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mercredi, 02 décembre 2009

Trois nouveaux dossiers sur le site de la revue "Vouloir"


Sur http://vouloir.hautetfort.com/


Trois nouveaux dossiers !

Dossier “Spengler”

Dossier “Révolution conservatrice”

Dossier “Décisionnisme”


Dossier “Spengler”





Les matrices préhistoriques des civilisations antiques dans l’oeuvre posthume de Spengler: Atlantis, Kash et Touran



Le rapport Evola/Spengler



Le regard historique


Patrice BOLLON:

Oswald Spengler: le “Copernic de l’histoire”


William DEBBINS:

Le déclin de l’Occident



Les années décisives



Crise ou déclin de l’Occident


Julius EVOLA:

L’Europe ou la conjuration du déclin?


Dossier “Révolution conservatrice”





“La Révolution Conservatrice”, thèse d’Armin Mohler



Révolution conservatrice, forme catholique et “ordo aeternus” romain


Dossier “Décisionnisme”




Holger von DOBENECK:

Panajotis Kondylis: Pouvoir et décision


Hans B. von SOTHEN:

Hommage à Panajotis Kondylis (1943-1998)


En annexe:


Ennemi et décision – Hommage à Panajotis Kondylis


Julien FREUND:

Que veut dire prendre une décision?


En annexe:

S. de la TOUANNE:

Julien Freund, penseur “machiavélien” de la politique

jeudi, 10 septembre 2009

Snapshots of the Continent Entre Deux Guerres: Keyserling's Europe (1928) and Spengler's Hour of Decision (1934)

Snapshots Of The Continent Entre Deux Guerres:

Keyserling’s Europe (1928)


Spengler’s Hour Of Decision (1934)

Swiftly on beginning my graduate-student career in 1984 I observed that people calling themselves intellectuals – the kind of people whom one met in those days as fellows in graduate humanities programs – tended to be obsessed with topicality and immediacy.  Some adhered explicitly to one or another ideology of the a-historical, identifying so strongly with a perceived avant-garde or “cutting edge” that yesterday struck them as contemptible, a thing to be denounced so as to make way for the reformation of existence.  But the majority were (and I suppose are) conformists looking for cues about what effective poses they might strike or words employ to signify their being “with it.”  To be “with it” in a comparative literature program in California in the mid-1980s meant to be conversant with “theory,” and “theory” in turn meant the latest oracular pronouncement by the Francophone philosophe du jour, as issued almost before the writer wrote it by the those beacons of scholastic responsibility, the university presses.  First it was Michel Foucault, then Jacques Derrida, and then Jean-Michel Lyotard.  As tomorrow swiftly became yesterday, one sensed a panic to keep up with the horizonless succession of “with-it” gurus in fear that one might appear to others, better informed, as clownishly derrière-garde.

Being reactionary by conviction, I decided on an opposite course: to ignore the avant-garde and to read backwards, as it were, into the archive of forgotten and marginal books that no one deemed respectable by the establishment was reading anymore, and sideways into the contemporarily unorthodox.  Part of the providential harvest of that eccentric project, which became a habit, is my acquaintance with two quirky tomes that, despite their oddness, seem to me to stand out as notable achievements of the European mind in the decade before World War Two.  One is Count Hermann Keyserling’s Europe (1928); the other is Oswald Spengler’s “other book,” The Hour of Decision (1934).   Both speak to us, in the God-forsaken present moment, with no small critical alacrity.

I. Spengler has proved a more durable figure than Keyserling, but the reading audience during the early years of the Weimar Republic would have known Keyserling better than Spengler.  People talked about Spengler, but they read Keyserling, whose style was the more accessible.  Of Baltic Junker descent, Graf Hermann Alexander Keyserling (1880 – 1946) fared badly in the aftermath of the Great War.  He lost title to Rayküll, the hereditary Keyserling estate in Junker-dominated Livonia, when the newly independent Estonian Republic, conspicuously failing to reverse erstwhile Bolshevik policy, expropriated (or rather re-expropriated) the fixed holdings of the German-speaking ex-aristocracy.  Keyserling found himself stateless, dispossessed, and in search of a career, his sole remaining asset consisting in his education (higher studies at Dorpat, Heidelberg, and Vienna).  Marriage to Otto von Bismarck’s granddaughter (1919) returned Keyserling to something like a station while the success of his first book, The Travel Diary of a Philosopher (1922), stabilized his finances.  The Travel Diary, immediately translated into a half-dozen languages including English, remains readable, even fascinating.  In 1914, before the outbreak of hostilities, Keyserling had undertaken a global circumnavigation, the lesson of which the Diary, a nation-by-nation account of the world at that moment, meditatively records.


The Diary bespeaks a cosmopolitan-liberal attitude, flavored by a pronounced mystical inclination.  Europe, or Das Spektrum Europas in the original German, will strike readers by contrast as an apology (highly qualified) both for nationalism and for individualism.  Keyserling’s “spectroscopic analyses” of the various European peoples, in their peculiar individualities as well as in their complex relation to one another, advances the argument that, if Europe ever were to forge administrative unity out of its querulous variety, it would only ever do so by granting full rights and legitimacy to the varieties.

Keyserling favors a modest pan-European government, whose chief function would be the mediation of disputes between the otherwise sovereign nation-states, but characteristically he supplies no details.  Keyserling’s notion of a pan-European administration differs in its modesty from many being advanced at the time by such as H. G. Wells, whose speculative utopias – as for example in Men Like Gods – uniformly foresee the dissolution of the nation-state, not just into a pan-European arrangement, but, rather, into a World Republic.  Of course, Wells assumes that English, not French or Mandarin, will be the singular unifying tongue of that Republic.  The elites will educate people so that anything like a national identity disappears completely in the first captive generation.  In the concluding chapter of Europe, in a discussion of national “style,” Keyserling insists on the contrast between his own sense of identity and the “international,” or specifically political type of identity, promulgated by the Communists and Socialists.  In the case of the specifically political identity, the subject yields his individuality to merge with the ideological construction.   Keyserling reacts to this as to a toxin.  “When I analyze my own self-consciousness,” Keyserling poses, “what do I find myself to be?”

Keyserling answers: “First and foremost, I am myself; second, an aristocrat; third, a Keyserling; fourth, a Westerner; fifth, a European; sixth, a Balt; seventh, a German; eighth, a Russian; ninth, a Frenchman – yes, a Frenchman, for the years during which France was my teacher influenced my ego deeply.”  We note that politics never enters into it.  Reading the autobiographical passages of Europe, especially those in the chapter on “The Baltic States,” one gets the impression, incidentally, that belonging to Baltdom ranks as rather more important for Keyserling’s self-assessment than its place in his explicit hierarchy of identities would suggest.

Europe deploys a well-thought-out dialectic of individual and national character, whose subtleties Keyserling presents in his “Introduction.”  In the same “Introduction,” the author also sets forth his case for the absolute legitimacy of judging nations and cultures against one another.  Keyserling fixes over the whole of Europe an epigraph drawn from Paul to the Romans: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  His dialectic follows from his conviction of imperfectness both of the basic human nature and of human arrangements for the conduct of political existence.

Keyserling can note, by way of a widely applicable example, that the Latin subject’s sense of his status as “civis Romanus… awoke in him as an individual a profound sense of self-discipline and obligation”; Keyserling can also assert that, “The man who attempts to deduce his own worth from the fact that he is a member of a particular group is thinking askew, and, besides presenting an absurd spectacle, gets himself disliked.”  The two statements imply, for Keyserling, no contradiction.  In the spirit of Saint Paul, Keyserling indeed hazards the sweeping – and, to some, disturbing – rule that, “in not a single nation is the national element, as such, bound up with anything of worth” because “the gifts of every nation are balanced by complementary defects.” As Keyserling sees things, “the only value in the national spirit is that it may serve as the basic material, as the principle of form, for the individual.”  In the ironic consequence, as Keyserling closes out his syllogism, “it is for this very reason that every nation instinctively measures its standing by the number and quality of world-important figures which it has produced.”

Whereas on the one hand in Keyserling’s epigrammatic judgment, “the individual and the unique are more than the nation, be it one’s own or another,” on the other hand “value and mass have absolutely nothing to do with each other.”  Apropos of Keyserling’s disdain for the “mass,” he notes that, “Christ preached love of one’s neighbor just because he did not have in mind philanthropy and democracy.”

Invoking Hebrew theology and German music as examples, Keyserling argues that: “A nation can achieve significance for humanity only in certain respects; namely, those wherein its special aptitudes fit it to become the appointed organ for all humanity.” Thus to evoke “abstract considerations of justice” is for Keyserling a “useless” exercise flying in the face of a “cosmic truth.” Given the central role of the individual in Keyserling’s scheme, readers will register little surprise when, in Europe, the author insists that the individual not only possesses the right, but indeed lives under an ethical imperative, to render public judgment on collectivities, with reference to a metaphysical hierarchy of values.  “Strength and beauty are higher, in the absolute sense, than weakness and ugliness; superiority is higher, too, in the absolute sense, than inferiority, and the aristocratic is higher than the plebieian.”  Europe offers, among other pleasures, Keyserling’s giving himself “free rein” to articulate such judgments in a spirit of “inner liberation,” in which the cultured reader will surely participate, treating everyone with equal severity and irony.

