Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner

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Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner

Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner (Born February 23, 1939 - died April 12, 2011) was an Austrian writer, independent scholar, and philosopher who is associated with the Neue Rechte ("New Right") intellectual movement.

Intellectual Contributions

Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner was a critic of modernism, a religious Catholic, and due to his being well-educated and knowledgeable, was very influential in German Conservatism, politically and ideologically. Kaltenbrunner upheld the idea of the reality and importance of ethnicity or nationality and also believed that Christianity was an essential force in shaping the European spirit. [1]

He attempted to revive German Conservatism after World War II [2] and give it credibility by tracing its intellectual legacy throughout European history and giving the term a new understanding, which he did most prominently by his book Rekonstruktion des Konservatismus ("Reconstruction of Conservatism"), also known as Konservatismus in Europa ("Conservatism in Europe"), which was a collection of essays by various authors including himself. [3]

Kaltenbrunner also contributed to the re-establishment of conservative thought by working with other conservative or Neue Rechte intellectuals such as Armin Mohler and Hans-Dietrich Sander,[4] and further by editing and publishing 75 volumes of various conservative works through the Herder Initiative publisher. In his later life he was very mystical and lived secluded from the public, producing spiritual writings. [5] Of the latter, the most prominent were Johannes ist sein Name ("John is his Name") and Dionysius vom Areopag ("Dionysius of Areopagus"). [6]

In three of his most prominent books, Rekonstruktion des Konservatismus, Der schwierige Konservatismus ("The Difficult Conservatism"),[7] and Wege der Weltbewahrung ("Ways of World-Preservation")[8] he reasserted the concept of "evolutionary traditionalism," which is related to the concept of "Revolutionary Conservatism" expressed by the philosophers of the German Conservative Revolution. His concept of conservatism states that true conservatism is neither a "status quo ideology" nor a backwards reactionary ideology, but a worldview which always holds on to what is eternal or always good, lets go of what is transitory when it becomes a burden, and at the same time assimilates new ideas which are beneficial. Thus, "Conservatism is the changing expression of what at heart remains unchangeable, a consciousness of the fundamental conditions of social stability, of the very conditions of human nature." [9] In Der schwierige Konservatismus, Kaltenbrunner discussed the philosophers Søren Kierkegaard, Juan Donoso Cortés, Johann Jakob Bachofen, Novalis, Franz von Baader, Adam Müller, Alexis de Tocqueville, Vilfredo Pareto, and Ludwig Klages, which were selected as notable examples of conservative thinkers.

In another notable book, Elite. Erziehung für den Ernstfall ("Elite: Education for Emergency"), Kaltenbrunner wrote that elites are vital to every human society and cannot function without them; elites referring not just to political or economic leaders and managers, but also to educational, intellectual, and ideological elites. [10] Kaltenbrunner's other major and well-known works are his three volume series titled Europa: Seine geistigen Quellen in Portraits aus zwei Jahrtausenden ("Europe: Its Intellectual Sources in Portraits over Two Millenia")[11] and a subsequent three volume series titled Vom Geist Europas ("On the European Spirit"). Both of these series, six books total, contained discussions of and overviews of the philosophies of a vast amount of European thinkers from Ancient Greece to the modern era which Kaltenbrunner believed were important or neglected by the mainstream media. [12]

