The concrete political situation of the present moment is not the subject of our analysis; it is nevertheless fairly obvious that ” democracy,” in spite of the ubiquity of this term, has failed the expectations of mankind. Democracy, no less than its bitter fruit—the tyranny of the one-party state—has foundered as a guarantor of freedom, the role in which it has posed for so long. Democracy, moreover, has betrayed its own idealism (which found such pregnant expression in the “Atlantic Charter”) with greater levity than any modern despotism. Democracy, no less than modern tyranny, is morally dead, a living corpse, a whitened sepulchre; yet tyranny with its monarchical externals is at least a sinister concentration of material forces and drives.

The latter’s physical menace, heralded by the dark cloud of corroding and demoralizing fear, is addressed to all of us. Therefore we need forms of government which can give us both freedom and strength – forms of government which fulfil the ethical as well as the practical demands of the times – of all times. If historical and geographic accidents had not favoured the rise of a gigantic empire on the western rim of the Atlantic which, through its dimensions, its numerous citizenry, and its safe distance, represented a unique counterweight, the western rim of the Old World would have lost its freedom twice within the last decade. Yet how inefficient this giant can be at times in face of the planning powers of evil we have seen when, in tired confusion, it surrendered at the green table after so many splendid military triumphs. Victory gained through the twin hierarchies of industry and the armed forces, was thrown away by the politicians.

America would act wisely if she would return to her great traditions; Europe, on the other hand, insofar as she is not enslaved, is faced by a categoric imperative. She must, must find the way back to her eternal well-springs or perish. The illusions, myths and lies of the last hundred years are going to save neither her soul nor her precarious physical existence.

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


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