Keyserling admits, “There are some who will have for this book nothing but resentment.”  He hopes indeed that “all Pharisees, all Philistines, all nitwits, the bourgeois, the humorless, the thick-witted, will be deeply, thoroughly hurt.”  These are words almost more apt – but certainly more apt, supremely apt – for Anno Domine 2009 than for 1928; but one nevertheless presupposes their legitimacy in context.  Keyserling reminds his readers in advance that he will have imposed the same criteria in assessing “my own people,” meaning the Balts, as in assessing others.


II. One can only sample the wares, so to speak, in a summary of Europe, keeping in mind Keyserling’s warning that he must necessarily offend the easily offended.  Readers will need to explore Europe on their own to discover what Keyserling has to say about Netherlanders, Hungarians, Romanians, Swedes, and Swiss.  What follows makes reference only to the chapters on England, France, and Germany.  Does the order of the chapters imply even the most modest of hierarchies, with the first chapter taking up the analysis of England?  Keyserling must have recognized the importance of his Anglophone audience to his popularity.  His treatment of the English, while unsparing in principle, does seem warmed somewhat by fondness.  For Keyserling, that odd phenomenon of “Anglomania” (nowadays one would say “Anglophilia”) tells us something, by way of indirection, about its object.  “One nation sees itself mirrored in the other, not as it is, but as it would like to be; just as, during the World War, every nation attributed to its enemy the worst features of its own unconscious.”

On England.  With characteristic nakedness of statement, Keyserling credits the Anglo-Saxon, not with “intelligence” but rather with “instinct.”  According to Keyserling, “the whole [English] nation… has an unconquerable prejudice against thinking, and, above all, against any insistence on intellectual problems.”  Being creatures of instinct, Englishmen act with certitude or at least with the appearance of certitude.  It is this certitude, translated pragmatically as the habit of taking bold action, which others so admire, even while misunderstanding it, in the Anglo-Saxon spirit.  “The Englishman… is an animal-man”; and “at the lowest end of the scale he is the horse-man, with corresponding equine features.”  The aversion to ratiocination explains the British Empire, which “simply grew up, with no intention on anybody’s part,” to be governed by the colonial-administrator type, who “rarely thinks of anything but food, drink, sport, and, if he is young, flirtations.”

More than God, whatever his sectarian dispensation, Keyserling’s Englishman worships “the rules of the game.”  Thus his “loyalty to one’s land, one’s party, one’s class, one’s prejudices… the first law” so that “the question of absolute value is beside the point.”  From these inclinations stem “British empiricism, so despised by the French, which enables the British successfully to anticipate the crises precipitated by the spirit of the times.”  Yet if the Englishman were ungifted intellectually, he would be, in Keyserling’s estimate, “all the more gifted psychologically,” with the consequence that the Briton possesses “skill in handling human material [that] is extraordinary.”  Nestling at the core of that gift is the principle, which Keyserling classifies as “primitive,” that one should “live and let live.”  The English sense of individuality and of rights is likewise primitive, in the positive sense of being a reversion, against the modern tide, to the atheling-egotism of the Beowulf heroes and King Alfred.  More than any other European nation, England has preserved medieval customs that might prove healthily anodyne to the deculturation inherent in modernity.  Yet Keyserling fears that the English will fail to preserve custom and will plunge into “the Mass Age” more thoroughly than other nations, just as the offshoot American nation, in his judgment, had already done.

On France.  Chortling Gallic readers need only to have turned the page to receive their own stinging dose of Keyserling’s patented forthrightness.  It starts out flatteringly enough.  Whereas the Englishman lives according to instinct, the Frenchman, taking him in the generality, behaves like a “universally intelligible life-form”; one sees in him a creature of “the conscious” and of “the intellect,” whose rationality has concocted, in the Gallic idiom, “a perfect language for itself.”  So it is that “all Occidental ideology, whenever it can be expressed at all in French, finds in the body of that language its most intelligible expression.”  Nevertheless, “however clear the intelligence of the Frenchman may be, his self-consciousness is emotional rather than intellectual,” being as such, “easily and violently aroused,” with the emotion itself its “own ultimate justification.”  From Parisian emotiveness, from the esteem in which others regard France, and using the intellectual precision of the French language, comes the least attractive of Gallic qualities: “The Frenchman… has always seen in his opponent the enemy of civilization.”  Just that inclination emerged in 1914, but the ferocity of the Jacobins showed its presence at the birth of the French Republic.

As Keyserling sees it, however, France is not a dynamic, but an essentially conservative, nation, which is what has enabled it to survive its endless cycle of revolutions.  The real role of France after 1918 should not have been, as the French took it on themselves to do through the League of Nations, to “restore” – that is, to transform – Europe after some rational pattern; it should have been to conserve the precious vestiges of pre-Revolutionary culture.  “The French are par excellence the culture nation of Europe.”

On Germany.  On the topic of Germany, Keyserling begins by quoting his old friend Count Benckendorff, the Czar’s ambassador in London: Ne dites pas les allemands; il n’y a que des allemands.”  (“Speak not of the Germans; there are only Germans.”)  According to Keyserling, “The German exists only from the viewpoint of others”; yet not quite, as one can make applicable generalizations.  A German is an “object creature” whose “life-element lies, once and for all, in that which, externally, emerges most typically in the cult of the object.”  A German is by nature therefore an expert, dedicated to his own expertise and to expertise qua itself as the principle of orderly existence.  Keyserling avails himself of a standing joke: “If there were two gates, on the first of which was inscribed To Heaven, and on the other To Lectures about Heaven, all Germans would make for the second.”  German interest in objects and objectives gives rise to German technical prodigality – the German primacy in precision Engineering and the mechanical systematization of everyday life.  Despite its orientation to the objects, the German mentality suffers from “unreality.”  How so?

“The personal element in man,” Keyserling remarks, “declines in direct proportion as his consciousness becomes centered in detached, externalized ideas; and for those who have to deal with him it really becomes impossible to know what they can expect and what they can rely on.”  Keyserling does not foresee the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the catastrophe of the dictatorship, but he does, in the just-quoted sentence, see the cause of both.

The concluding chapter of Europe attempts a summing-up with a forecast.  Keyserling writes: “Europe is emerging as a unity because, faced at closer range by an overwhelming non-European humanity, the things which Europeans have in common are becoming more significant than those which divide them, and thus new factors are beginning to predominate over old ones in the common consciousness.”  But, in compliance with his dialectic, Keyserling issues a warning.  The unification of the European nations as they confront the non-European must avoid the result of producing “frantic Pan-Europeans” who, forgetting the specificity of the constituent nationalities, “understand each other not better, but worse than before.”  If that were to happen, Europe would have been effectively “Americanized.”  Keyserling concludes on an ominous note: “More than one culture has died out before reaching full blossom.  Atlantis, the Gondwana continent, went the way of death.  Infinite is human stupidity, human slothfulness.”

III. Keyserling and Oswald Spengler (1880 – 1936) never exactly knew each other; rather, they lived in standoffish awareness of each other, with Keyserling playing the more extroverted and Spengler the more introverted role.  In February 1922, Keyserling wrote to Spengler from Darmstadt, enclosing his review of The Decline of the West, and inviting Spengler to participate in a “School of Wisdom” seminar to be held at the Count’s Darmstadt house.  (The “School of Wisdom” was Keyserling’s lecture-foundation, which operated from 1920 until the Nazi regime shut it down in 1933.)  Spengler declined the invitation on the grounds that the audience was likely to be “young people stuffed with theoretical learning.”  Spengler remarked to Keyserling in his reply, that, “by wisdom I understand something that one obtains after decades of hard practical work, quite apart from learning.”  Spengler makes his adieu by promising to have his publisher send the new edition of The Decline to his correspondent.  The tone of Keyserling’s invitation perhaps abraded Spengler’s sense of propriety; Keyserling does presume a willingness to cooperate that, to Spengler, might have seemed a bit too peremptory. Keyserling nevertheless rightly presupposed that he shared many judgments with Spengler – just not the judgment concerning the obligatory status of a social invitation from Keyserling.


