It is important to remember that Christianity had not abolished slavery. Neither had the Church ever praised this institution, like Calhoun, because the whole relationship of master to slave was not important enough in the light of a life eternal to be combated with furious indignation apart from the fact that even a slave had every protection in a truly Christian society. But now the servant was an “eternal” servant, the master an “eternal” master, and the rich man possibly all through his assumed existence a rich man; thus the hatred of the lower classes now became wide awake. The employees had during the Middle Ages a knowing smile for those in the higher stations of life; they knew it could easily happen that a rich prince might suffer agonies in hell while a leprous beggar sat in the immediate nearness of God’s throne. This is also the reason why such great stress was laid on the “democratic” aspects of death during the Middle Ages. It can still be witnessed in many a mystery play, especially in Everyman. The Totentanz, “Death Dance,” was a very popular motif in song as well as in art. The most famous of all these representations is probably Albrecht Dürer’s conception depicting death carrying away beggar, merchant, burgher, emperor and pope. One would really love to see in our democratic age the result of a Russian etcher’s artistic activity representing Stalin as fetched away by death, or the moral indignation of the progressive mob should somebody portray the President of the United States in similar circumstances. Neither can one imagine Adolf Hitler washing the feet of twelve poor inmates of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The reason for this change is that we are living in an age of “equality” and it is only surprising that our common descent from an assumed powerful King-Kong, instead of God, has not rendered us more charitable to each other.
This change from the fatherhood of God to the fatherhood of the pithecanthropus erectus, Dubois’ “Walking Ape-Man,” has destroyed a good deal of genuine human pride. Once everybody was proud of his own class or station in life. But now there is everywhere an unquenchable thirst for identity and equality. Nobody wants to serve, nobody wants to be subjected because service in a nonhierarchical society means going under the level of equality.
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd, or Procrustes at Large (1943)