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Friday, September 25th, 2009

Time Event
LEFTISM REVISITED by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

A reader (and forgive me, I cannot remember what your nom de cyber is) in a startlingly magnanimous act gave me a copy of Leftism Revisited: From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot authored by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn from Austria. The terms of the bargain were that I would write a review in return.

First impressions: Mr. von Kuehnelt-Leddihn displays an impressive and deep grasp of history and politics, and, like others who have encountered him, I am almost awed by how well read and well traveled he is. If you want an American to realize he is provincial, have him read Kuehnelt-Leddihn.

Kuehnelt-Leddihn is an unabashed monarchist, a conservative in what might be called the European sense of the word: one who upholds the dignity and sacral character of the throne and the altar, the crown and the miter.

A point of view more foreign to my own cannot be imagined: on the flag of the commonwealth in which I live blaze the immortal words SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS, and the seal displays armed Liberty with a naked sword over a fallen king, his crown in the dust. My commonwealth, Virginia, also (perhaps unwisely) entered into an alliance or federation with other sovereign states surrounding, and much of our sovereignty, far beyond what was originally agreed, has been stolen away. They could not have won their liberty from the British Crown without us, and so we have been ill repaid. Nonetheless, I am the heir of the deeds and words of Virginians such as Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Zachary Taylor, John Marshall, Patrick Henry, George Wythe, John Paul Jones, and so on.

My point here is that the collectivist and communist are actually closer in position to me than a monarchist, because communism springs out of (or perverts, take your pick) Enlightenment political theories, Rousseau’s social contract, Locke’s theories of the innate rights of man, Adam Smith’s labor theory of value, and so on. Kuehnelt-Leddihn's love of monarchic polities is based on an older, I will call it Catholic, world view, and this has been tempered (or made bitter) by the sad testamony of history, the insanities and enormities, the sheer mass of bloodshed, unleashed by democracies and populist movements worldwide.

Nonetheless, I found the book thought-provoking and compelling. Nay, further, I will say it is a’must-read’ for anyone who calls himself a conservative. The analysis of the thought and history of Leftism is peerless, insightful, and lucid.

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