Spengler's Philosophy, and its implication that
Europe has 'lost its way'
by David L. McNaughton - www.DLMcN.com
Fifth Workshop in Political Theory, Manchester (England), September 2008

During the First World War a German historian produced a book which caused quite a stir among intellectuals around the world. By collating events in different (usually non-contemporary) cultures and civilisations, Spengler maintained that it should be possible to fill in gaps in history1, and indeed to set out possibilities for the future, although admittedly only in terms of very broad generalisations.

It was an extremely ambitious undertaking, but after the Second World War his ideas became unfashionable (mainly for political reasons). Nevertheless, Spengler's book is a work of monumental scholarship, discussing in depth such diverse topics as mathematics, music, architecture, painting, theology and money, with brief but still erudite excursions into other subjects including law, chemistry, linguistics, space-time relativity and literature, integrating them all into a single coherent philosophy.
 
 

Nine or more "Higher Organisms"

Most people find it extremely difficult to accept Spengler's basic thesis, namely that cultures and civilisations are living organisms in their own right2, just like plants, animals and humans, although of a much higher rank. Each culture has its own distinctive soul, which expresses itself in artistic, scientific, political, economic and religious forms.

Spengler identifies nine higher organisms. Three of them, the Babylonian, Ancient Egyptian, and Classical (Graeco-Roman), perished long ago, with their landscapes subsequently becoming overlain by later cultures3. (If he were writing today, he might well include in his list the recently discovered pre-Hindu Indus Valley Civilisation). Three others, the Indian, Chinese and Arab-Persian, attained "old age" many centuries ago; we could also describe these as "petrified" - in a few respects, they have never been wholly extinguished. A seventh culture matured in Mexico and Guatemala, only to suffer a sudden and violent death at the hands of Spanish invaders (although it could be said that a few "glowing embers" still remain). Spengler says very little about the Peruvian Culture, but Francis Yockey, one of his foremost disciples, regards it as a twin of the Mexican, suffering the same fate.

Two higher organisms have not yet completed their "life-cycle". Western Civilisation is one of them, although it has already reached "late adulthood" (hence the title of the book - "The Decline of the West"). The other living culture is the Russian one4 - which was "born" comparatively recently, so it is handicapped through trying to absorb alien ideas from the much older Western organism; Spengler calls this phenomenon a "pseudomorphosis".

Another example of a pseudomorphosis was his "Magian Culture", which grew up in the shadow of various older civilisations (in particular the Classical), causing it to become distorted and fragmented into Arabian, Zoroastrian, Byzantine, Hebrew, Coptic, Armenian and other components5. Only with the rise of Islam did this culture manage to break free from the pseudomorphosis and discover its true soul.

One phenomenon which might be easier to explain in terms of a higher organic entity is an increase in male birth-rate to replenish losses incurred in a major war. Admittedly, those instances could simply be accidents of statistics6, but this example does at least help to illustrate the concept and role of a higher organism with its own will and consciousness.

Like individual people, cultural organisms differ in character, ability and aptitude. Thus, calculus and the theory of mathematical functions, soaring Gothic cathedrals and a music based on fugal composition all express characteristically Western passions, which are akin to our love of vast wide-open spaces as well as our intense interest in the distant past and concern for the far future7.

In a contrasting manner, geometry, statics and sculpture were all creative expressions of a mind obsessed with the corporeal and with "here-now" - that which produced the Ancient Greek Culture8. Similarly, algebra, alchemy and arabesque were all manifestations of another unique culture-personality, as also were acupuncture, Taoism and Chinese art. And in the Hindu world, yoga and dance-forms attained levels of sophistication never equalled elsewhere.
 
 

Phases of development

Just as a human being reaches puberty during the second, and full adulthood in the third decade of life, a culture also passes through phases of predetermined sequence whose durations do not vary greatly from one higher organism to another9. Its "springtime" is characterised by strong religious faith, which slowly gives way to increasing intellectuality and materialism. A culture's "summer" is an era of great creativity: in Europe, this witnessed the crystallisation of a totally new concept in mathematics (calculus) simultaneously in the minds of two people working quite independently - Newton and Leibniz10. The same centuries saw the birth of oil painting and the flowering of a style of music completely unknown before the advent of Western Culture11.