The Hour of Decision, like everything that Spengler authored, is a rich mine of observation and insight, difficult to summarize, mainly because it communicates so thoroughly with the monumental Decline, to which it forms an epilogue.  The core of The Hour is its diptych of concluding chapters on what Spengler calls “The White World-Revolution” and “The Coloured World-Revolution.”  As in the case of Keyserling’s ironic forthrightness, only more so, Spengler’s plain speaking makes him consummately politically incorrect.  The Hitlerian regime would suppress The Hour just as it suppressed Keyserling’s Darmstadt lecture-institute.  Both were unforgivably heterodox in the totalitarian context.  Spengler, writing in the onset of “die Nazizeit,” saw nothing particularly new in the dire developments of the day, only an intensification of the familiar Tendenz.  The West’s terminal crisis had been in progress already for a hundred chaotic years; the great spectacle of disintegration would only continue, not merely in the external world of institutions and forms, but also in the internal world of spiritual integrity.

Conjuring the image of the modern megalopolis and echoing Ortega’s alarm over the masses, Spengler writes, “A pile of atoms is no more alive than a single one.”  Crudely quantitative in its mental processes, the modern mass subject equates “the material product of economic activity” with “civilization and history.”  Spengler insists that economics is merely a sleight-of-hand discourse for disguising the real nature of the “catastrophe” that has overcome the West, which is a failure of cultural nerve.

In The Hour, Spengler builds on notions he had developed in The Decline, particularly the idea that the West has ceased to be a “Culture,” a healthy, vital thing, and has entered into the moribund phase of its life, or what Spengler calls “Civilization.” Into the megalopolis, “this world of stone and petrifaction,” writes Spengler, “flock ever-growing crowds of peasant folk uprooted from the land, the ‘masses’ in the terrifying sense, formless human sand from which artificial and therefore fleeting figures can be kneaded.”  Spengler stresses the formlessness of “Civilization,” in which “the instinct for the permanence of family and race” stands abolished.  Where “Culture is growth,” and “an abundance of children,” “Civilization” is “cold intelligence… the mere intelligence of the day, of the daily papers, ephemeral literature, and national assemblies,” with no urge to prolong itself as settled custom, well-bred offspring, or a posterity that honors tradition.  The “White World-Revolution” consists in the triumph of “the mob, the underworld in every sense.”

The mob, which sees everything from below, hates refinement and despises anything permanent.  The masses want “liberation from all… bonds [and] from every kind of form and custom, from all the people whose mode of life they feel in their dull fury to be superior.”  Hence the appeal of egalitarianism to the masses.  But, as Spengler argues, egalitarianism is really only a slogan, a euphemism.  The real trend is “Nihilism.”

The pattern of “Nihilism” emerged in the French Revolution, with its vocabulary of leveling, as in the radically politicizing etiquette of citoyen” and in the supposedly universal demand for “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.”  “The central demand of political liberalism,” writes Spengler, consists in “the desire to be free from the ethical restrictions of the Old Culture.”  Yet as Spengler insists: “The demand was anything but universal; it was only called so by the ranters and writers who lived by it and sought to further private aims through this freedom.”  We see this identical pattern today in the various concocted emergencies and so-called universal demands that the current thoroughly liberal-nihilistic regime in the United States trots out serially to justify its consolidation of power, whereby it ceaselessly attacks what remains in the American body-politic of form and custom.  In Spengler’s aphorism: “Active liberalism progresses from Jacobinism to Bolshevism logically.”

In Spengler’s judgment, moreover, one would make a mistake in equating Bolshevism, as people would have done in the 1930s, uniquely with the Soviet Union.  “Actually [Bolshevism] was born in Western Europe, and born indeed of logical necessity as the last phase of the liberal democracy of 1770 – which is to say, of the presumptuous intention to control living history by paper systems and ideals.”

When Spengler remarks on the theme of tolerance (so-called) in liberalism-nihilism, one thinks again of the existing situation in Europe and North America the first decade of the Twenty-First Century.  Inherent to form is its rigorous exclusion of the formless.  In its aggressive demand for inclusion of the rightly excluded, which belongs to its destructive impetus, the liberal-nihilistic regime works actively to de-stigmatize anti-social behavior.  Thus under liberalism-nihilism “tolerance is extended,” by self-denominating representatives of the people, “to the destructive forces, not demanded by them.”  Of course, the “destructive forces” do not refuse the extension.  On historical analogy, Spengler refers to this as “the Gracchan method.”  When once, as had already happened in Europe in Spengler’s time, “the concept of the proletariat [had] been accepted by the middle classes,” then the formula for cultural suicide had at last all of its ingredients in place.  “I am aware,” writes Spengler, “that most people will refuse with horror to admit that this irrevocable crashing of everything that centuries have built up was intentional, the result of deliberate working to that end… But it is so.”


IV. Like another, later analyst of modernity in its agony, Eric Voegelin, Spengler sees at the root of Liberalism-Nihilism the perversion of a religious idea.  “All Communist systems in the West are in fact derived from Christian theological thought: More’s Utopia, the Sun-State of the Dominica Campanella, the doctrines of Luther’s disciples Karlstadt and Thomas Münzer, and Fichte’s state-socialism… Christian theology is the grandmother of Bolshevism.”  The materialism – which is again a type of nihilism – of Marxism and socialism never contradicts the case for liberalism-nihilism as a perversion of Gospel themes.  “As soon as one mixes up the concepts of poverty, hunger, distress, work, and wages (with the moral undertone of rich and poor, right and wrong) and is led thereby to join in the social and economic demands of the proletarian sort – that is, money demands – one is a materialist.”  But, this being Spengler’s point, one may have the belief-attitude with respect to one’s materialist doctrines that the fanatic of God has for his mental idol, with the concomitant fierceness and ruthlessness.  The end of real Christianity is “renunciation.”  With reference to the sentence of Adam, writes Spengler, the Gospel tells men, “do not regard this hard meaning of life as misery and seek to circumvent it by party politics.”

In a precise description of the modern, immigration-friendly, general-welfare state, Spengler remarks that “for proletarian election propaganda,” an opposite principle to the Gospel one is required: “The materialist prefers to eat the bread that others have earned in the sweat of their face.”  When the Gracchan rabble dominates from below so that the demagogues might manipulate from above, then it will come to pass that “the parasitic egoism of inferior minds, who regard the economic life of other people, and that of the whole, as an object from which to squeeze with the least possible exertion the greatest possible enjoyment” will seek its bestial end in “panem et circenses.”  Once the majority descends to vulgar consumption through extortion – and through a mere pretence of work under the welfare-umbrella of “the political wage” – then the society has doomed itself.  It can only lurch in the direction of its inevitable demise.  Even the keen-eyed will not want to confront reality.  They will, as Spengler writes, “refuse in horror” to believe what they see.  Spengler might have been thinking about a letter from his correspondent Roderich Schlubach dated 9 October 1931.  Schlubach writes: “I frankly admit that much of what you prophesied [in The Decline] has taken place.  The decline of the West seems to be at hand, and still I do not believe in an end of the world, only in an entire change in our circumstances.”

That is “The White World-Revolution” – the triumph of rabble-envy, the destruction of form, childlessness, and the childishness of mass entertainments.  Indeed, “an entire change in our circumstances,” as Schlubach says, not grasping that his words mean the opposite of what he intends.  What of “The Coloured World-Revolution”?  Keyserling had admonished, in the concluding chapter of Europe, that Europe in its chafing unity would come under threat from the nearby non-European world.  In Spengler’s historical theory, the threat of external barbarism always coincides with the passage of the “Culture” into its deliquescent rabble-stage – the stage that the Decline-author ironically calls “Civilization.”  Earlier, in the robustness of the culture-stage, the ascendant people inevitably imposes itself on neighboring and foreign peoples whose levels of social complexity and technical sophistication are lower and who cannot effectively resist encroachment.  Spengler emphasizes that it cannot be otherwise.  The people of the less-developed society gradually grow conscious of a difference, which the emergent demagogue-class of the more-developed society in its liberal paroxysm swiftly encourages them to see as an injustice.

Thus, Spengler asserts, “the White Revolution since 1770 has been preparing the soil for the Coloured one.”  The process has followed this course:

The literature of the English liberals like Mill and Spencer… supplied the “world outlook” to the higher schools of India.  And thence the way to Marx was easy for the young reformers themselves to find.  Sun Yat Sen, the leader of the Chinese Revolution, found it in America.  And out of it all there arose a revolutionary literature of which the Radicalism puts that of Marx and Borodin to shame.

Spengler, who was consciously and deliberately distancing himself from the National Socialists, reminds his readers that he is not “speaking of race… in the sense in which it is the fashion among anti-Semites in Europe and America today.”  He is simply comparing the attitude to life of existing peoples.  The Western nations compete for dominance with non-Western nations whether they want to do so or not.  The non-Western nations, like Japan, act in bold accord with ideologies that cast the West in a scapegoat role, and that are overtly racist.  The West has enemies.  It cannot choose not to be in enmity with them; they choose enmity peremptorily.  The West can either stand up to its assailants or succumb.  When Spengler turns to demography, to his tally of Western birth-replacement deficits and burgeoning populations elsewhere, his discourse strikes us, not as dated, but as entirely contemporary.  “The women’s emancipation of Ibsen’s time wanted, not freedom from the husband, but freedom from the child, from the burden of children, just as men’s emancipation in the same period signified freedom from the duties towards family, nation, and State.”

