Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn gives us in Leftism a remarkable defense of classical liberal and libertarian thought, based on his enormous learning in the twenty languages he could read. Kuehnelt-Leddihn, an Austrian aristocrat, became in his long career after World War I a historian and world traveler. His lectures often brought him to the United States, and he spoke several times at the Mises Institute. He and Mises were friends, and he praised Hans-Hermann Hoppe as a “brilliant thinker.”
Like Hans Hoppe, Kuehnelt-Leddihn saw a fundamental opposition between democracy and liberty. The Left seeks to eradicate all distinctions, and to do so it must suppress liberty. Democracy is not liberty’s friend, but rather its enemy, because it opposes efforts by individuals to set themselves above the masses. The Left does not wish its dogmas to be examined critically, and it is hardly a surprise that many mainstream liberal publishers rejected Leftism. Fortunately, Arlington House was never afraid to swim against the current, and the book gained a wide and appreciative audience on its appearance in 1974. The book’s editor at Arlington House was none other than Lew Rockwell, the founder of the Mises Institute.
From this perspective, Kuehnelt-Leddihn conducts us through the history of the West. He stresses the rejection of democracy by Plato and Aristotle and finds in the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages and the Baroque a libertarian impulse. With the Hussites and Martin Luther, by contrast, he has little sympathy
For him, the French Revolution with its “frightful atrocities” lies at origin of modern totalitarianism,…