During "autumn", life becomes dominated by materialism and by purely rational thought12. Warfare between the culture's constituent nations increases in intensity, with tensions between various strata of society also reaching breaking point. Eventually, one state becomes vigorous enough to conquer and absorb all others, imposing an authoritarian "Imperium" 13. In the Classical world this was achieved by the Romans, and in Peru by the Incas. In Central America, the Aztecs were consolidating their gains when Spanish Westerners intervened. In eastern Asia, it was the state of Qin (Ch'in) which ultimately incorporated the rest, giving the name China to the integrated empire.

It may be significant that the driving force for that unification usually came from the fringe-area of the original culture, rather than from its nucleus. For example, Rome was distant from Greece, Qin was the northwesternmost power in ancient China, and the Aztecs migrated to Mexico from somewhere further north. In the Islamic world, the Seljuk Turks invaded from the northeast before establishing an empire embracing most of Persia, Iraq, Syria and Anatolia. The Babylonian states were united by the Amorites, who were originally based in the far west. In South America, the centre of 'High Culture' was the Chimu state on the Peruvian coast, but they eventually succumbed to the Inca people from the high plateau. And the Indian Imperium was forged by the kingdom of Magadha - which was initially confined to the extreme east of the subcontinent (modern-day Bihar) - with its capital at Pataliputra. The reason why those "conquerors" were all people from the edge of their particular culture, might be that they were less "exhausted" than the older nations in the centre (whose blood and resources had been devoured in earlier centuries when they were the dominant power)14.

During the Imperium, people realise the limitations of a purely intellectual view of the universe, so there is a return to religion - based on that of earlier centuries, but differently experienced through having emerged from a more advanced way of life15.

If Spengler is right that cultures really are living, organic units, then all those changes are as inevitable as formation of blossom and then fruit on many trees, or as "necessary" as the emergence of a butterfly from the chrysalis of certain insects16. There is only one alternative - namely sickness followed by premature death of the cultural organism.

What stage, according to Spengler, has Western Civilisation reached? His answer will horrify most people - the 20th and 21st centuries were destined to be those of transition into our "Roman-style" era17, but this was prevented (or maybe delayed) by Germany's defeat in two world wars. Any organism's growth and development may be stunted or even destroyed by outside interference (Mexico being the prime example); accordingly, Yockey points out that without Russian involvement, the Second World War would have ended quite differently18. Of course, the Nazi leadership had only itself to blame. A real statesman (like Bismarck) would never have engaged all his opponents simultaneously - in addition to ignoring so many potential allies.
 
 

Hitler's shortcomings

It is always easy to look back at history and criticise decisions made by various leaders. In this instance, however, it could almost be said that Hitler's first real job in life was Chancellor of the Third Reich: his unsuitability for such a powerful role might help to explain the tragic outcome of subsequent events.

For example, we could cite Hitler's extraordinary decision to invade Russia against the advice of many of his generals - who preferred to conquer the Middle East first, thereby inflicting a heavy blow on the British Empire. Even after attacking the Soviet Union, the Nazis rejected all offers of friendship and co-operation from the Ukrainian and other minorities19. Hitler might also have made more effort to persuade Japan to occupy southeast Siberia, forcing Stalin to divert some of his armies there.

Furthermore, there was no need for Germany to declare war on the USA after Pearl Harbor; most Americans did not want to have to fight on two fronts. Admittedly, Hitler had already antagonised Roosevelt by his unnecessary maltreatment of German Jews, even those genuinely prepared to work for the Third Reich.

Hitler's relationship with Franco seems to have been soured by a clash of personalities, which deprived him of the enormous geopolitical advantage of closing the Straits of Gibraltar. A military alliance with Spain was easily attainable during the early stages of the Second World War, certainly while the pro-Fascist Foreign Minister Serrano Suñer was still deputy ruler of that country20.

