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Jack
Wednesday, April 16th, 2003, 12:23 PM
I've got a question.

Oswald Spengler said the Western and Russian Cultures have yet to reach their prime and then fall.

I've heard Spengler said the Russian soul is represented by "the plain". If the Western soul is that of infinite space, what is the difference? Are the Russians thoroughly attached to their origins, while the West is attached to where it wants to go?

Also - Mother Russia is dying, will Russia as a seperate Culture die out and be absorbed into the West? That is, is Western Civilization going to expand east, not by the force of guns, but by force of culture?

Rahul
Wednesday, April 16th, 2003, 04:31 PM
There is a possibility of a paradox, an irony in what some Russian nationalists are standning with. Their position is that since they are the actual inheritors of the Vedic Aryan heritage, they are more keen to see their philosophy as being akin to Bharat. And that is different thus from the Western civilisation. Spengler sets various positions, as is evident from Moody's posts. But some of them intertwine with one another and offer a great confusion, difficult to actually understand. For example, the Faustian spirit isn't Aryan. Then what spirit might be Aryan, according to the Splengerian interpretation of variable spirituality among varied folk?

What of the Russian spirit? What does he say, please elaborate. Mere personal deductions and observations cannnot always help in understanding the meaning or the object of the actual word. It is capable of obfuscating, in the worst possible scenario. Just how free is the human mind, which makes these observations? The words could be spoken in a self-righteous vein, which is typical of the jews. The words then, become a revealation.

And then there are some descendants of the Scythians and the Kimmerians, in Bolgarya who consider the Germanic (so-called)barbarian spirit as the real representative character of Aryan. But this barbarian is not what christian commentary describes as semi-civilised, of course not all was cynical since we have a reverent attitude in the Mythic-Eddaic tradition which kept at least a very critical part of t he pre-xian codex alive and pure.

Read, the Germanic/Norse (Nordic reverberates in Knut Hamsun's Growth of the Soil). Hamsun's Isak happens to be Christian, but his utterings are decisively Aryan.

Therefore a thread runs through it, Aryan culture deserves to be seen as Aryan, and not some jewish-corrupted fabled myth desiring to expand its creedal fangs towards a constituency which it identifies with in altogether false manners.

India-in the modern times is far from being the ideal. It is basically the nadir of jewish-liberal corruption, through the ages.

The colonial conquest of west was a result of mere greed, capitalism led and destroyed in other parts of the world that which it had destroyed in Northern Europe a long time back. And cunning preachers of guilt as zionists are, they are finally going to destroy, with the collusion of jewish-paid infantry of proxy zionists and disoriented, disgruntled & disillusioned rightists.

Just how far in the East can the west expand, as if New Zealand's not far-enough east of the Iron wall?

A basic contradiction in terms, that is.

Jack
Thursday, April 17th, 2003, 01:26 PM
Ok. I'm not quite sure how to explain it, as I read it in an article which I've lost track of on the internet. Perhaps Moody could help - either way I've got to find a copy of Decline of the West. All I have right now is FP Yockey's Imperium.

Moody
Thursday, April 17th, 2003, 05:50 PM
The Spengler passage Sepp refers to is actually a footnote in the second volume of his Decline, where he talks of;

"The immeasurable difference between the Faustian and the Russian souls ..."

Note that for Spengler in this passage 'Faustian' is the same as 'Western';

"Western man looks up, the Russian looks horizontally into the broad plain".

By this account, the Western/Faustian soul is incompatible with that of the Russian. Spengler [writing around the time of WWI], takes this distinction between the two souls on various levels;

"The death-impulse, too, of the respective souls is distinguishable, in that for the West it is the passion of drive all-ways into infinite space, whereas for Russians it is an expressing and expanding of self, till 'it' in the man becomes identical with the boundless plain itself. It is thus that a Russian understands the words 'man' and 'brother'.
He sees even mankind as a plane ..."

Talking of the religiosity of both souls he says;

"Russian mysticism has nothing of that upstriving inwardness of Gothic, of Rembrandt, of Beethovan, which can swell up to a heaven-storming jubilation - its god is not the azure depth above.
Mystical Russian love is love of the plain, the love of brothers under equal pressure all along the earth, ever along and along; the love of the poor tortured beasts that wander on it, the love of plants - never of birds and clouds and stars ..."

Spengler makes an important distinction in the perception of Will;

"The Russian 'volya', our 'will', means principally non-compulsion, freedom not FOR something, but FROM something, and particularly freedom from compulsion to personal doing ..."

All quotes from The Decline of the West Volume 2, page 295, note 1 of the English translation.

Jack
Friday, April 18th, 2003, 09:56 AM
Thank you, Moody.

As I said, I'm going to try find a copy of Decline of the West, I only have Imperium, though I think that does a good job of covering the Western Culture its obvious to myself I need to learn more.

You say the Russian soul is incompatible with the Western soul, from what I've understood I agree with you. I think, somehow, that having the Russian soul as a base and the Western soul as a superstructure would or could work.

The Russian soul seems to me to be similar to pantheism - to become one with the earth. The Western soul, as I see it, is also related to pantheism, but rather the idea to conquer the earth and to rise above. Both infinite space but entirely different interpretations. Can these differences be resolved? And with the collapse of Mother Russia, is the Russian soul being melded with the Western will to power?

Rahul
Tuesday, May 6th, 2003, 02:37 PM
Didn't Oswald Spengler actually speak of civilisation as the consequence of the death of culture?

To what I have read, from Decline of the West, he makes a disinction between the two, distinct since civilisation is an inevitability which happens at the end of a culture, man which has exhausted itself (The culture man has exhausted himself by moving away from a living based on blood and soil to one which is based on the (modern)world-cities and their only dedication in the spirit of money), or by actualising its possibilities in full by moving into the world city. Thati s the woe.

The modern progress philistines are lifeless and meaningless because they derive the source of their existence's purity from their contempt for actual culture. The conclusion is the life which is not really worth the living, but this decline is inevitable brought about by the great power which money has become, and has destoyed the idealism of democracy and the fable of Marxism.

Here are the two interesting observations.

The world-cities are the symbols of this decay. There is thus no culture left in the world, moreso owing to globalisation.

Both are actually self-contained in that one sentence alone but we can make it clear like this.

1) World-cities are soul-less. That agrees with the Aryan idea of being through and through, that it is inherently un-Aryan. Scythian Vedic or Alani Nordic, both agree in the frank honesty of their historical facts. Its not a problem of the west, its the problem of Aryan culture's demise, to which there is actually hardly any regard in the minds and thoughts of men.

2) Money or greed is ruling supreme

Faustian, is instead the optical illusion which has afflicted the senses of the western man and has given him his reason and purity, which is supported by Kant with their aids of transcendentalism and Kant is treated with their respective critiques by WFN and Arthur Schoppenhauer.




Second Religiosness(Page 345)
Unique and self-contained is the Faustian materialism, in the narrower sense of the word. In it the technical outlook upon the world reached fulfillment. The whole world a dynamic system, exact, mathematically disposed, capable down to its first causes of being experimentally probed and numerically fixed so that man can dominate it--this is what distinguishes our particular "return to Nature" from all others. That "Knowledge is Virtue" Confucius also believed, and Buddha, and Socrates, but "Knowledge is Power" is a phrase that possess meaning only within the European-American Civilization. The Destiny element is mechanized as evolution, development, progress, and put into the centre of the system; the Will is an albumen-process;and all these doctrines of Monism, Darwinism, Positivism and what not are elevated into the fitness- moral which is the beacon of American businessmen, British politicians and German progress-Philistines alike--and turns out, in the last analysis, to be nothing but an intellectualist caricature of the old justification by faith.



And he also makes it amply clear that the upward scaling of the Faustian spirit is not going to be a phenomenon forever. By the very obvious historical precedents which imply this upward spirit, it can be deduced that it is limited, both in form as well as duration.

Civilisation, as I see what Spengler defines in it, is nihilist India after Buddhist Ashoka. Spengler doesn't treat the grand systems of Vedanta and Yoga any better either. He treats them justly and the way they ought to be seen as.

Now I want further criticism to what I have already written here.

Or my question is:

Can civilisation be seen as death of culture?

And can culture come back, as it is only for the good of the race and the world, Blutunderdboden?

So far, I see culture as Aryan and civilisation as un-Aryan, or simply not Aryan.

Oskorei
Sunday, September 18th, 2005, 08:36 AM
Oswald Spengler: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas

by Keith Stimely (about the author (http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v17/v17n2p-2_Stimely.html#pgfld=ks)) Oswald Spengler was born in Blankenburg (Harz) in central Germany in 1880, the eldest of four children, and the only boy. His mother's side of the family was quite artistically bent. His father, who had originally been a mining technician and came from a long line of mineworkers, was an official in the German postal bureaucracy, and he provided his family with a simple but comfortable middle class home.
The young Oswald never enjoyed the best of health, and suffered from migraine headaches that were to plague him all his life. He also had an anxiety complex, though he was not without grandiose thoughts -- which because of his frail constitution had to be acted out in daydreams only.
When he was ten the family moved to the university city of Halle. Here Spengler received a classical Gymnasium education, studying Greek, Latin, mathematics and natural sciences. Here too he developed his strong affinity for the arts -- especially poetry, drama, and music. He tried his hand at some youthful artistic creations of his own, a few of which have survived -- they are indicative of a tremendous enthusiasm but not much else. At this time also he came under the influence of Goethe and Nietzsche, two figures whose importance to Spengler the youth and the man cannot be overestimated.
After his father's death in 1901, Spengler at 21 entered the University of Munich. In accordance with German student-custom of the time, after a year he proceeded to other universities, first Berlin and then Halle. His main courses of study were in the classical cultures, mathematics, and the physical sciences. His university education was financed in large part by a legacy from a deceased aunt.
His doctoral dissertation at Halle was on Heraclitus, the "dark philosopher" of ancient Greece whose most memorable line was "War is the Father of all things." He failed to pass his first examination because of "insufficient references" -- a characteristic of all his later writings that some critics took a great delight in pointing out. However, he passed a second examination in 1904, and then set to writing the secondary dissertation necessary to qualify as a high school teacher. This became The Development of the Organ of Sight in the Higher Realms of the Animal Kingdom. It was approved, and Spengler received his teaching certificate.
His first post was at a school in Saarbrücken. Then he moved to Düsseldorf and, finally, Hamburg. He taught mathematics, physical sciences, history, and German literature, and by all accounts was a good and conscientious instructor. But his heart was not really in it, and when in 1911 the opportunity presented itself for him to "go his own way" (his mother had died and left him an inheritance that guaranteed him a measure of financial independence), he took it, and left the teaching profession for good.
Historical Explanation of Current Trends

He settled in Munich, there to live the life of an independent scholar/philosopher. He began the writing of a book of observations on contemporary politics whose idea had preoccupied him for some time. Originally to be titled Conservative and Liberal, it was planned as an exposition and explanation of the current trends in Europe -- an accelerating arms race, Entente "encirclement" of Germany, a succession of international crises, increasing polarity of the nations -- and where they were leading. However in late 1911 he was suddenly struck by the notion that the events of the day could only be interpreted in "global" and "total-cultural" terms. He saw Europe as marching off to suicide, a first step toward the final demise of European culture in the world and in history.
The Great War of 1914-1918 only confirmed in his mind the validity of a thesis already developed. His planned work kept increasing in scope far, far beyond the original bounds.
Spengler had tied up most of his money in foreign investments, but the war had largely invalidated them, and he was forced to live out the war years in conditions of genuine poverty. Nevertheless he kept at his work, often writing by candle-light, and in 1917 was ready to publish. He encountered great difficulty in finding a publisher, partly because of the nature of the work, partly because of the chaotic conditions prevailing at the time. However in the summer of 1918, coincident with the German collapse, finally appeared the first volume of The Decline of the West, subtitled Form and Actuality.
Publishing Success

To no little surprise on the part of both Spengler and his publisher, the book was an immediate and unprecedented success. It offered a rational explanation for the great European disaster, explaining it as part of an inevitable world-historic process. German readers especially took it to heart, but the work soon proved popular throughout Europe and was quickly translated into other languages. Nineteen-nineteen was "Spengler's year," and his name was on many tongues.
Professional historians, however, took great umbrage at this pretentious work by an amateur (Spengler was not a trained historian), and their criticisms -- particularly of numerous errors of fact and the unique and unapologetic "non-scientific" approach of the author -- filled many pages. It is easier now than it was then to dispose of this line of rejection-criticism. Anyway, with regard to the validity of his postulate of rapid Western decline, the contemporary Spenglerian need only say to these critics: Look about you. What do you see?
In 1922 Spengler issued a revised edition of the first volume containing minor corrections and revisions, and the year after saw the appearance of the second volume, subtitled Perspectives of World History. He thereafter remained satisfied with the work, and all his later writings and pronouncements are only enlargements upon the theme he laid out Decline.
A Direct Approach

The basic idea and essential components of The Decline of the West are not difficult to understand or delineate. (In fact, it is the work's very simplicity that was too much for his professional critics.) First, though, a proper understanding requires a recognition of Spengler's special approach to history. He himself called it the "physiogmatic" approach -- looking things directly in the face or heart, intuitively, rather than strictly scientifically. Too often the real meaning of things is obscured by a mask of scientific-mechanistic "facts." Hence the blindness of the professional "scientist-type" historians, who in a grand lack of imagination see only the visible.
Utilizing his physiogmatic approach, Spengler was confident of his ability to decipher the riddle of History -- even, as he states in Decline's very first sentence, to predetermine history.
The following are his basic postulates:
1. The "linear" view of history must be rejected, in favor of the cyclical. Heretofore history, especially Western history, had been viewed as a "linear" progression from lower to higher, like rungs on a ladder -- an unlimited evolution upward. Western history is thus viewed as developing progressively: Greek ' Roman ' Medieval ' Renaissance ' Modern, or, Ancient ' Medieval ' Modern. This concept, Spengler insisted, is only a product of Western man's ego -- as if everything in the past pointed to him, existed so that he might exist as a yet-more perfected form.
This "incredibly jejune and meaningless scheme" can at last be replaced by one now discernible from the vantage-point of years and a greater and more fundamental knowledge of the past: the notion of History as moving in definite, observable, and -- except in minor ways -- unrelated cycles.
'High Cultures'

