When those who are not of the fold know even a little of the history of the Church, know a reasonable amount of the other side of controversial problems, and, above all, when they have been brought into personal touch with the Church itself, her pastors and the hierarchy and religious men and women, prejudice disappears and understanding grows. We still have the monks and nuns of the olden time with us, but no one who knows them personally ever thinks for a moment of lazy monks and idle nuns. After a man has met scholarly Catholic clergymen, he has quite a different view of the relations of the Church to education. That is all that the Church has ever needed–to be known in order to be appreciated.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)


Yet the most important result of the shrinkage of phantasy is to be found in the lack of ability for religious metaphysical visualization. The decay of the imaginative faculty has in this field the most detrimental consequences. Eternal life, God and devil, the angels, the lives of the saints, Golgatha and the Resurrection, the whole theistic Weltanschauung surpasses completely the faculties of the technical homunculus, who like the unfortunate Apostle Thomas only believes what he sees.

The religious communities of the United States, in the industrial areas, who depend upon their flock financially, have therefore to interest their members in material, social, and political questions. These religious societies are in exactly the same situation as the “intellectuals” who follow public opinion instead of leading it, the press or the higher institutions of learning. The Catholics at least have nowhere compromised on the essentials. The “Churches” on the other hand, have followed the trend toward the left in a slavish way, trembling in their shoes lest they be accused of being old fashioned, reactionary, or uncompromising. The masses who cared more and more for security, after having lost their enthusiasm for the lottery of liberal capitalism with increasingly unfavorable odds, have induced the shrewder and more “farseeing” part of the ministry to side with Leftism, thus hoping for a longer lease of life. This involves the acceptance of socialist and pink tendencies, an enthusiasm for all humanitarian and “progressive” ideas like birth control, the surgical abortus, euthanasia, “free love,” and pacifism, not to mention the numerous inroads of modern skepticism, so that little of the depositum fidei remains. The residue is a pale, problematic humanitarianism, which looks with greater respect to the “Men in White” than to the ministers of their faith.

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd, or Procrustes at Large (1943)

Political parties of the totalitarian type on the other hand promise “everything” — faith (in a worldly millennium), intellectuality (on a sentimental basis), drunkenness (with words), crime (of the “honorable,” i.e., political type). An American Fascism of tomorrow might actually attract all “better” elements leaving the scum to its pastime of drink, theft, and sex. Needless to say this is a dangerous game. It may be that these elements, having a free hand, would “save America” for the “White Man,” and Christianity might thus well-nigh become a tolerated religion, but the Church as such would suffer bitterly in the long run and the catacombs might be her last stage of development here in this country.

In the sober forties there will be another generation, steeled by the war, grimmer in outlook, far more determined to have its own way. The generation of the twenties was one of despair, of despair for the “right reasons”; there is a danger that our decade will be one of wrong and false aims. The issue is thus far graver. Most planning (whether it is done by ochlocrats, Fascists, Pinks, or Communists) points to a radical decrease of liberty. Yet there is no doubt that the end of liberty in America would be practically the end there of the Church.

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd, or Procrustes at Large (1943)

Among the Protestant faiths it is subjectivism—embodied in the principle of private interpretation—and the lack of a central, infallible teaching authority which render them so frequently “up to date” ; deprived of a captain and torn from its moorings, the ship of Protestantism drifts along the currents, while Greek Orthodoxy stays in a drydock of immobility. Catholicism now has to sail against the wind and against the currents. This is the reason why it so frequently seems out of tune with the spirit of the times—frequently but, perhaps, not always and not forever; because we are again beginning to live in an age of dogmatic affirmations. Even Protestant neo-orthodoxy is partly a reaction against liberal conformism, in an age when the failure of a Roussellian humanitarianism and of shadowy ethical notions without a religious foundation are so evident.