Also inexcusable was Hitler's belief that he could disregard the recommendations and advice of his engineers and scientists. Perhaps the classic example was his insistence in 1944 that Me262 jet fighter aircraft be converted into (barely effective) bombers21, rendering them incapable of protecting his industries and fuel stores. (It is relevant to recall how the RAF had won the Battle of Britain in 1940 by giving preference to its fighter squadrons; in 1944, moreover, jet aircraft were not yet available to the Allies).

Spengler managed to find common ground with the Nazis on a few issues22, but gradually became disenchanted with them. In particular, he was not anti-Semitic23. Soon after Hitler's accession to power, Spengler published "The Years of Decision", warning that the European Empire lying well within the grasp of Prussian militarism - was in grave danger of being lost through incompetent leadership24; the Nazis therefore disowned him.
 
 

Tyranny, then recovery

Spengler died in 1936, but if he had been able to assess the conduct and aftermath of the Second World War, what comments would he have made? Undoubtedly, he would have drawn comparisons with earlier civilisations, examining centuries which he thought corresponded biologically to present and coming ones in our own.

For example, he might have reminded us that Caligula and Nero both degenerated into Hitlerian tyrants, but their excesses did not prevent Rome from later enjoying a golden era under Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius.

At the other end of Eurasia, Ying Zheng became First Emperor (Shi Hwang Di) of a united China: he is remembered as a harsh and cruel dictator, despite his positive achievements. After a nationwide insurrection, his dynasty was replaced by the much less tyrannical Han Empire which, apart from one interruption, controlled China for four centuries. The "corresponding" period in India was also beset by strife until the reign of King Asoka, who renounced war after being converted to Buddhism.

Spengler does not discuss later developments in those cultures, but it is obvious that without the heritage of Chinese civilisation, there would have been no Tang or Song dynasties, which left us a rich legacy of highly refined art and poetry. Similarly indebted was the Gupta dynasty in India, during which the talented writer Kalidasa composed his poetry and drama. It could therefore be argued that despite various setbacks, the Chinese, Roman, Indian (and Egyptian) empires more than once recovered to regain order and prosperity.

Thus, assuming that there is a science of "Culture Morphology", there are grounds for suggesting that a German victory in World War II would eventually have seen Nazi terror subsiding, with proper statesmen arising to govern Europe, drawn not just from Germany, but from other countries too. A firm date cannot really be given; much would have depended on the degree of violence accompanying each successive handover of power. In earlier cultures, many emperors first achieved fame as successful military generals. Thus, it is appropriate to mention that if the German conspirators in 1944 had managed to eliminate the Hitlerian regime, then Field Marshall Rommel's name would probably have been among those put forward for Head of State; Rommel was widely respected by friend and foe alike25.
 
 

Spengler's personal outlook: tasks for the future

Oswald Spengler subscribed to what he called "Ethical Socialism", which placed the interests of the State above those of the individual26; (it was not at all akin to Marxism - which championed the proletariat). Thus, Spengler had strong reservations about universal franchise27, citing the role played by money in influencing the outcome of elections. (We might also mention the obvious disadvantages which mass-voting imposes on political parties demanding sacrifice and discipline).

He also maintained that democracy made it easy for anonymous powers to operate without any scruples28. He believed too that money had overstepped its function, ruinously dominating government policies, not to mention the lives of individuals29. Many decades have of course elapsed since he wrote, and the "tyranny of money" has become even worse.

Spengler emphasised that the only way forward was into an Imperial Europe, but at times even he sounded apprehensive at the prospect of what he termed "Caesarism", admitting that it would be negative and superficial in certain respects30. It is interesting that when discussing the clash between old, hardened Classical Civilisation and young, still hesitant Arabian Culture, his sympathies were very much with the newer one31. When looking at the 20th and 21st centuries, however, his view was tempered by his German patriotism.

In any event, there are tasks which still need to be identified and tackled in Western Civilisation. A reform of our legal system is one32 - just as the codification of Roman Law was one of the important achievements of the late Classical world; Hammurabi did the same for ancient Babylon.

In addition, in our 21st century there is ample opportunity for initiative and new discoveries in engineering and technology; these disciplines usually enjoy their richest development during the "autumn" of a High Culture33. Furthermore, the Western mind seems to have a particular aptitude for technology.

