View Full Version : Spengler on The Press

Tuesday, July 29th, 2003, 06:27 PM
Philosophy of Politics(Decline of the West)-Oswald Spengler
To-day we live so cowed under the bombardment of this intellectual artillery that hardly anyone can attain to the inward detachment that is required for a clear view of the monstrous drama. the will-to-power operating under a purely democratic disguise has finished off its masterpiece so well that tha object's sense of freedom is actually flattered by the most thorough-going enslavement that has ever existed. The liberal bourgeois mind is proud of the abolition of censorship, that last restraint, while the dictator of the press-Northcliffe!- keeps the slave-gang of his readers under the whip of its leading articles, telegrams and pictures. Democracy has by its newspaper completely expelled the book from the mental life of the people. The book-world with its profusion of standpoints that compelled thought to select and criticize, is now a real possession only for a few. The people reads the one paper, "its" paper, which forces itself through the front doors by millions daily, spellbinds the intellect from morning to night, drives the book into oblivion by its more engaging layout, and if one or another specimen of a book does emerge into visibility, forestalls and its possible effects by "reviewing" it.

What is truth? For the multitude, that which it continually reads and hears. A forlorn little drop may settle somewhere and collect grounds on which to determine "the truth"-but what it obtains is just its truth. The other, the public truth of the moment, which alone matters for effects and successes in the fact-world, is to-day a product of the press. What the press wills, is true. Its commanders evoke, transform, interchange truths. Three weeks of press work, and the truth is acknowledged by everybody. Its bases are irrefutable just so long as money is available to maintain them, intact. The classical rhetoric, too, was designed for effect and not content-as Shakespeare brilliantly demonstrated in Antony's funeral oration-but it did limit itself to the bodily audience and the moment. What the dynamism of our press wants is permanent effectiveness. It must keep men's mind continuously under its influence. Its arguments are overthrown as soon as the advantage of financial power passes over to the counter-arguments and brings these still oftener to men's eyes and ears. At that moment the needle of public opinion swings round to the stronger pole. Everybody convinces himself at once of the new truth, and regards himself awakened out of error.

With the political press is bound up the need for universal school-education, which in the classical world was completely lacking. In this demand there is an element-quite unconscious-of desiring to shepherd the masses, as the object of party politics, into the newspaper's power-area. The idealist of the early democracy regarded popular education, without arriere pensee, as enlightenment pure and simple, and even today, one finds weak heads that become enthusiastic on the freedom of the press-but it is precisely this that smooths the path for the coming Caesars of the world-press. Those who have learnt to read succumb to their power, and visionary self-determination of Late democracy issues in a thorough-going determination of the people by the powers whom the printed word obeys.

In the contests of to-day tactics consists in depriving the opponent of this weapon. In the unsophisticated infancy of its power the newspaper suffered from official censorship which the champions of tradition wielded in self-defence, and the bourgeoisie cried out that the freedom of the spirit was in danger. Now the multitude placidly goes its way.; it has definitely won for itself this freedom. But in the background, unseen, the new forces arte fighting one another by buying the press. Without the reader's observing it, the paper, and himself with it, changes masters. Here also money triumphs and forces the free spirits into its service.. No tamer has his animals under his power. Unleash the people as reader-mass and it will storm through the streets and hurl itself upon the targets indicated, terrifying and breaking windows; a hint to the press-staff and it will become quiet and go home. The press to-day is an army with carefully organised arms and branches, with journalists as officers. and readers as soldiers. But here, as in every army, the soldier obeys blindly, and war aims and operation-plans change without his knowledge. The reader neither knows, nor is allowed to know, the purposes for which he is used, nor even the role that he is to play. A more appalling caricature of freedom of thought cannot be imagined. Formerly a man did not dare to think freely. Now he dares, but cannot; his will to think is only a willingness to think to order, and this is what he feels as his liberty.