The attitude of the European middle class, judging by its failure to oppose the vulgarization of society and again by its unwillingness to perpetuate itself in offspring, is one of abdication before the forces of nothingness – this is true whether it is 1934 or 2009.  Like the proletariat, the bourgeoisie then and now hungers only for panem et circenses, or, as we so quaintly call it in present-day America, the consumer lifestyle.  Spengler predicts, in The Hour, that the non-Western world will grow increasingly hostile and predatory towards the West, seeing the decadent nations as easy pickings and seeking opportunities to assault and humiliate the bitterly resented other.  Spengler believes that the nihilistic tendency of Western revolutionaries will merge with the similar tendencies of their non-Western, colonial or ex-colonial counterparts and that the internal and external masses will cooperate in a common destructive project.  What else was the bizarre alliance between the Nazi regime in Berlin and the Bushidoregime in Tokyo?  Or between Heinrich Himmler and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem?  Just this intimate cooperation of homebred totalitarians with inassimilable fellah-collaborators seems today to be the case, for example, in Great Britain and Sweden – and to no little extent, not merely with respect to illegal Mexican immigration, in the United States as well.

The Hour of Decision remains a shocking book.  It will shock even conservatives because they cannot have avoided being assimilated in some degree to the prevailing dogma about what one may or may not say.  One can imagine the reaction of contemporary liberals to the book if only they knew anything about it: spitting, blood-shot indignation.  Contemporary liberals have already banned almost the entirety of Spengler’s vocabulary under the strictures of self-abasing multiculturalist dhimmi-mentality. The Hour is also a radical book, not least in its notion, also present in both volumes of The Decline that, the crisis of the West, which began already in the Eighteenth Century, would likely play itself out right through the end of the Twentieth Century and beyond.  The disquiet that comes across at the end of Keyserling’s Europe, which appeared as we recall in 1928, asserts itself as greatly heightened apprehension in the final chapter of The Hour, which appeared in German in 1934 and in English in 1936, after Goebbels had suppressed further publication of the German edition.  The National Socialists, like modern liberals, could not bear to be identified by a strong voice, as who and what they actually were.

mercredi, 15 avril 2009

L'influence d'Oswald Spengler sur Julius Evola






L'influence d'Oswald Spengler sur Julius Evola

par Robert Steuckers


«Je traduisis de l'allemand, à la demande de l'éditeur Longanesi (...) le volumineux et célèbre ouvrage d'Oswald Spengler, Le déclin de l'Occident. Cela me donna l'occasion de préciser, dans une introduction, le sens et les limites de cette œuvre qui, en son temps, avait connu une renommée mondiale».  C'est par ces mots que commence la série de paragraphes critiques à l'égard de Spengler, qu'Evola a écrit dans Le Chemin du Cinabre  (op. cit.,  p. 177). Evola rend hommage au philosophe allemand parce qu'il a repoussé les «lubies progressistes et historicistes», en montrant que le stade atteint par notre civilisation au lendemain de la première guerre mondiale n'était pas un sommet, mais, au contraire, était de nature «crépusculaire». D'où Evola reconnaît que Spengler, surtout grâce au succès de son livre, a permis de dépasser la conception linéaire et évolutive de l'histoire. Spengler décrit l'opposition entre Kultur  et Zivilisation, «le premier terme désignant, pour lui, les formes ou phases d'une civilisation de caractère qualitatif, organique, différencié et vivant, le second les formes d'une civilisation de caractère rationaliste, urbain, mécaniciste, informe, sans âme»   (ibid., op. cit., p.178). 

Evola admire la description négative que donne Spengler de la Zivilisation,  mais critique l'absence d'une définition cohérente de la Kultur,  parce que, dit-il, le philosophe allemand demeure prisonnier de certains schèmes intellectuels propres à la modernité. «Le sens de la dimension métaphysique ou de la transcendance, qui représente l'essentiel dans toute vraie Kultur, lui a fait défaut totalement»  (ibid., p. 179). Evola reproche également à Spengler son pluralisme; pour l'auteur du Déclin de l'Occident,  les civilisations sont nombreuses, distinctes et discontinues les unes par rapport aux autres, constituant chacune une unité fermée. Pour Evola, cette conception ne vaut que pour les aspects extérieurs et épisodiques des différentes civilisations. Au contraire, poursuit-il, il faut reconnaître, au-delà de la pluralité des formes de civilisation, des civilisations (ou phases de civilisation) de type "moderne", opposées à des civilisations (ou phases de civilisation) de type "traditionnel". Il n'y a pluralité qu'en surface; au fond, il y a l'opposition fondamentale entre modernité et Tradition.

Ensuite, Evola reproche à Spengler d'être influencé par le vitalisme post-romantique allemand et par les écoles "irrationalistes", qui trouveront en Klages leur exposant le plus radical et le plus complet. La valorisation du vécu ne sert à rien, explique Evola, si ce vécu n'est pas éclairé par une compréhension authentique du monde des origines. Donc le plongeon dans l'existentialité, dans la Vie, exigé par Klages, Bäumler ou Krieck, peut se révéler dangereux et enclencher un processus régressif (on constatera que la critique évolienne se démarque des interprétations allemandes, exactement selon les mêmes critères que nous avons mis en exergue en parlant de la réception de l'œuvre de Bachofen). Ce vitalisme conduit Spengler, pense Evola, à énoncer «des choses à faire blêmir» sur le bouddhisme, le taoïsme et le stoïcisme, sur la civilisation gréco-romaine (qui, pour Spengler, ne serait qu'une civilisation de la "corporéité"). Enfin, Evola n'admet pas la valorisation spenglérienne de l'«homme faustien», figure née au moment des grandes découvertes, de la Renaissance et de l'humanisme; par cette détermination temporelle, l'homme faustien est porté vers l'horizontalité plutôt que vers la verticalité. Sur le césarisme, phénomène politique de l'ère des masses, Evola partage le même jugement négatif que Spengler.

Les pages consacrées à Spengler dans Le chemin du Cinabre  sont donc très critiques; Evola conclut même que l'influence de Spengler sur sa pensée a été nulle. Tel n'est pas l'avis d'un analyste des œuvres de Spengler et d'Evola, Attilio Cucchi (in «Evola, la Tradizione e Spengler», Orion,  n°89, Février 1992). Pour Cucchi, Spengler a influencé Evola, notamment dans sa critique de la notion d'«Occident»; en affirmant que la civilisation occidentale n'est pas la civilisation, la seule civilisation qui soit, Spengler la relativise, comme Guénon la condamne. Evola, lecteur attentif de Spengler et de Guénon, va combiner éléments de critique spenglériens et éléments de critique guénoniens. Spengler affirme que la culture occidentale faustienne, qui a commencé au Xième siècle, décline, bascule dans la Zivilisation,  ce qui contribue à figer, assécher et tuer son énergie intérieure. L'Amérique connaît déjà ce stade final de Zivilisation  technicienne et dé-ruralisée. C'est sur cette critique spenglérienne de la Zivilisation  qu'Evola développera plus tard sa critique du bolchévisme et de l'américanisme: si la Zivilisation  est crépusculaire chez Spengler, l'Amérique est l'extrême-Occident pour Guénon, c'est-à-dire l'irreligion poussée jusqu'à ses conséquences ultimes. Chez Evola, indubitablement, les arguments spenglériens et guénoniens se combinent, même si, en bout de course, c'est l'option guénonienne qui prend le dessus, surtout en 1957, quand paraît l'édition du Déclin de l'Occident  chez Longanesi, avec une préface d'Evola. En revanche, la critique spenglérienne du césarisme politique se retrouve, parfois mot pour mot, dans Le fascisme vu de droite  et Les Hommes au milieu des ruines. 

Le préfacier de l'édition allemande de ce dernier livre (Menschen inmitten von Ruinen,  Hohenrain, Tübingen, 1991), le Dr. H.T. Hansen, confirme les vues de Cucchi: plusieurs idées de Spengler se retrouvent en filigrane dans Les Hommes au milieu des ruines;  notamment, l'idée que l'Etat est la forme intérieure, l'«être-en-forme» de la nation; l'idée que le déclin se mesure au fait que l'homme faustien est devenu l'esclave de sa création; la machine le pousse sur une voie, où il ne connaîtra plus jamais le repos et d'où il ne pourra jamais plus rebrousser chemin. Fébrilité et fuite en avant sont des caractéristiques du monde moderne ("faustien" pour Spengler) que condamnent avec la même vigueur Guénon et Evola. Dans Les Années décisives (1933), Spengler critique le césarisme (en clair: le national-socialisme hitlérien), comme issu du titanisme démocratique. Evola préfacera la traduction italienne de cet ouvrage, après une lecture très attentive. Enfin, le «style prussien», exalté par Spengler, correspond, dit le Dr. H.T. Hansen, à l'idée évolienne de l'«ordre aristocratique de la vie, hiérarchisé selon les prestations». Quant à la prééminence nécessaire de la grande politique sur l'économie, l'idée se retrouve chez les deux auteurs. L'influence de Spengler sur Evola n'a pas été nulle, contrairement à ce que ce dernier affirme dans Le chemin du Cinabre. 



lundi, 06 avril 2009

Spengler: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas

Spengler: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas

Keith Stimely

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. [Image: Oswald Spengler.]