While Luther rejected rationality in the strongest terms, and thus fostered the rise of fideism and subjectivism, Catholic theology emphasized reason and logic very firmly. Yet it must also be added that the Church has always been apprehensive about the misuse of reason; this stand has not been affected by the strongly rationalistic and realistic character of Catholic theology since the days of St. Thomas. In contradiction to St. Thomas (and to Luther, after all) the Church often seemed to take the position that man is rather stupid than wicked. Protestantism, though rather pessimistic about the spiritual qualities of the “sin-cripple,” nevertheless gave him the Bible without explanatory footnotes, trusting in his intelligence (or “inspiration”).

Catholicism, on the other hand, frequently tended to adopt the view that a superficial half education was much worse than no education at all, and thus in Catholic countries we saw (and sometimes still see) a large number of illiterates side by side with an intellectual elite of high standards. The Protestant goal of education is usually one of good averages—the optimum for a democracy. In democracies there will always be resentment and contempt for the “highbrow” and the illiterate, the intellectual and the “peasant.” A comparison of the French Canadians with their English-speaking co-nationals, or of Americans with Argentines, will confirm this. The strong intellectualization of the professional classes in French Canada contributes to the incompatibility between the two “races.” In Quebec City, for instance, the poems of Claudel are sold at Woolworth’s and Kresge’s.

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

We should always bear in mind that the Church and ochlocracy cooperated badly in Europe, that the forces inimical to the Church always fostered ochlocratic tendencies. One cannot dismiss the latter fact as purely accidental. Of course there is no incompatibility on dogmatic grounds. The question moves on a plain where in dubiis libertas is written in flaming letters: “In doubtful matters, liberty.” Yet the atmosphere, the parfum of the Church and that of “democracy,” when blended in the political and cultural sphere, emits a bad stench. A parallel reading of the works of our authoritative “democratic” essayists, poets, and other creative writers (from the Leaves of Grass to the City of Man) with the encyclicals of Gregory XVI and Pius IX would give a mortal shock to many “progressive” Catholics who think that the Church ought to come to terms with the spirit of our time . . , (which may, overnight, become the spirit of yesterday). These encyclicals at least express the spirit and policy of the Church in unmistakable directness and clearness.

Efforts have never been wanting to bring Catholicism and ochlocracy under the same denominator, and these efforts can easily be traced back to two specific sources: (1) wishful thinking influenced by the desire to meet certain situations, and (2) wishful thinking due to environmental and personal circumstances…Our great Catholic democratists, who are such excellent logicians, lack frequently the insight into the Catholic mentality of the rank and file in Catholic countries. The “typical” Catholic of the Mundus Catholicus is certainly not a communitarian. While not hostile to a personal attachment, he resents excessive legal ties at the same time. Neither is he free of a healthy cynicism and worldly pessimism, which traits are rare in the (more naïve) Protestant. If medieval man would have been told that he could “appoint” his kings or superiors, he might have become quite interested in the proposition. Yet on discovering that his vote was scheduled to be drowned in an ocean of millions of other votes his reaction would have been that of a man whose leg had been pulled successfully.

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd, or Procrustes at Large (1943)

Thus Innocent III, while ever conscious of the popular distaste for the same man being both accuser and judge, went along with the legal fiction of permitting ‘the public outrage’ to be sufficient for summoning a person to an accounting. But this was only a halfway measure that really did not solve the problem of bringing notorious persons to the bar. For once the popular clamor of the synodal witness had brought the person to court, they then withdrew; they had no part in the examination of the accused. It still seemed as if the judge and the accuser were the same, despite this legal fiction. What was needed was for the synodal witness, who according to Canon Six of the Council, was to investigate the evil report and notify the bishop, to continue on as an active participant in the trial.

