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dimanche, 24 novembre 2019

"Quelle heure est-il en Occident?" - Retour sur Oswald Spengler

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"Quelle heure est-il en Occident?" - Retour sur Oswald Spengler

par Steven Cornu

 
Le Club du Mercredi recevait Steven Cornu le Mercredi 24 Avril 2019. A travers un exposé de la philosophie d'Oswald Spengler, auteur du célèbre "Déclin de l'Occident", notre intervenant, doctorant à la faculté de droit de Nancy, nous entretient des grands cycles historiques qui dictent l'évolution des civilisations et des différentes perceptions philosophiques à leur sujet. Cette perspective de "l'histoire longue" que commencent à réintégrer dans le débat public des personnalités aussi variés que Michel Onfray, Eric Zemmour ou Michel Houellebecq, nous offre un regard nouveau et pénétrant sur les évolutions actuelles de nos sociétés occidentales et sur les perspectives d'avenir de notre civilisation.
 

dimanche, 03 février 2019

Dezsö Csejtei auf der Oswald-Spengler-Konferenz 2018

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Dezsö Csejtei auf der Oswald-

Spengler-Konferenz 2018 

 
Dezsö Csejtei auf der Oswald-Spengler-Konferenz 2018
 
 
 

samedi, 02 février 2019

Prof. Dr. Max Otte auf der Oswald-Spengler-Konferenz 2018

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Prof. Dr. Max Otte auf der Oswald-Spengler-Konferenz 2018

 
Prof. Dr. Max Otte auf der Oswald-Spengler-Konferenz 2018
 
 

vendredi, 01 février 2019

Gregory Swer auf der Oswald-Spengler-Konferenz 2018

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Gregory Swer auf der Oswald-Spengler-Konferenz 2018 

 
 
 

mercredi, 30 janvier 2019

Prof. Dr. Gerd Morgenthaler auf der Oswald-Spengler-Konferenz 2018

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Prof. Dr. Gerd Morgenthaler auf der Oswald-Spengler-Konferenz 2018

 
 
Prof. Dr. Gerd Morgenthaler auf der Oswald-Spengler-Konferenz 2018 https://www.oswaldspenglersociety.com/ --- Gerd Morgenthaler ist Inhaber eines Lehrstuhls für Öffentliches Recht an der Universität Siegen. Nach Studium der Rechtswissenschaft (Erstes Staatsexamen 1987), Promotion zu einem international-steuerrechtlichen Thema (Heidelberg 1991) und Rechtsreferendariat in Baden-Württemberg (Zweites Staatsexamen 1991) habilitierte er sich mit einer Arbeit zum Freiheitsbegriff des Grundgesetzes in seiner historischen Prägung durch die Naturrechtsphilosophie der europäischen Moderne (Heidelberg 1999). Seine Forschungsschwerpunkte liegen in den Bereichen des Verfassungsrechts (Freiheitsgrundrechte, Nachhhaltigkeit, Rechtsstaat), der europäischen Integration (Krisen, Zukunftsperspektiven) und des Zusammenhangs von Recht und Entwicklung in außereuropäischen Kulturen (insbesondere im Südkaukasus, in Zentralasien und in China).
 

mardi, 29 janvier 2019

"Oswald Spengler ou le tourment de l'avenir"

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Chronique 70 :

"Oswald Spengler ou le tourment de l'avenir"

Essais & analyses.
 

vendredi, 25 janvier 2019

Tecnicidad, Biopolítica y Decadencia. Comentarios al libro "El Hombre y la Técnica" de Oswald Spengler.

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Tecnicidad, Biopolítica y Decadencia.

Comentarios al libro "El Hombre y la Técnica" de Oswald Spengler.

Carlos Javier Blanco Martín

Resumen. El presente artículo es un comentario detenido de la pequeña obra de Oswald Spengler "El Hombre y la Técnica". En él desarrollamos el concepto de tecnicidad, necesario para comprender la amplia perspectiva (zoológica, naturalista, dialéctica, operatiológica) esbozada por el filósofo alemán. No se trata de un ensayo sobre la Técnica en el sentido artefactual y objetivo sino sobre el desarrollo de las capacidades operatorias (viso-quirúrgicas) de los ancestros del hombre, que lo llevaron desde la depredación hasta la Cultura, y desde la Cultura hasta la decadencia. Especialmente la decadencia de los pueblos occidentales que más han contribuido al despegue de esa tecnicidad.

Abstract. This article is a detailed commentary on Oswald Spengler's little work "The Man and the Technique". In it we develop the concept of technicality, necessary to understand the broad perspective (zoological, naturalistic, dialectic, operatiological) outlined by the German philosopher. This is not an essay on the Technique in the objective and artifactual sense, but rather on the development of the operative capacities (visual and manual) of the ancestors of man, which led him from predation to Culture, and from Culture to decline: especially the decadence of the western peoples that have contributed most to the takeoff of this technicality

Introducción. Justificación del presente comentario. Indagaciones sobre la Tecnicidad según Oswald Spengler.

OSHT-5.jpgEn un trabajo anterior ya quisimos hacer una aproximación antropológica al concepto spengleriano de la Técnica[i] . El presente trabajo quiere ser una prolongación del mismo, profundizando en los conceptos spenglerianos sobre la tecnicidad y lo hacemos por medio de un comentario detenido de las páginas de su pequeña obra El Hombre y la Técnica.[ii] Este breve texto spengleriano aclara muchos aspectos de la filosofía, poco sistemática y, a veces, impresionista, del gran pensador alemán, el creador de la magna obra La Decadencia de Occidente. Este breve libro traza un cuadro evolutivo de la técnica en la historia natural y cultural del hombre. Pero hace algo más: esboza de una manera dialéctica el destino fatal de los pueblos de Occidente, pueblos que han desarrollado toda su tecnicidad hasta ponerla en manos de sus enemigos. Este examen detenido de los párrafos enérgicos y vibrantes del librito puede ayudar a comprender la peculiar dialéctica pesimista –a diferencia de la optimista hegeliana- del pensador alemán Oswald Spengler. En vez de alcanzar un progresivo dominio técnico del mundo, encaminado a su mayor comodidad y salud, el hombre y sus antepasados simplemente han ido diferenciando cualidades sensitivo-etológicas desde hace millones de años, cualidades en las que ya está presente la tecnicidad, aun cuando todavía nuestros antepasados no era capaces de fabricar herramientas, o sólo empleaban órganos y partes sensomotoras de su cuerpo para ejercer su dominio. Por ello, en nuestro comentario empleamos el término tecnicidad, contrapuesto a "técnica" para hacer referencia a esas capacidades generales implícitas a la hora de ejercer dominio, control o alteración del propio medio envolvente, con independencia de la existencia de herramientas, armas u otros objetos extra-somáticos. La tecnicidad es la cualidad o el carácter técnico de algo o alguien, y no se debe circunscribir a los productos de las artes humanas o proto-humanas ni al aspecto normativo o envolvente del Espíritu Objetivo. Nuestro comentario, pues, se enmarca en el espacio antropológico. Queremos ahondar en la antropología spengleriana, tal y como llevamos haciendo desde hace unos años. [iii]

  1. El concepto de tecnicidad.

Spengler comienza su estudio sobre la técnica mostrando su olímpico desprecio hacia las charlas del siglo XVIII y XIX sobre la "cultura". Desde las robinsonadas al mito del "buen salvaje", los "hombres de cultura" que habían llenado los salones europeos de aquellos años habían olvidado por completo el verdadero papel de la técnica en la civilización. El arte, la poesía, la novela, la cultura entendida como segunda naturaleza sublime del hombre, relumbraban en la mente de ilustrados y románticos, y con ese resplandor se cegaban a las realidades terribles de que estaba preñado el siglo XX, cuando el contexto geopolítico, social y económico ya había mutado por completo y la Ilustración o el romanticismo sólo habitaba en la mente retardataria de los demagogos y los "intelectuales", no en los hombres fácticos y de acción. El escalpelo de Spengler se extiende hasta los utilitaristas ingleses. Para ellos la técnica era el recurso idóneo para instaurar la holgazanería en el mundo:

Aber nützlich war, was dem »Glück der Meisten« diente. Und Glück bestand im Nichtstun. Das ist im letzten Grunde die Lehre von Bentham, Mill und Spencer. Das Ziel der Menschheit bestand darin, dem einzelnen einen möglichst großen Teil der Arbeit abzunehmen und der Maschine aufzubürden. Freiheit vom »Elend der Lohnsklaverei« und Gleichheit im Amüsement, Behagen und »Kunstgenuß«: das »panem et circenses« der späten Weltstädte meldet sich an. Die Fortschrittsphilister begeisterten sich über jeden Druckknopf, der eine Vorrichtung in Bewegung setzte, die – angeblich – menschliche Arbeit ersparte. An Stelle der echten Religion früher Zeiten tritt die platte Schwärmerei für die »Errungenschaften der Menschheit«, worunter lediglich Fortschritte der arbeitersparenden und amüsierenden Technik verstanden wurden. Von der Seele war nicht die Rede.

