Oswald Spengler, 1880-1936
---Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, 1918
The German historicist writer, Oswald Spengler, was born at Blankenburg, Harz, studied at Halle, Munich and Berlin and taught mathematics (1908) in Hamburg before devoting himself entirely to the compilation of the prophetic philosophy of history, The Decline of the West (Vol. I, 1918, Vol. II, 1922). In this work, Spengler argued by analogy, in the manner of Hegel and Marx, that all civilizations or cultures are subject to the same cycles of growth and decay in accordance with predetermined "historical destiny." The soul of Western Civilization is dead. The age of soulless expansionism and Caesarism is upon us. It is better for Western man, therefore, to be engineer rather than poet, soldier rather than artist, politician rather than philosopher. Spengler was more concerned with the present and future rather than with the origins of civilization. His verdict greatly encouraged the Nazis although Spengler never became one himself.
The following selection comes from Spengler's Years of Decision (1933), in which he develops his own brand of fascist racism and illuminates the significance of the Nazi seizure of power.
* * * * *
The Celtic-German "race" has the strongest will-power the world has ever seen. But this "I will", "I will!" -- which fills the Faustian soul to the brim, makes up the ultimate meaning of its existence and prevails in every expression of Faustian culture in thought and deed, in creative act and demeanor -- awakens consciousness of the total isolation of the Self in infinite space. Will and loneliness are at bottom the same. . . .
If anything in the world is individualism, it is this defiance of the individual towards the whole world, his knowledge of his own indestructible will, the pleasure he takes in irreversible decisions, and the love of fate even in the moment when he goes under because of them. To submit out of free will is Prussian. The value of the sacrifice lies in its difficulty. He who has no Self to sacrifice should not talk of loyalty. . . . Genuine -- genuinely Prussian -- loyalty is what the world needs most in this age of catastrophes. One can only rely on something which stands firm. This insight is the mark of the true leader. He who comes from the masses understands all too well that no loyal following is to be expected from the masses, majorities, parties. . . . He who is born to lead can use them, but he despises them. He conducts the bitterest battle not against the enemy, but against the swarm of his all too devoted friends. . . .
It is high time that the "white" world, and first and foremost Germany, became mindful of such facts. For behind the world wars and the as yet incomplete proletarian world revolution there looms the greatest of all dangers, the black danger, and everything the white peoples still have to offer worthy of the name "race" will be necessary to combat it. Above all it must be remembered that Germany is not the island which political ideologues think it is, treating it as no more than an object with which to realize their programmes. It is just a tiny spot in a vast world in ferment, albeit in a crucial position within this world. It alone has the Prussian spirit working within it as a living reality. Endowed with this treasure which enables it to be a role model of existence, Germany can be the educator of the "white world," perhaps even its savior. . . .
The coming phase of history will henceforth be lived out far above economic crises and the ideals of domestic politics. Elemental forces of life are now entering the fray where the stakes are all or nothing. The prototypes of Caesarism will soon become more clearly defined, more conscious, more brazen. The masks surviving from the parliamentary age of transition will fall away entirely. All attempts to determine the shape of the future within political parties will be quickly forgotten. The fascist formations of these decades will turn into new ones as yet unpredictable, and even nationalism as we know it will disappear. Everywhere, not just in Germany, the only formative power left is the warlike "Prussian" spirit. Destiny, once confined within imposing institutions and weighty traditions, will make history through amorphous and unique expressions of force. The legions of Caesar are reawakening.
Here, perhaps even in this century, the final decisions are waiting for the man to take them. In front of him the petty goals and concepts of today's politics count as nothing. Whoever holds the sword which wrests victory now will be lord of the world. There lies the dice of this monstrous game. Who dares to cast them?
[Source: Oswald Spengler, Jahre der Entscheidung [Years of Decision] (Berlin: Beck'sche Verlagbuchshandlung, 1933), pp. 142-145, 164-165; quoted in Roger Griffin, ed., Fascism (New York: Oxford, 1995), pp. 113-114.]
| The History Guide | |
copyright � 2000 Steven Kreis