This step, however, would not be taken until a score of years later when the ‘inquisitorial procedure’ was adapted by Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241) as a specific institution (the Inquisition) to deal with heresy. As the Inquisitor under the new mandate from Gregory IX organized the process for investigating heresy and heretics, he found it advantageous to appoint minor officials to make the original inquiries and then to assist him in the actual process of the trial. Out of this practice grew the office of ‘minister of the inquisition,’ who was really basically concerned with the investigation of heresy and with prosecuting the accused before the inquisitorial tribunal itself. From this auxiliary office developed the Promoter of Justice in church courts, whose duty it was to investigate wrong doing and to prosecute offenders. In this same century emerged the Grench office of procurateur de rio, and eventually states’ attorneys, precursors of modern day district attorneys.

Thus the Church substituted the inquisitorial procedure for the defective accusatory process. A rational inquiry was now introduced as the ordinary method of weighing the evidence and of deciding the guilt or innocence of an accused person. Moreover a designated official now assumed the responsibility for investigating and prosecuting alleged offenders. Both of these developments found their way into the legal systems of continental Europe. Indeed the ‘enquete’ of Louis IX of France is one of the glories of his reign, and a milestone in legal history. The inquisitorial procedure owers its modern day reputation to its association with the tribunal of the Inquisition, with which it has been mistakenly identified.

The inquisitorial procedure, then, was designed to remedy the deficiencies of the traditional accusatory method which made the detection and prosecution of criminal offenses dependent upon private initiative. The inquisition evolved by the Church to deal more effectively with abuses by the clergy was shortly adapted as a special agency in response to the exigencies engendered by the growth and spread of heresy. The Inquisition as an institution as well as a legal method of procedure was a court of exception, of extraordinary and summary procedure, in the face of a virulent and pressing danger.

Albert Shannon, The Medieval Inquisition (1991)

In order to bring some semblance of order out of heedless mob action it was of first importance to determine the exact beliefs and practices of the major dissident sects – the Cathars and the Waldensians – and the supporting reasons why they so believed. These doctrines were then compared with the teachings of the Roman Church, for both groups claimed that they were the true Christians trying to recapture the original, the pristine faith of the church, the faith of the Apostles. To the extent that their creeds were found to differ from the Catholic Church, the new movements were terms heretical. The purpose of the investigation, the ‘inquisitio’, was to point out to the dissenters wherein their teachings strayed from that of the Roman Church and hopefully, to win them back to their former allegiance. If a wayward son or daughter acknowledged his/her error and was received back into full communion with the Church, success was achieved. A salutary penance was given to the penitent – as is done today in the Sacrament of Penance. On the other hand, if the person knowingly and adamantly persisted in his/her heterodox beliefs, the Church then sorrowfully acknowledged defeat, solemnly declared the person a heretic, removed him/her from the communion of the faithful, and handed him/her over to the Secular Power to answer for the crime of disloyalty committed against political society.

In this way the faithful were protected from the contagion of evil doctrine, and the State preserved the integrity of the political and social order. For in the thirteenth century, and long before, Church and State worked closely together to protect and maintain the religious, social, and political stability that all believed necessary for the commonweal. In principle the separation of Church and State was insisted upon, even though the close interdependence of one on the other brought them into continuous association. The Church became heavily entangled in the feudal system, so much so that its ministers, even bishops, were chosen by the State and its property handled at times as a private possession by lay expropriators. It was only a mighty effort by the Gregorian Reform that reversed this stranglehold. The State in its turn had depended enormously on the Church for its legitimacy, for its higher trained officials and for the only education and culture that existed. Therefore, the unity of Christendom was sundered not only by the anti-ecclesiastical attitude of these new heretical sects, but by their anti-social nature as well (marriage was evil, all oaths upon which feudalism depended were prohibited, the coercive power of political authorities was denied – all of which undermined the very existence of organized society). In the twentieth century this kind of correlation and consensus simply does not exist.

