The Menace Of The Herd: Or, Procrustes At Large

The Menace Of The Herd: Or, Procrustes At Large

by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

Written soon after his immigration to the United States, he signed the book "Francis Stuart Campbell" because he was a refugee from Austria and didn't want to endanger them.

The author was a remarkable 19th-century-style liberal intellectual, startling in his erudition and wisdom.

A bit disorganized, perhaps, and not as friendly to the market as it might be but a book overflowing with insight into the ancient, medieval, and modern worlds.

To read him is to experience something of an intellectual liberation from every sort of conventional wisdom.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Rating: 4.26
  • Publish Date: 1978 by Gordon Press
  • Isbn10: 0879683724
  • Isbn13: 9780879683726

What People Think about "The Menace Of The Herd: Or, Procrustes At Large"

As Kuehnelt-Leddihn describes it, ochlocracy basically amounts to the essence of the modern era carrying with it a wide variety of baggage including industrialization, mass suffrage, egalitarianism, standardization, mass communications and urbanization. However I agree with Kuehnelt-Leddihn that the level of a civilization ought to be instead measured by its culture, it'sexpressions of the mind. Communism and Nazism are both viewed in this book as ochlocratic inheritors of the French Revolution which I think is misleading, as you could say that more appropriately that all three simply branched off from a modern zeitgeist of mass movements and autocratic governments identifying themselves with the masses. Modern readers will also probably be offended and most likely confused by Kuehnelt-Leddihn's emphasis on the contrast between old aristocratic governments and modern totalitarian movements like Nazism, but this is an entirely valid point. Kuehnelt-Leddihn likes discussing national and religious characters, describing them in a surprisingly confident manner as well as if he was describing his own friends. The book was written during World War II, and Kuehnelt-Leddihn has chapters on a few key nations to discuss his ideas, notably the Soviet Union, Britain and the U.S. the latter which had apparently succumbed the ochlocracy as far back as Andrew Jackson, but I think this is true. Modern democracy is inevitably identified with by Kuehnelt-Leddin with ochlocracy and its obvious flaws. It doesn't have to be absolutist, Kuehnelt-Leddihn adds, but even a constitutional monarchy restored to the German states would help prevent the worst of parliamentary government. I can't help but think that for all Kuehnelt-Leddihn wrote about the resurgence of Europe under Christian values he must have been somewhat satisfied in the new Europe of Adenauer, De Gaulle, and Christian democracy, but of course, the forces of ochlocracy were stronger. As always one of the best part of Kuehnelt-Leddihn's book is the footnotes.

It's not easy for me to remember which of his ideas I got from this book and which from Liberty or Equality. Another idea, in fact one of the themes of this book, are the opposing drives towards identity and diversity. Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn speaks much more favorably of diversity, which may sound odd to some modern conservatives and especially the alt-right. Diversity in the sense of von Kuehnelt-Leddihn has nothing to do with the weird diversity of the leftists, however. I'm sure that von Kuehnelt-Leddih would agree with me that the modern left hides its identitarianism behind a faked appreciation for diversity. Particularly interesting is von Kuehnelt-Leddihns analysis that the Nazis held a majority in Germany because there weren't enough Catholic electoral districts. If you want to see the reckless materialism that men like the early von Kuehnelt-Leddihn warned us about in action, take a look at the history of socialism. Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn was a genius and it even shows in this early work of his.

He also missed the mark in placing his hopes in the United Kingdom and the League of Nations to conserve/restore a "traditional" Europe after a future Allied victory.

Kuehnelt-Leddihn lays into the tendency of modern states to depersonalize people and to turn them into 'human rivers' that blindly serve some national cause en masse.

As long as I read the introduction, I can read chapters out of order.

I understand that Menace of the Herd was Kuehnelt-Leddihn's earlier work, and that he later recanted many of the ideas he presented in this book -- to his explicit embarrassment, at that (and to his credit).

Describing himself as an "extreme conservative arch-liberal" or "liberal of the extreme right", Kuehnelt-Leddihn often argued that majority rule in democracies is a threat to individual liberties, and declared himself a monarchist and an enemy of all forms of totalitarianism.