It would be a pity to ignore Spengler's writings purely on account of their controversial political implications. "The Decline of the West", particularly, contains a wealth of information and ideas capable of providing stimulation and enjoyment for a specialist in almost any field of knowledge.
 
 

References and Notes

The following abbreviations are used for references to Spengler's books and to Yockey's "Imperium":

DoWI: "The Decline of the West", volume I. George Allen & Unwin, London, 1959; 428 pp. plus index. Originally published by Verlag C.H. Beck, Munich, 1918, as "Der Untergang des Abendlandes".

DoWII: "The Decline of the West", volume II. George Allen & Unwin, London, 1959; 507 pp. plus index. Originally published by Verlag C.H. Beck, Munich, 1922.

HoD: "The Hour of Decision". Alfred A. Knopf, New York, and George Allen & Unwin, London, 1963; xvi, 230 pp. plus index. Originally published by C.H. Beck, Munich, 1933, as "Jahre der Entscheidung". (The title was changed for the English edition).

PS: "Politische Schriften" (seven essays; some were also published separately). C.H. Beck, Munich, 1934; xvi, 338 pp.

SL: "Spengler Letters, 1913-1936". George Allen & Unwin, London, 1966; 316 pp. plus index. Originally published by C.H. Beck, Munich, 1963.

Imp: Francis Parker Yockey ('Ulick Varange'): "Imperium- the Philosophy of History and Politics". Noontide Press, California, 1962; 619 pp. plus index. Originally published by Westropa Press, London, 1948. Obtainable through amazon.com. Yockey has a good grasp of Spenglerian theory, but his commentaries on the Jews are best ignored.
 
 

1. DoWII pp. 36-37; DoWI pp. 3, 5 et seq., 111-112.

2. DoWI pp. 104, 106-110; Imp pp. 3-12, DoWII pp. 35-37.

3. DoWII pp. 39 et seq.

4. DoWII pp. 192 et seq.; PS pp. 122 ("Das Doppelantlitz Russlands und die deutschen Ostprobleme"), 136-137 ("Politische Pflichten der deutschen Jugend"); SL pp. 34 (to H. Klöres, 7th Jun 1915), 44-45 (ibid., 12th Oct 1916), 316 (to W. Drascher, 3rd May 1936). Also see PS pp. 176-179 ("Neue Formen der Weltpolitik")....
... Until 1917, Russia was essentially dominated by Western thought and customs; see HoD pp. 60-61; Imp pp. 578 et seq., 435.

5. DoWI pp. 212-213; DoWII pp. 42-43, 189-192, 318-323, 256 et seq., 89, 168, 176-178, 203-211, 235.

6. A. Scheinfeld: "The basic facts of human heredity" - Pan Books, London, and Washington Square Press, USA, 1963; 271 pp. plus index; see p.37.
... Also mentioned under "Sex Ratio" in the "Encyclopaedia Britannica", volume 20 - USA, 1955; 1006 pp.; see pp. 420, 420B.

7. DoWI pp. 174-178, 203, 183-184, 65.

8. ibid.

9. DoWI pp. 109-110, and the Tables at the end of the volume.

10. Was it coincidence that these two exceptional people appeared simultaneously? Did one in fact steal ideas from the other? Or were they both just part of the necessary and inevitable development of the Western cultural organism? (cf. Imp p.373).
.... The controversy is mentioned under "Newton" in "Chambers's Encyclopaedia", volume IX - International Learning Systems Corporation, London, 1973; 840 pp.; see p.834.

