, by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (EvKL)
The purpose of this book is to show the character of leftism and to what extent and in what way the vast majority of the leftist ideologies now dominating or threatening most of the modern world are competitors rather than enemies.
This book, published in 1974 by Arlington House Publishers, examines all facets of leftist political ideology, as you can tell from the title. Hitler a leftist? Yup.
EvKL examines leftism throughout Europe and North America; having travelled and taught extensively – and with an understanding of over a dozen languages – he seems eminently qualified to opine on the matter.
Given his background, he can make – with some authority – statements such as:
I think that the nascent United States of the late eighteenth century was already in the throes of warring political philosophies showing positive and negative aspects…. The American War of Independence had an undeniable influence on the French Revolution and the latter, in the course of the years, had a deplorable impact on America.
These two revolutions were not born of right and left; instead the two – one supposedly leading to liberty and the other certainly leading to tyranny – were born of, and developed into, common, albeit not identical, cloth.
EvKL does the reader a service by exposes his biases right up front:
I am a Christian: I am emphatically not a democrat but a devotee to the cause of personal liberty. I would thoroughly subscribe to the words of Alexis de Tocqueville when he wrote, "Despotism appears to me particularly to be dreaded in democratic ages. I think that I would have loved liberty at all times, but in the present age I am ready to worship it."
I don’t know that this would make him a “libertarian” in the thin NAP sense of the term, but there you have it. EvKL sees in the unwarranted connection of democracy with liberty the manifestation of the evils to be found in the twentieth century, not to exclude the evils perpetrated by the greatest of all democratic societies: the United States.
We have to remember all the wars, all the propaganda, all the pressure campaigns for the cause of democracy, how every hailed and applauded victory of democracy has ended in terrible defeat for personal liberty, the one cause really dear to American hearts.
This connection and subsequent destruction has continued even to the present day; see Iraq as just one example of many.
The French Revolution; Kerensky’s government in Russia; the Weimar Republic. The list is endless, and continued long past the time of the publishing of this book. All initially hailed as victories to the Progressivist cause; all resulting in “grievous disappointments”:
…dictatorships, civil wars, crowded jails, confiscated newspapers, gallows and firing squads, one-party tyrannies, sequestrations, nationalizations, "social engineering."
These failures are not just visible in hindsight; de Tocqueville and many others saw such failures coming in advance – not just the elimination of “liberty and decency,” but also “the democratic evolution towards nonviolent slavery….”
One should not be surprised about this, because the roots of the evil are historically-genetically the same all over the Western World. The fatal year is 1789, and the symbol of iniquity is the Jacobin Cap.
The denial of personality and liberty; all forms of leftism from Marxism to National Socialism:
The issue is between man created in the image of God and the termite in a human guise. It is in defense of man and in opposition to the false teachings which want to lower man to the status of an insect that this book has been written.
Given my oft-stated (and controversial if not ridiculed) view of the kissing-cousin relationship of classical liberalism / libertarianism to communism, this book and some specific chapters will prove, I hope, of invaluable service in clarifying my thoughts and / or disabusing me of certain blasphemous notions. For example, chapters such as:
· Right and Left
· The Historic Origins of Leftism
· Real Liberalism
· False Liberalism
Of specific interest to me will be the issue of culture and tradition. In this, I find a clear element of connection between many libertarians and communists, say a connection between many libertarians and Marcuse – a connection based on the use (or abuse) of the idea of the individual.
While the ends are no doubt different for libertarians such as these (at least for the honest thinkers) and the communists, the means are rather similar. So, if EvKL can do something to either reinforce my views or disabuse me of same, this will be a worthwhile read.
After all, I am about to invest in a 650 page book.