"Útil, empero, era lo que sirve a la "felicidad del mayor número". Y esta felicidad consistía en no hacer nada. Tal es, en último término, la doctrina de Bentam, Mill y Spencer, El fin de la Humanidad consistía en aliviar al individuo de la mayor cantidad posible de trabajo, cargándola a la máquina. Libertad de "la miseria, de la esclavitud asalariada" [Elend der Lohnsklaverei] e igualdad en diversiones, bienandanza y “deleite artístico”. Anúnciase el panem et circenses de las urbes mundiales en las épocas de decadencia. Los filisteos de la cultura se entusiasmaban a cada botón que ponía en marcha un dispositivo y que, al parecer, ahorraba trabajo humano. En lugar de la auténtica religión de épocas pasadas, aparece el superficial entusiasmo “por las conquistas de la Humanidad” [Errungenschaften der Menschheit], considerando como tales exclusivamente los progresos de la técnica, destinados a ahorrar trabajo y a divertir a los hombres. Pero del alma, ni una palabra." [iv]

La técnica para el utilitarismo inglés era vista como instancia ahorradora de trabajo, como mera herramienta liberadora de esclavitud del trabajo asalariado, pero no como la esencia misma del hombre fáustico, del hombre que transforma el mundo, que lo modifica substancialmente. Oswald Spengler repudia con toda su rabia y fuerzas ese sentimentalismo vulgar que arranca de Rousseau, de los románticos y también de los "progresistas". Un sentimentalismo que reduce la filosofía de la Historia a mero "optimismo", esto es, un estado de ánimo confiado y tranquilizador en el cual ya no habrá más guerras ni dominaciones de unos pueblos sobre otros. Un estado de quietud que, al modo más nietzscheano, Spengler intuye como deprimente, laminador, una antesala de un suicidio colectivo, un estado alienado y de falsedad. La Historia de los hombres sigue su curso con completa independencia de sus deseos, anhelos y expectativas. Como acontece con las leyes de la naturaleza, inexorables y devoradoras de civilizaciones, razas y universos enteros, las "leyes" de la historia siguen su marcha con independencia absoluta de nuestra mente.

Para comprender los tiempos, al hombre, a la vida que nos toca –históricamente- vivir, se precisa de una facultad especial, el "tacto fisiognómico":

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Der physiognomische Takt, wie ich das bezeichnet habe, was allein zum Eindringen in den Sinn alles Geschehens befähigt, der Blick Goethes, der Blick geborener Menschenkenner, Lebenskenner, Geschichtskenner über die Zeiten hin erschließt im einzelnen dessen tiefere Bedeutung.

"El tacto fisiognómico, como he denominado la facultad que nos permite penetrar en el sentido de todo acontecer; la mirada de Goethe, la mirada de los que conocen a los hombres y conocen la vida, y conocen la Historia y contemplan los tiempos, es la que descubre en lo particular su significación profunda" [v].

El naturalismo, el determinismo, de la misma manera que el "culturalismo", se mostrarán incapaces de comprender el significado de la técnica en la historia de los hombres. Hace falta el tacto fisiognómico, es preciso sentir esa especie de empatía o intuición hacia lo que hacen las distintas clases de hombres, para así poder insertar adecuadamente el papel de la técnica en la cultura. La técnica no es la pariente pobre de la Cultura. No se trata de la versión ínfima de "cuanto puede hacer el Homo sapiens". Esta especie "sapiente" que construye catedrales góticas, compone sinfonías, escribe El Quijote, la Suma Teológica o la Ilíada, es también la especie que ha comenzado empuñando palos, forjado espadas o construido cañones anti-aéreos. La técnica –y de entre ella, la técnica depredatorio-bélica- sería la versión grisácea, deprimente, prosaica de la sublime Cultura. El naturalismo verá la evolución desde la maza asesina hasta el cohete espacial (recordemos la genial escena cinematográfica de Stanley Kubrick en 2001, Una Odisea Espacial). El determinismo, cercano al naturalismo y, a veces, complementario de éste, verá en la técnica una condición sine qua non de la Cultura sublime, condición que habrá que retirar del escenario convenientemente cuando ya actúe la Cultura sublime (Bellas Artes, Poesía, Espíritu, etc.). Finalmente, el "culturalismo", que Spengler detesta, pues representa el idealismo y la ceguera ignorante de los "literatos", escinde en dos la vida humana, una mitad sublime y otra prosaica; la mitad "prosaica" es condenada a la oscuridad por el idealismo rampante (pero también por el utilitarismo y el materialismo dialéctico) una vez que ha brotado la Cultura. Pero he aquí que el Filósofo de la Historia no puede ni debe dejar de lado aquello que es consustancial a la vida humana en su devenir. La técnica, reivindicada ahora por Spengler desde un naturalismo mucho más profundo, es esencial a la vida misma de todos los animales. La técnica no es la colección de "cosas" que ha producido el hombre para matar, destruir, crear, dominar. La técnica no se deja reducir a un estudio "supra-orgánico", "extra-somático", "objetivo". En la propia organicidad animal ya está presente la técnica:

OSHT-2.jpgDas ist der andre Fehler, der hier vermieden werden muß: Technik ist nicht vom Werkzeug her zu verstehen. Es kommt nicht auf die Herstellung von Dingen an, sondern auf das Verfahren mit ihnen, nicht auf die Waffe, sondern auf den Kampf

"Este es el otro error que debe evitarse aquí: la técnica no debe comprenderse partiendo de la herramienta. No se trata de la fabricación de cosas, sino del manejo de ellas; no se trata de las armas, sino de la lucha."[vi]

La técnica no es la herramienta [Werkzeug], una suerte de prolongación extra-somática y objetiva del sujeto humano. La técnica, en realidad, es el manejo [Verfahren] con las cosas. Este es el corazón del comienzo del librito de Spengler: la técnica es la táctica de la vida. La vida no es una colección de cosas, a saber: sujetos corpóreos y objetos producidos por esos sujetos corpóreos. Esta sería la miope visión compartida al alimón por idealistas y por realistas. Los primeros se fijan en la "creatividad" del sujeto hacedor (se "crean" tanto obras de arte como misiles de cabeza nuclear), y los segundos paran mientes en lo creado. Pero en medio está la vida misma, la acción, a saber, el uso de los medios para la lucha.

  1. La Biopolítica spengleriana. Un naturalismo dialéctico.

La vida es comprendida como una guerra ya en sus más arcaicos estratos zoológicos.

Es gibt keinen »Menschen an sich«, wie die Philosophen schwatzen, sondern nur Menschen zu einer Zeit, an einem Ort, von einer Rasse, einer persönlichen Art, die sich im Kampfe mit einer gegebenen Welt durchsetzt oder unterliegt, während das Weltall göttlich unbekümmert ringsum verweilt. Dieser Kampf ist das Leben, und zwar im Sinne Nietzsches als ein Kampf aus dem Willen zur Macht, grausam, unerbittlich, ein Kampf ohne Gnade.

"No existe el “hombre en sí” — palabrería de filósofos —, sino sólo los hombres de una época, de un lugar, de una raza, de una índole personal, que se imponen en lucha con un mundo dado, o sucumben, mientras el universo prosigue en torno su curso, como deidad erguida en magnífica indiferencia. Esa lucha es la vida; y lo es, en el sentido de Nietzsche, como una lucha que brota de la voluntad de poderío; lucha cruel, sin tregua; lucha sin cuartel ni merced" [vii] .