11. Tables at the end of DoWI.

12. DoWI p.424; Imp pp. 10, 335.

13. DoWI pp. 36-39; DoWII pp. 416 et seq., 422 et seq., 40-41; HoD p.24.

14. Cf. HoD pp. 225-227, 219. Also see note 17 below, regarding Prussia.

15. DoWI pp. 108, 427; DoWII pp. 310-311.

16. Imp p.352.

17. HoD pp. 18, 32, ix; SL pp. 15 ("Introduction" by A. Koktanek), 31 (to H. Klöres, 18th Dec 1914), 37 (ibid., 14th Jul 1915), 43-44 (ibid., 12th Jul 1916). Also see Imp pp. 567, 576, 610, 616-617, 483, 491, 123-124, 554. Note too that DoWII p.109 names "Germany ... as the last nation of the West"; cf. DoWII p.182.
... Prussia was of course responsible for unifying Germany - and (like the other states listed in the main text referring to note 14), Prussia was "on the edge" of its High Culture.

18. Imp pp. 571-573. Cf. HoD pp. 208-211, 228-229, 61.

19. J.F.C. Fuller: "The decisive battles of the Western world", volume 3 - Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1963; 636 pp. plus index; see pp. 434-437, 421, 415.

20. M. Gallo: "Spain under Franco - a history" - Dutton & Co., New York, 1974. Originally published by Gerard & Cie., Verviers, Belgium, 1969 as "Histoire de l'Espagne Franquiste".
.... Paul Preston gives a detailed account in chapters XIII to XVIII of "Franco, a biography" - Fontana Press, UK, 1995. Originally published by Harper Collins, 1993.

21. Fully corroborated by the German ace fighter pilot, General Adolf Galland, towards the end of "The First and the Last" - Methuen & Co., London, 1955, and (abridged) Fontana, 1970. Originally published by Franz Schneekluth, Darmstadt, 1953, and Wilhelm Heyne, Munich, 1984, as "Die Ersten und die Letzten".
.... Confirmed by Nazi Armaments Minister Albert Speer in "Inside the Third Reich" - Sphere Books, London, 1971; 700 pp. plus notes and index; see pp. 488-493, 594. Also published by Wiedenfeld & Nicolson and by MacMillan, New York. Originally published by Propyläen/Ullstein, 1969, as "Erinnerungen".

22. HoD page xi; SL p.290 (to J. Goebbels, 3rd Nov 1933) supporting Germany's withdrawal from the League of Nations (but at the same time complaining about anti-Spengler articles in the German Press). Also see Felken in note 24.

23. HoD p.219; PS pp. 202-203 incl. footnote ("Neubau des deutschen Reiches"); SL p.163 (footnote to A. Doren's letter of 11th Jun 1924). Also see DoWII p.323.
... Confirmed by John Farrenkopf in "Prophet of Decline" - Louisiana State University Press, 2001; 290 pp. plus index; see pp. 237-238 which refer to Politica I, 54, B3-63 and II, 131, B3-150 (from Spengler's unpublished notes, archived in the Bavaria State Library, Munich).

24. HoD pp. xiv et seq., xii, 7. Perhaps the most telling point, however, is the absence of any reference to Hitler in HoD - despite a call for a proper Leader on p.230...
.... Many people actually asked Spengler why he did not think Hitler was the right man: see SL pp. 288-289 (from G. Gründel, 16th Oct 1933), 304-305 (from Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche, 15th Oct 1935), 217 (to A. Fauconnet, 15th Mar 1927), 280 (to R. Schlubach, 18th Apr 1933).
.... Such points, and others mentioned in notes 22 and 23, are amplified by Detlef Felken in "Oswald Spengler: Konservativer Denker zwischen Kaiserreich und Diktatur" - C.H. Beck, Munich, 1988; 246 pp. plus notes and index; see pp. 194-198 and 217-223 (including the text of Goebbels's December 1933 Press announcement rejecting Spengler).

25. D. Young: "Rommel" - Fontana, 1965; 271 pp. plus appendices and index; see pp. 238-255.

26. HoD pp. 188-194, 141 (footnote); PS pp. 15, 24-25, 33 et seq., 39, 45 (all in "Preussentum und Sozialismus"); DoWII p.506. Also see HoD pp. 94-97; DoWI pp. 361-362.

27. HoD pp. 38-40; DoWII pp. 415-416, 455-456, 462-464. Also see DoWII p.447; PS pp. ix-x ("Vorwort").

28. HoD pp. 144-151; DoWI pp. 34-35; PS pp. 69-70 ("Preussentum und Sozialismus"); Imp pp. 362, 430. Also see HoD pp. 165-166, 190; PS pp. 138-141 ("Politische Pflichten der deutschen Jugend"), 284, 269-270 (both in "Neubau des deutschen Reiches"); Imp pp. 520-523, 231, 214-218.