2. The cyclical movements of history are not those of mere nations, states, races, or events, but of High Cultures. Recorded history gives us eight such "high cultures": the Indian, the Babylonian, the Egyptian, the Chinese, the Mexican (Mayan-Aztec), the Arabian (or "Magian"), the Classical (Greece and Rome), and the European-Western.
Each High Culture has as a distinguishing feature a "prime symbol." The Egyptian symbol, for example, was the "Way" or "Path," which can be seen in the ancient Egyptians' preoccupation -- in religion, art, and architecture (the pyramids) -- with the sequential passages of the soul. The prime symbol of the Classical culture was the "point-present" concern, that is, the fascination with the nearby, the small, the "space" of immediate and logical visibility: note here Euclidean geometry, the two-dimensional style of Classical painting and relief-sculpture (you will never see a vanishing point in the background, that is, where there is a background at all), and especially: the lack of facial expression of Grecian busts and statues, signifying nothing behind or beyond the outward.
The prime symbol of Western culture is the "Faustian Soul" (from the tale of Doctor Faustus), symbolizing the upward reaching for nothing less than the "Infinite." This is basically a tragic symbol, for it reaches for what even the reacher knows is unreachable. It is exemplified, for instance, by Gothic architecture (especially the interiors of Gothic cathedrals, with their vertical lines and seeming "ceilinglessness").
The "prime symbol" effects everything in the Culture, manifesting itself in art, science, technics and politics. Each Culture's symbol-soul expresses itself especially in its art, and each Culture has an art form that is most representative of its own symbol. In the Classical, they were sculpture and drama. In Western culture, after architecture in the Gothic era, the great representative form was music -- actually the pluperfect expression of the Faustian soul, transcending as it does the limits of sight for the "limitless" world of sound.
'Organic' Development

3. High Cultures are "living" things -- organic in nature -- and must pass through the stages of birth-development-fulfillment-decay-death. Hence a "morphology" of history. All previous cultures have passed through these distinct stages, and Western culture can be no exception. In fact, its present stage in the organic development-process can be pinpointed.
The high-water mark of a High Culture is its phase of fulfillment -- called the "culture" phase. The beginning of decline and decay in a Culture is the transition point between its "culture" phase and the "civilization" phase that inevitably follows.
The "civilization" phase witnesses drastic social upheavals, mass movements of peoples, continual wars and constant crises. All this takes place along with the growth of the great "megalopolis" -- huge urban and suburban centers that sap the surrounding countrysides of their vitality, intellect, strength, and soul. The inhabitants of these urban conglomerations -- now the bulk of the populace -- are a rootless, soulless, godless, and materialistic mass, who love nothing more than their panem et circenses. From these come the subhuman "fellaheen" -- fitting participants in the dying-out of a culture.
With the civilization phase comes the rule of Money and its twin tools, Democracy and the Press. Money rules over the chaos, and only Money profits by it. But the true bearers of the culture -- the men whose souls are still one with the culture-soul -- are disgusted and repelled by the Money-power and its fellaheen, and act to break it, as they are compelled to do so -- and as the mass culture-soul compels finally the end of the dictatorship of money. Thus the civilization phase concludes with the Age of Caesarism, in which great power come into the hands of great men, helped in this by the chaos of late Money-rule. The advent of the Caesars marks the return of Authority and Duty, of Honor and "Blood," and the end of democracy.
With this arrives the "imperialistic" stage of civilization, in which the Caesars with their bands of followers battle each other for control of the earth. The great masses are uncomprehending and uncaring; the megalopoli slowly depopulate, and the masses gradually "return to the land," to busy themselves there with the same soil-tasks as their ancestors centuries before. The turmoil of events goes on above their heads. Now, amidst all the chaos of the times, there comes a "second religiosity"; a longing return to the old symbols of the faith of the culture. Fortified thus, the masses in a kind of resigned contentment bury their souls and their efforts into the soil from which they and their culture sprang, and against this background the dying of the Culture and the civilization it created is played out.
Predictable Life Cycles

Every Culture's life-span can be seen to last about a thousand years: The Classical existed from 900 BC to 100 AD; the Arabian (Hebraic-semitic Christian-Islamic) from 100 BC to 900 AD; the Western from 1000 AD to 2000 AD. However, this span is the ideal, in the sense that a man's ideal life-span is 70 years, though he may never reach that age, or may live well beyond it. The death of a Culture may in fact be played out over hundreds of years, or it may occur instantaneously because of outer forces -- as in the sudden end of the Mexican Culture.
Also, though every culture has its unique Soul and is in essence a special and separate entity, the development of the life cycle is paralleled in all of them: For each phase of the cycle in a given Culture, and for all great events affecting its course, there is a counterpart in the history of every other culture. Thus, Napoleon, who ushered in the civilization phase of the Western, finds his counterpart in Alexander of Macedon, who did the same for the Classical. Hence the "contemporaneousness" of all high cultures.
In barest outline these are the essential components of Spengler's theory of historical Culture-cycles. In a few sentences it might be summed up:

Human history is the cyclical record of the rise and fall of unrelated High Cultures. These Cultures are in reality super life-forms, that is, they are organic in nature, and like all organisms must pass through the phases of birth-life-death. Though separate entities in themselves, all High Cultures experience parallel development, and events and phases in any one find their corresponding events and phases in the others. It is possible from the vantage point of the twentieth century to glean from the past the meaning of cyclic history, and thus to predict the decline and fall of the West.
Needless to say, such a theory -- though somewhat heralded in the work of Giambattista Vico and the 19th-century Russian Nikolai Danilevsky, as well as in Nietzsche -- was destined to shake the foundations of the intellectual and semi-intellectual world. It did so in short order, partly owing to its felicitous timing, and partly to the brilliance (though not unflawed) with which Spengler presented it.
Polemic Style

There are easier books to read than Decline -- there are also harder -- but a big reason for its unprecedented (for such a work) popular success was the same reason for its by-and-large dismissal by the learned critics: its style. Scorning the type of "learnedness" that demanded only cautionary and judicious statements -- every one backed by a footnote -- Spengler gave freewheeling vent to his opinions and judgments. Many passages are in the style of a polemic, from which no disagreement can be brooked.
To be sure, the two volumes of Decline, no matter the opinionated style and unconventional methodology, are essentially a comprehensive justification of the ideas presented, drawn from the histories of the different High Cultures. He used the comparative method which, of course, is appropriate if indeed all the phases of a High Culture are contemporaneous with those of any other. No one man could possibly have an equally comprehensive knowledge of all the Cultures surveyed, hence Spengler's treatment is uneven, and he spends relatively little time on the Mexican, Indian, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Chinese -- concentrating on the Arabian, Classical, and Western, especially these last two. The most valuable portion of the work, as even his critics acknowledge, is his comparative delineation of the parallel developments of the Classical and Western cultures.
Spengler's vast knowledge of the arts allowed him to place learned emphasis on their importance to the symbolism and inner meaning of a Culture, and the passages on art forms are generally regarded as being among the more thought-provoking. Also eyebrow-raising is a chapter (the very first, in fact, after the Introduction) on "The Meaning of Numbers," in which he asserted that even mathematics -- supposedly the one certain "universal" field of knowledge -- has a different meaning in different cultures: numbers are relative to the people who use them.
"Truth" is likewise relative, and Spengler conceded that what was true for him might not be true for another -- even another wholly of the same culture and era. Thus Spengler's greatest breakthrough may perhaps be his postulation of the non-universality of things, the "differentness" or distinctiveness of different people and cultures (despite their fated common end) -- an idea that is beginning to take hold in the modern West, which started this century supremely confident of the wisdom and possibility of making the world over in its image.
Age of Caesars

But is was his placing of the current West into his historical scheme that aroused the most interest and the most controversy. Spengler, as the title of his work suggests, saw the West as doomed to the same eventual extinction that all the other High Cultures had faced. The West, he said, was now in the middle of its "civilization" phase, which had begun, roughly, with Napoleon. The coming of the Caesars (of which Napoleon was only a foreshadowing) was perhaps only decades away. Yet Spengler did not counsel any kind of sighing resignation to fate, or blithe acceptance of coming defeat and death. In a later essay, Pessimism? (1922), he wrote that the men of the West must still be men, and do all they could to realize the immense possibilities still open to them. Above all, they must embrace the one absolute imperative: The destruction of Money and democracy, especially in the field of politics, that grand and all-encompassing field of endeavor.
'Prussian' Socialism

After the publication of the first volume of Decline, Spengler's thoughts turned increasingly to contemporary politics in Germany. After experiencing the Bavarian revolution and its short-lived Soviet republic, he wrote a slender volume titled Prussianism and Socialism. Its theme was that a tragic misunderstanding of the concepts was at work: Conservatives and socialists, instead of being at loggerheads, should united under the banner of a true socialism. This was not the Marxist-materialist abomination, he said, but essentially the same thing as Prussianism: a socialism of the German community, based on its unique work ethic, discipline, and organic rank instead of "money." This "Prussian" socialism he sharply contrasted both to the capitalistic ethic of England and the "socialism" of Marx (!), whose theories amounted to "capitalism for the proletariat."
In his corporate state proposals Spengler anticipated the Fascists, although he never was one, and his "socialism" was essentially that of the National Socialists (but without the folkish racialism). His early appraisal of a corporation for which the State would have directional control but not ownership of or direct responsibility for the various private segments of the economy sounded much like Werner Sombart's later favorable review of National Socialist economics in his A New Social Philosophy [Princeton Univ. Press, 1937; translation of Deutscher Sozialismus (1934)].
Prussianism and Socialism did not meet with a favorable reaction from the critics or the public -- eager though the public had been, at first, to learn his views. The book's message was considered to "visionary" and eccentric -- it cut across too many party lines. The years 1920-23 saw Spengler retreat into a preoccupation with the revision of the first volume of Decline, and the completion of the second. He did occasionally give lectures, and wrote some essays, only a few of which have survived.
Political Involvement

In 1924, following the social-economic upheaval of the terrible inflation, Spengler entered the political fray in an effort to bring Reichswehr general Hans von Seekt to power as the country's leader. But the effort came to naught. Spengler proved totally ineffective in practical politics. It was the old story of the would-be "philosopher-king," who was more philosopher than king (or king-maker).
After 1925, at the start of Weimar Germany's all-too-brief period of relative stability, Spengler devoted most of his time to his research and writing. He was particularly concerned that he had left an important gap in his great work -- that of the pre-history of man. In Decline he had written that prehistoric man was basically without a history, but he revised that opinion. His work on the subject was only fragmentary, but 30 years after his death a compilation was published under the title Early Period of World History.
His main task as he saw it, however, was a grand and all-encompassing work on his metaphysics -- of which Decline had only given hints. He never did finish this, though Fundamental Questions, in the main a collection of aphorisms on the subject, was published in 1965.
In 1931 he published Man and Technics, a book that reflected his fascination with the development and usage, past and future, of the technical. The development of advanced technology is unique to the West, and he predicted where it would lead. Man and Technics is a racialist book, though not in a narrow "Germanic" sense. Rather it warns the European or white races of the pressing danger from the outer Colored races. It predicts a time when the Colored peoples of the earth will use the very technology of the West to destroy the West.
Reservations About Hitler

There is much in Spengler's thinking that permits one to characterize him as a kind of "proto-Nazi": his call for a return to Authority, his hatred of "decadent" democracy, his exaltation of the spirit of "Prussianism," his idea of war as essential to life. However, he never joined the National Socialist party, despite the repeated entreaties of such NS luminaries as Gregor Strasser and Ernst Hanfstängl. He regarded the National Socialists as immature, fascinated with marching bands and patriotic slogans, playing with the bauble of power but not realizing the philosophical significance and new imperatives of the age. Of Hitler he supposed to have said that what Germany needed was a hero, not a heroic tenor. Still, he did vote for Hitler against Hindenburg in the 1932 election. He met Hitler in person only once, in July 1933, but Spengler came away unimpressed from their lengthy discussion.
His views about the National Socialists and the direction Germany should properly be taking surfaced in late 1933, in his book The Hour of Decision [translation of Die Jahre der Entscheidung]. He began it by stating that no one could have looked forward to the National Socialist revolution with greater longing than he. In the course of the work, though, he expressed (sometimes in veiled form) his reservations about the new regime. Germanophile though he certainly was, nevertheless he viewed the National Socialists as too narrowly German in character, and not sufficiently European.
Although he continued the racialist tone of Man and Technics, Spengler belittled what he regarded as the exclusiveness of the National Socialist concept of race. In the face of the outer danger, what should be emphasized is the unity of the various European races, not their fragmentation. Beyond a matter-of-fact recognition of the "colored peril" and the superiority of white civilization, Spengler repeated his own "non-materialist" concept of race (which he had already expressed in Decline): Certain men -- of whatever ancestry -- have "race" (a kind of will-to-power), and these are the makers of history.
Predicting a second world war, Spengler warned in Hour of Decision that the National Socialists were not sufficiently watchful of the powerful hostile forces outside the country that would mobilize to destroy them, and Germany. His most direct criticism was phrased in this way: "And the National Socialists believe that they can afford to ignore the world or oppose it, and build their castles-in-the-air without creating a possibly silent, but very palpable reaction from abroad." Finally, but after it had already achieved a wide circulation, the authorities prohibited the book's further distribution.
Oswald Spengler, shortly after predicting that in a decade there would no longer be a German Reich, died of a heart attack on May 8, 1936, in his Munich apartment. He went to his death convinced that he had been right, and that events were unfolding in fulfillment of what he had written in The Decline of the West. He was certain that he lived in the twilight period of his Culture -- which, despite his foreboding and gloomy pronouncements, he loved and cared for deeply to the very end.
Bibliography

