The original thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, whether fallacious or not in their doctrines, rarely were university professors; neither Nietzsche nor de Tocqueville, Schopenhauer, Bernhart, Spengler or Hello, Kierkegaard, von Hügel or de Maistre were ever honored with a chair, and Kant had to be content with a teaching position in a girls’ high school.
Yet the true pillars of democratism and socialism we find in the elementary school and in its semieducated teachers inclining frequently toward Marxian socialism.49 Even in France, where the Académie Française had become a stronghold of Catholic thought, the mass of teachers remains in the clutches of the fin-de-siècle. It is, of course, equally true that the function of the teacher in an elementary or secondary school is extremely important in an ochlocratic society. We must not forget that the extinction of illiteracy remains one of the capital tasks of the democratists, because they feel the need of a public which masters the three “R’s” and is therefore able to mark the right name on the election papers; to read cheap novels and pulp magazines, leaflets, pamphlets, and advertisements; the need of a public which solves crossword puzzles, understands warning signs on the road and in the factories, and swallows “enlightening” writings without possessing the faculties to analyze them critically.
It is the specific tragedy of the average urbanite to have lost his ancestral, rural gift of wisdom without having even the prospect of acquiring a thorough knowledge which is able to replace wisdom to a certain extent.
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd, or Procrustes at Large (1943)