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 in 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.

AthenaEach 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. [Image: Atlas Bringing Heracles the Golden Apples in the presence of Athena, a metope illustrating Heracles' Eleventh Labor, with Athena helping Heracles hold up the sky. From the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, c. 460 BC.]

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"). [Image: Amiens choir.]

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.

Journal of Historical Review, 17/2 (March/April 1998), 2-7. The illustrations, with the exception of the Spengler photo, do not appear in the original article.

vendredi, 21 novembre 2008

Il termine "Occidente" nasconde un equivoco pesante


Il termine “Occidente” nasconde un equivoco pesante.

Nell’anno 2008, non si è più agli inizi del secolo XX, quando ancora uno Spengler (nella foto in basso) poteva parlare della crisi dell’Occidente come fase terminale di un’involuzione ciclica mondiale. O un Massis poteva invocare la défense de l’Occident.

Oggi non c’è più alcun Occidente da difendere, ma ce n’è uno da cui difendersi.In questi cento anni, la nostra civiltà ha visto bruciare la sua ultima grande possibilità, quella profetizzata appunto da Spengler come fase faustiana, cesaristica, che in un ultimo sforzo di interiore potenza sarebbe sorta dal ventre europeo come antidoto alla sincope finale della civiltà dell’uomo bianco, causata dal progressismo.

Alla metà del Novecento, al culmine di una crisi comatosa mondiale risolta dalla violenza bruta, si è potuto assistere allo strangolamento nella culla proprio di questo ciclo storico faustiano appena insorto, che il filosofo tedesco aveva vaticinato in qualità di ultima e conclusiva manifestazione creativa dell’anima europea. Tale crimine è stato consumato precisamente per mano di un’appendice occidentale, non-europea e anzi anti-europea. La mano che ha soppresso l’Europa in quanto civiltà espressiva e centro di potere individuato, proveniva da Occidente.

che ha impedito al nostro continente di riappropriarsi sul ciglio dell’abisso del suo destino e del suo spirito – secondo vie che forse avrebbero soltanto dilazionato il tracollo, ma probabilmente di secoli – ha rappresentato, sin dal suo primo formarsi nel secolo XVIII, una precisa congiura contro l’Europa e tutti i suoi patrimoni culturali, che dalle profondità della protostoria erano giunti sostanzialmente impregiudicati fino nel cuore dell’età contemporanea.

Parliamo infatti dell’America, di quel bacino di formidabili energie distruttive infuse nel calderone progressista, giunte a maturazione utilizzando i letali ingredienti del puritanesimo, del biblismo, del liberismo e del materialismo capitalista: dalla micidiale mistura è uscito un cocktail infernale che, fatto bere a forza ai popoli europei dopo il 1945, ne ha garantita la rapida liquidazione come entità culturali e politiche storicamente individuate.

Quello che è nel frattempo avvenuto è stato infatti il tramonto dell’Europa e l’insediarsi in suo luogo dell’Occidente made in USA. L’Occidente, nel senso geografico e politico di America, è ciò che è uscito in qualitmercury_dime_reverse US renzagliaà di solo vincitore dalla lotta tra l’onore dell’appartenenza, valore di fondazione senza il quale i nostri popoli non avrebbero potuto darsi una forma, e il disonore della disgregazione affidata al culto totemico del denaro e dell’individualismo di massa.

Chi confonde l’Europa con l’Occidente, cioè con ciò che oggi coincide con l’America, non ha compreso il dramma della civiltà bianca. Chi giudica l’Europa e l’America come un’unica civilizzazione accomunata da comuni linguaggi esistenziali e da una comune volontà di destino, mostra di non avere la sensibilità che occorre per distinguere la creatività dalla distruzione, l’ordine dal caos, l’ideale dal materiale, il sano dal malato, il bello dal brutto.

Si tratta di due antitesi, di due antropologie, di due monadi.

Oggi l’Europa è in coma perché sottoposta alle radiazioni americane. Il vampirismo si è ormai compiuto, e nuove costellazioni extra-europee e anche extra-occidentali già sorgono all’orizzonte, preparando una sicura fase di regolamenti di conti con gli stessi Stati Uniti, un colosso vacillante che, se privato della forza materiale, rappresenta un vuoto inespressivo tutto sommato molto fragile.

 Scriveva Georges Bernanos nel 1947 che

«l’Europa è tramontata nel momento stesso in cui ha dubitato di sé, della sua vocazione e del suo diritto […] e questo momento ha coinciso con l’avvento del capitalismo totalitario», sancendo in questo modo proprio la vittoria del denaro contro l’onore.

Ma chi mise nel cuore europeo il tarlo roditore del dubbio di sé, cosa minò l’antico senso europeo della sua vocazione e del suo diritto in faccia al mondo? Non furono proprio l’ideologia dei diritti individuali e quella del capitalismo calvinista, non furono l’illuminismo e il razionalismo sposati al liberismo inglese, al biblismo millenarista delle sette protestanti che, una volta lasciati fermentare nello spazio del Nuovo Mondo, produssero l’odio per la tradizione europea, la diffamazione del nostro passato, l’incomprensione per la nostra storia e per le nostre realizzazioni sociali?

Quest’informe viluppo di nevrosi sotto maschera moderna, costituito dai riformatori fondamentalisti, fino a quando rimase un caso clinico di minoranze europee ben controllate e circoscritte dal discredito generale (le allucinazioni anabattiste, i deliri di un Giovanni di Leyda circa il “Regno di Dio” in terra, le psicosi settarie dei profetismi biblici, il concetto di capitale usurario come fonte di benedizione divina…) non costituirono alcun pericolo reale per i popoli europei. Episodi marginali, di cui furono in molti allora a non accorgersi neppure.

Ma quando tutta questa schiuma di allucinati e di malati mentali, di invasati di versetti biblici, insieme ai tagliagola, ai criminali e agli asociali fuggiti da tutta Europa, prese a sbarcare a frotte sulle coste americane, là dove non c’era l’Europa con la sua cultura a fare da involucro, proprio in quel momento il destino europeo si compì.

Ci vollero due-tre secoli di gestazione, ma poi la risacca, montata in uno spazio reso deserto dall’etnocidio dei nativi americani e ripopolato con lo schiavismo e il fuoriscitismo dei peggiori elementi espulsi dai popoli europei, è ritornata da noi come un pendolo dannato, sotto l’etichetta di “ideologia americana”. Qualcosa che è stato sin dall’inizio ben deciso a fare a pezzi ciò che era rimasto della vecchia Europa. I lugubri “padri pellegrini” sono tornati di qua dell’Atlantico come un turbine di sventura, hanno riportato indietro con sé il dono avvelenato delle loro distorsioni mentali, ma potenziate in ideologia di potere mondiale, e in più sorrette da una potenza industriale mai prima vista.

Quelli che erano poveri alienati nel Seicento, nel Novecento si sono potuti presentare ai popoli europei addirittura come i “liberatori”, i portatori del “benessere”, i garanti di una “nuova frontiera” di riscatto materiale e morale. Lo sguardo alienato, quelle occhiaie da invasato febbricitante di visioni veterotestamentarie che ebbe ad esempio un Lincoln (un uomo con problemi di disagio mentale acclarato: riferiscono i biografi che fosse una specie di semidemente lombrosiano, che non mancò di suscitare perplessità nei suoi stessi contemporanei), ha potuto diventare una faccia da “liberatore”.

L’icona, il marchio stesso dell’America.
Al di sotto di Hollywood e di Mc Donald’s corre un fiume di tetra e morbosa volontà rieducatoria, quelle tirate quacchere sul destino di dominio del mondo in nome di Jeovah, quel maledire la diversità, quel sentirsi “eletti” alla salvezza…un’anima fobica e contorta, tutta avvolta dalla sindrome di rappresentare il bene e pertanto di poter infliggere agli altri il male. È la fiaba del lupo travestito da agnello. È quello sbaglio della storia che si chiama Stati Uniti.

Nel Novecento non sono stati più i pochi disadattati del Seicento a straparlare di Nuova Israele nella penombra di qualche taverna massonica del New England: stavolta era una potenza mondiale, era la modernità in persona, un’organizzazione formidabile, risoluta a volgere le elucubrazioni dei padri predicatori evangelisti in un lucido progetto di dominazione universale.