Notes

  1. On these points, see especially Kaltenbrunner's introduction to Was ist deutsch? Die Unvermeidlichkeit, eine Nation zu sein (Asendorf: MUT-Verlag, 1988).
  2. On the oppressed state of Conservatism in Germany after 1945, see Paul Gottfried, "Caspar von Schrenck-Notzing, RIP," First Principles Journal, <http://www.firstprinciplesjournal.com/articles.aspx?loc=ja&article=1742>. See also Gottfried's book The Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2005).
  3. Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner, Rekonstruktion des Konservatismus (Freiburg: Rombach, 1972). See an English review of this book here: Link, and a German review here: Link.
  4. See the contributions of Mohler and Sander to Konservatismus International (Stuttgart, Seewald, 1973), edited by Kaltenbrunner. To that book there were also contributions from the following authors: Hans Bach, Jakob Baxa, Heinrich Dietz, Roland Girtler, Bertil Haggman, Ivo Hollhuber, Russell Kirk, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Otto Mann, Gregor M. Manousakis, Georg Quabbe, Willy Rohrmann, Rudolf Schottlaender, Rudolf Zihlmann, and Kaltenbrunner himself. See a brief English review here: Link, and a German review here: Link (on page 3).
  5. See: "Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner" von Dr. phil. Pirmin Meier.
  6. Kaltenbrunner, Johannes ist sein Name : Priesterkönig, Gralshüter, Traumgestalt (Zug, Switzerland: Die Graue Edition, 1993); Dionysius vom Areopag: das Unergründliche, die Engel, und das Eine (Zug, Schweiz : Graue Edition, 1996).
  7. Kaltenbrunner, Der schwierige Konservatismus: Definition, Theorien, Porträts (Berlin: Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1975). See a German review of this book here: Link, and an English review here: Link.
  8. Kaltenbrunner, Wege der Weltbewahrung: Sieben konservative Gedankengänge (Asendorf: MUT-Verlag, 1985). See a German review of this book here: Link. See the table of contents of this book here: Link (and its original info page: Link).
  9. Translated from Rekonstruktion des Konservatismus, p. 53.
  10. Kaltenbrunner, Elite. Erziehung für den Ernstfall (Schnellroda: Edition Antaios, 2008).
  11. Kaltenbrunner, Europa: Seine geistigen Quellen in Portraits aus zwei Jahrtausenden, Drei Bände (Heroldsberg: Christiania-Verlag, 1981–1985). For the table of contents of the three volumes of Europa, see: Vol. 1 Contents, Vol. 2 Contents, and Vol. 3 Contents. For reviews of and overviews of the contents of the each volume, see Walter Heinrich's Schrifttumsspiegel: Review of Volume 1 by J.H. Pichler on page 3, Review of Volume 2 on page 3, and Review of Volume 3 on page 6.
  12. Kaltenbrunner, Vom Geist Europas, Drei Bände (Asendorf: Muth-Verlag, 1987-1992). See this site for the contents list of Vom Geist Europas:"Vom Geist Europas" - Altmod (Directly to the PDF of Contents: Link). For German reviews of Vom Geist Europas, see Schrifttumsspiegel: Review of volume 1 on pg. 3, Review of volume 2 on pg. 11, and Review of volume 2 on pg. 30.

Quotes from Kaltenbrunner

Painting of Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner on the cover of Leitstern am geistigen Firmament – Erinnerungen an Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner
  • "The Nation, the multiplicity of nations on this Earth is a reality. Between the family, the smallest group of common descent, and the race and mankind still stands the nation as a community, order, and historical greatness with its own authority and dignity. It is the most distinguished place at which language, culture and common history, tradition, destiny, and will of a group going beyond the family to a higher order amalgamates. To abandon national existence is, in spite of all cosmopolitan doctrines, still equivalent to the loss of human stability, orientation, and self-esteem. Without roots in a nation, in which the individual recognizes others as peers, there is no Identity. With the Universal, whose existence is not denied, we communicate only through the concrete and the particular, and this still continues to be: the Nation." (Was ist Deutsch?)
  • "The path to self-recognition beyond national megalomania and national masochism is certainly not an easy walk." (Was ist Deutsch?)
  • "Conservatism is the changing expression of what at heart remains unchangeable, a consciousness of the fundamental conditions of social stability, of the very conditions of human nature." (Rekonstruktion des Konservatismus)
  • "[Conservatives are] those who want to preserve particular things through every change but who also know that it is necessary to accomplish things that are worth preserving." (Rekonstruktion des Konservatismus)
  • "The spirit of the age, so long progressive, emancipatory and left-wing, is of late beginning to remember the conservative side of things." (Rekonstruktion des Konservatismus)
  • "[Conservatism partakes] in its transcendental sociological structure of a dimension which spans all group and class interests, so that it can be defined as an awareness of the circumstances of intact institutions and non-catastrophic social change." (Der schwierige Konservatismus)
  • "The very structural law of the industrial society demands a conservative corrective to its dynamics." (Der schwierige Konservatismus)
  • "Revolutionary conservatism [is the] philosophy of revolutionary preservation on the basis of a comprehensive political ecology." (Der schwierige Konservatismus)
  • "[Conservatives are] attached to what is given; are suspicious of innovations; firmly hold on to the existing, the proven, the tried and tested; decidely prefer the experience of Life to the constructions of the Intellect; instinctively affirm duration, stability, and tradition; are skeptical of any radicalism, against utopias and future promises; always start from the Concrete and rather under-estimate than over-estimate the possibilities of Men." (Wege der Weltbewahrung)
  • "So Conservatism is a very complex philosophy. It has an ecological approach, uses the arguments of a realistic anthropology, thinks in terms of systems and institutions, even affirms ... a certain degree of human alienation and yet nonetheless sees itself as a philosophy of freedom - a freedom however... when it has a counterweight in bond and devotion to super-individual orders ... it has an empirical, a rational, and... a mystical dimension." (Der schwierige Konservatismus)
  • "Tradition preserves progress, progress advances tradition." (Rekonstruktion des Konservatismus)