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Hughes, H. Stuart. Oswald Spengler: A Critical Estimate. New York: Scribner's, 1952 [revised ed., 1962].
Oliver, Revilo P. "The Shadow of Empire: Francis Parker Yockey After Twenty Years," American Mercury (Houston), June 1966.
Spengler, Oswald. Aphorisms. Chicago: Gateway/ Henry Regnery, 1967.
Spengler, Oswald. The Decline of the West (Vol. 1, "Form and Actuality"; Vol. 2, "Perspectives of World History"). New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926 and 1928.
Spengler, Oswald. The Hour of Decision. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934.
Spengler, Oswald. Man and Technics. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1932.
Spengler, Oswald. Selected Essays. Chicago: Gateway/ Henry Regnery, 1967.
Yockey, Francis Parker. Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics. Noontide Press (http://www.noontidepress.com/), 1962.
About the author

Keith Stimely was born on April 9, 1957, in Connecticut, but grew up and was educated on the West coast. He studied at San Jose State University and the University of Oregon, from where he graduated in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in history. (This essay was written in December 1978 for a University of Oregon history class.) Stimely then joined the US Army, serving as a reserve officer. His interest in revisionist history began in high school, and in 1980 he spoke at the second IHR Conference (Pomona College). He joined this Journal's editorial staff in June 1982, and served as its chief editor from February 1983 until February 1985. He compiled the 1981 Revisionist Bibliography (no longer in print), and was a gifted artist and pianist. He died in Portland, Oregon, on December 19, 1992.


http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v17/v17n2p-2_Stimely.html

Spenglers ideas were later developed by Francis Parker Yockey. According to Yockey, the natural development of the Faustian High Culture was disturbed by the presence of the Jews, a remnant of the Magian High Culture with differing goals from the Faustians. The Third Reich was an attempt to bring in the Caesarian Era, but Magian influence ruined this, and the Faustian High Culture is now in the choice between premature death caused by Magians, or rebirth.

Yockeys ideas were quite important to the ONA and Black Order it seems, and played a part in their "Aeonic Magic".

Oskorei
Sunday, September 18th, 2005, 08:39 AM
Oswald Spengler: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas

by Keith Stimely (about the author (http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v17/v17n2p-2_Stimely.html#pgfld=ks)) Oswald Spengler was born in Blankenburg (Harz) in central Germany in 1880, the eldest of four children, and the only boy. His mother's side of the family was quite artistically bent. His father, who had originally been a mining technician and came from a long line of mineworkers, was an official in the German postal bureaucracy, and he provided his family with a simple but comfortable middle class home.
The young Oswald never enjoyed the best of health, and suffered from migraine headaches that were to plague him all his life. He also had an anxiety complex, though he was not without grandiose thoughts -- which because of his frail constitution had to be acted out in daydreams only.
When he was ten the family moved to the university city of Halle. Here Spengler received a classical Gymnasium education, studying Greek, Latin, mathematics and natural sciences. Here too he developed his strong affinity for the arts -- especially poetry, drama, and music. He tried his hand at some youthful artistic creations of his own, a few of which have survived -- they are indicative of a tremendous enthusiasm but not much else. At this time also he came under the influence of Goethe and Nietzsche, two figures whose importance to Spengler the youth and the man cannot be overestimated.
After his father's death in 1901, Spengler at 21 entered the University of Munich. In accordance with German student-custom of the time, after a year he proceeded to other universities, first Berlin and then Halle. His main courses of study were in the classical cultures, mathematics, and the physical sciences. His university education was financed in large part by a legacy from a deceased aunt.
His doctoral dissertation at Halle was on Heraclitus, the "dark philosopher" of ancient Greece whose most memorable line was "War is the Father of all things." He failed to pass his first examination because of "insufficient references" -- a characteristic of all his later writings that some critics took a great delight in pointing out. However, he passed a second examination in 1904, and then set to writing the secondary dissertation necessary to qualify as a high school teacher. This became The Development of the Organ of Sight in the Higher Realms of the Animal Kingdom. It was approved, and Spengler received his teaching certificate.
His first post was at a school in Saarbrücken. Then he moved to Düsseldorf and, finally, Hamburg. He taught mathematics, physical sciences, history, and German literature, and by all accounts was a good and conscientious instructor. But his heart was not really in it, and when in 1911 the opportunity presented itself for him to "go his own way" (his mother had died and left him an inheritance that guaranteed him a measure of financial independence), he took it, and left the teaching profession for good.
Historical Explanation of Current Trends

He settled in Munich, there to live the life of an independent scholar/philosopher. He began the writing of a book of observations on contemporary politics whose idea had preoccupied him for some time. Originally to be titled Conservative and Liberal, it was planned as an exposition and explanation of the current trends in Europe -- an accelerating arms race, Entente "encirclement" of Germany, a succession of international crises, increasing polarity of the nations -- and where they were leading. However in late 1911 he was suddenly struck by the notion that the events of the day could only be interpreted in "global" and "total-cultural" terms. He saw Europe as marching off to suicide, a first step toward the final demise of European culture in the world and in history.
The Great War of 1914-1918 only confirmed in his mind the validity of a thesis already developed. His planned work kept increasing in scope far, far beyond the original bounds.
Spengler had tied up most of his money in foreign investments, but the war had largely invalidated them, and he was forced to live out the war years in conditions of genuine poverty. Nevertheless he kept at his work, often writing by candle-light, and in 1917 was ready to publish. He encountered great difficulty in finding a publisher, partly because of the nature of the work, partly because of the chaotic conditions prevailing at the time. However in the summer of 1918, coincident with the German collapse, finally appeared the first volume of The Decline of the West, subtitled Form and Actuality.
Publishing Success

To no little surprise on the part of both Spengler and his publisher, the book was an immediate and unprecedented success. It offered a rational explanation for the great European disaster, explaining it as part of an inevitable world-historic process. German readers especially took it to heart, but the work soon proved popular throughout Europe and was quickly translated into other languages. Nineteen-nineteen was "Spengler's year," and his name was on many tongues.
Professional historians, however, took great umbrage at this pretentious work by an amateur (Spengler was not a trained historian), and their criticisms -- particularly of numerous errors of fact and the unique and unapologetic "non-scientific" approach of the author -- filled many pages. It is easier now than it was then to dispose of this line of rejection-criticism. Anyway, with regard to the validity of his postulate of rapid Western decline, the contemporary Spenglerian need only say to these critics: Look about you. What do you see?
In 1922 Spengler issued a revised edition of the first volume containing minor corrections and revisions, and the year after saw the appearance of the second volume, subtitled Perspectives of World History. He thereafter remained satisfied with the work, and all his later writings and pronouncements are only enlargements upon the theme he laid out Decline.
A Direct Approach

The basic idea and essential components of The Decline of the West are not difficult to understand or delineate. (In fact, it is the work's very simplicity that was too much for his professional critics.) First, though, a proper understanding requires a recognition of Spengler's special approach to history. He himself called it the "physiogmatic" approach -- looking things directly in the face or heart, intuitively, rather than strictly scientifically. Too often the real meaning of things is obscured by a mask of scientific-mechanistic "facts." Hence the blindness of the professional "scientist-type" historians, who in a grand lack of imagination see only the visible.
Utilizing his physiogmatic approach, Spengler was confident of his ability to decipher the riddle of History -- even, as he states in Decline's very first sentence, to predetermine history.
The following are his basic postulates:
1. The "linear" view of history must be rejected, in favor of the cyclical. Heretofore history, especially Western history, had been viewed as a "linear" progression from lower to higher, like rungs on a ladder -- an unlimited evolution upward. Western history is thus viewed as developing progressively: Greek ' Roman ' Medieval ' Renaissance ' Modern, or, Ancient ' Medieval ' Modern. This concept, Spengler insisted, is only a product of Western man's ego -- as if everything in the past pointed to him, existed so that he might exist as a yet-more perfected form.
This "incredibly jejune and meaningless scheme" can at last be replaced by one now discernible from the vantage-point of years and a greater and more fundamental knowledge of the past: the notion of History as moving in definite, observable, and -- except in minor ways -- unrelated cycles.
'High Cultures'

2. The cyclical movements of history are not those of mere nations, states, races, or events, but of High Cultures. Recorded history gives us eight such "high cultures": the Indian, the Babylonian, the Egyptian, the Chinese, the Mexican (Mayan-Aztec), the Arabian (or "Magian"), the Classical (Greece and Rome), and the European-Western.
Each High Culture has as a distinguishing feature a "prime symbol." The Egyptian symbol, for example, was the "Way" or "Path," which can be seen in the ancient Egyptians' preoccupation -- in religion, art, and architecture (the pyramids) -- with the sequential passages of the soul. The prime symbol of the Classical culture was the "point-present" concern, that is, the fascination with the nearby, the small, the "space" of immediate and logical visibility: note here Euclidean geometry, the two-dimensional style of Classical painting and relief-sculpture (you will never see a vanishing point in the background, that is, where there is a background at all), and especially: the lack of facial expression of Grecian busts and statues, signifying nothing behind or beyond the outward.
The prime symbol of Western culture is the "Faustian Soul" (from the tale of Doctor Faustus), symbolizing the upward reaching for nothing less than the "Infinite." This is basically a tragic symbol, for it reaches for what even the reacher knows is unreachable. It is exemplified, for instance, by Gothic architecture (especially the interiors of Gothic cathedrals, with their vertical lines and seeming "ceilinglessness").
The "prime symbol" effects everything in the Culture, manifesting itself in art, science, technics and politics. Each Culture's symbol-soul expresses itself especially in its art, and each Culture has an art form that is most representative of its own symbol. In the Classical, they were sculpture and drama. In Western culture, after architecture in the Gothic era, the great representative form was music -- actually the pluperfect expression of the Faustian soul, transcending as it does the limits of sight for the "limitless" world of sound.
'Organic' Development

3. High Cultures are "living" things -- organic in nature -- and must pass through the stages of birth-development-fulfillment-decay-death. Hence a "morphology" of history. All previous cultures have passed through these distinct stages, and Western culture can be no exception. In fact, its present stage in the organic development-process can be pinpointed.
The high-water mark of a High Culture is its phase of fulfillment -- called the "culture" phase. The beginning of decline and decay in a Culture is the transition point between its "culture" phase and the "civilization" phase that inevitably follows.
The "civilization" phase witnesses drastic social upheavals, mass movements of peoples, continual wars and constant crises. All this takes place along with the growth of the great "megalopolis" -- huge urban and suburban centers that sap the surrounding countrysides of their vitality, intellect, strength, and soul. The inhabitants of these urban conglomerations -- now the bulk of the populace -- are a rootless, soulless, godless, and materialistic mass, who love nothing more than their panem et circenses. From these come the subhuman "fellaheen" -- fitting participants in the dying-out of a culture.
With the civilization phase comes the rule of Money and its twin tools, Democracy and the Press. Money rules over the chaos, and only Money profits by it. But the true bearers of the culture -- the men whose souls are still one with the culture-soul -- are disgusted and repelled by the Money-power and its fellaheen, and act to break it, as they are compelled to do so -- and as the mass culture-soul compels finally the end of the dictatorship of money. Thus the civilization phase concludes with the Age of Caesarism, in which great power come into the hands of great men, helped in this by the chaos of late Money-rule. The advent of the Caesars marks the return of Authority and Duty, of Honor and "Blood," and the end of democracy.
With this arrives the "imperialistic" stage of civilization, in which the Caesars with their bands of followers battle each other for control of the earth. The great masses are uncomprehending and uncaring; the megalopoli slowly depopulate, and the masses gradually "return to the land," to busy themselves there with the same soil-tasks as their ancestors centuries before. The turmoil of events goes on above their heads. Now, amidst all the chaos of the times, there comes a "second religiosity"; a longing return to the old symbols of the faith of the culture. Fortified thus, the masses in a kind of resigned contentment bury their souls and their efforts into the soil from which they and their culture sprang, and against this background the dying of the Culture and the civilization it created is played out.
Predictable Life Cycles

Every Culture's life-span can be seen to last about a thousand years: The Classical existed from 900 BC to 100 AD; the Arabian (Hebraic-semitic Christian-Islamic) from 100 BC to 900 AD; the Western from 1000 AD to 2000 AD. However, this span is the ideal, in the sense that a man's ideal life-span is 70 years, though he may never reach that age, or may live well beyond it. The death of a Culture may in fact be played out over hundreds of years, or it may occur instantaneously because of outer forces -- as in the sudden end of the Mexican Culture.
Also, though every culture has its unique Soul and is in essence a special and separate entity, the development of the life cycle is paralleled in all of them: For each phase of the cycle in a given Culture, and for all great events affecting its course, there is a counterpart in the history of every other culture. Thus, Napoleon, who ushered in the civilization phase of the Western, finds his counterpart in Alexander of Macedon, who did the same for the Classical. Hence the "contemporaneousness" of all high cultures.
In barest outline these are the essential components of Spengler's theory of historical Culture-cycles. In a few sentences it might be summed up:

Human history is the cyclical record of the rise and fall of unrelated High Cultures. These Cultures are in reality super life-forms, that is, they are organic in nature, and like all organisms must pass through the phases of birth-life-death. Though separate entities in themselves, all High Cultures experience parallel development, and events and phases in any one find their corresponding events and phases in the others. It is possible from the vantage point of the twentieth century to glean from the past the meaning of cyclic history, and thus to predict the decline and fall of the West.
Needless to say, such a theory -- though somewhat heralded in the work of Giambattista Vico and the 19th-century Russian Nikolai Danilevsky, as well as in Nietzsche -- was destined to shake the foundations of the intellectual and semi-intellectual world. It did so in short order, partly owing to its felicitous timing, and partly to the brilliance (though not unflawed) with which Spengler presented it.
Polemic Style

There are easier books to read than Decline -- there are also harder -- but a big reason for its unprecedented (for such a work) popular success was the same reason for its by-and-large dismissal by the learned critics: its style. Scorning the type of "learnedness" that demanded only cautionary and judicious statements -- every one backed by a footnote -- Spengler gave freewheeling vent to his opinions and judgments. Many passages are in the style of a polemic, from which no disagreement can be brooked.
To be sure, the two volumes of Decline, no matter the opinionated style and unconventional methodology, are essentially a comprehensive justification of the ideas presented, drawn from the histories of the different High Cultures. He used the comparative method which, of course, is appropriate if indeed all the phases of a High Culture are contemporaneous with those of any other. No one man could possibly have an equally comprehensive knowledge of all the Cultures surveyed, hence Spengler's treatment is uneven, and he spends relatively little time on the Mexican, Indian, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Chinese -- concentrating on the Arabian, Classical, and Western, especially these last two. The most valuable portion of the work, as even his critics acknowledge, is his comparative delineation of the parallel developments of the Classical and Western cultures.
Spengler's vast knowledge of the arts allowed him to place learned emphasis on their importance to the symbolism and inner meaning of a Culture, and the passages on art forms are generally regarded as being among the more thought-provoking. Also eyebrow-raising is a chapter (the very first, in fact, after the Introduction) on "The Meaning of Numbers," in which he asserted that even mathematics -- supposedly the one certain "universal" field of knowledge -- has a different meaning in different cultures: numbers are relative to the people who use them.
"Truth" is likewise relative, and Spengler conceded that what was true for him might not be true for another -- even another wholly of the same culture and era. Thus Spengler's greatest breakthrough may perhaps be his postulation of the non-universality of things, the "differentness" or distinctiveness of different people and cultures (despite their fated common end) -- an idea that is beginning to take hold in the modern West, which started this century supremely confident of the wisdom and possibility of making the world over in its image.
Age of Caesars

But is was his placing of the current West into his historical scheme that aroused the most interest and the most controversy. Spengler, as the title of his work suggests, saw the West as doomed to the same eventual extinction that all the other High Cultures had faced. The West, he said, was now in the middle of its "civilization" phase, which had begun, roughly, with Napoleon. The coming of the Caesars (of which Napoleon was only a foreshadowing) was perhaps only decades away. Yet Spengler did not counsel any kind of sighing resignation to fate, or blithe acceptance of coming defeat and death. In a later essay, Pessimism? (1922), he wrote that the men of the West must still be men, and do all they could to realize the immense possibilities still open to them. Above all, they must embrace the one absolute imperative: The destruction of Money and democracy, especially in the field of politics, that grand and all-encompassing field of endeavor.
'Prussian' Socialism

After the publication of the first volume of Decline, Spengler's thoughts turned increasingly to contemporary politics in Germany. After experiencing the Bavarian revolution and its short-lived Soviet republic, he wrote a slender volume titled Prussianism and Socialism. Its theme was that a tragic misunderstanding of the concepts was at work: Conservatives and socialists, instead of being at loggerheads, should united under the banner of a true socialism. This was not the Marxist-materialist abomination, he said, but essentially the same thing as Prussianism: a socialism of the German community, based on its unique work ethic, discipline, and organic rank instead of "money." This "Prussian" socialism he sharply contrasted both to the capitalistic ethic of England and the "socialism" of Marx (!), whose theories amounted to "capitalism for the proletariat."
In his corporate state proposals Spengler anticipated the Fascists, although he never was one, and his "socialism" was essentially that of the National Socialists (but without the folkish racialism). His early appraisal of a corporation for which the State would have directional control but not ownership of or direct responsibility for the various private segments of the economy sounded much like Werner Sombart's later favorable review of National Socialist economics in his A New Social Philosophy [Princeton Univ. Press, 1937; translation of Deutscher Sozialismus (1934)].
Prussianism and Socialism did not meet with a favorable reaction from the critics or the public -- eager though the public had been, at first, to learn his views. The book's message was considered to "visionary" and eccentric -- it cut across too many party lines. The years 1920-23 saw Spengler retreat into a preoccupation with the revision of the first volume of Decline, and the completion of the second. He did occasionally give lectures, and wrote some essays, only a few of which have survived.
Political Involvement

In 1924, following the social-economic upheaval of the terrible inflation, Spengler entered the political fray in an effort to bring Reichswehr general Hans von Seekt to power as the country's leader. But the effort came to naught. Spengler proved totally ineffective in practical politics. It was the old story of the would-be "philosopher-king," who was more philosopher than king (or king-maker).
After 1925, at the start of Weimar Germany's all-too-brief period of relative stability, Spengler devoted most of his time to his research and writing. He was particularly concerned that he had left an important gap in his great work -- that of the pre-history of man. In Decline he had written that prehistoric man was basically without a history, but he revised that opinion. His work on the subject was only fragmentary, but 30 years after his death a compilation was published under the title Early Period of World History.
His main task as he saw it, however, was a grand and all-encompassing work on his metaphysics -- of which Decline had only given hints. He never did finish this, though Fundamental Questions, in the main a collection of aphorisms on the subject, was published in 1965.
In 1931 he published Man and Technics, a book that reflected his fascination with the development and usage, past and future, of the technical. The development of advanced technology is unique to the West, and he predicted where it would lead. Man and Technics is a racialist book, though not in a narrow "Germanic" sense. Rather it warns the European or white races of the pressing danger from the outer Colored races. It predicts a time when the Colored peoples of the earth will use the very technology of the West to destroy the West.
Reservations About Hitler

There is much in Spengler's thinking that permits one to characterize him as a kind of "proto-Nazi": his call for a return to Authority, his hatred of "decadent" democracy, his exaltation of the spirit of "Prussianism," his idea of war as essential to life. However, he never joined the National Socialist party, despite the repeated entreaties of such NS luminaries as Gregor Strasser and Ernst Hanfstängl. He regarded the National Socialists as immature, fascinated with marching bands and patriotic slogans, playing with the bauble of power but not realizing the philosophical significance and new imperatives of the age. Of Hitler he supposed to have said that what Germany needed was a hero, not a heroic tenor. Still, he did vote for Hitler against Hindenburg in the 1932 election. He met Hitler in person only once, in July 1933, but Spengler came away unimpressed from their lengthy discussion.
His views about the National Socialists and the direction Germany should properly be taking surfaced in late 1933, in his book The Hour of Decision [translation of Die Jahre der Entscheidung]. He began it by stating that no one could have looked forward to the National Socialist revolution with greater longing than he. In the course of the work, though, he expressed (sometimes in veiled form) his reservations about the new regime. Germanophile though he certainly was, nevertheless he viewed the National Socialists as too narrowly German in character, and not sufficiently European.
Although he continued the racialist tone of Man and Technics, Spengler belittled what he regarded as the exclusiveness of the National Socialist concept of race. In the face of the outer danger, what should be emphasized is the unity of the various European races, not their fragmentation. Beyond a matter-of-fact recognition of the "colored peril" and the superiority of white civilization, Spengler repeated his own "non-materialist" concept of race (which he had already expressed in Decline): Certain men -- of whatever ancestry -- have "race" (a kind of will-to-power), and these are the makers of history.
Predicting a second world war, Spengler warned in Hour of Decision that the National Socialists were not sufficiently watchful of the powerful hostile forces outside the country that would mobilize to destroy them, and Germany. His most direct criticism was phrased in this way: "And the National Socialists believe that they can afford to ignore the world or oppose it, and build their castles-in-the-air without creating a possibly silent, but very palpable reaction from abroad." Finally, but after it had already achieved a wide circulation, the authorities prohibited the book's further distribution.
Oswald Spengler, shortly after predicting that in a decade there would no longer be a German Reich, died of a heart attack on May 8, 1936, in his Munich apartment. He went to his death convinced that he had been right, and that events were unfolding in fulfillment of what he had written in The Decline of the West. He was certain that he lived in the twilight period of his Culture -- which, despite his foreboding and gloomy pronouncements, he loved and cared for deeply to the very end.
Bibliography

Dakin, Edwin F. Today and Destiny: Vital Excepts from the Decline of the West of Oswald Spengler. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962
Fennelly, John F. Twilight of the Evening Lands: Oswald Spengler a Half Century Later. New York: Brookdale Press, 1972.
Fischer, Klaus P. History and Prophecy: Oswald Spengler and the Decline of the West. Durham: Moore, 1977 [New York: P. Lang, 1989]
Hughes, H. Stuart. Oswald Spengler: A Critical Estimate. New York: Scribner's, 1952 [revised ed., 1962].
Oliver, Revilo P. "The Shadow of Empire: Francis Parker Yockey After Twenty Years," American Mercury (Houston), June 1966.
Spengler, Oswald. Aphorisms. Chicago: Gateway/ Henry Regnery, 1967.
Spengler, Oswald. The Decline of the West (Vol. 1, "Form and Actuality"; Vol. 2, "Perspectives of World History"). New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926 and 1928.
Spengler, Oswald. The Hour of Decision. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934.
Spengler, Oswald. Man and Technics. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1932.
Spengler, Oswald. Selected Essays. Chicago: Gateway/ Henry Regnery, 1967.
Yockey, Francis Parker. Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics. Noontide Press (http://www.noontidepress.com/), 1962.
About the author

Keith Stimely was born on April 9, 1957, in Connecticut, but grew up and was educated on the West coast. He studied at San Jose State University and the University of Oregon, from where he graduated in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in history. (This essay was written in December 1978 for a University of Oregon history class.) Stimely then joined the US Army, serving as a reserve officer. His interest in revisionist history began in high school, and in 1980 he spoke at the second IHR Conference (Pomona College). He joined this Journal's editorial staff in June 1982, and served as its chief editor from February 1983 until February 1985. He compiled the 1981 Revisionist Bibliography (no longer in print), and was a gifted artist and pianist. He died in Portland, Oregon, on December 19, 1992.


http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v17/v17n2p-2_Stimely.html

Spenglers ideas were later developed by Francis Parker Yockey. According to Yockey, the natural development of the Faustian High Culture was disturbed by the presence of the Jews, a remnant of the Magian High Culture with differing goals from the Faustians. The Third Reich was an attempt to bring in the Caesarian Era, but Magian influence ruined this, and the Faustian High Culture is now in the choice between premature death caused by Magians (with race-mixing as an important part of killing the very biological basis of the Faustian Culture), or rebirth.

Yockeys ideas were quite important to the ONA and Black Order it seems, and played a part in their "Aeonic Magic".

Death and the Sun
Sunday, September 18th, 2005, 08:40 AM
Funnily enough that book is on my bedside table right now, I'm going to get started on it this afternoon.

lei.talk
Sunday, September 18th, 2005, 08:49 AM
Francis Parker Yockey's ideas were quite important
to the ONA and Black Order it seems,
and played a part in their "Aeonic Magic".i did not know
his ideas had a life
after his death.

where can i find them?

Istaevones
Sunday, September 18th, 2005, 08:59 AM
the thing that bothers me most about Spengler and, by extension, Evola and Yockey is that they're anti-Hegelians, essentially making them Hegelians by virtue of their assumptions concerning history. These 'pessimists' envision themselves as prophets but it's not about whether history is linear vs. cyclic. Yes, we can learn from the past but ultimately our destiny is hidden from us. As it should be, because knowing the future would destroy us. The past and present alike are a giant question mark, well, at least their meanings are.

Agrippa
Sunday, September 18th, 2005, 04:23 PM
Oswald Spengler was a prime example of an highly intelligent and idealistic Schizothyme (yes I must mention it again :D ) , rather of the aesthetic than energetic kind, and that was probably related to certain weaknesses he had. But as Kretschmer said, and he is right about that, sometimes such outsiders if they get the right informations and time to process it they have great and at least basically correct ideas, their main problem is they are themselves not able to fulfil the destiny. They are simply to neurotic and aesthetic, aloof from the common people and lack the social intelligence and abilities in communication someone would need to really influence the people directly.

But he was right, very right, he was ahead of his times and even more so of ours. I essentially share his ideals, most of his conclusions. A great man he was, Europe should have heard him and his judgement is now closer to the truth than ever.
I say myself cyclical developments and periods come, yes, but the decline is not inevitable, it just needs great people which are ready to sacrifice themselves to change the course and to correct the failures of their own culture and political system. But as we need such men, we need the people who want to hear them, and people which are full, satisfied in their small world, living everything which is near to idealism and group orientation by using surrogates which distract them dont want to hear. And if "the games" end, they often tend to overreact or getting irrational, for example by looking for religious or pseudoreligious "help".
http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=39634
As he said, panem et circenses to the end. And thats the only reason why those who govern with money, the plutocrats, dont want to see the majority hungry or unengaged.
Panem et circenses to the end...at least for the majority, because they have to keep satisfied and distracted, even if their group is dying in a decadent culture and downgraded system.

jcs
Sunday, September 18th, 2005, 04:51 PM
Funnily enough that book is on my bedside table right now, I'm going to get started on it this afternoon.
A very nice unabridged two-volume copy I ordered a week ago just arrived today. Strange coincidence.


the thing that bothers me most about Spengler and, by extension, Evola and Yockey is that they're anti-Hegelians, essentially making them Hegelians by virtue of their assumptions concerning history. These 'pessimists' envision themselves as prophets but it's not about whether history is linear vs. cyclic. Yes, we can learn from the past but ultimately our destiny is hidden from us. As it should be, because knowing the future would destroy us. The past and present alike are a giant question mark, well, at least their meanings are.
Our past shapes our future, and our past is not a question mark; the past has past, it is set in stone and is itself not something of uncertainty. Only our knowledge thereof is uncertain, and only because of our ignorance of the past is our future unknown.
Destiny is hidden only by our refusal to acknowledge and embrace it.