Si Spengler rechaza tanto el idealismo como el realismo en su tratamiento de la técnica, otro tanto se ha de decir de la "antropología predicativa". "El hombre"… ¿qué es? Si hablamos de un Homo faber –hombre fabricante- pensado con el mismo formato que el concepto de Homo sapiens, sapiente, estamos eligiendo un predicado esencial que definirá a esta especie animal concreta a la que pertenecemos. Hay poca ganancia con respecto a estas antropologías tradicionales si al Homo, a nuestro género, le añadimos el predicado de "animal técnico". No existe el "hombre en sí" [Es gibt keinen »Menschen an sich«]. No hay tal cosa previamente definida, recortada, a la cual podamos asignarle (casi, podríamos decir "inyectarle") la cualidad esencial de su tecnicidad, de la misma manera que antaño se decía del hombre que era un "animal social" o "animal racional". No hay que hablar de tecnicidad de ese "Hombre" pre-dado . De lo que se ha de hablar es de una lucha cósmica eterna, en la que se insertan los seres vivos de todas las escalas zoológicas. A las enormes galaxias y a los descomunales astros les resulta por completo indiferente el resultado de esta minúscula guerra, una contienda ésta que para sus héroes y víctimas sin embargo les es esencial. La antroposfera de éste diminuto planeta es una capa extrafina y efímera que nada importa en el decurso del universo. Los hombres mueren por "pequeñas cosas" desde el punto de vista cósmico, aun cuando esas "pequeñeces" como la defensa de la patria, la preservación de un ideal, de una civilización o una fe comporten un valor infinito a los actores humanos.

Y estos supuestos valores supremos, relativos entre las mismas culturas humanas, y susceptibles de relativización a escalas supra-humanas, cósmicas, son en gran medida "mentira" si tras de ellos captamos su esencia: la voluntad de poder. En efecto, según Spengler, "el hombre es un animal de rapiña" [viii] [Denn der Mensch ist ein Raubtier.]. Depredador, es la palabra castellana que de la manera más neutra y zoológica describe nuestra condición. A años luz nos hallamos de los herbívoros. La clave de nuestra evolución como primates estriba en la depredación. El hombre como depredador encarna un estilo de vida, una complexión físico-espiritual que los métodos naturalistas groseros no podrán captar. Sabido es que Spengler apuesta por el naturalismo de Goethe y de la fisiognómica, y no por el materialismo de Linneo y de Darwin. Las "ciencias de la vida" estudian cadáveres y compuestos físico-químicos, diseccionan y clasifican, buscan causas deterministas al modo mecanicista, pero renuncian y hasta desprecian "el tacto fisiognómico". Este tacto, imprescindible para la comprensión de la vida, nos da la clave de la tecnicidad. La clave consiste en una superación del carácter pasivo de los sujetos vivos. De la planta podemos decir que "en ella y en torno a ella está la vida" más que afirmar, propiamente, que es un ser vivo[ix]. En rigor, es un "escenario" [Schauplatz] de los procesos vivientes.

Eine Pflanze lebt, obwohl sie nur im eingeschränkten Sinne ein Lebewesen ist. In Wirklichkeit lebt es in ihr oder um sie herum. »Sie« atmet, »sie« nährt sich, »sie« vermehrt sich, und trotzdem ist sie ganz eigentlich nur der Schauplatz dieser Vorgänge, die mit solchen der umgebenden Natur, mit Tag und Nacht, mit Sonnenbestrahlung und der Gärung im Boden eine Einheit bilden, so daß die Pflanze selbst nicht wollen und wählen kann. Alles geschieht mit ihr und in ihr. Sie sucht weder den Standort, noch die Nahrung, noch die andere Pflanze, mit welcher sie die Nachkommen erzeugt. Sie bewegt sich nicht, sondern der Wind, die Wärme, das Licht bewegen sie.

OSHT-3.jpg"La planta vive; aunque sólo en sentido limitado, es un ser viviente. En realidad, más que vivir puede decirse que en ella y en torno a ella está la vida. “Ella” respira, “ella” se alimenta, “ella” se multiplica; y, sin embargo, no es propiamente más que el escenario de esos procesos, que constituyen una unidad con los procesos de la naturaleza circundante, con el día y la noche, con los rayos del sol y la fermentación del suelo; de suerte que la planta misma no puede ni querer ni elegir. Todo acontece con ella y en ella. Ella no busca ni su lugar propio, ni su alimento, ni las demás plantas con quienes engendra su sucesión. No se mueve, sino que son el viento, el calor, la luz, quienes la mueven."  [x]

La vida, pues, en su estrato ínfimo, vegetal, si bien es un entrecruzamiento de procesos vitales (ellos mismos activos), el sujeto o "escenario" donde acontecen consiste, no obstante, en un mero receptáculo dominado por la pasividad. La vida vegetal es sometimiento al mundo-entorno [umgebenden Natur], a la naturaleza envolvente. A su vez, la vida vegetal es el sustrato sobre el que se asienta la "vida movediza" [freibewegliche Leben], esto es, el Reino animal. El carácter móvil, auto-portátil por así decir, de la vida animal es ya una forma de libertad, de sobre-posición, por encima de la situación pasiva y sometida del vegetal. Pero la movilidad libre de las criaturas animales está, a su vez, dividida en dos escalones: la vida del herbívoro, hecha para huir, y la vida del carnívoro, para depredar.

Es a través de la primacía de alguno de los sentidos como se crea un mundo-entorno específico para cada uno de los dos escalones de lo animal. El oído para los herbívoros, nacidos para huir o caer como presas, y el ojo –la mirada- para los cazadores, los más libres y sagaces de entre los animales. Este predominio sensorial unilateral, según parece decirnos Spengler, determina los distintos mundos-entorno.

Erst durch die geheimnisvolle und von keinem menschlichen Nachdenken zu erklärende Art der Beziehungen zwischen dem Tier und seiner Umgebung mittels der tastenden, ordnenden, verstehenden Sinne entsteht aus der Umgebung eine Umwelt für jedes einzelne Wesen. Die höheren Pflanzenfresser werden neben dem Gehör vor allem durch die Witterung beherrscht, die höheren Raubtiere aber herrschen durch das Auge. Die Witterung ist der eigentliche Sinn der Verteidigung. Die Nase spürt Herkunft und Entfernung der Gefahr und gibt damit der Fluchtbewegung eine zweckmäßige Richtung von etwas fort.

"La misteriosa índole — por ninguna reflexión humana explicable — de las relaciones entre el animal y su contorno, mediante los sentidos palpadores, ordenadores e intelectivos, es la que convierte el contorno en un mundo circundante para cada ser en particular. Los herbívoros superiores son dominados por el oído y, sobre todo, por el olfato. Los rapaces superiores, en cambio, dominan por la mirada. El olfato es el sentido propio de la defensa. Por la nariz rastrea el animal el origen y la distancia del peligro, dando así a los movimientos de huida una dirección conveniente: la dirección que se aleja del peligro. [xi]

El "contorno" [Umgebung] al cual todavía se veía sometida la planta, es en el animal un mundo-entorno [Umwelt]. Cada especie animal lo percibe a su modo. Las teorías de von Uexküll, conocidas por Spengler, resuenan aquí. Pero ese mundo percibido de manera distinta por cada especie determina, a su vez, una básica relación de poder, la relación de dominante a dominado. De la Biología teórica se pasa recta y necesariamente a una Biopolítica. En la propia Biología teórica se pre-contiene la base zoológica del Poder. La mirada del animal de presa es ya una mirada que busca obtener botín y dominio, que fija rectilínea y frontalmente sus objetivos.

Para el depredador, "el mundo es la presa" [Die Welt ist die Beute]. Spengler nos describe así el origen de la Cultura, la raíz del mundo histórico específico del ser humano. Justamente como el hueso-maza, el arma letal en manos de un simio, se transforma en la película 2001 Una Odisea Espacial, en un artefacto cosmonáutico, la tecnicidad del hombre hunde sus raíces en el propio escalonamiento superior del ancestro, el homínida comedor y cazador de otros animales.

