The Emperor of the Last Days
A Study in Medieval Fanaticism
Soviet Communism and German National Socialism as systems of political power both took the world by surprise. In 1914 nobody anticipated such developments in human affairs. In those days there were two significant rival ideologies, of which one appeared to be winning and the other to be on its way out—on the one hand, the creed of liberal democracy, and on the other that of dynastic absolutism, though the latter nowhere in Europe, not even in Russia, survived any longer in its pure form. There was indeed an international socialist movement aspiring to bring about some radical changes in the structure of society, but it appeared to be a force which in democratic countries found sufficient scope for its activity within the constitutional framework.
What could not be imagined at that time was that a major part in world affairs was soon to be played by organized bodies of men claiming to perform missions laid upon them by “history,” utterly intolerant of any opinions opposed to their own, and ready to disregard every legal or customary human right in pursuit of their aims. When, however, the totalitarian regimes emerged in Europe, political observers did not fail to search for historical antecedents, and spiritual lineages going back a century or more were traced without much difficulty.
About the Author