Sunday, August 14, 2011


Erich von Kuehnelt-Leddihn's "Leftism, From DeSade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse" was published in 1974. Here are some of the first few pages:

"Let us state at the outset of our investigation that, viewed from a certain angle, we all are subject to two basic drives: one toward identity, the other toward diversity. Neither in ourselves as persons, nor in the nations through the course of history are these drives always the same in their intensity and in their balance. How do they manifest themselves? We can all experience a mood during which we feel the desire to be in the company of people of our own age, our own class, our own sex, conviction, religion or taste. It is quite possible that this drive toward conformity, this herd instinct, is something we share with the animal world. This strong identitarian feeling can rest squarely on a real herd instinct, a strong feeling ofcommonness and community directed in a hostile sense toward another group. In race riots and demonstrations of ethnic groups this collective sentiment can manifest itself with great strength. This sort of conformist herd instinct was the driving motor of the nationalistic gymnastic organizations of the Germans and the Slavs, so potent in the first half of this century and engaging in enormous, carefully synchronized gymnastic performances. When five or ten thousand identically dressed men or women are carrying out identical movements, the onlooker gets an overpowering impression of homogeneity, synchronization, symmetry, uniformity.

Identity and identitarian drives tend towards an effacement of self, towards a nostrism ("usness") in which the ego becomes submerged. Of course, nostrism (a term created by the Austrian Nazi Walter Pembaur) can be and usually is a clever multiplication of egoisms. Whoever praises and extols a collective unit in which he participates (a nation,a race, a class, a party) only praises himself. And therefore all identitarian drives not only take a stand for sameness and oppose otherness, but also are self-seeking. There is an identitarian (and nonsexual) aspect to homosexuality ("homoeroticism") coupled with the refusal to establish the sometimes difficult intellectual, spiritual, psychological bridge to the other sex. And in this respect homosexuality is a form of narcissism, of immaturity and implies the limitations of the "simpleton."

Luckily man in his maturity and in the fullness of his qualifications has not only identitarian but also diversitarian drives, not only a herd instinct but also a romantic sentiment. More often than not we have the yearning to meet people of the other sex, another age group, another mentality, another class, even of another faith and another political conviction. All varieties of the novarum rerum cupiditas (curiosity for the new)-our eagerness to travel and to eat other food, hear another music, see a different landscape, to get in touch with another culture and civilization are derived from this diversitarian tendency in us. A dog neither wants to travel, nor does he particularly mind getting the same food day in and day out, if it is healthy fare. Man, however, wants change.
The ant state, the termite state, might remain the same all through the centuries, but man's desire for change results in "history" as we know it. There is something in us that cannot stand repetition, and this hunger for the new can be quite fatal if it is not blended with an element ofpermanence -and prudence.

All higher theist religions rest squarely on this longing, this love for otherness. Though I would not subscribe to Karl Barth's formula of Gott als der ganz andere (God as the totally different One), no theist will deny God's otherness. We are created in His image, though we are not a facsimile of God. This is one of the reasons why the Incarnation moves man so profoundly, why over its exact nature the first Ecumenical Council raged with such bitterness and led to tragic heresies and schisms.

Viewing these two tendencies, these two drives, both with psychological foundations, but only the romantic sentiment with an intellectual character, we inevitably come to the conclusion that modern times are more favorable to the herd instinct than to the enthusiasm for diversity. This is perhaps not immediately evident, because in a few ways the opposite seems to be the case: The craving for travel can now more
easily be satisfied, and in the domain of art a greater variety of tastes
and schools exists today than in the past. In other, more important realms, however, identity has been pushed in every way, partly by passions (mostly of an animal order), partly by modern technology and procedures forming part and parcel of modern civilization. In another book we have dealt with the dishonesty in the use of the fashionable term "pluralism." As a matter of fact all modern trends point to the
specter of a terrifying, bigger and more pitiless conformity. In this connection we must never forget that identity is a cousin of equality. Everything which is identical is automatically equal. Two fifty-cent coins of the same issue are not only identical but also equal. Two quarters are equal to a fifty-cent coin, but they are not identical with it. Identity is equality: It is equality-at-first-sight, an equality which takes no lengthy reasoning or painstaking investigation to discover.
Therefore all political or social forms which are inspired by the ideal of equality will almost inevitably point into the direction of identitarianism and foster the herd instinct (with subsequent suspicion, if not hatred, for those who dare to be different or have a claim to superiority).

There exists a dull, animalistic leaning toward identitarian gregariousness, but we encounter also a programmatic, passionate, fanatical drive in that direction. Nietzsche knew of it, so did Jacob Burckhardt. It has fear as its driving motor in the form of an inferiority complex engendering hatred and envy as its blood brother. Fear implies a feeling of being inferior to another person (or to a situation): Hatred is possible only if one feels helpless in the face of a person considered to be stronger or more powerful. A feeble and cowardly slave can fear and hate his master; his master in return will not hate, but will have mere contempt for the slave. Haters all through history have committed horrible acts of cruelty (which is the inferior's revenge), whereas contempt-always coupled with a feeling of superiority-has rarely produced cruelty. In order to avoid that fear, that feeling of inferiority, the
demand for equality and identity arises. Nobody is better, nobody superior, all can relax, all can be at ease, nobody feels challenged, everybody is "safe." And if identity, if sameness has been achieved, then the other person's actions and reactions can be forecast. No (disagreeable) surprise can be expected, everybody can read thoughts and feelings in everybody else's face. And thus a warm herd feeling of
brotherhood will emerge. These sentiments, these emotions, this rejection of quality (which can never be the same with everybody!) explain much of the spirit of the mass movements of the last 200 years.

