The modern totalitarian parties are all fundamentally “democratic.” They have all insisted on their right to use the democratic label. And each has been vocal in representing its political leader as the personification of “everybody,” of the “common man,” of the entire nation. (Among the Nazis, the notion that the Leader of the single party was not the organ of the state, but the very personification of the community, was put forward by the “most advanced” National Socialist theorists.) At the beginning of this modern trend stands the French Revolution—or more precisely, its second, illiberal phase. Hitler declared: “This revolution of ours is the exact counterpart of the French Revolution.” The hatred of minorities, the collective condemnation of whole groups, classes and races, the judgment of individuals according to status rather than according to personality or conviction which characterize the great totalitarian movements of today, received in those days their most concrete formulation.

With the exception of biological racialism, nothing essentially new has since been added. Now, as then, the Church and the monarchical institutions are the main targets of the forces of collectivism. The inherent acquisitiveness of the modern state makes a struggle between it and the Church almost everywhere inevitable. The totalitarian parties will undoubtedly speed up this process—if they are parochial, because the Church is an opponent; if they are international, because the Church is a competitor. The nobility, as a libertarian and international “estate,” is, quite naturally, also under attack. National Socialism was ideologically the full heir, and probably the most complete synthesis, of all the ideas springing directly or indirectly from the French Revolution; it was a fulfilment, not a “relapse into the Dark Ages” or a “putting back of the clock.”

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Liberty or Equality: The Challenge of Our Time (1940)


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