Awards and Prizes

  • Baltasar-Gracian-Preis (for complete works, 1985)
  • Anton-Wildgans-Preis (for complete works, 1985)
  • Konrad-Adenauer-Preis der Deutschland-Stiftung für Literatur (for complete works, 1986)
  • Mozart-Preis der Goethe-Stiftung Basel (for complete, 1989)

Bibliography

Selected (Key) Works

  • Hegel und die Folgen. Freiburg 1970.
  • Der schwierige Konservatismus. Bonn : Bundeszentrale fur Politische Bildung, 1971.
  • (Editor) Konservatismus in Europa (Rekonstruktion des Konservatismus). Rombach Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 1972.
  • (Editor) Konservatismus International. Stuttgart, Seewald, 1973.
  • Vom Konkurrenten des Karl Marx zum Vorläufer Hitlers: Eugen Dühring. In: Karl Schwedhelm (Editor): Propheten des Nationalismus. Paul List Verlag, München 1969 .
  • Europa. Seine geistigen Quellen in Portraits aus zwei Jahrtausenden. Drei Bände, Christiania-Verlag, Heroldsberg bei Nürnberg 1981–1985.
  • Elite. Erziehung für den Ernstfall. MUT-Verlag, Asendorf in Diepholz 1984.
  • Wege der Weltbewahrung. Sieben konservative Gedankengänge. MUT-Verlag, Asendorf in Diepholz 1985.
  • Vom Geist Europas. Drei Bände, MUT-Verlag, Asendorf in Diepholz 1987–1992.
  • (Editor) Was ist deutsch? Die Unvermeidlichkeit, eine Nation zu sein. Asendorf: MUT-Verlag, 1988.
  • Tacui. Johannes von Nepomuk. Brückenheiliger und Märtyrer des Beichtgeheimnisses. Theresia Verlag, Lauerz 1993.
  • Johannes ist sein Name. Priesterkönig, Gralshüter, Traumgestalt. Die Graue Edition, Zug 1993.
  • Geliebte Philomena – Kleiner Liebesbrief an eine wiedergefundene Heilige. Theresia-Verlag, Lauerz 1995.
  • Dionysius vom Areopag. Das Unergründliche, die Engel und das Eine. Die Graue Edition, Zug 1996.
  • Elite. Erziehung für den Ernstfall. Edition Antaios, Albersroda 2008.
  • Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner also edited a total of 75 Volumes of the Herderbücherei INITIATIVE publications (1974-1988).

Secondary Works

  • Gmehling, Magdalena S. Leitstern am geistigen Firmament: Erinnerungen an Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner. Kisslegg: Christiana-Verlag, 2012.
  • Kaltenbrunner, Gerd-Klaus. In: Caspar von Schrenck-Notzing (Hrsg.): Lexikon des Konservatismus. Leopold Stocker Verlag, Graz u. a. 1996, ISBN 3-7020-0760-1, S. 291.

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External Links

Articles by Kaltenbrunner