Ein unendliches Machtgefühl liegt in diesem weiten ruhigen Blick, ein Gefühl der Freiheit, die aus Überlegenheit entspringt und auf der größeren Gewalt beruht, und die Gewißheit, niemandes Beute zu sein. Die Welt ist die Beute, und aus dieser Tatsache ist letzten Endes die menschliche Kultur erwachsen

"Un sentimiento infinito de poderío palpita en esa mirada larga y tranquila; un sentimiento de libertad que brota de la superioridad y descansa en el mayor poder, en la certidumbre de no ser nunca botín ni presa de nadie. El mundo es la presa; y de este hecho, en último término, ha nacido toda la cultura humana." [xii]

OSHT-1.jpgEsa mirada poderosa, unida a ese sentimiento de poder, es el germen de la Historia. Y la Historia se individualiza. No se trata de una historia de las masas. Las masas no poseen la historia. Antes de alzarse culturas individualizadas, en la fase zoológica y pre-cultural, la Historia la hacen los individuos. El animal de presa destaca y se recorta ante el animal de rebaño. El herbívoro precisa de muchos como él, y entre ellos (como luego, en las sociedades de masas) una muchedumbre de iguales constituye ya el individuo. Ha de verse aquí, en El Hombre y la Técnica, no una teoría, en el sentido riguroso o científico, sino una analogía. Spengler discurre por analogías, y esas analogías presiden toda su filosofía de la historia. Si una Cultura es, toda ella, un ser vivo dotado de su morfología propia y de su propio ciclo vital, un herbívoro es un análogo de un "hombre masa". El hombre masa del siglo XIX y XX es un retroceso hacia la animalización, pero hacia la animalización del escalón inferior, la de la presa, la del cobarde herbívoro.

La analogía naturalista de Spengler discurre por canales muy diversos al naturalismo metafísico de Schopenhauer, aunque también conduce al pesimismo, o el de Darwin que induce a pensar en términos progresistas y, por ende, optimistas. El hombre es más que un mono. El hombre es más que un cuerpo que, por búsqueda de homologías rigurosas, esté próximo a los primates. La anatomía evolucionista, y, antes que ella, el comparatismo linneano, tratan ante todo con cadáveres. Los cuerpos estáticos de los científicos naturales son, en opinión de Spengler, naturalezas muertas. Frente a esta biología cadavérica Spengler busca el contacto con una filosofía de la biología de los cuerpos en acción. Tal concepción encuentra analogías en las acciones mismas. De tales analogías no hay razones para quejarse de un "antropomorfismo". Decir que es antropomorfismo que ciertos insectos "conocen la agricultura" o "practican la esclavitud", por ejemplo, sólo podría justificarse si admitiéramos que el hombre es un punto de vista privilegiado. De manera cerrada, y por tanto "ilógica", el círculo del antropomorfismo ve antropomorfismo en nuestras atribuciones acerca de las acciones de los animales. Lo que Spengler quiere decirnos simplemente es que la aparición de instituciones culturales, históricas, cuenta siempre con análogos zoológicos. El plano institucional en el que se puede hablar, como historiador, de una agricultura, una milicia, un Estado, una técnica, una esclavitud en una cultura humana es un plano que "corta" geométricamente con el plano zoológico y con el cual, al menos, hay una recta, una línea de puntos muy reales, donde también estarán presentes esos análogos.

  1. La tecnicidad y la analogía zoológica.

Ciñéndonos a la tecnicidad, Spengler la quiere ver en las más diversas escalas zoológicas, como ya llevamos visto. Pero no obstante se trata de una tecnicidad muy diversa. Y es que el método analógico, de gran aplicación en filosofías muy distintas a la spengleriana (p.e. en el tomismo) nos recuerda que la relación entre dos términos en parte distintos y en parte semejantes puede establecerse en orden a penetrar de alguna manera en un sector ignoto del mundo. Esta relación de analogía, y no de identidad, es legítima, cuidando de no bascular nunca hacia la univocidad ni hacia la equivocidad. Es una relación susceptible de quedar establecida en función de una proporción o regla. La técnica de los animales es análoga a la de los animales, pero no lo es en todos los aspectos ni en la misma medida. Los castores hacen presas y los ingenieros humanos también. Pero no igual, no en la misma medida. La tecnicidad del hombre es, por así decir, diferenciada. En el hombre se da la individualidad mientras que en el animal esa individualidad se pierde y se difumina en la especie:

Die Technik dieser Tiere ist Gattungstechnik.

"La técnica de los animales es técnica de la especie". [xiii]

La de los animales no humanos es técnica genérica (Gattung). Está incorporada en su instinto, y es invariable. El sujeto es aquí, como vimos en el caso de las plantas, un vehículo o escenario de la voz de la especie. Es una técnica no individualizada, invariable.[xiv]

Die Menschentechnik und sie allein aber ist unabhängig vom Leben der Menschengattung. Es ist der einzige Fall in der gesamten Geschichte des Lebens, daß das Einzelwesen aus dem Zwang der Gattung heraustritt. Man muß lange nachdenken, um das Ungeheure dieser Tatsache zu begreifen. Die Technik im Leben des Menschen ist bewußt, willkürlich, veränderlich, persönlich, erfinderisch. Sie wird erlernt und verbessert. Der Mensch ist der Schöpfer seiner Lebenstaktik geworden. Sie ist seine Größe und sein Verhängnis. Und die innere Form dieses schöpferischen Lebens nennen wir Kultur, Kultur besitzen, Kultur schaffen, an der Kultur leiden. Die Schöpfungen des Menschen sind Ausdruck dieses Daseins in persönlicher Form.

"La técnica humana, y sólo ella, es, empero, independiente de la vida de la especie humana. Es el único caso, en toda la historia de la vida, en que el ser individual escapa a la coacción de la especie. Hay que meditar mucho para comprender lo enorme de este hecho. La técnica en la vida del hombre es consciente, voluntaria, variable, personal, inventiva. Se aprende y se mejora. El hombre es el creador de su táctica vital. Esta es su grandeza y su fatalidad. Y la forma interior de esa vida creadora llamémosla cultura, poseer cultura, crear cultura, padecer por la cultura. Las creaciones del hombre son expresión de esa existencia, en forma personal."[xv]

OSHT-6.jpgEl hombre es artífice de su táctica vital [Der Mensch ist der Schöpfer seiner Lebenstaktik geworden]. Esta palabra, "táctica", es crucial para comprender la gran analogía belicista que recorre por igual la filosofía de la naturaleza y la filosofía de la historia spenglerianas. De esa creación libre brota, no obstante, un plano nuevo de coacción y de condena sobre los aprendices de brujo que son los humanos. El Espíritu Objetivo podrá verse, hegelianamente, como un fruto de la libertad esencial de los hombres, pero, a la par, se alza como envoltorio determinante y coactivo que canaliza y bloquea los cursos en principio libres de los sujetos. Es una libertad que se auto-restringe al devenir objetivo. La cultura no es ya, sin más, el Reino de la Libertad confrontado al Reino de la Necesidad (material y físico-química). La optimista dualidad kantiana, como en general la optimista y felicitaría dualidad teológico-cristiana de la que partía, ya ha quedado atrás. De la cultura también procede un destino, una fatalidad [Verhängnis].

  1. El hombre se ha hecho hombre por la mano.

Del carnívoro y depredador, cuyo órgano señorial es el ojo, pasamos al animal de la técnica en el sentido propio y formal, el animal que domina por medio de sus manos. Ese animal es ya el hombre. Dice Spengler que "el hombre se ha hecho hombre por la mano" [Durch die Entstehung der Hand.][xvi].

El ojo y la mano se complementan en lo que respecta a la dominación del mundo-entorno. El ojo domina desde el punto de vista teórico, y la mano desde el punto de vista práctico, nos dice el autor de El Hombre y la Técnica. El relato que nuestro filósofo nos brinda respecto a la aparición de la mano es de todo punto inaceptable. En el texto que comentamos se habla de una aparición repentina. A Spengler no se le pasa por la cabeza, al menos en relación con éste tema, la existencia de una causalidad circular alternativa a la "aparición súbita". La mano, junto con la marcha erguida, la técnica, la posición de la cabeza, etc. son novedades ellas que se podrían explicar de forma evolucionista pero no necesariamente en términos de sucesión lenta y gradual. En la antropología evolucionista se pueden establecer modelos de realimentación causal en donde las novedades "empujan" a otras, ofreciendo ventajas sinérgicas en cuanto a adaptación. Así parece haber sido el proceso de hominización, ciertamente un proceso acelerado, en donde el ritmo del cambio se hace vertiginoso. El papel de la mano en ese conjunto de procesos sinérgicos parece haber sido determinante. En esta misma revista hemos dado noticia de las investigaciones del profesor Manuel Fernández Lorenzo en ese sentido.[xvii]