Albert Shannon, The Medieval Inquisition (1991)

The functions of individual parts have importance for the whole and ideologically their functions may be “equal,” but to all practical purposes their hierarchy is evident. A chimney sweep is a valuable as well as necessary member of society, but his function in earthly relation is to sweep chimneys, to beget children, to pay taxes, to lead with charity and authority his family as well as his apprentices, and to raise his voice in these few public matters which by his education, knowledge, and wisdom he is able to judge. His function is not to operate upon cancer patients, to drive locomotives, or to direct the foreign policy of the country. All these functional divisions are matters of reason and prudence. If we need new clothes we will go to a tailor, if we have a bodily ailment we will call upon a doctor, if the country needs a military or a budgetary reform it is reasonable and prudent to enlist the aid of a military or financial expert for this purpose; it would certainly be sheer nonsense to ask a tailor or a doctor to remedy such situations.

Yet ochlocrats who never tired of accusing conservatives and Catholics of superstition, illogical traditionalism, and “unscientific” procedure make an act of faith in the inner illumination of the individual and the infallibility of numerical majorities. Phrases like “forty million Frenchmen can’t be wrong” display, nevertheless, a gross misunderstanding of logic; never in history has there been a more farcical and insipid amalgamation of Lutheran and Rousseauan confusion than in the interpretations underlying elections and the general franchise. Luther already was certain that everybody ought to be his own Pope by making use of his own wits in a private interpretation of the bible after dispensing with expert theological judgment; every interpretation was more or less right and had to be tolerated provided it did not conflict with the general line of the Reformers’ intention, and provided — last not least — that it did not lead back to Rome. The ochlocratic “liberal” is indeed in a difficult position toward the followers of terroristic heresies and his belief that “truth stands by itself” has often proved to be suicidal. He is therefore inclined to abandon his liberalism and to turn ochlocracy into a brutal totalitarianism. Luther with his ducal and baronial disciples was followed by terrorists of the type of Calvin, Thomas Münzer or Jan van Leyden, just as Robespierre succeeded Mirabeau and Noailles

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd, or Procrustes at Large (1943)

The great crisis of Protestantism in the Anglo-Saxon as well as in the Scandinavian world is intrinsically connected with the breakdown and shrinkage of the average man’s power of imagination; this is after all the loss of a faculty which is as serious as the loss of a limb or sense, or perhaps even more so. One of the most important differences between “modern” society and preindustrial society consists largely in the great antithesis between phantasism and realism, between man and machine. All fictional heroes in Europe, from Parzifal and Don Quixote to Peer Gynt and Dostoyevsky’s “Idiot,” are fantasist dreamers. The “traditional” European, and especially the nonprogressive easterner and southerner, has almost always an “inner realm” of which he is king. This is the reason why he does not feel the grim realities so keenly (as we outsiders imagine he does) and manages to retire into his realm of dreams like a tortoise into her shell. The total materialists (who are called “realists” without justification because their nonrecognition of metaphysics as well as lack of imagination makes them anything else but realists in a higher sense) have always led uncomfortable and drab lives, hurting themselves continuously, while the dreamer might live in all luxury among the creations of his phantasy. The dreamer and fantasist is in a way invincible while the “realistic” materialist is exposed to danger by more than one Achilles heel. The fantasist and dreamer has moreover the added advantage of a greater dexterity in the interpretation of the visible world, thanks to his well-cultivated artistic vision. With transcendental perception his eye sees through things and happenings, and he thus uncovers and senses the deeper causalities and reasons which remain hidden to the cold and expressionless fishy eye of the “realist.” Protestantism as well as technicism has contributed a great deal toward the firm entrenchment of “realism” in the modern world. The former preached an unnatural “soberness” while the latter actuated a real “desiccation” of the human mind.