29. DoWII pp. 98, 485, 506-507; HoD pp. 89, 97-100. Also see DoWII p.432; HoD pp. 40-45; PS p.313 ("Das heutige Verhältnis zwischen Weltwirtschaft und Weltpolitik"); Imp pp. 345, 113-118, 426-428...
.... On the significance of America, read DoWII p.475; Imp pp. 518-520; HoD pp.67-72.

30. SL p.43 (to H. Klöres, 12th Jul 1916); DoWII p.339.

31. DoWII pp. 191-192. Also see DoWI pp. 212-213; DoWII pp. 304, 87.

32. DoWII pp.81-83, 78-80. For discussion of problems due to our inheritance from Rome (with a look too at the Arabian Culture), read DoWII pp. 60-78.

33. DoWI p.41; DoWII pp. 501-505; however, Spengler should really have mentioned the enduring quality of Roman aqueducts and viaducts. Also see Spengler's "Der Mensch und die Technik" - C.H. Beck, Munich, 1971 (originally 1931); 62 pp.; read pp. 43-44, 3. (Translated as "Man and Technics" - Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1963; 104 pp.; read pp. 76-77, 6). Relevant too is PS pp. 230-231 ("Neubau des deutschen Reiches").


CORRESPONDENCE SELECTED FROM http://DLMcN.com/histcorr.html
 

From Javier Ricardo Abella, Venezuela, 1999:

I am working on a thesis about the influence of Oswald Spengler's ideas on the National Socialist "ideology" (if one could call that an ideology). In particular, I am trying to get hold of Spengler's article entitled Political Duties of German Youth - if possible translated into English or Spanish. What can you tell me about it? Any other comments you have will also be valuable.
 

Reply:

I am not aware of any translation into English of Spengler's Politische Schriften, nor his Politische Pflichten der deutschen Jugend (which is actually one of the essays included in that volume). Charles Atkinson may have decided that they were too chauvinistic.
.......

There is one passage in Politische Pflichten der deutschen Jugend which is sometimes quoted to try and argue that Spengler was guilty of "encouraging the Nazis on to their doom" (even though he later rejected them, just as they disowned him). In that passage (in his Politische Schriften, page 147), Spengler regards the German ability to "hate" other nationalities - as an asset. However, the verb "hassen" (used by Spengler in that context) must be distinguished from the verb "verachten"; see for example page 41 in his book Der Mensch und die Technik (1971 edition), and also Spengler Letters, page 17. "Hassen" implies respect for one's opponent - so there is not really a good equivalent word in English. "Verachten" means "despise", and includes no respect.

You may be aware that the Nazi Armaments Minister Albert Speer referred briefly to (and even praised) Spengler in his autobiography Inside the Third Reich. Some Nazis were undoubtedly encouraged by Spengler's arguments that Germany was destined to weld Europe together into a Super-State.

However, it is extremely doubtful whether Hitler himself ever made much effort to read and understand Der Untergang des Abendlandes.

David McN


From Professor Gilbert Merlio, Bordeaux, France, 1984 [now at the Sorbonne in Paris]:

I read your essay on Oswald Spengler with great interest. However, I do have reservations as to whether any Western country is now capable of uniting our High Culture into the "Grand Imperium" which he envisages. The permissiveness and absence of discipline in modern-day west-European and American society will be a serious handicap.


From Steve Redder, USA, January 2001:

What do you think Spengler would say about the modern-day European Union? To what extent does it fit his concept of an "Integrated Europe"?
 

Comment:

I suspect that Spengler (had he been here to reply), might have regarded the present European Community as a somewhat clumsy and messy arrangement, arguing that it does not really have a clear sense of purpose or identity. As you know, its primary emphasis is on economic union.