Siegmund
Sunday, September 18th, 2005, 05:53 PM
Another good review of Spengler's opus, worth the read:


Oswald Spengler's Uneven Legacy
by Donald L. Stockton

SHORTLY BEFORE the end of the First World War, in the summer of 1918, a sizable volume appeared in bookstores throughout Germany. Bearing the title Der Untergang des Abendlandes (The Decline of the West), and written by an unknown former schoolmaster, the work in a short period of time found a wide audience. The initial printing was completely sold out in a period of six months, and a second and third printing followed. Though primarily read in the nation of Germany, the ominous title and original scholarship that the book presented caused it to spread gradually throughout the Western world. Within the course of two years, the name of Oswald Spengler was on the lips of many, both intellectual and unlearned.

Although both the Decline and its author are little-known today, for nearly two decades after its publishing the historical thought contained within the pages of Spengler's first work was included in most discussions of historical thinking, as well as discussions of possible future events. What, then, was the unique nature of The Decline of the West, and why has interest in the work so faded in the intervening time? Further, who was this unknown Oswald Spengler, and how did he originate the highly inventive ideas that made this work so greatly debated? These are the questions that I will attempt to illumine in this essay, in conjunction with some brief discussions of Spengler's more minor works. I will also attempt to define Spengler's influence on later historical thinkers, something I think is important for a true understanding of the author's legacy.

Biographical Sketch of Spengler's Early Life

ITHINK IT NECESSARY to inform the reader that it is a difficult if not hopeless task to uncover much information about Oswald Spengler's personal life. In searching a library of almost six million items, as well as various other resources, I was only able to find one book in English with any significant biographical information on Spengler -- Oswald Spengler: A Critical Estimate by H. Stuart Hughes. Even that one book was very limited in its information, and yet it was that same work that served as reference not only for the Encyclopedia Britannica, but also for other references that included discussions of Spengler. These facts serve to prompt again the question asked earlier: Why has knowledge of Spengler faded so far from contemporary thinking? I will address that question later in this paper.

Born in the summer of 1880 in the small town of Blankenburg, Germany, Spengler was raised by parents of reasonable means. His father was a former mining technician who had become a postal worker, and from him the author of the Decline seems to have received the scientific and mathematical gifts he would later develop. After graduating from a classical high school in Halle, Germany, he followed the typical German practice of attending several universities in turn -- Munich, Berlin, and finally Halle. He returned to Halle in 1901 to complete his doctoral degree. He studied in mathematics and natural sciences, and chose as his thesis topic the fragments of Heraclitus, a somewhat obscure pre-Socratic philosopher, and completed the degree in 1904.

Spengler was interested in education, and passed the state teaching examination shortly after completing his doctoral degree. He initially took a position at Saarbrücken, and he taught subsequently in Düsseldorf and Hamburg. After moving up to the Hamburg Realgymnasium (practical high school), Spengler was asked to teach a variety of subjects, from German to history and geography. He was remembered as a fine instructor, with a insightful teaching style, and was well-liked by his students as well as his fellow professors. This was to be his last teaching position, however, as the climate of Hamburg aggravated the severe headaches that he often suffered from.

At this point Spengler moved to Munich and there took up residence as a private scholar, living austerely on a small income that he received from inheritance. His financial condition degenerated even further before the outbreak of World War I, as most of the funds in his inheritance were in foreign bonds, and these no longer brought in any interest. He was not called for military service, due to his headaches and an inner-ear ailment, and spent most of the war years living in a dingy slum apartment, eating poorly, and writing down by candlelight many of the concepts that would later appear in the Decline. Spengler was sustained during this time by the conviction that within him the seed of a powerful idea was developing, and that it was only a matter of time before that idea would come to his fruition.

The Genesis of The Decline of the West

IT WAS DURING THIS TIME in Munich, where Spengler seemed to have reached such a desperate point in his own life's history, that he abruptly formed a new and striking vision of the world's history.

At that time the World-War appeared to me both as imminent and also as the inevitable outward manifestation of the historical crisis, and my endeavor was to comprehend it from an examination of the spirit of the preceding centuries -- not years... Thereafter I saw the present -- the approaching World-War -- in a quite other light... I [saw] world-history as a picture of endless formations and transformations, of the marvelous waxing and waning of organic forms.

Spengler's natural affinity for science and the natural world led him to form a highly original philosophy of history -- namely, that the existence of a culture mirrors that of a biological organism. Birth, growth, apogee, decay, and death were features that were present in both phenomena, and the rhythms of nature could be found as the underpinnings in the development of individual human cultures. Spengler called this concept "the cyclical morphology of culture" and presented the metaphysical grounds for such a theory in the preface to his Decline of the West, which I will discuss later.

Spengler initially wrote what would become the first volume of the Decline in the form of long aphorisms that were essentially detailed reflections on one central concept. He felt that this rather unsystematic way of approaching the investigation would lead to more intuitive and vital understanding. As Spengler wrote in the introduction to the Decline,

[My writing] is intuitive and depictive through and through, written in a language which seeks to present objects and relations illustratively instead of offering an army of ranked concepts."

Although critics maintain that this technique makes the work fragmentary and uneven in nature, Spengler felt the aphoristic style, which he had adopted from the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, was the most powerful way to reach organic ideas that could not be systematically analyzed. Nietzsche was not the only thinker who had affected Spengler's manner of interpretation, as I will show in the following section.

Spengler's Influences

BEFORE LAUNCHING INTO A DISCUSSION (or a reading) of the Decline, it is beneficial to have a general frame of the author's major sources for inspiration and insight. Although Spengler is an extremely intuitive historian, often leaving the reader somewhat baffled by broad jumps in thought that he makes in the Decline, he is not without method or precedent. His work is, in some ways, a manifestation of certain intellectual trends that had been present (primarily in German philosophy) for some time. G.W.F. Hegel, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Friedrich Nietzsche are often mentioned specifically by Spengler throughout his works as predecessors in thought, and there are a great number of others that are alluded to. Furthermore, there are a number of historical scholars that preceded Spengler in certain ways but were unknown to him. I will only be presenting the former here, as the latter can only be helpful in a critical estimation of Spengler in an overall historical context, not in understanding his individual works.

Spengler counted among his forerunners three of the most creative minds that Germany has ever produced. What is the content of their work, and how does it relate to Spengler's efforts in the Decline? Obviously, a full treatment of such a question is not possible or desired here, but I will attempt to lay down some general principles each originated which informed the author's work. It is important to see what Spengler derived from these men, for as he notes in his explanatory essay of 1921 "Pessimism?",

...Goethe's observations on nature, and Hegel's lectures on world history were all written in clear view of factual reality -- something that cannot be said [of systematic philosophers].... I construe the relationships between reality and speculative thought in a manner wholly different from the systematic philosophers. For them reality is lifeless matter from which laws can be derived. For me, reality presents examples that illuminate an experienced thought...

Spengler in many ways opposes the trend in the thought of his time (and of ours) to offer up as valid only thought that can be proved through the rigors of logic and reason. He justifies this strong anti-rationalist tendency in his thinking by referring primarily to these three great German philosophers. They too, in Spengler's mind, held great reverence for fact over idea, a principle that Spengler brings to the fore in The Decline of the West. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a 19th-century German philosopher who held professorships at a number of German universities, most notably Heidelberg, Berlin, and Jena. Although he wrote on a host of philosophical topics, it is Hegel's Philosophy of History that surely had the most powerful effect on Spengler, as in it Hegel makes a forcible attempt to unify seemingly disparate cultural and historical phenomena into a single process. Although Hegel's central thesis is radically different than Spengler's -- namely, that world history is a rational, gradual unfolding of the spirit of freedom within the minds and hearts of men over time -- Hegel attempts in a way not dissimilar to Spengler's to analogize stages in the development of each culture. Hegel presents concrete examples that he believes illustrate deep relationships between the political manifestation of each people and their understanding of what it means to be a human being. Spengler owes a debt to Hegel, since "Hegel was the last great thinker to take political realities as his point of departure without letting his thought be entirely smothered with abstractions." Hegel did not theorize without continual reference to concrete examples, and Spengler claims to have made the same attempt in The Decline of the West.

While there are occasional references to Hegel in Spengler's writings, it is an unlikely pair of thinkers, Johann von Goethe and Friedrich Nietzsche, that Spengler holds before him in his chief work. Spengler makes in plain from the outset of The Decline of the West that he intends to write with certain principles learned from these two philosophers constantly in mind. This pair is particularly unusual to be discussed in unison, as their world-views are strikingly different, but Spengler merges the elements that he considers most central to his endeavor into an unusual fusion. In the "Introduction" to the Decline, there is a crucial footnote in which is contained the following statement by Goethe:

The Godhead is effective in the living and not in the dead, in the becoming and the changing, not in the become and the set-fast; and therefore, the reason is concerned only to strive towards the divine through the becoming and the living, and the understanding only to make use of the become and the set-fast.

This rather unique and difficult quote summarizes, in Spengler's words, "my entire philosophy." Basically, Spengler seems to maintain that it is only while beings are changing and evolving toward something that they are truly alive and vital. One author notes, "...everything transitory is only a metaphor", the final chorus of Goethe's Faust rang out again and again in the Decline. "All things human ... were only passing reflections of great hidden truths." This position holds the germ of Spengler's "morphology of culture" within it, as it opens the door wide for many valid interpretations of the world made by many different human beings, while simultaneously presuming a deeper, more ultimate process in the world, unknown to those beings.

As already noted, Spengler had borrowed the aphoristic style that initiated the Decline from Nietzsche, and his debt does not end there. Spengler believed that the German philosopher was the first to uncover clearly the changing nature of morality and metaphysics over history that Goethe had postulated. Take for example this quote from Nietzsche's Daybreak:

How the overall moral judgments have shifted! The great men of antique morality, Epictetus for instance, knew nothing of the now normal glorification of thinking of others, of living for others; in the light of our moral fashion they would have to be called downright immoral, for they strove with all their might for their ego and against feelings with others.

Spengler thought that even though Nietzsche did not have a sense for the underlying system that gave rise to these disparate notions of ethics, he took the first step that Goethe had hinted at. Nietzsche, the author of the Untimely Meditations was also "a man out of season" as Spengler claimed to be in the Decline -- a prophet of things coming into being, but not presently existing.

The Decline of the West

OSWALD SPENGLER BELIEVED that he stood at the cusp of a new wave of historical thinking. Whereas in the past, historians had been content to gather facts, chart broad cultural movements, and take the flow of time as consisting of events that were causally related, Spengler had a vision that made these circumstances not merely existent, but necessary. The "morphology of culture" that Spengler conceived made history not merely a past, but a destiny, for each culture contained within it an essence that inevitably must reveal itself. As he states in his introduction,

Each Culture has its own possibilities of self-expression which arise, ripen, decay, and never return. There is not one sculpture, one painting, one mathematics, but many. Each is in its deepest essence different from the others, each limited in duration and self-contained....

Spengler felt that this insight must force historians to approach their work in an entirely different light. For he did not believe that a developing culture borrowed or integrated values or systems from past ones, at least not in their true nature. Each is working out its own unique being, and if, for example, the Greeks borrowed certain mathematical concepts from the Egyptians, it was with an entirely different understanding of what they meant and what they were for. To Spengler, each culture in the world's history had it's own unique "soil" in which to develop and grow. The physical terrain, proximity of neighbors, natural resources, and other factors influence the manner in which the "seed" of the inhabiting people unfolds not only geographically but also socially and economically. This, coupled with the unique temporal period and particular population of each great culture, serves to produce a social organism that is distinct from all others, just as one variety of plant is distinct from the rest.

However, Spengler maintained that the underlying pattern that each followed could be revealed through analysis, especially through studying the art, music, and architecture of each and discovering analogues.

I hope to show that without exception all great creations and forms in religion, art, politics, social life, economy and science appear, fulfill themselves, and die down contemporaneously in all the cultures; that the inner structure of one corresponds strictly with that of all others; that there is not a single phenomenon of deep physiognomic importance in the record of one for which we could not find a counterpart in the record of every other; and that this counterpart is to be found under a characteristic form and in a perfectly definite chronological position.

This is clearly a bold claim, and one that most of Spengler's past critics contend he failed to accomplish. However, there are a few contemporary scholars that are attempting to make good on Spengler's assertion in a nearly scientific way, as I will mention at the end of the paper.

It is important to note which cultures were to be investigated by Spengler in the Decline, and how he categorized them. He specifies eight that are distinct and conspicuous in the annals of world history: the Egyptian, the "Classical" (the sum of Greek and Roman civilization), the "Magian" (a combination of Iranian, Hebrew, and Arabian cultures), the Chinese, the Indian, the Babylonian, the Mexican, and the Western civilization in which we are now living. The bulk of the Decline is concerned with comparisons between the "Classical" civilization and our modern one, the Western or "Faustian." (Spengler uses the term "Faustian" interchangeably because he sees as the essence of Western Civilization the desire for infinity and boundlessness that is personified in Goethe's Faust.) However, the author makes frequent allusions to the remaining cultures, except for the Babylonian and the Mexican, which go virtually unmentioned. Spengler makes little attempt to justify singling out these eight as the best examples of what is defined by culture. He merely maintains them each to be "...separate worlds of dynamic being." Spengler believes that there is no logical basis for selecting these eight, but rather recommends them as displaying the essential feature of a Culture -- the production of a Civilization.