Already in decadent Rome, where a populace with a phantasy crippled through a megalopolitan way of life clamored for circenses, do we witness this decline of the imaginative and artistic faculties of a people. That process is today accelerated through the leveling tendencies in general education and the increasingly technical and collective methods of production. The average man from the nonindustrial world (South Italian, American Indian, Arabian, Persian, Ruthene, Slovakian, etc.), is often unable to read or to write, yet he is self-sufficient and can be independent of the artificial forms of megalopolitan amusement because he can sing or produce poems, carve wood, paint or compose; he is able to invent new fairy tales, to weave, to stitch, or to play an instrument; he is often a good conversationalist and his humor has roots without being derived from half a dozen funny papers; as a peasant he has a deep organic connection with nature and as a craftsman he can be a true artist, using all his personality to create objects of art. The craftsmen of Ur, Shinar, Lagash or Babylon had undoubtedly greater satisfaction with their finished products than the workers in Henry Ford’s River Rouge plant — in spite of the fact that the Ford worker can read and write (in order to send telegrams and read ads). Yet the workers of Detroit contribute less to literature than the Old Karelians who in spite of their illiteracy produced the “Kalevala.” It is even highly probable that all the great European epics were composed by illiterates and only later on recorded.

The decline of phantasy naturally engenders a decrease of the manifoldness of forms, because all new combinations (inventions) are nothing else but “Castles in Spain” brought to reality. The terrifying lack of phantasy is also the reason for the imitative urge in our modern American civilization and the predominance of monotony in the industrial centers. This decline can only be measured by comparison with phantasy (and intellectual-artistic production) prior to ochlocracy, mass immigration, and industrialization. Hardly is there anywhere in the United States a church possessing originality which has been built after 1840. The houses of God are usually misplaced gothic or romanesque imitations squeezed in between dismal railway stations or surging skyscrapers. It is even more shocking to see the abortive efforts of town planning, or the utopian habit of naming streets after mere numbers or letters. A cultured man cannot possibly live in room 6489 on the sixty-fourth floor of a house on the corner of 109th Street and 10th Avenue. This may be fitting for one of the unfortunate creatures in Huxley’s Brave New World, but not for man created in the image of God.

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd, or Procrustes at Large (1943)

The relationship between the Catholic Church and the state in the United States of America is characterized by the absolute acceptance of the separation of these two domains by the Church as an “ideal condition” for all such countries. Catholics of the United States are entirely sincere in their acceptance of this allegedly “democratic” tenet of faith. The result, however, of noncooperation in the educational domain (the public schools themselves give no instruction in the Catholic or any other religion) has caused the Church the loss of millions and millions of souls. There ought to be somewhere around thirty-five million Catholics in the states, but there are actually only twenty-three, and this leakage continues.

In Central Europe children of religiously indifferent parents received, twice a week, from the age of six to the age of eighteen, compulsory, denominational religious instruction. But the National Socialists in their great admiration for secular tendencies have done their best to abolish all religious instruction of the young. The continuous leakage in the United States is going to render the percentage of Catholics smaller and smaller. Today the proportion is one to six, but tomorrow it may be one to seven or one to eight. Catholics live predominantly in the large cities of the Northeast, and though they try heroically to keep the number of their children from declining, they have great difficulties in competing with the high birth rate of the rural, Protestant South. The Catholic rural movement is therefore of cardinal importance.

Another obstacle under the present inevitable arrangement of separation of Church and state lies in the frequent preoccupation of priests with the raising and administration of money and funds. The whole European clergy, Catholics as well as Protestants, received a salary from the state (which, after all, should be nothing else than the organized community). Bishops in the United States necessarily have to spend much time with the problems of financial administration, and the refusal of the states to subsidize Catholic schools (as even Anglican England does it) adds not only a great financial burden to the expenses of the Catholics, who have to pay taxes for the state schools as well, but increases the material responsibilities of the Church. The generosity of American Catholics is therefore something really impressive and almost without parallel in the annals of the Church. Their share in the Peter’s Pence and in the upkeep of the Catholic missions is more than praiseworthy. And yet it must be emphasized that the separation of Church and state does not lie in the tradition of Catholicism which is concerned with a Catholic culture. The express condemnation of the abstract principle by Pope Pius IX is understood to have no application in countries like England and the United States.

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd, or Procrustes at Large (1943)