And the other side of this belated freedom-it is permitted to everyone to say what he pleases, but the press is free to take notice of what he says or not. It can condemn any "truth" to death simply by not undertaking its communication to the world-a terrible censorship of silence, which is all the more potent in that the masses of newspaper readers are absolutely unaware that it exists. Here, as ever in the birth pangs of Caeserism, emerges a trait of the buried springtime. The arc of happening is about to close on itself. Just as in the concrete and steel buildings the expression-will of early Gothic once more bursts forth, but cold, controlled, and civilized. so the iron will of the Gothic Church to power over souls reappears as -"the freedom of democracy." The age of the book is flanked on either hand by that of the sermon and that of the newspaper. Books are a personal expression, sermon and newspaper obey an impersonal purpose. The years of scholasticism afford the only example in world history of an intellectual discipline that was applied universally and permitted no writing, no speech, no thought to come forth that contradicted the willed unity. This is spiritual dynamics. Classical, Indian, or Chinese Humanity would have been horrified at this spectacle. But the same things recur, and as a necessary result of the European American liberalism-"the despotism of freedom against tyranny," as Robespierre put it. In lieu of stakes and faggots, there is a great silence. The dictature of party leaders supports itself upon that of the press. The competitors strive by means of money to detach readers-nay, peoples-en masse from the hostile allegiance and to bring them under their own mind-training, and all that they learn in this mind-training, is what it is considered that they should know-a higher will puts together the picture of their world for them. There is no need now, as there was for Baroque princes, to impose military service liability on the subject-one whips their souls with articles, telegrams and pictures(Northcliffe!) until the clamour for weapons and force their leaders into a conflict which they willed to be forced.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2003, 09:34 AM
Well written, Rahul. 'No one is more hopelessly enslaved than the person who falsely believes he is free' (Goethe).

Friday, May 28th, 2004, 05:40 PM
"Democracy has by its newspaper completely expelled the book from the mental life of the people".

Here Spengler is speaking of the CENTRALITY of the book, and the quality of the book. The press and what is now the 'media' has completely eviscerated the seriousness of the book.

"What is truth? For the multitude, that which it continually reads and hears".

One has only to listen to the continual prating of the mob, and how they repeat the slogans of the day ["WMD's" today, "Crimes against Humanity" yesterday, "the Hun" the day before that].
Only one ting has grown - stupidity.

"Even today, one finds weak heads that become enthusiastic on the freedom of the press-but it is precisely this that smooths the path for the coming Caesars of the world-press. Those who have learnt to read succumb to their power, and visionary self-determination of Late democracy issues in a thorough-going determination of the people by the powers whom the printed word obeys".

Ah yes - the screams for 'freedom' of the press! The bleatings of the democratic turkeys as the vote for Christmas.


Saturday, May 29th, 2004, 08:28 AM
More and more I am convinced that political power should remain outside the hands of the populi. It is, in any case, outside their hands. It doesn't matter who you vote for, people with money will sponsor the campaign of the candidate, and it is the promises of those men that will be fulfilled, not the wishes of the electorates. We've had many more worse popularly elected representatives than we've had tyrannical aristocracy. Ensuring security for the population and encouraging - not providing - prosperity is what is needed. Order of rank should only apply once the declaration of public enemy and public ally has been made. Other than that, I don't see a need for massive social engineering projects (other than significantly altering the content of Western education systems, and tightening up on the benefits and negetives of having and not having citizenship - e.g., racial requirements for citizenship, property confiscation with compensation and deportation for those lacking citizenship, or guest status) - this would be our concession to the masses in exchange for keeping them out of political involvement.

Thursday, June 3rd, 2004, 06:17 PM
And this is a problem which bedevils our philosophy - the mass versus the individual.

Man in the mass is largely contemptible.
He becomes there the Herd, the Crowd, the Mob.

But the Individualist is likewise contemptible.
He cares nothing for race or culture - he lives only for Self.

So we have in racial politics a compromise between those extremes; we believe in a kind of collective, but one that has an exclusive heritage and pedigree, and one that is committed to ascending life.

We believe too in an aristocracy and in the existence of exemplary individuals who are natural Leaders. [I have referred to this elsewhere as the dominant 5%].

So we see the masses as beneath us; and this implies a sense of caste.
There will be masses and mobs who will have their bread and circuses.
Above them will be the EVOLVING race; a race crowned by an Aryan elite and spearheaded by a Leader.
We must keep a Distance between ourselves and the Mob.

Tuesday, June 8th, 2004, 08:18 AM
The mass, as a collective, will be dismembered, and organised simply according to specialisation - a sort of 'division of labour'. The individualist - 'I'm on my own, it's all that matters' - needs to be racinated, so to speak - he must be concious of his identity and his place in things, and he must fit in the place for which he is naturally suited. Meritocracy combined with 'order of rank', the pursuit of excellence - the replacement of 'morality' with aesthetics - consciousness of position and collective identity. Collectivism, in the soviet/democratic sense, must evolve from egalitarian lies into total mobilization, order of rank under the directive of revaluated values.

Wednesday, July 7th, 2004, 05:49 PM
the replacement of 'morality' with aesthetics -

Or rather with an aestheticised ethics;

'We act thus in the name of Beauty'!

And is that 'immoral'? - hardly!


Thursday, July 8th, 2004, 04:21 AM
There would be no need for the world 'immoral'. Disgusting or excellent - simple and clear way of putting it, clear of the confusion between the good in 'good and evil' and 'good and bad'.

And there's something repulsive about that picture. Is that thing depicted a male or a female?