When one neglects a web blog and its attachment to a social media page, one is constantly reminded—via that social media—of a continual lack of postings. Guilty as charged. Time to repent and start again, which is one of the great blessings of the Catholic faith: repenting and starting over again. At least 490 times. I wonder what happens after the 490 times is exhausted?
I have come across a most fascinating 20th century thinker and author, whose work in the area of political philosophy and history remains largely unknown to the intelligentsia in the high courts of the academy, and even more so among general reading public in the US. The depth of his knowledge, insight, and critique of the modern era is truly as profound as it is unique. Many of his ideas run counter to modern historical convention, whether scholarly or populist. In explicating his insights and observations, he avoids mere assertion; rather, he provides substantial evidence for the positions he holds. His use of rhetoric can be jarring and brusque to post-modern sensitivities. Anachronistic at times, and certainly a man of an older era, he nonetheless offers alternatives to enlightenment era Republicanism (historically understood) and modern mass democracy, whether of the Right or of the Left. I am speaking of Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (1909-1999).
His three principal volumes include Menace of the Herd: or Procrustes at Large, a bracing historical critique of democracy; Liberty or Equality: The Challenge of Our Times, considered his magnum opus, an in-depth look at the Enlightenment influences on ideas about equality and the danger such ideas pose for individual human liberty; and Leftism Revisited: From De Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot a detailed historical overview of the rise of the Left from the French Revolution to the 20th century.
My hope is to post several reflections on von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s thought as found in these volumes, with particular emphasis on how his observations might relate to current events and issues that occupy the public consciousness. Of course, one cannot project modern sensibilities back onto the works of a writer from a previous era. This would be to misunderstand von Kuehnelt-Leddihn and to reshape him into a modern, even fictitious figure. However, where he speculates about how a thought or an idea might be consequential regarding later developments in the history of a society, such speculation becomes a legitimate means of interacting with the currents that such thought might foreshadow.
Von Keuhnelt-Leddihn was a polyglot and a polymath, whose prodigious multi-lingual abilities and encyclopedic knowledge of the humanities, along with his tireless travel life and teaching career (living both in Europe and the US; he visited every state in the US; he taught at Georgetown and Fordham) made him an experienced observer of modern political realities and the history and philosophies out of which they grew. He was an Austrian nobleman and aristocrat (the Ritter attached to his name was a German title of nobility, not unlike English knighthood). He was also a devout Roman Catholic and Catholic monarchist. All of which made his ideas rather noteworthy--if sometimes quixotic--and in some ways without equal within the scope of his worldview and perspective. My hope in these posts is to encourage further exploration into the ideas and perspectives of a person William F. Buckley Jr. called “the most fascinating man [he] knew."
On White People Acting White
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