Con i mezzi dell’etnocidio metodico prima e dell’annientamento coscienziale propagandistico poi, col metodo mai smesso del ricatto e dell’intimidazione, è stato strappato all’Europa il diritto di essere se stessa, relegandola al rango di provincia cui imporre liberamente i propri voleri. L’Occidente ha minato alle fondamenta il diritto dell’Europa a rimanere fedele ai propri simboli, salda al suo posto, come andava facendo da un paio di millenni.

In questo quadro, cosa può ancora significare volgere lo sguardo a ciò che l’Europa è stata nei secoli?

Cosa può ancora dire ai popoli europei di oggi il richiamo alle loro tradizioni di ineguagliata cultura, ai loro primati di sapere e di volere, ai loro fondamenti di identità e di legame?
Ha ancora un senso parlare di civiltà europea, dato che possiamo solo riferirci a un passato che è stato rinnegato e irriso dai nuovi dominatori occidentali, col consenso prima estorto e poi spontaneo delle nostre élites culturali e delle masse? Esprimere la parola di verità nel dominio totale della confusione e dell’invertimento dei significati è operazione probabilmente inutile. Ma proprio per questo va ugualmente tentata.

La lotta novecentesca, a cui l’Europa non è sopravvissuta, è stata essenzialmente una lotta tra l’Ordine e il disordine.

Un mondo di forme e proporzioni è crollato dinanzi alla violenta intrusione di un mondo di difformità e asimmetrie. Tra i documenti più antichi della nostra civiltà, è stato da molto tempo notato in posizione di pietra d’angolo il concetto di Ordine.

Ben oltre l’Illuminismo o il Cristianesimo, che si vorrebbero a fondamento dell’Occidente-Europa (da parte di quanti non avvertono l’ingiuria di unificare i due opposti), e anche oltre il mondo classico, noi troviamo il mondo indoeuropeo: qui l’Europa, piuttosto che dell’Occidente, è sposa feconda dell’Oriente.

Indoeuropeismo significa soprattutto verifica che l’Origine è sorta insieme al senso dell’ordinamento, della percezione sensibile della misura e della conformazione al creato. In questi ambiti, il popolo vive la sostanza intima della natura, ne ripete nella socialità gli schemi di complementarietà dei ruoli, non va in cerca di soluzioni astratte, ma vive concretamente nella dimensione di una realtà visibile, cosmica come umana.

Non altrimenti, se non come rispecchiamenti dell’ordine naturale, possono essere giudicati i nostri più antichi documenti identitari, quali i Veda o le Upanishad, che vivono ancora oggi nei vocabolari e nelle lingue delle culture europee.



 Notava non a caso Adriano Romualdi che nell’inno vedico a Mithra e Varuna (un millennio e mezzo prima di Cristo) si impetravano le energie ordinatrici del cosmo, quali archetipi sul cui metro dare compimento alle edificazioni sociali umane. Tutto è dipeso e ha preso vita inizialmente da questa mattinale consapevolezza che all’uomo non è dato sottrarsi alla sua natura e alle leggi del mondo nel quale si trova “gettato”. Il paganesimo arcaico e quello classico non fecero che ratificare questo dato di fatto.

La sorgente della civiltà europea sgorgò dall’intuizione della presenza dell’Ordine, ovunque e in tutte le cose. C’è sempre una legge che stabilisce i nessi, che dà un limite, che indica un “fin qui e non oltre”. C’è sempre una necessità che regola i rapporti tra le cose, gli uomini e gli eventi. Se ne avessimo lo spazio, sarebbe facile ammassare le prove culturali occorrenti a dimostrare che il sorgere della nostra civiltà – sin nell’esatta rispondenza etimologica tra il rito religioso e politico e l’ordine cosmico – si radica nella legge delle gerarchie e delle aggregazioni tra simili, quali sono presenti in natura.
Basterà un piccolo esempio.

A un certo punto, nella Repubblica di Platone
si parla di due vie: quella che trascina verso il basso e quella che conduce verso l’alto. Platone racconta che la prima è quella battuta da Socrate, allorquando un giorno, per assistere a una festa, scende lungo la strada che porta da Atene, su in alto, al Pireo, giù in basso. Qui al porto, simbolo di mercanteggiamento, di confusione di genti e di caos, ciò che regna è il formicolare dei cittadini e dei forestieri, che in casuale e disordinata comunanza perdono ogni sigillo di nobiltà differenziante.

È il luogo per eccellenza della mescolanza e dell’infrazione, è lo spazio dell’eccezione,
in cui vigono il frammisto e l’incomposto, simboleggiati dai riti stranieri in cui tutti sono uguali.



Qui, l’Io identitario è a repentaglio, è il kateben, il discendere che esprime l’avventurarsi nell’alieno e nel difforme, paragonato all’Ade, alla perdizione coscienziale, addirittura alla morte. Dopo la festa, Socrate, sensibile al richiamo di ritornare al più presto nel seno della propria polis, si affretta a rientrare in città, a risalire lassù nella sua città, nello scrigno della sua comunità, lungo la via che riconduce in alto, al proprio, al simile e al composto, vincendo le insistenze di certi amici che vorrebbero trattenerlo.



È questo il racconto allegorico della discesa pericolosa nell’Altro-da-sé, è la simbologia platonica in cui si racconta l’appartenenza politica e filosofica alla polis come vicenda di pericoli da vincere e tentazioni da attraversare con salda tenuta.





Essa è parallela al mito di Er, il figlio di Panfilia (“l’amica di tutti”, l’indifferenziata), anch’esso metafora di caduta nella perdizione.



Eric Voegelin, nel commentare questi passi della Repubblica, nel suo libro Ordine e storia precisò in maniera oltremodo eloquente che si trattava di un tema irto di simboli. Al cui epicentro si trovava la celebrazione dell’Ordine, quale categoria politica e umana giudicata insostituibile. Il “panfilismo” del Pireo – ha scritto Voegelin –, il suo essere luogo egualitario e livellante, dove ognuno è uguale a tutti gli altri, lo rende simile all’Ade, alla morte: «è il “panfilismo” del Pireo che lo rende Ade. L’eguaglianza del porto è la morte di Atene».



La via che discende, là dove i limiti si frantumano e le differenze si annullano, comporta dunque il precipitare nella morte di Atene. Poiché Atene muore quando muore nel cuore dei suoi cittadini.
Lo stesso significato è presente nella figura del ricco Cefalo, un vecchio incontrato da Socrate, col cui personaggio Platone vuol significare la crisi epocale, la renitenza di una generazione indebolita dinanzi ai valori, la trascuratezza della legge.



E, anche in questo caso, il simbolo platonico torna a parlare con evidenza:



«Di colpo diviene manifesto – commentava Voegelin a proposito di questo episodio – che la vecchia generazione ha trascurato di costruire la sostanza dell’ordine nei giovani e un’amabile indifferenza, unita a una certa confusione, si trasforma in pochi anni negli orrori della catastrofe sociale».







Non è possibile seguire oltre questi temi, che sarebbe interessante sviluppare fino in fondo. Ma si sarà capito lo stesso, dai pochi cenni fatti, che è proprio l’Ordine – naturale, interiore, umano, sociale, politico – il nervo sensibile che fu avvertito dalla nostra cultura antica come quello decisivo per assicurare alla Città la sua fortuna, se mantenuto; la sua rovina, se tradito.



Ora, di fronte a questo ancestrale sentimento prima indoeuropeo, poi ellenico, romano, gotico (si pensi ad es. ai significati di ordinamento cosmico che avevano sia i collegia romani che le corporazioni medievali), si erge il colosso distruttivo del dis-ordine applicato a tutti campi (politico, familiare, sociale, mentale, economico), concepito e realizzato alla fine in America in simultanea con l’idea di mercato liberista.



Che è considerato come sinonimo di “libertà” perché aperto e senza limiti, in perenne espansione, disumano, annullando con ciò dalle fondamenta il concetto rigoroso di Ordine e di misura.



Che è innanzi tutto un principio regolatore, un demarcatore, e quindi un discriminatore che fissa leggi, che qui ingloba e là per forza esclude, disponendo frontiere e sbarramenti precisi, logici, ideali come materiali, senza i quali si entra nell’illimite e nel privo di senso, il regno del caos.



La finale perdita europea dell’onore che è legato all’applicazione dell’Ordine in ogni manifestazione della vita, dopo le iniziali aggressioni del Cristianesimo paolino, dell’Illuminismo e del marxismo, la dobbiamo all’egemonia del pensiero americano di derivazione puritano-utilitarista, incardinato sulla menzognera divulgazione di un’idea di “libertà” che coincide con l’annientamento della personalità individuale e sociale.