Every Culture has its own Civilization. In this work, for the first time, the two words are used in a periodic sense, to express a strict and necessary organic succession. The Civilization is the inevitable destiny of the Culture. Civilizations are the most external and artificial states which a species of developed humanity is capable. They are a conclusion, the thing-become succeeding the thing-becoming. They are an end, irrevocable, yet by inward necessity reached again and again.

Spengler's understanding of world-history -- a number of elevated cultures with no linear relationship -- causes him to break radically with other historical thinkers on this point. As he sees each Culture exhibiting an essentially organic nature, it is at the time that a Culture ceases to evolve and grow that it forms a Civilization; the Culture has brought itself into fruition, and in its last phase will maintain the conventions and systems it has brought into being. It has ceased to relate to these ideas in a dynamic way, however, and eventually alienation and decay results.

I have striven thus far to present the general world-picture that Spengler operates out of in The Decline of the West, and now I think it wise to turn to the work itself for some concrete illustrations of the author's interpretation of world history. I here also wish to remark that my interpretation of the work is for all intents and purposes a solitary one. I was able to discover virtually no critical scholarship on the Decline in English anywhere, whether it be in nearby libraries, on the Internet, or elsewhere. Therefore any particular bias or error that results in this exposition is surely mine. I also wish to remark that what follows is not a full treatment of the Decline -- the book runs over a thousand pages over two volumes, and I think it would be impossible to analyze it all here.

Spengler opens the book with a rather interesting discussion of mathematics, a subject that he had great interest in and affinity for throughout his life. He presents a discussion of mathematics first, as he wishes to illustrate that even in this, the most abstract and analytical body of human knowledge, there has been no progress made toward any goal, save those necessitated by each culture. He describes how in each great Culture, mathematics is seen as addressing a unique problem and is not even understood as anything apart from overcoming an obstacle to practical concerns.

Every philosophy has hitherto grown up in conjunction with a mathematic belonging to it. Number is the symbol of causal necessity. Like the conception of God, it contains the ultimate meaning of the world-as-nature.

Spengler seems to be saying here that numbers are a deep and unexplainable symbol from which human beings work to give definition to their world. Because a number cannot be shown to rest on some larger, more fundamental concept, its origin (like God's) is a mystery which man attempts to fathom by creating mathematical systems. This first chapter is crucial to establishing Spengler's hypothesis, for, as I previously mentioned, mathematics is the most abstract (and therefore seemingly the most universal) human endeavor. If he can show that even in this field there is no continuity, he has gone a good way toward demonstrating the reality of his "morphological" principle.

The mathematic of the Classical soul sprouted almost out of nothingness, the historically constituted Western soul, already possessing the Classical science (not inwardly, but outwardly as a thing learnt), had to win its own by apparently altering and perfecting, but in reality destroying the essentially alien Euclidean system.

Spengler attempts to demonstrate that the central theme of the Classical mathematic is the problem of measurement, while the "Faustian" man's is the problem of function related to his desire for infinity. The Western man uses mathematics to break down the spatial world, as in modern calculus. Spengler's arguments are somewhat technical, but for the most part quite convincing.

After his treatment of mathematics, Spengler turns to metaphysics, where he lays out most of the fundamental theory used in The Decline of the West. His initial distinction is one alluded to earlier -- the separation between natural events and historical events. Speaking of history he writes,

Every happening is unique and incapable of being repeated. Becoming lies beyond the domain of cause and effect, law and measurement. But history, as positively treated, is not pure becoming; it is an image radiated from the waking-consciousness of the historian, in which the becoming dominates the become.

Here Spengler does two things: first, he makes history indecipherable by the rational understanding of cause and effect, and second, he asserts that it is still intelligible to men (specifically historians like himself) because we ourselves are in a historical process of becoming as well and therefore are in tune with history instinctively. He goes on to define this historical view: "The Morphology of the organic, of history and life and all that bears the sign of direction and destiny, is called Physiognomic." As I will mention later, it is the related idea of "Physiognomic rhythm" that Spengler believes connects man with history in a powerful way.

Another interesting concept is presented by Spengler in this central section: the idea of Destiny.

The word "destiny" expresses an indescribable inward certainty: causality carries the notion of law. The physiognomic flair, by which it is possible to read a lifetime, a fate, from a face, operates without deliberate effort or any system. It is far removed from cause and effect. Still the inward feeling of certain destiny is the foundation of the recognition of cause and effect, as becoming is to the become.... The idea of destiny governs the world-picture of history, for destiny is the true existence-mode of the prime phenomenon.

In this section Spengler ridicules the notion that events are ruled by the law of causality, for all biological life is bound by necessity in some fashion. Just as it is certain that a seed will grow into a plant, decay, and die and not transmogrify into a worm or continue growing indefinitely, Spengler sees it as certain that history will unfold in a manner that is guided by inexplicable forces. As he comments, "...that which actually ensues subserves a deeper necessity, and for the eye that sweeps over the distant past visibly conforms to a major order." This order lies deep within the essence of the universe, of being itself, and it is not unjustified to consider Spengler something of a mystic in this notion of destiny.

In the following section, Spengler elaborates on principles that guide his method throughout the Decline. He first discusses the relationship between space and death. As was mentioned during the outline of Goethe's influence on the author of the Decline, Spengler takes everything external to the individual (whether it be form, matter, space, etc.) as a symbol from which the human being derives meaning and makes sense of his own existence.

All that is, symbolizes. From this property of being significant nothing is exempt...

In discussing this relationship between spatiality and death Spengler writes,

A deep relation, and one which is early felt, exists between space and death. Man is the only being that knows death.... The child suddenly grasps the lifeless corpse for what it is, something that has become wholly matter, wholly space, and at the same moment it feels itself as an individual being in an alien extended world.

He feels that all higher thought derives from a consideration of death, either directly or indirectly. The individual is a thing becoming, as it changes and develops over time, but it is also something become, as there is a continuity of identity that remains over the course of human life. The external world is a constant reminder of the fixed and unchanging, and thus Spengler sees it as a constant reminder of inertia and death. Therefore, he feels that the manner in which each Culture interprets the external world is the most essential element in determining the course of that Culture. He writes,

A deep identity unites the awakening of the soul, its birth into clear existence in the name of a Culture, with the sudden realization of distance and time, the birth of its outer world through the symbol of extension; and thenceforth this symbol is and remains the prime symbol of that life, imparting to it its specific style and the historical form in which it progressively actualizes its inward possibilities.

Such a statement is rather abstract, so when Spengler goes on to discuss its specific manifestations in the Classical and Faustian cultures, a more concrete idea can be formed of his theory. The Classical man defined his external world as the material, the definite, and the immediately present.

The Classical universe, the Cosmos or well-ordered aggregate of all near and completely viewable things, is concluded by the corporeal vault of heaven. More there is not.

He discusses the Greek temple as a clear evidence of this understanding, as it is designed to eliminate the feeling of space and gaps. Its curves are so refined as to be indistinguishable, and the whole effect is of centralization and distinctness. Conversely, the Western conception of the external universe is of absolute void, a liberation from all material weight.

...an obligatory consequence of this way of conceiving actuality [is that] the instrumental music of the great eighteenth-century masters should emerge as a master-art -- for it is the only one of the arts whose form-world is inwardly related to the contemplative vision of pure space.

He continues,

This prime feeling of a loosing, solution, of the Soul in the Infinite, of a liberation from all material weight which the highest moments of our music give, sets free also the energy of depth that is in the Faustian soul....

These disparate interpretations of the external world as a symbol for man's true essence, coupled with his cyclical concept of the "morphology of culture" form the foundation upon which the rest of the Decline is built. Spengler devotes the majority of the work to explaining this movement from the definite to the indefinite, from the finite to the infinite that has taken place since the days of Greece and Rome, and what this shift means for mankind. I will attempt in the remainder of this section to illustrate specific examples that Spengler utilizes to demonstrate this shift in world history.

As was previously stated, for Spengler the architecture of a Culture is a key manifestation of a people's essence in the material world. It is no surprise then that he first investigates this, the most practical of arts, in the Decline. He writes,

...the created expression-space of the Classical arts is equally alien to ours. In no other Culture is the firm footing, the socket, so emphasized. The Doric column bores into the ground, the vessels are always though of from below upward, whereas those of the Renaissance float above their footing.

This fact has been noted by other authors, and reinforces the interpretation of Classical world-view as opposed to the Faustian that was noted earlier. Many of the architectural works that are most emblematic of both cultures are religious structures, and Spengler quickly segues into a discussion of these temples and how they relate to the deities that were imagined to inhabit them.

The plurality of separate bodies which represents Cosmos for the Classical soul, requires a similar pantheon -- hence the unique polytheism. The single world-volume, be it conceived as cavern or as space, demands the single god of Magian or Western Christianity.

The Greeks and Romans were willing to make their deities concrete, depicting them in marble or paint, while for Western man God is infinite and shrouded in dark mystery, as daylight "...gives visual bounds and therefore shapes bodily things." Spengler notes Beethoven's tone-colors, Rembrandt's etchings, and the darkness of Valhalla as specific examples of the truth of this theory.

Following an interesting and supplementary discussion of the plastic arts and music, the "soul-image" of the peoples of the "Apollinian" (Spengler uses this word interchangeably for "Classical," as it evokes the concrete ideal that is characteristic of the Culture) and the Faustian cultures take center stage.

This imaginary soul-body ... is never anything but the exact mirror-image of the form in which the matured culture-man looks on his outer world.... The soul-image like the world-image has its directional depth, its horizon, and its boundedness or its unboundedness.

Spengler concludes that the concept of soul for the Apollinian man is found in the role or mask that is so typical of the Greek tragedy, where the external, public aspect is most significant. The author probes deeper into the Greek tragedy to determine that within that form it is specific moments that are exclusively portrayed, while in the work of a playwright like Shakespeare, the entire lives of the characters are considered and brought to bear on every aspect of the drama. Thus he asserts,

The Greek 'soul' is the 'here and now,' the static, 'fixed point,' being ... our tragedy is precisely the opposite.... It awakens the primary feelings of an energetic human being, the fierceness and the joy of tension, danger, violent need, the triumph of overcoming and destroying....

The Faustian soul is a depicted through directional biography, where the viewers become aware of the inner distance between persons as evidenced by the Shakespearean soliloquy. Spengler continues his exploration of the "soul-image," looking at Buddhism, Stoicism, and Socialism, but much of this portion is rather uninteresting and unoriginal. Spengler seems to be at his best when he remains in the study of the Classical and Western cultures.

He further analyzes these two cultures' conceptions of science or "nature-knowledge," but it is a little too cryptic and lengthy for me to delve into here.


The second volume of the Decline, however, opens with a strikingly poetic section which I feel is important to include summarily.

Regard the flowers at eventide as, one after the other, they close in the setting sun. Strange is the feeling that then presses in upon you -- a feeling of enigmatic fear in the presence of this blind dreamlike earth-bound existence.... The plant is something cosmic; the animal has an additional quality, it is a microcosm in relation to a macrocosm. All that is cosmic bears the trademark of periodicity. It has beat-rhythm.... The word "consciousness" is ambiguous; it contains the meaning Being ("Dasein") and Waking-consciousness (Wachsein). Being possesses beat and direction: waking consciousness is tension and extension. The plant exists without waking-consciousness. The development of theoretical thought within the human waking-consciousness gives rise to a kind of activity that makes inevitable a fresh conflict -- that between Being (existence) and Waking-Being (consciousness).

It is this tension between the quasi-biological unfolding of the individual cultures and the conscious thought and activity of individual men that occupies the majority of the second volume. I will treat it much more briefly than the first, as I have already spoken at length of the "morphology of culture" and it is this concept that dominates the second volume of the Decline.

The "high cultures" (those spoken of earlier) which are assessed in the latter volume are for Spengler

...the waking-being of a single huge organism which makes not only custom, myths, technique and art, but the very peoples and classes incorporated in itself the vessels of one single form-language and one single history.

These "organisms" undergo rapid and fundamental changes that Spengler asserts have no causal basis, but move in epochs that are guided by Destiny. (By "epoch" Spengler means "turning point" or "change" and not a period of time.) He believes that the existence of these unexplainable epochs is self-evident, and that "The origins of the earth, of life, of the free-moving animal, are such epochs, and, therefore, mysteries that we can do no more than accept." Needless to say, such a conclusion is intuitive, not rational, and defies attempts to logical justification.

A broad overview of the eight cultures is then offered, and the author maintains that there can be many comparisons made between their evolution as each undergoes a similar structure of development and lasted for a similar duration. For example, when remarking on the feudal period of the Egyptian Culture, Spengler writes,

...[it] presents so astounding a similarity with the course of events in the Chinese springtime from I-Wang (934-909) and that in the Western from the Emperor Henry IV (1056-1106) that a unified comparative study of all three might well be risked.

He points out numerous general parallels of this kind, and thus attempts to fortify his theory.

At this point the Decline descends from the more macroscopic view of cultures into the discussion of cities and their peoples. Spengler points out in his introduction that as a Culture progresses toward a Civilization that

In place of a world, there is a city, a point, in which the whole life of broad regions collects while the rest dries up.

The city-dweller of today is the hallmark of the decline of civilization, as he is

...a new sort of nomad, traditionless, religionless, clever, and deeply contemptuous of the countryman.

