal of Political Ideologies. 25 (1): 28–50. doi:10.1080/13569317.2020.1699717. ISSN 1356-9317. S2CID 213963637.
  15. ^ Gottfried, Paul (June 17, 2012). "Jews Against Israel". The American Conservative. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  16. ^ Cooper, Melinda (2021). "The Alt-Right: Neoliberalism, Libertarianism and the Fascist Temptation". Theory, Culture & Society. 38 (6): 29–50. doi:10.1177/0263276421999446. ISSN 0263-2764. S2CID 233528701.
  17. ^ Catherine Lagrange (June 22, 2018). "L'école de Marion Maréchal : du business et de la culture (très à droite)". Le Point (in French). Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  18. ^ a b Merlan, Anna (July 10, 2013). "Is the H.L. Mencken Club an Extremist Hate Group, or Just a Bunch of Weary Old White Guys?". The Village Voice. Retrieved December 8, 2022.
  19. ^ Read, Simon Van Zuylen-Wood, Noreen Malone, Max (April 30, 2017). "Beyond Alt: Understanding the New Far Right". Intelligencer. Retrieved August 28, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ "Inside the Far-right Podcast Ecosystem, Part 2: Richard Spencer's Origins in the Podcast Network". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  21. ^ Finlayson, Alan (2021). "Neoliberalism, the Alt-Right and the Intellectual Dark Web". Theory, Culture & Society. 38 (6): 176. doi:10.1177/02632764211036731. ISSN 0263-2764. S2CID 239690708.
  22. ^ Gray, Rosie (January 12, 2017). "An Alt-Right Leader Sets Up Shop in Northern Virginia". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
  23. ^ Keller, Larry (March 15, 2010). "Paleocon Starts New Extreme-Right Magazine". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  24. ^ Fulford, Robert (March 29, 2018). "Robert Fulford: How the alt-right's godfather transformed our world". National Post. National Post. Retrieved January 14, 2022.
  25. ^ Gottfried, Paul (April 17, 2018). "Paul Gottfried: Don't call me the 'godfather' of those alt-right neo-Nazis. I'm Jewish". National Post. National Post. Retrieved January 14, 2022.