Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

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Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (July 31 1909May 26 1999) was an Austrian Catholic aristocrat intellectual. He describes himself as an "extreme rightist arch-liberal"; to be more exact, he argues against democracy and in favor of monarchy. His early books Menace of the Herd and Liberty or Equality were influential with the conservative movement in the United States. He was also a polyglot able to speak eight languages and read eleven others. His best-known writings were for the right-leaning National Review, where he was a columnist for 35 years.



Kuehnelt-Leddihn was born in Austria. At the age of 16, he became the Vienna correspondent of The Spectator. From then on, he did not stop writing. He studied civil and canon law at the University of Vienna at the age of eighteen. From there, he went to the University of Budapest and received an M.A. in economics and his doctorate in political science. Moving back to Vienna, he took up studies in theology. In 1935, von Kuehnelt-Leddihn travelled to England to become a schoolmaster at Beaumont College, a Jesuit public school (UK). Then he moved to the United States, where he taught at Georgetown University (1937-38), St. Peter's College, New Jersey (head of the History and Sociology Department, 1938-43), Fordham University (Japanese, 1942-43), and Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia (1943-47).

After the Second World War, he resettled in Austria, where he lived until his death.

His travels took him to many locations. He visited the USSR (1930-1931) and every state in the United States.

Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn wrote for a variety of publications, including The Catholic World. He also worked with the Acton Institute, who declared him after his death "a great friend and supporter".


His socio-political writings deal with the origins and the philosophical and cultural currents that formed Nazism. He endeavored in his work to explain the intricacies of monarchist concepts and the systems of Europe, cultural movements such as Hussitism and Protestantism, and what he perceived as the disastrous effects of American policy derived from anti-monarchical feelings and ignorance of European culture and history. Some of his significant critiques are of Wilsonian foreign policy activism (of which traces can be seen again in the policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and all the way to the presidency of George W. Bush), which stipulate that democracy was the premier political system, and misunderstanding of much Central European culture, including but not limited to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was Kuehnelt-Leddihn claimed was one of the contributing factors that led to the rise of Nazism. He also highlights characteristics of the German society and culture (especially the influences of both Protestant and Catholic mentalities) and attempts to explain the sociological undercurrents of Nazism.

Contrary to the common historical view, Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn claims that Nazism was a leftist, democratic movement rising out of the French Revolution that unleashed forces of egalitarianism, identitarianism, materialism and centralization. He essentially suggested that Nazism, fascism and communism are all basically democratic movements, which are all based upon motivating the masses to revolution and which include the destruction of the old forms of society. Furthermore, he claims that all democracy is basically totalitarian and that all democracies turn into dictatorships. His ideas about the roots of totalitarianism are illustrated in these diagrams: Nazi Movement Origin and Indentitariansim and Equalitarianism chart.

In Liberty or Equality, his magnum opus, von Kuehnelt-Leddihn contrasts monarchy with democracy and presents his arguments for the superiority of monarchy: His contentions include that diversity is upheld better in monarchical countries than in democracies; monarchism is not based on party rule; and that monarchism "fits organically into the ecclesiastic and familistic pattern of Christian society". Thus he argues that monarchical government is actually more "liberal", in that it provides greater liberty. As modern life becomes increasingly complicated across many different sociopolitical levels, Kuehnelt-Leddihn submits that the Scita — the political, economic, technological, scientific, military, geographical, psychological knowledge of the masses and of their representatives — and the Scienda — the knowledge in these matters that is necessary to reach logical-rational-moral conclusions — are separated by an incessantly and cruelly widening gap and that democratic governments are totally inadequate for the job. These views, though popular centuries before Kuehnelt-Leddihn's birth, remained consistently marginal throughout his life.


  • "Right is right and Left is wrong".
  • "Man is rather stupid than wicked". Liberty or Equality, pg 189
  • "The three fundamentally leftist revolutions, those that spawned France's democracy, Russian's international socialism, and Germany's national socialism, formed and fashioned the history of the last two hundred years and established the 'Centuries of the G' — guillotines, gaols, gallows, gas chambers, and gulags". Leftism Revisited, pg xvii



  • Gates of Hell
  • Night Over the East
  • Moscow 1979
  • Black Banners

Socio-political works

  • The Menace of the Herd (under the pseudonym of "Francis S. Campell"), The Bruce Publishing Co., Milwaukee, 1943.
  • Liberty or Equality, Christendom Press, Front Royal, Virginia, 1952, 1993.
  • The Timeless Christian
  • The Intelligent American's Guide to Europe
  • Leftism, From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse, Arlington House, Publishers, New Rochelle, NY, 1974.
  • Leftism Revisited, From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot, Regenery Gateway, Washington, D.C., 1990.

Related Topics

External Links


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