When the variety of peoples that invigorate a Culture migrate to cities and become more homogenous, stagnation and ultimately decay begin to set in as a result of a uniformity of ideas and influences, and the city-dweller looks on the past of the Culture with hostility and alienation. In this section, he also addresses the concept of race, declaring that race and environment belong together, and that "...if in [its] home that race cannot now be found, this means that race has ceased to exist." Language is also examined, and its connection with a people.

The last part of the Decline is unusually prophetic, and the sections on the state and technology yield diverse commentaries on the political situation in Germany during Spengler's time. Spengler states that the present age is undergoing a transformation from Napoleonism (a military, yet popular world-dominion) to Caesarism (individual states governed by a wholly personal power). It is within these dictatorial states that

'Race' springs forth, pure and irresistible -- the strongest win and the residue is their spoil. They seize the management of the world, and the realm of books and problems petrifies or vanishes from memory.

A more chilling foreboding of National Socialism is hard to imagine. Spengler sees Caesarism as arising in the last stages of a Culture, during the stagnant Civilization, as the spirit of the previously-developed systems is gone and all that exists is their outward form. Looking at the Caesar, Spengler sees such a man as virtually unconnected to his people, yet with an instinct for what they require, and with a great ability to command. Spengler sees the final conflict in the Western world as arising between the democratic societies, with their rule of economics, and the Caesarized societies, with their rule of power.

The final section, on technology, is basically a sketch of a later work by Spengler called Man and Technics, which I will mention later, and gives a survey of the effects of machine technology on mankind. Man has become slave to his creation, because

The machine has forcibly increased his numbers and changed his habits in a direction from which there is no return.

This technology allows Caesarism to triumph, and the sword proves victorious over money. This is the end of the Western age. Spengler closes the Decline fatalistically:

We have not the freedom to reach this or to that, but the freedom to do the necessary or to do nothing. And a task that historic necessity has set will be accomplished with the individual or against him.

Fallout from the Decline

As MENTIONED AT THE BEGINNING of this paper, The Decline of the West saw considerable sales in Spengler's native country of Germany, and reasonable levels in the rest of Europe and America. Its provocative title and arcane scholarship made the book fall into a wide variety of hands; both the unlearned and the academics examined it, and its themes were the subject of much debate initially in Germany, and later in the world at large. However, there was a virtually universal scorn heaped upon the book and its author from the intellectual community. Without even addressing the specific contents of the book, many asked: how could a truly universal comprehension of the many societies presented in the Decline possibly be gained in one man's lifetime? Spengler had written the book in a mere four years, and this certainly was not adequate for a real treatment of such a wide scope. Others attacked many inconsistencies in Spengler's method and its lack of logical rigor. They saw these discontinuities as the inevitable result of extrapolating a broad principle like the "morphology of culture" over four thousand years of human activity. Still others saw in Spengler's analyses of many on the cultures in the Decline as virtually identical to those made by the vast majority of historians.

However, very few attacked the work on any but very narrow and erudite grounds, and their objections met with a very small audience. This left the field open for Spengler, who wrote an essay entitled "Pessimism?" three years after the appearance of his opus in which he maintained that his critics had failed to understand the central tenets of the work. He railed against the speculative thinkers that attempted to deconstruct the Decline:

The active person lives in the world of phenomena and with it. He does not require logical proofs, indeed he often cannot understand them. "Physiognomic rhythm" [i.e. the vital connection between individuals and their world] ... gives him deeper insights than any method based on logical proof ever could.... I made assertions in my book which scholarly readers have regarded as completely contradictory. Yet all these are things that have long been felt and cherished privately, though not necessarily consciously, by individuals who are inclined to a life of action.

The content of the essay roughly runs along these lines, as Spengler defends his instinctive analyses against the speculative critics. The essay for the most part accomplished its goal -- it cut away the foundation of his critics' attacks and made his own position even more hard to define. In addition, a noted historian, Eduard Meyer, later addressed the German Historical Congress and presented a highly approving critique of the Decline and endorsed Spengler's major theses.

His position relatively secure, the author embarked on an attempt to involve himself in the political activities of Germany, which he had long held as a desire. For the five years from 1919-1924, Spengler's popularity and his increase in wealth allowed him to move in more influential social circles, and he allied himself with a number of leading conservative political groups. After a time of political upheaval in both Germany and Russia, Spengler gathered together ideas he had been working on for a number of years and reworked them, entitling the lengthy essay Prussianism and Socialism (1920). The public demand for the work was great, as many in Germany wanted to hear Spengler's opinion on such a contemporary issue. In the essay Spengler maintained that true socialism could fulfill its destiny only in the Prussian state, but that such a movement would be entirely alien to the principles laid down by Karl Marx. He attempted to appeal to virtually the whole mass of the German people, and ended up convincing no one. The public was disappointed with the piece and the sheen of Spengler's new fame was tarnished. This did not deter Spengler in his efforts to lead political events, however.

He continued to support a relatively conservative state, but one in which Germans would bring together to satisfy "The soul of the German people," which he believed was "...filled with surprising and dumbfounding capabilities for excellence and failure." Spengler called for the German people to combat their tendency toward lethargy in his 1924 essay On the German National Character:

Difficult to set in motion, having little self-assurance, disinclined to pathos in ourselves ... at times when government and diplomacy are conducted alone strict traditional lines ... such a national character as ours is doomed to prolonged slumber.

Spengler would also make a particularly prophetic comment in the same essay:

All in all, no other people today is more in need of a leader in order simply to have faith in itself. And yet no other people can mean more to a great leader. In the right hands, all of its faults will turn to merits. What the outcome of this might be is impossible to foretell with the customary methods of political prognostication.

It is unfortunate that Spengler did not have the vision to see the outcome and warn his countrymen in advance, for these words would become all too real when National Socialism rose to the fore under Adolf Hitler. But as we will see, while Spengler could not predict the disaster, he argued against the new leader and his party vociferously when they came to power.

Spengler's Condemnation of National Socialism

WHEN SPENGLER PUBLISHED in 1931 his rather rambling metaphysical work Man and Technics, it was met with less enthusiasm than any of his previous efforts. It was extremely fragmentary in a way that was difficult to avoid, and in my brief readings of the work I was completely puzzled. I could find almost no concrete basis for Spengler's assertions, and was a little overwhelmed by his bold and unfounded statements. Nevertheless, within this small book was a unique attack on the technological society and its disturbing possibilities. Spengler felt that the "Faustian" spirit's desire for the infinite, combined with the technology to compress and negate the hindrance of time could lead to political regimes that might dominate the earth in a cruel and extreme way.

Every work of man, is artificial, unnatural.... This is the beginning of man's tragedy -- for Nature is the stronger of the two. The fight against Nature is hopeless and yet -- it will be fought out to the bitter end.

Few among Germany's leaders took any notice of the book, although it contained a number of veiled diatribes against Nazi principles. This book, with its generally poor attempt at anthropology, brought Spengler's reputation to a new low and he remained out of the public view for almost two years.

He was in increasingly poor health and dismayed at the strange amalgam of principles that had been pouring out of Berlin in the form of Nazi propaganda. He felt that the time for the German people to discern their true desire for the nation was imminent, and fittingly titled what was to be his last significant work The Hour of Decision (1933). Although not powerfully anti-Nazi, Spengler views with "misgiving" much of the furor over Hitler and his rise to supremacy. He blasts the "Hitler Youth," accusing them of giving their minds over to the National Socialists, and refers to specific Nazi leaders in a very critical way. He also discusses Italian Fascism, which Spengler saw as a transitional government, held together solely by the powerful, heroic personality of Mussolini. Finally, Spengler addresses the German people, who he calls

...the least exhausted in the white world, and therefore the one on which may be placed the most hope.

He called for a return to traditional values to help preserve the honor of Germany and the peace of Europe.

Interestingly enough, Spengler's printer sent Adolf Hitler a complimentary copy, but the Nazis paid the work little notice until its sales had totaled 12,000. There was clearly an audience for Spengler's sentiments and when The Hour of Decision had some 150,000 copies in print, the Nazi party moved to silence him. It took his National Socialist critics some time to form a real attack on the book, as much of what Spengler had written was very nationalist in nature and echoed what Hitler himself was saying, albeit in altered fashion. In some ways, Spengler had helped prepare the German mind for the extreme nationalism espoused by the Nazi regime with his long emphasis on Germany as a nation and a people with a unique and powerful destiny. However, Nazi leaders railed against Spengler's views as a "perversion" of true National Socialist ideals and effectively forced him to cease in his political writings.

Oswald Spengler spent the last three years of his life in work on the "metaphysical treatise" that he had referred to occasionally in The Decline of the West. He was attempting to complete the groundwork for an understanding of the phenomena of "cyclical morphology." The work, titled The World as History, was of a much finer quality than any he had done for many years, and 1935 brought Spengler back into the public view. He would not have a chance to develop more new ideas, unfortunately, as he died from a heart attack in May of 1936.

The last words published during his lifetime are from an isolated response to a question concerning the possibilities for world peace. They crystallize Spengler is a unique way:

"Pacifism will remain an ideal, and war a fact, and if the white peoples are resolved to wage war no more, the colored will do so and will be rulers of the earth."

Nationalist, cynical, and prophetic, these words condense some of Spengler's most prominent features briefly, something rarely found in Spengler's writings. Perhaps he was growing more focused in his old age.

Spengler's Influence on Modern Historians

THERE CAN BE LITTLE CONTENTION with the fact that the author of The Decline of the West died with his legacy in extreme doubt. Although his main work was semi-intellectual currency for many years, the very irregular quality of his writing and his rather bleak depiction of the future did not ensure him any position as an author of consequence. However, Spengler made numerous predictions concerning future events throughout the course of his life and work, and we have lived to see many fulfilled.

Particularly striking were his considerations concerning the nature of the Russian people and his insistence that Russia's history was to be separate from the "Western" peoples. Spengler also maintained that Russia's history had not yet even begun in the 1920's, regardless of the then-recent Bolshevik Revolution. He felt that the Russian people were soon to embark on their own Destiny, and that in all likelihood it would be "...in opposition to the Faustian spirit." In spite of visions like these, continued scholarship of Spengler (what little that seems to remain) is primarily due to the work of other historians.

Spengler clearly anticipated a perspective that was soon to unite with more traditional historical scholarship, with generally strong results. Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History is by all accounts a seminal production in the field of world history, and Toynbee acknowledged that Spengler's work was a "remarkable one" with a great deal of imaginative insight. Toynbee's comparative study of civilizations is considered more even-handed, logical, and less overbearing than his predecessor's, while at the same time demonstrating a higher level of scholarship. It is also incredibly massive, far more so than the Decline, and comprises nine volumes of approximately three-hundred-fifty pages each.

In it Toynbee attempts to address fundamental questions concerning the causes for growth and decay in a culture, something Spengler felt lay inexplicably within each culture's destiny. Toynbee also addresses his study from a spiritual perspective, something that removes the complete relativity present in Spengler's work, as Toynbee sees the Christian faith as a final truth. The excellence of A Study of History led many to read Spengler, and continued to fuel his legacy somewhat.

Social and Cultural Dynamics, a well-considered cyclical history by Russian Pitirim A. Sorokin, also directed some attention to Spengler's work. Several other fair comparative histories have served the same purpose. Nevertheless, I would be wrong to say that Spengler is much-read today, as my attempts to gather information on the man and his work was much like trying to get blood from a turnip. Literature simply does not seem to exist in English, especially concerning Spengler's life. He is a man remembered almost entirely for his work, and that only marginally.

Although I personally enjoyed and found insightful various parts of The Decline of the West and segments of his other writings, I was somewhat disappointed. I had been told of an amazing level of scholarship and erudition that was to be found in the Decline, and only very brief segments of it lived up to that.


One related topic I feel compelled to share, one I found on the Internet but could not utilize here, was a book by the name of Spengler's Future by John J. Reilly. The author takes a program written in BASIC computer code and attempts to predict the next seven centuries (yes, seven) of Western history utilizing the life cycles of four other civilizations as a guide. Some entertaining chapter heads include "At the Court of the Antichrist" and "The World Begins to Crack." The totally inconclusive and fragmented results of the effort only serve to clarify to this writer that without the author's prominent level of study, facility of mind, and intuitive gift, The Decline of the West would likely have ended up as total gibberish instead of the reasonably interesting and sometimes penetrating work that it is.

Bibliography
Hollingdale, R.J. (Trans.), A Nietzsche Reader(New York: Penguin Books, 1977).

Hughes, H. Stuart, Oswald Spengler: A Critical Estimate(New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952).

Spengler, Oswald, Collected Essays(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967).

Spengler, Oswald, The Decline of the West,abridged (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962).

Spengler, Oswald, Man and Technics: A Contribution to a Philosophy of Life(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1960).

Spengler, Oswald, Today and Destiny: Vital Excerpts from the Decline of the West(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1940).
http://www.bayarea.net/~kins/AboutMe/Spengler/SpenglerDoc.html

Nordhammer
Tuesday, September 20th, 2005, 05:37 PM
http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v17/v17n2p-2_Stimely.html

Spenglers ideas were later developed by Francis Parker Yockey. According to Yockey, the natural development of the Faustian High Culture was disturbed by the presence of the Jews, a remnant of the Magian High Culture with differing goals from the Faustians. The Third Reich was an attempt to bring in the Caesarian Era, but Magian influence ruined this, and the Faustian High Culture is now in the choice between premature death caused by Magians (with race-mixing as an important part of killing the very biological basis of the Faustian Culture), or rebirth.

Yockeys ideas were quite important to the ONA and Black Order it seems, and played a part in their "Aeonic Magic".