Por el contrario, los prejuicios anti-evolucionistas de Spengler, y su apuesta por el mutacionismo de Hugo de Vries, hoy tan desacreditado, lastran la genial intuición. La mano hizo al hombre: he aquí una proposición que damos como cierta siempre y cuando no se oscurezcan las otras novedades bioculturales que, en sinergia con la conversión de la garra en mano, nos diferenciaron de manera muy notable dentro del grupo de los primates. Lo que Spengler ve como simultaneidad, nosotros deberíamos hoy analizarlo (con los enormes datos disponibles hoy por la paleoantropología, inexistentes en la época en que nuestro filósofo vivió) en términos de causalidad circular y sinérgica. De hecho, en el siguiente párrafo se podría vislumbrar este enfoque sustituyendo la simultaneidad repentina por este tipo de causalidad:

Aber nicht nur müssen Hand, Gang und Haltung des Menschen gleichzeitig entstanden sein, sondern auch – und das hat bis jetzt niemand bemerkt – Hand und Werkzeug. Die unbewaffnete Hand für sich allein ist nichts wert. Sie fordert die Waffe, um selbst Waffe zu sein. Wie sichdas Werkzeug aus der Gestalt der Hand gebildet hat, so umgekehrt die Hand an der Gestalt des Werkzeugs. Es ist sinnlos, das zeitlich trennen zu wollen. Es ist unmöglich, daß die ausgebildete Hand auch nur kurze Zeit hindurch ohne Werkzeug tätig war. Die frühesten Reste des Menschen und seiner Geräte sind gleich alt.

"Pero no sólo la mano, la marcha y la actitud del hombre debieron surgir a la vez, sino también — y esto es lo que nadie ha observado hasta hoy — la mano y la herramienta. La mano inerme no tiene valor por sí sola. La mano exige el arma, para ser ella misma arma. Así como la herramienta se ha formado por la figura de la mano, así inversamente la mano se ha hecho sobre la figura de la herramienta. Es absurdo pretender separarlas en el tiempo. Es imposible que la mano ya formada haya actuado ni aun por poco tiempo sin herramienta. Los más antiguos restos humanos y las más antiguas herramientas tienen la misma edad." [xviii]

OSHT-P.jpgLa forma o figura [Gestalt] de la mano determina la de la herramienta, y viceversa. La garra no precisa de herramientas. Cuando la garra del simio comienza a tomar palos y emplearlos, inicial y esencialmente como armas, ésta garra ya deviene mano. Y en este momento ya nace un nuevo tipo de depredador: no es sólo el depredador de los ojos, con un pensamiento ocular, sino un pensar de la mano. Ojo y manos, en el plano sensomotor, representan por analogía la doble faceta del pensar humano, el plano cognoscitivo: el pensar intelectual (relaciones causa-efecto) y el pensar práctico (relaciones medio-fin).

  1. Intelecto y Praxis.

Ambas formas de pensamiento representan una liberación frente al "pensar de la especie" de los demás animales. En el pensar de la especie no hay individuación. La especie "piensa" por el individuo y ese pensar es acción instintiva. En cambio, en el hombre el pensar es acción personal y creativa. Y desde la lejana prehistoria parece prepararse una doble clase o condición en el ser de los hombres: el hombre teórico (sacerdote, científico y filósofo) que busca y atesora verdades, y el hombre fáctico, el de los hechos (negociante, general, estadista)[xix].

Esta distinción presenta un carácter universal, pues entrecruza las más diversas culturas y civilizaciones. En todas ellas hay la suficiente diversidad humana como para que uno pueda nacer en el grupo "contemplativo" o en el "fáctico" y desarrollarse cada individuo según ese particular destino. De todas las maneras da la impresión de que las civilizaciones, esto es, las culturas rígidas que ya han iniciado su inexorable declive, propenden a extender y encumbrar un tipo de hombre contemplativo progresivamente ciego y sordo ante los hechos, y tienden igualmente a favorecer modos de vida poco realistas, poco pragmáticos e incluso modos de vida claramente contrarios a la adaptación y al más básico instinto de supervivencia. Modos de vida en los cuales se extienden los sabios "que huyen del mundo" y de otros muchos papanatas que les imitan, mientras a las puertas de sus ciudades o en el limes cada vez peor defendido, aguardan los bárbaros, sedientos de sangre, hambrientos de riquezas o simplemente hambrientos. Y en ese momento crucial del declive de una civilización, cuando los sabios huyen del mundo, vale decir simplemente que "huyen", y ya no hay hombres de hechos que sepan afrontarse con el abismo, se puede decir que todo está perdido. La sabiduría del ojo, que inicialmente fue la sagacidad y claridad del animal de presa, no se ha visto debidamente potenciada por la astucia de la mano, la del animal de acción, facta et non verba.

Nuestro filósofo remonta la tecnicidad hasta los estratos más básicos de la vida, y sólo en la animalidad superior, depredadora, encuentra la verdadera base sensomotora para la técnica –el ojo y la mano. Sin embargo no cifra en esta base la aparición del "arte". El "arte" es enfrentamiento con la naturaleza. Ya no es sólo la lucha contra el animal (caza) y contra el semejante (guerra), es la guerra contra la naturaleza. Es una guerra que se alza cuando la propia cultura objetiva extiende su capa sobre la historia de los hombres, y los hombres se desdoblan en teóricos y prácticos, y aun la propia práctica se desdobla en la praxis constructiva y en la praxis ejecutiva (como dice Spengler, hay quien sabe fabricar un violín y hay quien sabe tocarlo). Lo mismo hemos de ver con las armas: quienes las inventaron, quienes desarrollaron las bases científico-tecnológicas para su existencia –la cultura occidental- pueden ser hoy las víctimas de sus propios ingenios. A la tecnicidad le sucede lo mismo que al pensamiento entero. Los sabios que huyen del mundo se exponen a encontrarse con masas de bárbaros dispuestos a violar todo su saber, a rebanarles el cuello y a incendiar sus bibliotecas y laboratorios. La tecnicidad es el comienzo mismo de la divergencia entre naturaleza e historia, es el punto en que comienza la tragedia esencial de los hombres. Y las culturas que, como la europea, más han logrado domeñar la naturaleza, acaso por su falta de benignidad climática, más habrán de sufrir la venganza de ésta naturaleza. La cultura europea y su extensión, la civilización occidental, ha creado todo el arsenal con el cual se puede liquidar el mundo. Pero este arsenal no es poseído por un Imperio que lo administre, que sea el prudente ejecutor de los actos de defensa común de los valores civilizatorios. No. Este arsenal se ha "difundido". Culturas y potencias por completo ajenas a Europa y a sus valores se han apropiado de la técnica –y muy especialmente de la técnica destructiva- para sojuzgar Europa, y destruir, en el límite, el mundo mismo.

  1. El lenguaje. La concepción operatoria según Spengler.

Formando parte de la tecnicidad está el lenguaje mismo. Y Spengler se apresura a deslindar su concepción operatoria del lenguaje frente a otras muy usuales como son la romántica y la racionalista. La concepción romántica se fija sólo en el aspecto expresivo, el origen del habla está en la función poética y mitológica. En el otro extremo, la concepción racionalista considera que el lenguaje es un sistema de proposiciones. Las palabras son meros vehículos que transmiten pensamientos. Por el contrario, la concepción operatoria del lenguaje que en breves pinceladas (pues eso son, nada más, unas breves pinceladas) nos ofrece Spengler es dialógica. El lenguaje existe para comunicarse dos o más individuos, y no para expresarse o para meditar aisladamente. En lugar de un enfoque monológico, hay que hablar aquí de un enfoque dialógico. El lenguaje, y con él la operatoriedad que lleva implícita consta de preguntas y respuestas, mandatos, instrucciones, apremios. El lenguaje primitivo era extraordinariamente parco y conciso. Por eso dice Spengler que antaño, acaso en la Prehistoria, sólo se hablaba lo estrictamente necesario y que aún hoy los aldeanos son personas muy silenciosas. Y por supuesto, el medio ambiente y el alma de cada pueblo exige un "medio" lingüístico completamente distinto, pues diversas son las necesidades (pueblo de cazadores, pueblo de pastores, labradores, nómadas…).[xx] La base del lenguaje es completamente práctica-operatoria. En este sentido, las ideas lingüísticas de de Spengler son muy cercanas a las del materialismo filosófico de Gustavo Bueno o, más aún, a las ideas de la Operatiología de Manuel Fernández Lorenzo. Al igual que éste último, Spengler dice explícitamente que el hombre "piensa con la mano":

OSHT-JE.jpgDer ursprüngliche Zweck des Sprechens ist die Durchführung einer Tat nach Absicht, Zeit, Ort, Mitteln. Die klare, eindeutige Fassung derselben ist das Erste, und aus der Schwierigkeit, sich verständlich zu machen, den eigenen Willen anderen aufzuerlegen, ergibt sich die Technik derGrammatik, die Technik der Bildung von Sätzen und Satzarten, des richtigen Befehlens, Fragens, Antwortens, der Ausbildung von Wortklassen auf Grund der praktischen, nicht der theoretischen Absichten und Ziele. Das theoretische Nachdenken hat am Entstehen des Sprechens in Sätzen so gut wie gar keinen Anteil. Alles Sprechen ist praktischer Natur und geht vom »Denken der Hand« aus.