The other factor is envy. Envy has complex psychological roots .. several, not just one. There exists, first of all, the curious feeling that whatever the other person possesses has in some (roundabout) waybeen taken away from me. "I am poor because he is rich." This inner, often unspoken argument rests on the assumption that all goods and good things in this world are finite. In the case of money or, even more so, of landed property, such argument might have some substance. (Hence the enormous envy of peasants as to each other's real estate.) Yet this argument is often unconsciously extended to values which are not finite. Isabel is beautiful; Eloise is ugly. Yet Isabel's beauty is not the result of Eloise's plainness, nor Bob's brightness of Tim's stupidity. Again envy might subconsciously use a statistical argument. ("Not all
of us brothers can be bright, not all of us sisters pretty. Fate handed it to her, to him, and discriminated against me!")

The second aspect of envy lies in the superiority of another person in an important respect. The mere suspicion that the other person feels superior on account of looks, of brain-power, of brawn, of cash, etc., can create a burning feeling of envy. The only way to find a compensation lies in a successful search for inferior qualities in the person who figures as the object of envy. "He is rich, but he is evil," "He is
successful, but he has a miserable family life," "He is well born and well connected, but, oh, so stupid." Sometimes these shortcomings of an envied person serve as a consolation: sometimes they also serve as a "moral" excuse for an attack, especially if the object of real or imagined envy has moral shortcomings. In the last 200 years the exploitation of envy, its mobilization among the masses, coupled with the denigration of individuals, but more frequently of classes, races, nations or religious communities has been the very key to political success. The history of the Western World since the end of the eighteenth century cannot be written without this
fact constantly in mind. All leftist "isms" harp on this theme, i. e. , on the privilege of groups, minority groups, to be sure, who are objects of envy and at the same time subjects of intellectual-moral inferiorities. They have no right to their exalted positions. They ought to conform to the rest, become identical with "the people," renounce their privileges, conform. If they speak another language, they ought to drop it and talk the lingo of the majority. If they are wealthy their riches should be taxed away or confiscated. If they adhere to an unpopular ideology, they ought to forget it. Everything special, everything esoteric and not easily understood by the many becomes suspect and evil (as for instance the increasingly "undemocratic" modern art and poetry). Of course there is one type of unpopular minority that cannot
conform and therefore is always in danger of being exiled, suppressed or slaughtered: the racial minority.

As always hypocrisy is the compliment which vice pays to virtue,and in inciting envy, this ugly feeling will never be openly invoked. The nonconforming person or group sinning against the sacred principle of sameness will always be treated as a traitor, and if he is not a traitor the envious majority will push him in that direction. (As late as 1934 there were German Jews who tried to form a Nazi group of their own:
naively enough they considered anti-Semitism a "passing phase." Yet can one imagine a German Jew in 1943 not praying in his heart for an Allied victory? He was pushed in that direction.) Thus to be different will be treated as or made into treason. And even if the formula Nonconformist-Traitor will not always be promulgated with such clarity, it lurks at the back of modern man's mind only too often, whether he openly embraces totalitarianism or not. One wonders how many people who sincerely reject all totalitarian creeds today would subscribe to the famous dictum of St. Stephen, King of Hungary, who wrote in his will to his heir presumptive, St. Emmeric: "A Kingdom of only one language and one custom is a fragile and stupid thing. "

Unity and uniformity have been blended in our minds. The modern magic of sameness has been enhanced not only by a technology producing identical objects (e.g., one type of car owned "commonly" by half-a-million people), but also by the subconscious
realization that sameness is related to cheapness and that sameness makes for greater intelligibility, especially to simpler minds. Identical laws, identical measurements, an identical language, an identical currency, an identical education, an intellectual level, an identical political power ("one-man-one-vote"), identical pay rates, identical or nearrency, an identical education, an identical intellectual level, an identical political power ("one-man-one-vote"), identical pay rates, identical or
near-identical clothes (the blue denim of Communist China!)-all this seems highly desirable. It simplifies matters. It is cheaper. It saves thinking. To certain minds it even seems "more just."

These identical tendencies run into two obstacles; nature and man (who is part nature). Still, nature is more easily pressed into identical patterns by human endeavor, as witness certain types of gardening. Hills can be "leveled." Geometry can be impressed upon the landscape. To make man more identitarian is a more difficult task, yet not such a hopeless one to the dolt who "optimistically" declares, "All men are equal" and then "All people are more alike than unlike." Here one has to remember Procrustes, the legendary Greek robber and sadist who flung his victim onto a bed: Those who were too short were stretched and hammered until they filled it, those who were too long were "cut to size." Procrustes is the forerunner of modern tyranny.
Here, however, the identitarian comes up against the mystery of personality. Human beings are different: They are of different ages, different sexes, they vary according to their physical strength, their intellect, their education, their ambitions. They have different character and different kinds of memory, different dispositions. They react differently to the same treatment. All this enervates and antagonizes the identitarian. The shoemaker takes it for granted; it is a headache for the shoe manufacturer. It is natural to the governess and no mystery to parents, but it can become an insoluble problem to the teacher of a large class. Along with this goes the proclivity among large groups to give up at least part of the personality. Mass-man in a mass has the tendency to think, act, and react in synchro-mesh with the crowd, a
phenomenon that might have a scientific explanation. And precisely because human identity is difficult to achieve, a poor substitute often has to be brought in. This equally unworkable substitute is equality."

The remainder of this work can be found here:

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