Reads like a novel doesn't it? :) That's part of the appeal. I find it all very interesting.

Agrippa
Saturday, October 15th, 2005, 05:45 PM
Oswald Spengler was a prime example of an highly intelligent and idealistic Schizothyme (yes I must mention it again ) , rather of the aesthetic than energetic kind, and that was probably related to certain weaknesses he had. But as Kretschmer said, and he is right about that, sometimes such outsiders if they get the right informations and time to process it they have great and at least basically correct ideas, their main problem is they are themselves not able to fulfil the destiny. They are simply to neurotic and aesthetic, aloof from the common people and lack the social intelligence and abilities in communication someone would need to really influence the people directly.

But he was right, very right, he was ahead of his times and even more so of ours. I essentially share his ideals, most of his conclusions. A great man he was, Europe should have heard him and his judgement is now closer to the truth than ever.
I say myself cyclical developments and periods come, yes, but the decline is not inevitable, it just needs great people which are ready to sacrifice themselves to change the course and to correct the failures of their own culture and political system. But as we need such men, we need the people who want to hear them, and people which are full, satisfied in their small world, living everything which is near to idealism and group orientation by using surrogates which distract them dont want to hear. And if "the games" end, they often tend to overreact or getting irrational, for example by looking for religious or pseudoreligious "help".
http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=39634
As he said, panem et circenses to the end. And thats the only reason why those who govern with money, the plutocrats, dont want to see the majority hungry or unengaged.
Panem et circenses to the end...at least for the majority, because they have to keep satisfied and distracted, even if their group is dying in a decadent culture and downgraded system.

Oskorei
Sunday, December 4th, 2005, 06:03 PM
A nice article on Spengler by Sunic:


Although Spengler does not provide a satisfying answer to the question of Caesarism vs. decadence, he admits that the decadence of the West need not signify the collapse of all cultures. Rather, it appears that the terminal illness of the West may be a new lease on life for other cultures; the death of Europe may result in a stronger Africa or Asia. Like many other cultural pessimists, Spengler acknowledges that the West has grown old, unwilling to fight, with its political and cultural inventory depleted; consequently, it is obliged to cede the reigns of history to those nations that are less exposed to debilitating pacifism and the self-flagellating guilt-feelings which, so to speak, have become new trademarks of the modern Western citizen. One could imagine a situation where these new virile and victorious nations will barely heed the democratic niceties of their guilt-ridden former masters, and may likely, at some time in the future, impose their own brand of terror which could eclipse the legacy of the European Auschwitz and the Gulag. In view of the ruthless civil and tribal wars all over the decolonized African and Asian continent, it seems unlikely that power politics and bellicosity will disappear with the "decline of the West." So far, no proof has been offered that non-European nations can govern more peacefully and generously than their former European masters. "Pacifism will remain an ideal," Spengler reminds us, "war a fact. If the white races are resolved never to wage a war again, the colored will act differently and be rulers of the world"
........................................
For Spengler and other cultural pessimists, the sense of decadence is inherently combined with a revulsion against modernity and an abhorrence of rampant economic greed. As recent history has shown, the political manifestation of such revulsion may lead to less savory results: the glorification of the will-to-power and the nostalgia of death. At that moment, literary finesse and artistic beauty may take on a very ominous turn. The recent history of Europe bears witness to how easily cultural pessimism can become a handy tool for modern political titans. Nonetheless, the upcoming disasters have something uplifting for the generations of cultural pessimists whose hypersensitive nature - and disdain for the materialist society - often lapses into political nihilism. This nihilistic streak was boldly stated by Spengler's contemporary Friedrich Sieburg, who reminds us that "the daily life of democracy with its sad problems is boring, but the impending catastrophes are highly interesting." [13]

One cannot help thinking that, for Spengler and his likes, in a wider historical context, war and power politics offer a regenerative hope against the pervasive feeling of cultural despair. Yet, regardless of the validity of Spengler's visions or nightmares, it does not take much imagination to observe in the decadence of the West the last twilight-dream of a democracy already grown weary of itself.

Source: http://www.rosenoire.org/articles/sunic-spengler.php

Oskorei
Sunday, December 4th, 2005, 06:07 PM
A generalist of vast erudition, Toynbee took a panoramic view of history at a time of increasing specialization. He saw the rise and decline of civilizations in spiritual terms when those he described as "would-be scientific historians" saw history in terms of biology, geography, and economics. Toynbee was criticized for his emphasis on religion and for sweeping theories often employing myth and metaphor as models and supporting evidence. A prolific writer, driven by "anxiety" and "conscience", his 12-volume A Study of History (1934-61) stands as his grand achievement.

Started in 1922 after Toynbee had absorbed Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West (1918-22), when he observed Bulgarian peasants wearing fox-skin caps that may have resembled those worn by Xerxes' troops (as recounted in Herodotus (http://www.malaspina.com/site/person_632.asp)), A Study of History presents history as the rise and - with one exception - fall of 26 societies, 21 of which are "civilizations", with the remaining 5 defined as "arrested civilizations". He classified civilizations according to cultural, often religious, rather than national criteria, insisting that "An intelligible field of historical study is not be found within a national framework"[2]. Toynbee's civilizations include the "Egyptiac", "Hellenic" (including Roman), "Hindu", "Sinic", and "Western Christian" civilizations, while the "arrested civilizations" include the Spartan, Eskimo, and Polynesian societies. In Toynbee's view, civilization arises only in response to some extremely difficult set of challenges, when "creative minorities" inspire unprecedented effort to solve the problems faced by the society. These challenges may be physical, as when the Minoans conquered the sea; or social, as when Athens reacted to the Persian onslaught. The cycle of civilization comprises two major phases: a "universal state", such as the Roman Empire, that arises out of a time of troubles; and an "interregnum" dominated by a higher religion and a "Volkerwanderung" (migration) of barbarians in a heroic age. To Toynbee, only Western Christian civilization was in a thriving state, the others having gone through the three stages of breakdown: 1) a failure of creative power in the creative minority; 2) the withdrawal of allegiance to the ruling minority on the part of the majority; and 3) the consequent loss of social unity. The cycle of rise and decline was not inevitable in Toynbee's view: he allowed the possibility that a civilization could continue to respond creatively and successfully to recurring hardships. This was partly a reaction to Spengler's "dogmatic and deterministic" view of history as a series of inexorable cycles of "organic" growth and decay. [/URL]

[url]http://www.malaspina.org/home.asp?topic=./search/details&lastpage=./search/results&ID=313 (http://www.rosenoire.org/articles/sunic-spengler.php)

Ediruc
Saturday, March 6th, 2010, 06:14 AM
I'm very interested in reading Splenger's _The Decline of the West_, but I can't seem to find the appropriate volumes. Is there a typescript archived or a link to purchase the books. Also, if anyone can give me a summary on the contents of TDW, that would be nice. Thanks!

Wurfaxt
Saturday, March 6th, 2010, 03:35 PM
Also, if anyone can give me a summary on the contents of TDW, that would be nice. Thanks!
This may be of interest to you.
http://www.archive.org/stream/declineofthewest007761mbp#page/n9/mode/2up

Joe McCarthy
Saturday, March 6th, 2010, 04:22 PM
The Decline of the West is a highly complex, very learned exposition on the nature of culture and civilization. Spengler believed that the principle of entropy applied to civilization, viewing it organically. He therefore held that decline and death is inevitable and preordained. He is a major source of pessimism and defeatism. He's probably among the very worst influences on nationalists.

Ediruc
Saturday, March 6th, 2010, 07:11 PM
The Decline of the West is a highly complex, very learned exposition on the nature of culture and civilization. Spengler believed that the principle of entropy applied to civilization, viewing it organically. He therefore held that decline and death is inevitable and preordained. He is a major source of pessimism and defeatism. He's probably among the very worst influences on nationalists.

He's probably so, but, Nietzsche isn't any better of an influence on us preservationists either. Despite all the pessimism the two have, I think maybe we could learn a thing or two from their studies, and how to prolong or avoid the collapse of our western culture and people. I think the best solution would be an established racially homogeneous utopia; no weights of guilt or liberalism tainting the systems and institutions. The United States could have been that utopia for us Anglo-Saxons, but that dream is long gone and dead. I think Iceland is our best start, or maybe Denmark. Britain is long gone and (I think) in its final phase of absolute destruction from all that decadence. Germany and the surrounding nations (except maybe France) can still be saved, I believe.

Joe McCarthy
Saturday, March 6th, 2010, 08:31 PM
He's probably so, but, Nietzsche isn't any better of an influence on us preservationists either. . Despite all the pessimism the two have, I think maybe we could learn a thing or two from their studies, and how to prolong or avoid the collapse of our western culture and people. I think the best solution would be an established racially homogeneous utopia; no weights of guilt or liberalism tainting the systems and institutions. The United States could have been that utopia for us Anglo-Saxons, but that dream is long gone and dead. I think Iceland is our best start, or maybe Denmark. Britain is long gone and (I think) in its final phase of absolute destruction from all that decadence. Germany and the surrounding nations (except maybe France) can still be saved, I believe.

I differ on Nietzsche as he offered a way out of nihilism whereas Spengler posited irreversible decline. Strangely, Spengler took Nietzsche's starting point and neglected his solution. His is such a corrosive message that in an ideal situation I'd see his works put on the ban list. Everyone I know that takes him seriously is forelorn, apathetic, and hopelessly paralyzed ideologically.

Hemerik
Saturday, March 6th, 2010, 11:45 PM
Nietzsche offered a way out, yes, but do you think his superman delirium is in any way realistic? Spengler didn't oversee this 'solution', but he turned it down as being the ramblings of a soon-to-be madman, which is exactly what it was if you ask me. It also isn't exactly true that Spengler posited irreversible decline. What he said was that any culture would come to an end after 1000 years, but instead of disappearing altogether it would change into something he called civilization, which could last indefinitely. The key for us to prolong our existence then would be to focus on technology and strong leadership and to make sure that technology would stay out of the black man's hands... I don't agree that technology would be our ultimate answer, but it is not quite fair to say that Spengler said we would just come to an end no matter what.

Joe McCarthy
Sunday, March 7th, 2010, 11:26 PM
Nietzsche offered a way out, yes, but do you think his superman delirium is in any way realistic? Spengler didn't oversee this 'solution', but he turned it down as being the ramblings of a soon-to-be madman, which is exactly what it was if you ask me. It also isn't exactly true that Spengler posited irreversible decline. What he said was that any culture would come to an end after 1000 years, but instead of disappearing altogether it would change into something he called civilization, which could last indefinitely. The key for us to prolong our existence then would be to focus on technology and strong leadership and to make sure that technology would stay out of the black man's hands... I don't agree that technology would be our ultimate answer, but it is not quite fair to say that Spengler said we would just come to an end no matter what.

You'll need to provide textual evidence in Spengler's corpus for your claim in bold. I can certainly offer textual support for its debunking. Spengler believed that civilization is the last stage in a historical entity's development, and that like anything else, it grows old and dies. More on this:

http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/spengle.htm


German philosopher of history, whose famous work, The Decline of the West (1918-1922) combined Nietzschean poetic argument with a pessimistic view of the permanence of humankind's achievements. According to Spengler, Western culture is doomed, as other cultures have been before it, and has already entered its degenerate last stage.

'Culture' as used in bold is obviously meant differently from the way Spengler used it, but your task is to establish how Spengler thought the West would survive.

Schopenhauer
Monday, March 8th, 2010, 01:39 AM
Spengler opined that cultures have distinct phases of birth, maturity, and death. Just like the people who created them.

His influence is profound, and his Decline of the West is one of the very best books of it's type.

I'd also recommend Le Bon's The Crowd as well, if you read and like Decline of the West.

Hemerik wrote,

Nietzsche offered a way out, yes, but do you think his superman delirium is in any way realistic?

Actually, Nietzsche's creation was called the Ubermensch, the Overman, not the superman. Humanity, in his view, was something to be overcome. A stepping stone to something greater in our evolutionary process. So spake Zarathrustra.

Joe McCarthy
Monday, March 8th, 2010, 04:24 PM
I'd also recommend Le Bon's The Crowd as well, if you read and like Decline of the West.


While I despise Spengler I like Le Bon quite a bit. His commentary on the psychological differences between assorted European ethnicities is very helpful, particularly in how he explains the excitable nature of Latins like the French. I'm curious though: why do you place him with Spengler? I don't see the similarity.

Schopenhauer
Monday, March 8th, 2010, 07:45 PM
While I despise Spengler I like Le Bon quite a bit. His commentary on the psychological differences between assorted European ethnicities is very helpful, particularly in how he explains the excitable nature of Latins like the French. I'm curious though: why do you place him with Spengler? I don't see the similarity.

Not so much for their similarities, but more more their insightful commentaries on the European races.

I'd also add Gobineau, Chamberlain, and Rosenberg to that list as well.

Joe McCarthy
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010, 10:42 PM
Not so much for their similarities, but more more their insightful commentaries on the European races.

I'd also add Gobineau, Chamberlain, and Rosenberg to that list as well.

I like Rosenberg a great deal.

huntsman
Wednesday, June 30th, 2010, 07:06 PM
The OP is entirely correct that Spengler saw Russia as essentially the only existing people that were still in the early creative phase of "culture," rather than the later phases of decadence.

The problem is that since Spengler's time, Russia has become infected by some of the worst aspects of the world city, meaning the falling, sub-replacement birthrate. Russia may have been fatally "poisoned in the cradle," by reaching the last stage of decadence before the natural peak of its culture.

As a young culture, Russia is like a child cast among debased older companions. Since the 1700's the authentic Russian soul has been faced with and polluted by every bit of foolishness to emit from the west.