The Herdist

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd, or Procrustes at Large (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1943), pp. 16-17:

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.

Caspar David Friedrich, Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (c. 1818)

Aside: I picked up a copy of Andreas Aubert’s monograph on Caspar David Friedrich (a hefty imperial quarto published by Bruno Cassirer in 1915), which did much to revive the painter’s reputation. It is one of the books I plan to translate next year.