"La finalidad primitiva del lenguaje es la ejecución de un acto, según propósito, tiempo, lugar y medios. La concepción clara e inequívoca del acto es lo primero; y la dificultad de hacerse comprender, de imponer a los demás la propia voluntad, produce la técnica de la gramática, la técnica de la formación de oraciones y cláusulas, la técnica del correcto mandato, de la interrogación, de la respuesta, de la formación de las palabras generales, sobre la base de los fines y propósitos prácticos, no de los teóricos. La meditación teorética no tiene participación alguna en el origen del lenguaje oracional. Todo lenguaje es de naturaleza práctica; su base es el “pensar de la mano"". [xxi]

Para eso está el lenguaje: para realizar un acto [Durchführung einer Tat]. Hablamos de un pensamiento "ejecutivo". La propia mano ya "piensa" en el momento en que realiza sus diversas ejecuciones.  La gramática es una técnica, y su existencia original, antes de asumir otras funciones, es puramente práctica. El lenguaje, incluso si está basado en lo sensible, adquiere una autonomía por razón a su entrelazamiento colectivo. De la acción de muchos surge la empresa [Das Tun zu mehreren nennen wir Unternehmen]. [xxii].

  1. Biopolítica jerárquica.

Se da aquí, del paso de la mano al lenguaje, una segunda clase de Espíritu Objetivo: a parte de las máquinas, objetos, artefactos y cultura material "extra-objetiva", se da una cultura estrictamente institucional, lingüística, en la cual el propio hombre individual puede quedar atrapado. En esa realidad institucional y objetivada aparecen las dos clases fundamentales de hombres: la clase de los gobernantes y la de los gobernados. Todas las sociedades "sanas" han reconocido esta diferencia, la cual se funda en la más práctica escisión entre talentos: unos talentos saben dirigir y otros saben ejecutar. En toda empresa, además del ojo que ve y de la mano que ejecuta, hay "hombres oculares" que se invisten de talento práctico en virtud de su función de mando, y "hombres manuales", que ejecutan en medio de la red normativa e institucional que implica una ejecución. Existe, a nuestro modo de ver, una antropología materialista spengleriana que va montando, en función de una jerarquía sensorial (el ojo del depredador, relegado luego al ojo del hombre teórico) y operatoria (la mano que crea y que se ve armada, relegada luego a la mano del ejecutor obediente) explica el rebasamiento del naturalismo y su superación por un plano institucional. El filósofo germano no desarrolla este proceso, y lo expone de forma demasiado apretada, aunque lo escrito por él contiene muchas enseñanzas.

Es gibt zuletzt einen natürlichen Rangunterschied zwischen Menschen, die zum Herrschen und die zum Dienen geboren sind, zwischen Führern und Geführten des Lebens. Er ist schlechthin vorhanden und wird in gesunden Zeiten und Bevölkerungen von jedermann unwillkürlich anerkannt, als Tatsache, obgleich sich in Jahrhunderten des Verfalls die meisten zwingen, das zu leugnen oder nicht zu sehen. Aber gerade das Gerede von der »natürlichen Gleichheit aller« beweist, daß es hier etwas fortzubeweisen gibt.

"Existe al fin una diferencia natural de rango entre los hombres que han nacido para mandar y los hombres que han nacido para servir, entre los dirigentes y los dirigidos de la vida. Esa diferencia de rango existe absolutamente; y en las épocas y en los pueblos sanos es reconocida involuntariamente por todo el mundo como un hecho, aun cuando en los siglos de decadencia la mayoría se esfuerce por negarla o no verla. Pero justamente ese continuo hablar de la “igualdad natural entre todos”, demuestra un esfuerzo que se encamina a probar la no existencia de esa diferenciación."  [xxiii]

En la fase civilizada, no en la cultural-ascendente, se inicia un resentido movimiento de las masas, excitado por los talentos más mediocres, un movimiento encaminado hacia la nivelación. En la fase civilizada se deteriora de manera calculada la educación, se cuestiona la autoridad y se acorrala al autoritario, al capitán dotado de derecho natural al mando. Los lobos solitarios se ven rodeados de ovejas resentidas, feroces en su afán revanchista para con el depredador natural, pero mansas y obedientes ante los nuevos demagogos,

OSHT-NDR.jpgSpengler se sitúa resueltamente entre los filósofos anti-igualitarios, en la misma línea de los clásicos Platón y Aristóteles y seguida por Nietzsche. La diferencia entre los hombres es un "hecho" [Tatsache] acerca del cual cabe poca o nula discusión. La vida práctica de los individuos sólo empieza a comprenderse en el seno de una organización, cuya decadencia civilizada es "masa", pero cuya existencia "en forma" se denomina Estado. El origen del Estado estriba en esa tecnicidad devenida en forma de organización militar. En la milicia existe ya un Estado in nuce. La organización de la empresa humana, especialmente ante enemigos potenciales exteriores, es el Ejército, la institución que encarna la tecnicidad elevada al plano institucional, objetivo-espiritual: […] der Staat ist die innere Ordnung eines Volkes für den äußeren Zweck. Der Staat ist als Form, als Möglichkeit, was die Geschichte eines Volkes als Wirklichkeit ist. Geschichte aber ist Kriegsgeschichte, damals wie heute. Politik ist nur der vorübergehende Ersatz des Krieges durch den Kampf mit geistigeren Waffen. Und die Mannschaft eines Volkes ist ursprünglich gleichbedeutend mit seinem Heer. Der Charakter des freien Raubtieres ist in wesentlichen Zügen vom einzelnen auf das organisierte Volk übergegangen, das Tier mit einer Seele und vielen Händen. Regierungs-, Kriegs- und diplomatische Technik haben dieselbe Wurzel und zu allen Zeiten eine tief innerliche Verwandtschaft.

"[…] El Estado es el orden interior de un pueblo para los fines exteriores. El Estado es, como forma, como posibilidad, lo que la historia de un pueblo es como realidad. Pero la historia es historia guerrera, entonces lo mismo que hoy. La política es más simplemente el efímero sucedáneo de la guerra, mediante la lucha con armas espirituales. Y el conjunto de los hombres en un pueblo es originariamente equivalente a su ejército. El carácter del animal rapaz y libre se ha trasladado, con sus rasgos esenciales, desde el individuo al pueblo organizado, que es el animal con un alma y muchas manos. La técnica del gobernante, del guerrero y del diplomático tienen la misma raíz y, en todos los tiempos, una afinidad interna muy profunda."[xxiv]

Partiendo de un naturalismo –ciertamente anti-evolucionista- desde el cual se encuentran los elementos etológicos de la tecnicidad, Spengler emplea su método analógico a fondo con vistas a equiparar distintas clases de actividad práctica. Una vez equiparadas esas "técnicas", especialmente las técnicas humanas regentes (gobernante, guerrero, diplomático), se acude a la raíz [Wurzel] común. Este proceder spengleriano puede suscitar críticas merecidas si en él hay circularidad. La analogía lleva a la raíz, y la raíz alumbra la analogía. No habría círculo vicioso en la exposición sobre la evolución de la tecnicidad, desde la propia sensorialidad y operatoriedad etológicas hasta las instituciones humanas de una cultura superior (Estado, Ejército, etc.), si las meras analogías fueran transformadas en capas de complejidad creciente en las cuales los estratos inferiores (p.e. la depredación etológica) conservaran partes materiales que se integran en los estratos superiores (p.e. la conquista y dominación de un Estado sobre otros). El estilo fogoso, impresionista, en ocasiones poético, del filósofo alemán, parece impedir la paciente construcción de verdaderas homologías –y no analogías. De otra parte, la intencionalidad y estilo "belicista" de las palabras spenglerianas le llevan a insistir de manera muy particular en la propia guerra como eje en torno al cual girarán todas las demás indagaciones sobre la tecnicidad. Había tecnicidad en el ojo del cazador. Había tecnicidad en la mano armada del homínido. Había tecnicidad en la dirección de hombres armados en cooperación. Hay tecnicidad en cualquier "empresa", esto es, en cualquier cooperación que lleva a una masa organizada en la que se dan relaciones de poder (dominantes-dominados) hacia fuera y hacia dentro, etc.…Creemos no haber expuesto de forma caricaturesca la manera en que un pensamiento jerárquico y "belicista" como el de Spengler consigue reducir la tecnicidad a la lucha y la dominación. Pero se da la circunstancia de que esa lucha y ese afán de dominación (Voluntad de Poder), iniciada contra animales de otras especies y proseguida contra otros grupos de individuos de la propia especie humana crea todo un mundo artefactual, un Espíritu Objetivo que, por medio del lenguaje y de las instituciones y no sólo de armas y herramientas productivas, encierra al animal humano en su propia jaula. El hombre se encarcela: la casa y la ciudad, símbolos supremos de la Cultura, encarnan perfectamente la nueva clase de servidumbre universal de los humanos. Así, Spengler nos presenta la historia de los hombres a largo plazo, una lucha por capturar animales y hombres, una conflagración universal en pos de evitar ser esclavizado o lograr esclavizar a otros. Pero este panorama no puede conducir sino a otro, en el cual la esclavitud de una parte frente a otra parte de los hombres conduce a la esclavitud universal. Todos, con independencia de su posición económica, política, militar, todos sin excepción son esclavos de una cárcel "cultural".

In dieser wachsenden gegenseitigen Abhängigkeit liegt die stille und tiefe Rache der Natur an dem Wesen, das ihr das Vorrecht auf Schöpfertum entriß. Dieser kleine Schöpfer wider die Natur, dieser Revolutionär in der Welt des Lebens ist der Sklave seiner Schöpfung geworden. Die Kultur, der Inbegriff künstlicher, persönlicher, selbstgeschaffener Lebensformen, entwickelt sich zu einem Käfig mit engen Gittern für diese unbändige Seele. Das Raubtier, das andere Wesen zu Haustieren machte, um sie für sich auszubeuten, hat sich selbst gefangen. Das Haus des Menschen ist das große Symbol dafür.

"En esta creciente dependencia mutua reside la muda y profunda venganza de la naturaleza sobre el ser que supo arrebatarle el privilegio de la creación. Ese pequeño creador contra natura, ese revolucionario en el mundo de la vida, conviértese en el esclavo de su propia creación. La cultura, el conjunto de las formas artificiales, personales, propias de la vida, desarróllase en jaula de estrechas rejas para aquella alma indomable. El animal de rapiña, que convirtió a los otros seres en animales domésticos, para explotarlos en su propio provecho, hace aprisionado a sí mismo. La casa del hombre es el símbolo magno de este hecho." [xxv]

El hombre se vuelve un esclavo de su propia creación [der Sklave seiner Schöpfung geworden]. Con estas breves palabras se podría resumir todo el recorrido de la metafísica alemana desde Kant. Partiendo del idealismo clásico germano y del pensamiento romántico, regresa en Spengler el tópico del hombre como ser enfrentado metafísicamente al objeto. Si el Reino de la Libertad se llama ahora, Reino de la Cultura y éste fue entendido, bajo el humanismo idealista y romántico, como una liberación de la necesidad (naturaleza), ahora, en las postrimerías del siglo XIX corresponde a la fase "vitalista" de la metafísica germana entender la propia Cultura no como libertad sino a modo de jaula y prisión. En la medida en que el hombre ya no es Razón o Espíritu, sino un "animal depredador" [Das Raubtier], la Cultura es la cárcel que le retiene. Se ha completado el ciclo del "aprendiz de brujo". Nuestra especie pretende escapar de la naturaleza y ésta, en su lado más salvaje, sigue presente incluso habiéndose recluido en una fortaleza cultural. Dentro del recinto carcelario va creciendo la base de los subordinados. La clase dirigente, la cúpula de los depredadores, necesita cada vez más manos controladas por menos ojos. Las manos de las masas ejecutoras –esclavos, siervos, asalariados- se ven desprovistas de su consustancial inteligencia. La pre-visión, la planificación dirigente es suficiente para conducir los trabajos y las empresas. Es evidente que en tiempos de decadencia hay una rebelión de las masas. Se extiende el igualitarismo, esto es, la envidia. En la más pura línea nietzscheana, Spengler, como nuestro Ortega, vincula el triunfo de la oclocracia (el poder de la chusma) a un sentimiento exacerbado de envidia y fobia al talento. Esta rebelión de las masas no puede acaecer sino después de todo un ciclo que no dudamos en calificar sino de dialéctico. Es dialéctico puesto que incluye negaciones, rebasamientos de fases anteriores. Sin embargo es dialéctico pero no al modo hegeliano. No hay en Spengler una Teología optimista. En Hegel el dolor y el error quedaban sobradamente justificados en el largo plazo, en la consumación final, siempre victoriosa. En Spengler, en cambio, el dolor y el error no se justifican, son subproductos –al modo schopenhaueriano- que tan sólo para los sujetos pacientes y los sentimentales, poseen alguna relevancia. La dialéctica spengleriana es la de un naturalismo crudo. Es un sistema de negaciones y de rebasamientos de estratos previos, no necesariamente encaminados hacia "lo mejor". El tránsito de la Cultura hacia la Civilización no es, precisamente, el tránsito hacia capas superiores. En la propia Civilización hay recaídas en la barbarie, en el salvajismo y en la propia animalidad. Así han de contemplarse las perversiones de todas las grandes ciudades de todas las épocas civilizatorias en fase senil o terminal, infestadas de "proletarios" y desarraigados. En ellas regresa la selva y la propia animalidad, y las perversiones del hombre decadente de la ciudad son las propias de un animalismo elevado de potencia, el animalismo del frío animal post-racional encerrado en el cemento y el asfalto. La naturaleza siempre se venga: "…die stille und tiefe Rache der Natur an dem Wesen, das ihr das Vorrecht auf Schöpfertum entriß. ["…la muda y profunda venganza de la naturaleza sobre el ser que supo arrebatarle el privilegio de la creación"]. Prometeo ha robado el fuego a los dioses, y debe pagar por ello. La bestia alada que le roe sin cesar las entrañas bien puede simbolizar el retorno de "lo peor", el avance de la selva entre las selvas de asfalto de aquel que un día se autoerigió como Rey de la Creación.

  1. Conclusiones: Tecnicidad y decadencia.

OSHT-HD.jpgLa decadencia de Occidente se ilumina plenamente mirando esta civilización bajo el aspecto de la técnica. La técnica, nacida en toda cultura humana básicamente como arma y como potenciación del ojo y la mano depredadora, ya en fase mecanista pasa a ser la tumba de la civilización que con más energía y saña la desarrolló, la civilización europea de Occidente. Otros pueblos se beneficiarán de aquellos logros de la cultura fáustica. Los frailes escolásticos europeos, en torno a los siglos XII y XIII introdujeron el verdadero Renacimiento[xxvi]. Spengler no duda en llamarlos "vikingos del espíritu". Sin miedo a navegar todo lo lejos posible, y con el mismo afán dominador de sus antecedentes piráticos y navegantes, fueron aquellos escolásticos de la cultura fáustica quienes sentaron las bases de la ciencia moderna, mucho tiempo antes de Galileo, Copérnico, Descartes o Newton. Un Mundo y un Dios entendidos en términos de fuerza, energía, y una naturaleza entendida como botín y campo para la conquista. Los vikingos del espíritu, los escolásticos medievales, impulsaron el verdadero Renacimiento y la primera fase científico-técnica de la cultura fáustica. Ellos prepararon el terreno para la segunda oleada de descubrimientos, y con los descubrimientos, las conquistas. Los conquistadores españoles fueron, a ojos de Spengler, los nuevos vikingos, los herederos de la "sangre nórdica", destinados a revolucionar el mundo, como hicieran, unos siglos antes, sus antepasados.