La disintegrazione di ciò che Spengler chiamava ancora “Occidente” data da quando l’America ha distrutto le fondamenta della Tradizione europea, sostituendo ad esse la patologia settaria del totalitarismo capitalista e millenarista. Da un pezzo l’Occidente non parla più con la voce solenne di Platone, ma con quella stridula dei miliardari anabattisti americani travestiti da capi politici.



Luca Leonello Rimbotti





lundi, 20 octobre 2008

Spengler: Atlantis, Kasch et Turan



Robert Steuckers:


Les matrices préhistoriques des civilisations antiques dans l'œuvre posthume de Spengler: Atlantis, Kasch et Turan

Généralement, les morphologies de cultures et de civilisations proposées par Spengler dans son ouvrage le plus célèbre, Le déclin de l'Occident, sont les seules à être connues. Pourtant, ses positions ont changé après l'édition de cette somme. Le germaniste italien Domenico Conte en fait état dans son ouvrage récent sur Spengler. En effet, une étude plus approfondie des textes posthumes édités par Anton Mirko Koktanek, notamment Frühzeit der Weltgeschichte, qui rassemble les fragments d'une œuvre projetée mais jamais achevée, L'épopée de l'Homme.


Dans la phase de ses réflexions qui a immédiatement suivi la parution du Déclin de l'Occident, Spengler distinguait quatre stades dans l'histoire de l'humanité, qu'il désignait tout simplement par les quatre premières lettres de l'alphabet: a, b, c et d. Le stade “a” aurait ainsi duré une centaine de milliers d'années, aurait recouvert le paléolithique inférieur et accompagné les premières phases de l'hominisation. C'est au cours de ce stade qu'apparaît l'importance de la “main” pour l'homme. C'est, pour Spengler, l'âge du Granit. Le stade “b” aurait duré une dizaine de milliers d'années et se situerait au paléolithique inférieur, entre 20.000 et 7000/6000 avant notre ère. C'est au cours de cet âge que naît la notion de vie intérieure; apparaît “alors la véritable âme, inconnue des hommes du stade “a” tout comme elle est inconnue du nouveau-né”. C'est à partir de ce moment-là de son histoire que l'homme “est capable de produire des traces/souvenirs” et de comprendre le phénomène de la mort. Pour Spengler, c'est l'âge du Cristal. Les stades “a” et “b” sont anorganiques.


Le stade “c” a une durée de 3500 années: il commence avec le néolithique, à partir du sixième millénaire et jusqu'au troisième. C'est le stade où la pensée commence à s'articuler sur le langage et où les réalisations techniques les plus complexes deviennent possibles. Naissent alors les “cultures” dont les structures sont de type “amibien”. Le stade “d” est celui de l'“histoire mondiale” au sens conventionnel du terme. C'est celui des “grandes civilisations”, dont chacune dure environ 1000 ans. Ces civilisations ont des structures de type “végétal”. Les stades “c” et “d” sont organiques.


Spengler préférait cette classification psychologique-morphologique aux classifications imposées par les directeurs de musée qui subdivisaient les ères préhistoriques et historiques selon les matériaux utilisés pour la fabrication d'outils (pierre, bronze, fer). Spengler rejette aussi, à la suite de cette classification psychologique-morphologique, les visions trop évolutionnistes de l'histoire humaine: celles-ci, trop tributaires des idéaux faibles du XVIIIième siècle, induisaient l'idée “d'une transformation lente, flegmatique” du donné naturel, qui était peut-être évidente pour l'Anglais (du XVIIIième), mais incompatible avec la nature. L'évolution, pour Spengler, se fait à coup de catastrophes, d'irruptions soudaines, de mutations inattendues. «L'histoire du monde procède de catastrophes en catastrophes, sans se soucier de savoir si nous sommes en mesure de les comprendre. Aujourd'hui, avec H. de Vries, nous les appelons “mutations”. Il s'agit d'une transformation interne, qui affecte à l'improviste tous les exemplaires d'une espèce, sans “causes”, naturellement, comme pour toutes les choses dans la réalité. Tel est le rythme mystérieux du réel» (L'homme et la technique). Il n'y a donc pas d'évolution lente mais des transformations brusques, “épocales”. Natura facit saltus.


trois cultures-amibes


Dans le stade “c”, où émergent véritablement les matrices de la civilisation humaine, Spengler distingue trois “cultures-amibes”: Atlantis, Kasch et Turan. Cette terminologie n'apparaît que dans ses écrits posthumes et dans ses lettres. Les matrices civilisationnelles sont “amibes”, et non “plantes”, parce que les amibes sont mobiles, ne sont pas ancrées dans une terre précise. L'amibe est un organisme qui émet continuellement ses pseudopodes dans sa périphérie, en changeant sans cesse de forme. Ensuite, l'amibe se subdivise justement à la façon des amibes, produisant de nouvelles individualités qui s'éloignent de l'amibe-mère. Cette analogie implique que l'on ne peut pas délimiter avec précision le territoire d'une civilisation du stade “c”, parce que ses émanations de mode amibien peuvent être fort dispersées dans l'espace, fort éloignées de l'amibe-mère.


“Atlantis” est l'“Ouest” et s'étend de l'Irlande à l'Egypte; “Kasch” est le “Sud-Est”, une région comprise entre l'Inde et la Mer Rouge. “Turan” est le “Nord”, s'étendant de l'Europe centrale à la Chine. Spengler, explique Conte, a choisi cette terminologie rappelant d'“anciens noms mythologiques” afin de ne pas les confondre avec des espaces historiques ultérieurs, de type “végétal”, bien situés et circonscrits dans la géographie, alors qu'eux-mêmes sont dispersés et non localisables précisément.


Spengler ne croit pas au mythe platonicien de l'Atlantide, en un continent englouti, mais constate qu'un ensemble de sédiments civilisationnels sont repérables à l'Ouest, de l'Irlande à l'Egypte. ‘Kasch” est un nom que l'on retrouve dans l'Ancien Testament pour désigner le territoire de l'antique Nubie, région habitée par les Kaschites. Mais Spengler place la culture-amibe “Kasch” plus à l'Est, dans une région s'articulant entre le Turkestan, la Perse et l'Inde, sans doute en s'inspirant de l'anthropologue Frobenius. Quant à “Turan”, c'est le “Nord”, le haut-plateau touranique, qu'il pensait être le berceau des langues indo-européennes et ouralo-altaïques. C'est de là que sont parties les migrations de peuples “nordiques” (il n'y a nulle connotation racialisante chez Spengler) qui ont déboulé sur l'Europe, l'Inde et la Chine.


Atlantis: chaude et mobile; Kasch: tropicale et repue


Atlantis, Kasch et Turan sont des cultures porteuses de principes morphologiques, émergeant principalement dans les sphères de la religion et des arts. La religiosité d'Atlantis est “chaude et mobile”, centrée sur le culte des morts et sur la prééminence de la sphère ultra-tellurique. Les formes de sépultures, note Conte, témoignent du rapport intense avec le monde des morts: les tombes accusent toujours un fort relief, ou sont monumentales; les défunts sont embaumés et momifiés; on leur laisse ou apporte de la nourriture. Ce rapport obsessionnel avec la chaîne des ancêtres porte Spengler à théoriser la présence d'un principe “généalogique”. Les expressions artistiques d'Atlantis, ajoute Conte, sont centrées sur les constructions de pierre, gigantesques dans la mesure du possible, faites pour l'éternité, signes d'un sentiment de la vie qui n'est pas tourné vers un dépassement héroïque des limites, mais vers une sorte de “complaisance inerte”.


Kasch développe une religion “tropicale” et “repue”. Le problème de la vie ultra-tellurique est appréhendé avec une angoisse nettement moindre que dans Atlantis, car, dans la culture-amibe de Kasch domine une mathématique du cosmos (dont Babylone sera l'expression la plus grandiose), où les choses sont d'avance “rigidement déterminées”. La vie d'après la mort suscite l'indifférence. Si Atlantis est une “culture des tombes”, en Kasch, les tombes n'ont aucune signification. On y vit et on y procrée mais on y oublie les morts. Le symbole central de Kasch est le temple, d'où les prêtres scrutent la mathématique céleste. Si en Atlantis domine le principe généalogique, si les dieux et les déesses d'Atlantis sont père, mère, fils, fille, en Kasch, les divinités sont des astres. Y domine un principe cosmologique.


