Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Broad Way of Destruction Contrasted with the Narrow Way Leading to Life

"The herdist instinct is furthermore not only personal, in the sense that it clamors for a personal collectivism; it creates also a longing and desire for the visual or acoustic contemplation of identitarian or uniformistic phenomena. The true herdist, the man truly dominated by that inferior instinct, will not only rejoice in marching amongst twenty thousand uniformly clad soldiers, all stepping rhythmically in one direction, but he will find an almost equal gratification in contemplating the show from a balcony. He will not only be happy in sitting amidst two hundred other bespectacled businessmen, drinking beer and humming one chant in unison, but the aspect of a skyscraper with a thousand identical windows will probably impress him more than a picture by Botticelli or Zurbarán.

"The herdist is the born enemy of all personal hierarchies as well as of most hierarchies of value. The modern political philosophies and the Industrial Revolution have strengthened the herdist element in all civilized countries; a Parteitag in Nuremberg, the beach of Brighton during a bank holiday, a military parade on the Red Square in Moscow or a subway train during the rush hours in New York afford voluntary or involuntary manifestations of the herdist spirit or the herdist order of our days. It is needless to emphasize that the herdist is a convinced egalitarian, that he has an inveterate suspicion regarding everything original or unique, a hatred for everything beyond his comprehension, a hostile uneasiness for things which are "low" or organically natural. The peasant with his strong personality is no less a target for his contempt and scorn than the "stuffed shirt," the "high-hatted" aristocrat, or the "high-brow" intellectual.

"The ideal dwelling place for the herdist is the city, the megalopolis with its apartment houses, clubs, cinemas, theaters, offices, factories, and restaurants. Here the herdist has ample opportunity to live the life of the masses, to lead an impersonal and lonely existence in a truly dehumanized ant heap, to love and like nobody but himself and perhaps those similar to him.

"This loneliness, this solitude amongst the many, is usually not even mitigated by an awareness of the presence of God. The herdist who tends in the political sphere to be a Leftist — i.e., a national or an international collectivist — feels little attracted by the idea of God's existence who after all is "different" and represents the top of the pyramid of a hierarchic system which the herdist, disbelieving in souls, is unable to accept. The herdist is truly the homme mediocre whom Ernest Hello has described so aptly; he is simply forced to stand for mediocrity because it has as the "medium" (the "fifty-fifty"), the best chance to become the rallying point and the focus for the mass movement, the mass sentiment, or the mass norm...

"The great achievements — sanctity, heroism, holy wisdom, the beatific vision — are not eagerly sought for by the herdist who like the beasts of the field longs to be a "secure" animal (to use an expression of Peter Wust) instead of being proud to remain an "insecure" animal, which man is by nature and in the order of things. Hostile to adventure, which after all was one of the great magnetic powers of the Middle Ages, the herdist moves cautiously in the broad stream of the mediocre masses avoiding all extremes except those in a frenzied mass hysteria. Yet Christianity is an extreme. The yoke of Christ is not a lesser menace to his meager and miserable personality than the iron postulates of the Cross...

["Irving Babbitt in his Rousseau and Romanticism speaks of the high inner qualities of imitation. Yet he speaks distinctly of the imitation of "superiors" (the Imitatio Christi, for instance) and not of the imitation of "equals," which alone fosters the coming into existence of the uniform herd.]

"...of the same Cross which is a flat denial of his shining rule of the "fiftyfifty," and disturbing to all his cautious calculations and plannings. Only the select can be closely confronted with the Absolute without takingflight. Only the saints, but not the "commonsensical" herd, can and will surrender to the "Holy Folly of the Cross." For this reason we have such hatred on the part of the mediocre man, who hates any sort of hierarchy, whether of the saints or of sanctity itself. Sanctity is not only an extraordinary condition but also an adventure. And adventure belongs to the domain of the "Romantic." Adventure is a solitary enterprise, like sanctity, and therefore not congenial to the herd and the herdist."

-Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd (1943), pp. 16-19.

No comments: