And One Quotation Mistakenly Attributed to Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn
From time to time online, I've come across various citations of a quotation attributed to Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn that goes as follows:
"I is from God; we is from the Devil."
"We is from the Devil but I is from God."
I quite like the idea behind that saying, and even cited it in an Amazon.com review of one of K-L's smaller works. The problem was that in my K-L reading, I'd never been able to find precisely where he said it. I found one posting online where someone said it was from Leftism Revisited. Getting out my copy, I read this on page 5:
The demand for equality and identity arises precisely in order to avoid that fear, that feeling of inferiority. Nobody is better, nobody is superior, nobody feels challenged, everybody is "safe." Furthermore, if identity, if sameness has been achieved, then the other person's actions and reactions can be forecast. With no (disagreeable) surprises, a warm herd feeling of brotherhood emerges. These sentiments -- this rejection of quality (which ineluctably differs from person to person) -- explain much concerning the spirit of the mass movements of the last two hundred years. Simone Weil has told us that the "I" comes from the flesh, but "we" comes from the devil.
That's clearly the sentiment in question. Except that as you can see, (a) the idea is that I "comes from the flesh" not from God, and (b), K-L did not originate the idea but is paraphrasing Simone Weil.
Somewhat unusually for the König of discursive endnotes, K-L didn't attribute that saying to any particular work of Weil's. However, a bit of digging turned up the following in her 1950 book Attente de Dieu, published in 1951 as Waiting for God:
Nothing ever said or written goes so far as the devil's words to Christ in Saint Luke concerning the kingdoms of the world. "All this power will I give thee and the glory of it, for that is delivered unto me and to whomsoever I will I give it." It follows from this that the social is irremediably the domain of the devil. The flesh impels us to say me and the devil impels us to say us, or else to say like the dictators I with a collective signification. And, in conformity with his particular mission, the devil manufactures a false imitation of what is divine, an ersatz divinity. By social I do not mean everything connected with citizenship, but only collective emotions.
Not as pithy and hard-hitting, perhaps, as "I is from God; we is from the Devil," but certainly a powerfully thought-provoking sentiment in its own right.