At the same time, it is certainly indicative that so many individual European states have voluntarily drawn together into a community. This could be interpreted as evidence that their differences have almost faded into insignificance: i.e. after centuries of warfare, they seem to be converging naturally towards sharing what is essentially the same outlook.

David McN


From John Reilly, USA, 2002:

There is one item in your essay on Spengler and Hitler which I am inclined to criticize: I maintain that World War II was still too "early" for Caesarism to take hold in Western Civilisation.
 

Comments (copied to Haroon Sheikh, Netherlands, for the Manchester Workshop in Political Theory, 2008):

Yes, it could certainly be said that Hitler was "too early" in that he tried to achieve too much too quickly. Of course, he was intoxicated by his own megalomania - and this undoubtedly contributed to his downfall.

But if the Nazis had managed to remain in control of Germany after World War II, I suspect that Spengler (had he lived on) would have been tempted to "equate" Hitler's assumption of full power in 1934 - with Marius's elevation in status in 104 BC. This latter event is discussed on page 423 of volume II of The Decline of the West (English translation), including mention of a comparable occasion in China in 288 BC. That possible analogy with the Roman era is consistent with Spengler's commentary on page 18 of The Hour of Decision.

Perhaps more significant is the fact that Spengler actually voted to support the Nazis in 1932 and 1933. As reported by John Farrenkopf on page 236 of his Prophet of Decline (quoting Anton Koktanek), Spengler decided that the Nazi movement would at least prepare the way for a transition into Caesarism, despite his fear that Hitler's lack of foreign policy skills could be a serious handicap.

Thus, according to Spengler's "timetable", the 1930s and 1940s were indeed too early for (the equivalent of) Caesar Octavianus or Tiberius, but maybe those years could have witnessed the successful rise of a "Marius", if correctly handled.

David McN


From James Bush, Spain, 2003:

What would you say is the relevance today of Spengler's writings? In particular, what points could be interpreted as "useful advice"?
 

Suggestions:

(i) Europe should be regarded as a single entity.

(ii) Democracy (with its universal adult franchise) is no longer an efficient form of government for Western Civilisation (- and even less so for the Third World).

(iii) The modern-day obsession with money is quite unhealthy - looking at the way it dominates almost every aspect of our lives.

David McN


From Bridget Harding, Germany, 2004:

Very relevant to the present situation in Europe is the possibility that a High Cultural Organism may be constrained or even killed by outside forces, remembering how Russian involvement altered the outcome of World War II. Perhaps we should look carefully at other examples where that happened: (you do mention the Aztecs and the Incas).
 

Reply:

I suspect that the Indus Valley Civilisation was destroyed by Hindu invaders before it even commenced its imperial phase. Unfortunately, we have no written records describing that era.

In Spengler's Magian Culture, the Seljuk Turks managed to unite and rule most of Persia, Iraq, Syria and Anatolia. It was of course the 'heathen' Mongols who finally wiped out that empire: Genghis Khan invaded Khorasan in 1220 AD; his grandson captured Baghdad in 1258. Earlier, in 1141, the Seljuks had already been defeated in battle by a different Mongol tribe - the Kara Khitai.

The 'alien' Crusaders were also part of the equation, clashing with the Seljuks in a series of wars over the Holy Land.

In addition, it could be argued that the Magian Culture never completely recovered from the "pseudomorphosis" - which was of course imposed from outside. Before the Mongols appeared on the scene, the Seljuks' principal rivals were two other Magian powers - the Byzantines and the (Isma'ili Shi'ite) Fatimids, but the Seljuks never even managed to set foot in Greece or in Egypt. From 1090 onwards, the Isma'ili Assassins (a Fatimid offshoot) played havoc throughout the Seljuk dominions.

Spengler seems to suggest that the Sunni/Shi'a sectarian split was partly fuelled by Babylonian and perhaps Zoroastrian pseudomorphic influence - see The Decline of the West, volume II, p.176 and perhaps pp. 424 and 236. However, more research would be necessary to confirm that theory.

David McN


Accompanying slideshow: http://DLMcN.com/spengslides.ppt
Article subsequently published in "Comparative Civilizations Review" (in 2012): http://DLMcN.com/oswaldspengler.html

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