Turan: la civilisation des héros


Turan est la civilisation des héros, animée par une religiosité “froide”, axée sur le sens mystérieux de l'existence. La nature y est emplie de puissances impersonnelles. Pour la culture-amibe de Turan, la vie est un champ de bataille: “pour l'homme de ce Nord (Achille, Siegfried)”, écrit Spengler, “seule compte la vie avant la mort, la lutte contre le destin”. Le rapport hommes/divin n'est plus un rapport de dépendance: “la prostration cesse, la tête reste droite et haute; il y a “moi” (homme) et vous (les dieux)”. Les fils sont appelés à garder la mémoire de leurs pères mais ne laissent pas de nourriture à leurs cadavres. Pas d'embaumement ni de momification dans cette culture, mais incinération: les corps disparaissent, sont cachés dans des sépultures souterraines sans relief ou dispersés aux quatre vents. Seul demeure le sang du défunt, qui coule dans les veines de ses descendants. Turan est donc une culture sans architecture, où temples et sépultures n'ont pas d'importance et où seul compte un sens terrestre de l'existence. L'homme vit seul, confronté à lui-même, dans sa maison de bois ou de torchis ou dans sa tente de nomade.


Le char de combat


Spengler porte toute sa sympathie à cette culture-amibe de Turan, dont les porteurs aiment la vie aventureuse, sont animés par une volonté implaccable, sont violents et dépourvus de sentimentalité vaine. Ils sont des “hommes de faits”. Les divers peuples de Turan ne sont pas liés par des liens de sang, ni par une langue commune. Spengler n'a cure des recherches archéologiques et linguistiques visant à retrouver la patrie originelle des Indo-Européens ou à reconstituer la langue-source de tous les idiomes indo-européens actuels: le lien qui unit les peuples de Turan est technique, c'est l'utilisation du char de combat. Dans une conférence prononcée à Munich le 6 février 1934, et intitulée Der Streitwagen und seine Bedeutung für den Gang der Weltgeschichte (= Le char de combat et sa signification pour le cours de l'histoire mondiale), Spengler explique que cette arme constitue la clef pour comprendre l'histoire du second millénaire avant J.C.. C'est, dit-il, la première arme complexe: il faut un char (à deux roues et non un chariot à quatre roues moins mobile), un animal domestiqué et attelé, une préparation minutieuse du guerrier qui frappera désormais ses ennemis de haut en bas. Avec le char naît un type d'homme nouveau. Le char de combat est une invention révolutionnaire sur le plan militaire, mais aussi le principe formateur d'une humanité nouvelle. Les guerriers deviennent professionnels, tant les techiques qu'ils sont appelés à manier sont complexes, et se rassemblent au sein d'une caste qui aime le risque et l'aventure; ils font de la guerre le sens de leur vie.


L'arrivée de ces castes de “charistes” impétueux bouleversent l'ordre de cette très haute antiquité: en Grèce, ils bousculent les Achéiens, s'installent à Mycène; en Egypte, ce sont les Hyksos qui déferlent. Plus à l'Est, les Cassites se jettent sur Babylone. En Inde, les Aryens déboulent dans le sous-continent, “détruisent les cités” et s'installent sur les débris des civilisations dites de Mohenjo Daro et d'Harappa. En Chine, les Tchou arrivent au nord, montés sur leurs chars, comme leurs homologues grecs et hyksos. A partir de 1200, les principes guerriers règnent en Chine, en Inde et dans le monde antique de la Méditerranée. Les Hyksos et les Kassites détruisent les deux plus vieilles civilisations du Sud. Emergent alors trois nouvelles civilisations portées par les “charistes dominateurs”: la civilisation greco-romaine, la civilisation aryenne d'Inde et la civilisation chinoise issue des Tchou. Ces nouvelles civilisations, dont le principe est venu du Nord, de Turan, sont “plus viriles et énergiques que celles nées sur les rives du Nil et de l'Euphrate”. Mais les guerriers charistes succomberont aux séductions du Sud amollissant, déplore Spengler.


Un substrat héroïque commun


Cette théorie, Spengler l'a élaborée en accord avec le sinologue Gustav Haloun: il y a eu quasi simultanéité entre les invasions de Grèce, des Hyksos, de l'Inde et de la Chine. Spengler et Haloun estiment donc qu'il y a un substrat commun, guerrier et chariste, aux civilisations méditerranéenne, indienne et chinoise. Ce substrat est “héroïque”, comme le prouve les armes de Turan. Elles sont différentes de celles d'Atlantis: ce sont, outre le char, l'épée ou la hache, impliquant des duels entre combattants, alors qu'en Atlantis, les armes sont l'arc et la flèche, que Spengler juge “viles” car elles permettent d'éviter la confrontation physique directe avec l'adversaire, “de le regarder droit dans les yeux”. Dans la mythologie grecque, estime Spengler, arc et flèches sont autant d'indices d'un passé et d'influences pré-helléniques: Apollon-archer est originaire d'Asie Mineure, Artemis est libyque, tout comme Héraklès, etc. Le javelot est également “atlante”, tandis que la lance de choc est “touranique”. Pour comprendre ces époques éloignées, l'étude des armes est plus instructive que celle des ustensiles de cuisine ou des bijoux, conclut Spengler.


L'âme touranique dérive aussi d'un climat particulier et d'un paysage hostile: l'homme doit lutter sans cesse contre les éléments, devient ainsi plus dur, plus froid et plus hivernal. L'homme n'est pas seulement le produit d'une “chaîne généalogique”, il l'est tout autant d'un “paysage”. La rigueur climatique développe la “force de l'âme”. Les tropiques amolissent les caractères, les rapprochent d'une nature perçue comme plus maternante, favorisent les valeurs féminines.


Les écrits tardifs de Spengler et sa correspondance indiquent donc que ses positions ont changé après la parution du Déclin de l'Occident, où il survalorisait la civilisation faustienne, au détriment notamment de la civilisation antique. La focalisation de sa pensée sur le “char de combat” donne une dimension nouvelle à sa vision de l'histoire: l'homme grec et l'homme romain, l'homme indien-aryen et l'homme chinois, retrouvent tous grâce à ses yeux. La momification des pharaons était considérée dans Le déclin de l'Occident, comme l'expression égyptienne d'une volonté de durée, qu'il opposait à l'oubli impliqué par l'incinération indienne. Plus tard, la momification “atlante” déchoit à ses yeux au rang d'une obsession de l'au-delà, signalant une incapacité à affronter la vie terrestre. L'incinération “touranique”, en revanche, indique alors une volonté de concentrer ses efforts sur la vie réelle.


Un changement d'optique dicté par les circonstances?


La conception polycentrique, relativiste, non-eurocentrique et non-évolutionniste de l'histoire chez le Spengler du Déclin de l'Occident a fasciné des chercheurs et des anthropologues n'appartenant pas aux milieux de la droite allemande, notamment Alfred L. Kroeber ou Ruth F. Benedict. L'insistance sur le rôle historique majeur des castes de charistes de combat donne à l'œuvre tardive de Spengler une dimension plus guerrière, plus violente, plus mobile que ne recelait pas encore son Déclin. Doit-on attribuer ce changement de perspective à la situation de l'Allemagne vaincue, qui cherche à s'allier avec la jeune URSS (dans une perspective eurasienne-touranienne?), avec l'Inde en révolte contre la Grande-Bretagne (qu'il incluait auparavant dans la “civilisation faustienne”, à laquelle il donnera ensuite beaucoup moins d'importance), avec la Chine des “grands chefs de guerre”, parfois armés et encadrés par des officiers allemands? Spengler, par le biais de sa conférence, a-t-il cherché à donner une mythologie commune aux officiers ou aux révolutionnaires allemands, russes, chinois, mongols, indiens, afin de forger une prochaine fraternité d'arme, tout comme les “eurasistes” russes tentaient de donner à la nouvelle Russie soviétique une mythologie similaire, impliquant la réconciliation des Turco-Touraniens et des Slaves? La valorisation radicale du corps à corps “touranique” est-elle un écho au culte de l'“assaut” que l'on retrouvait dans le “nationalisme soldatique”, notamment celui des frères Jünger et de Schauwecker?


Enfin, pourquoi n'a-t-il rien écrit sur les Scythes, peuples de guerriers intrépides, maîtres des techniques équestres, qui fascinaient les Russes et sans doute, parmi eux, les théoriciens de l'eurasisme? Dernière question: le peu d'insistance sur les facteurs raciaux dans ce Spengler tardif est-il dû à un sentiment rancunier à l'égard des cousins anglais qui avaient trahi la solidarité germanique et à une mythologie nouvelle, où les peuples cavaliers du continent, toutes ethnies confondues (Mongols, Turco-Touraniens, descendants des Scythes, Cosaques et uhlans germaniques), devaient conjuguer leurs efforts contre les civilisations corrompues de l'Ouest et du Sud et contre les thalassocraties anglo-saxonnes? Les parallèles évident entre la mise en exergue du “char de combat” et certaines thèses de L'homme et la technique, ne sont-ils pas une concession à l'idéologie futuriste ambiante, dans la mesure où elle donne une explication technique et non plus religieuse à la culture-amibe touranienne? Autant de thèmes que l'histoire des idées devra clarifier en profondeur...




Domenico CONTE, Catene di civiltà. Studi su Spengler, Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, Napoli, 1994, 394 p., Lire 58.000, ISBN 88-7104-242-924-1.