We are being forced, anyway, to rely increasingly on government by experts, and we have pointed out before that the discrepancy between the things which are theoretically known, the scita, and those which ought to be known by the “politicized” masses, the scienda, is increasing by leaps and bounds. Even if it is true that general education is improving and that the general level of education is rising—which we sincerely doubt—the political and economical problems with their implications as well as the scientific answers for their solution are growing in number as well as in complexity. This is a race between an arithmetical and a geometrical progression.

To ask a peasant from Central Switzerland in a Landsgemeinde whether a concession should be given to a cheese factory is one thing, and to ask a man in the street in Kalamazoo or Welwyn Garden City what sort of diplomacy should be used towards Mao-Tse-Tung’s China is quite another. Yet this discrepancy is equally apparent in the modern “politicized” executives. In 1815, at the Congress of Vienna, it was sufficient for a Foreign Minister to have a good grasp of history, geography, genealogy and human psychology— besides the mastering of the French language. Today such knowledge, even theoretically, would be entirely insufficient. Twenty years of intensive study and travel, twenty years of delving into such additional subjects as international law, racial psychology, military affairs, economics, agrarian sciences, geopolitics and a whole score of other disciplines seem to be indispensable.

And yet, the grim truth has to be found in the fact that our modern foreign ministers have not ten per cent of the knowledge, the insight, the manners and the experience of a Metternich, a Castlereagh, a Talleyrand, a vom Stein or a Humboldt. Usually their linguistic capacities are so limited that without the help of interpreters they could only bark at each other. We have seen in the immediate past men who had the fine experience of selling champagne, of driving buses or imbibing their knowledge for their tasks from reading H. G. Wells. And the decline from 1815 to the level of 1919 is probably as great as the dègringolade from 1919 to 1945.

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


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