Esa conexión entre piratería, depredación y conquista de la naturaleza, es señalada con toda su intensidad en la parte final del ensayo que comentamos. La conexión es posible precisamente por sobrevolar el aspecto racional. Spengler sobrevuela la diferencia entre la ciencia, una empresa racional de "conquista", y las exploraciones piráticas, guerreras, etc. de los pueblos europeos de todas las épocas, especialmente a partir de la emergencia de la cultura fáustica. La desconsideración hacia la razón, o el verla precisamente como una parte más de las cualidades depredadoras de esta clase de hombres que el autor llama "hombres de las comarcas del Norte", se inscribe en su teoría sobre las dos clases de hombres en general: hombres de hechos y hombres de verdades. En todas las razas humanas existen estas dos clases de individuos pero es la cultura la que otorga predominio o equilibrio diferenciado a una de ellas. En la historia específica de Occidente sucedió que no fue la clase sacerdotal (al estilo judaico) la que se impuso, pese a toda la fuerza de sus pretensiones. Las luchas entre el Papado y el Imperio, entre güelfos y gibelinos, son un aspecto de esta lucha entre hombres de verdades y hombres de hechos, a pesar del entrecruzamiento de tipos, y a pesar de que la propia Iglesia se sobrepuso a príncipes y guerreros porque en ella no faltaron clérigos que eran, netamente, verdaderos hombres de hechos. En la actualidad los estados sucumben ante demagogos, filisteos y supuestos "hombres de verdades".

Son hoy los estados inmersos en la ideología y en la palabrería, la clase de estados que existen en su condición de meras piezas al servicio del capital. El hombre occidental del siglo XXI es, en gran medida, un hombre post-técnico. Depende de la máquina, y su vida se encuentra progresivamente automatizada. Siendo un robot de carne y hueso, desprecia la técnica y ensaya el escapismo. Ese escapismo "contracultural" ya existía en la Europa de hace casi un siglo, en el mundo occidental en que se fraguó esta obrita, El Hombre y la Técnica[xxvii]. El orientalismo, el espiritismo, el neo-nomadismo y la mentalidad suicida y nihilista [xxviii]. El demiurgo que hizo posible la Gran Técnica, y por ende, la técnica de dominación, control y sometimiento sobre todas las demás razas y pueblos, ahora es esclavo de ella y se abandona a sí mismo. Ese demiurgo, el hombre europeo, fracasa, entierra sus armas, se deja invadir y comprar. Lo vemos hoy, con la civilización del petróleo. Sus autos y sus chimeneas reclaman sin cesar ese oro negro, a la vez que parlotean todos sin cesar sobre "energías alternativas" y "desarrollo sostenible". Mientras se sucede tanta charla y tantas cortinas de humo se levantan sobre la corteza terrestre, países productores de combustible compran voluntades y esclavizan naciones "blancas" enteras. De rodillas, como un perro amaestrado, el europeo lame las botas de quien posee los petrodólares.

 

[i] Blanco Martín (2014): "Una antropología de la Técnica. Consideraciones spenglerianas" La Razón Histórica, nº27, 2014 [117-130]. ISSN 1989-2659  [https://www.revistalarazonhistorica.com/27-8/]

[ii] La edición española que tenemos a la vista, y cuya paginación empleamos es la correspondiente al volumen editado por Ediciones Fides: Oswald Spengler, Regeneración del Imperio Alemán. El hombre y la Técnica, Torredembarra (Tarragona), 2016. En dicha edición no figura traductor pero el texto español coincide con la traducción de Manuel García Morente aparecida en la editorial Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1934. Las citas correspondientes del original en alemán, cuya paginación no aportamos, están tomadas del siguiente sitio web :http://www.zeno.org/nid/20009270388, que reproduce la siguiente edición

 Oswald Spengler: Der Mensch und die Technik. München 1931. Erstdruck: München: Beck, 1931.

[iii] Fruto de nuestras investigaciones ya ha salido un libro: Blanco Martín (2016): Oswald Spengler y la Europa Fáustica, Ediciones Fides, (Tarragona), con prólogo de Alain de Benoist; volumen que recoge diversos artículos aparecidos con anterioridad, más numerosas publicaciones en papel o en internet. Alguna de esas publicaciones están recogidas en el listado de la Oswald Spengler Society for the Study of Humanity and World Society.

https://www.oswaldspenglersociety.com/sources

[iv] El Hombre y la Técnica, a partir de ahora, según la edición citada: HT, p. 95.

[v] HT, p. 96.

[vi] HT, p. 97.

[vii] HT, p. 100.

[viii] HT, p. 100.

[ix] HT, p. 101.

[x] íbidem

[xi] HT, pps., 102-103.

[xii] HT, p. 103.

[xiii] HT, P. 105.

[xiv] HT, p. 106.

[xv] íbidem.

[xvi] HT, p. 107.

[xvii]  Blanco Martín (2017): El pensamiento “a mano”. En torno al “Pensamiento Hábil”. Reseña de dos libros de Manuel Fernández Lorenzo y su contraste con el Materialismo Filosófico , Revista La Razón Histórica, Número 35, Año 2017, páginas 20-35 [https://www.revistalarazonhistorica.com/35-2/]

[xviii] HT, p. 108.

[xix] HT, p. 110.

[xx] HT, pps. 115-116.

[xxi] HT, P. 116

[xxii] ibídem.

[xxiii] HT, p. 120.

[xxiv] HT, p. 121.

[xxv] HT, p. 122.

[xxvi] HT, pps. 128-129.

[xxvii] Esta obra fue publicada por primera vez en 1931. Véase nota 1.

[xxviii] HT, p. 136.

mardi, 09 octobre 2018

Oswald Spengler et la collapsologie en 1931

Untergang_des_Abendslandes.jpg

Oswald Spengler et la collapsologie en 1931

par Nicolas Bonnal

Ex: http://www.dedefensa.org

Nous sommes mal partis, et nous le savons depuis longtemps maintenant. Poe, Tocqueville, Balzac nous mirent en garde à l’époque romantique puis Nietzsche, Le Bon ou le redoutable australien Pearson au demi-siècle de l’électricité et du colonialisme. Le problème c’est que nous pouvons encore être mal partis pendant encore longtemps !

Longtemps donc avant les plus lucides de nos « mécontemporains », comme dit Alain Finkielkraut, la « collapsologie » (citons en vrac nos amis Kunstler, Klein, Diamond, Orlov) intéresse de grands et controversés esprits comme Oswald Spengler. Dans son dernier chapitre de l’homme et la technique (ici retraduit de l’anglais), le célèbre auteur du Déclin de l’occident (si le contenu du livre est oublié, déjà déconstruit en son temps par Thomas Mann, le titre est demeuré magique) observe notre lent déclin.

Il attaque au dernier chapitre de son bref et très brillant essai :

« Chaque haute culture est une tragédie. L’histoire de l’humanité dans son ensemble est tragique. Mais le sacrilège et la catastrophe du Faustien sont plus grands que tous les autres, plus grands que tout ce qu'Eschyle ou Shakespeare n’ont jamais imaginé. La créature se soulève contre son créateur. »

Spengler évoque la puissance de l’Europe « nordique » et son origine… charbonnière :

« Leur pouvoir politique dépend de leur richesse et celle-ci consiste en leur force industrielle. Mais cela est lié à l’existence du charbon. Les peuples germaniques, en particulier, sont protégés par ce qui est presque un monopole des charbonnages connus, ce qui les a conduits à une multiplication de leurs populations sans égale dans l’histoire. »

Ce règne de la quantité (Spengler est contemporain de Guénon) crée le monde inégal de l’économie aux temps de la mondialisation (qui fête ses trois siècles et non ses trois décennies, lisez Voltaire) :

« Les pays industriellement pauvres sont pauvres en tous points ; ils ne peuvent donc pas soutenir une armée ou faire la guerre ; ils sont donc politiquement impuissants ; et, par conséquent, leurs ouvriers, qu'ils soient dirigeants ou dirigés, sont des pions dans la politique économique de leurs adversaires. »

Spengler souligne la grande altération physique, et même climatique du monde dit moderne :

« L'image de la terre, avec ses plantes, ses animaux et ses hommes, a changé. En quelques décennies, la plupart des grandes forêts sont parties pour être transformées en journaux d’actualité, ce qui a entraîné les changements climatiques qui menacent l’économie foncière de populations entières. D'innombrables espèces animales ont été éteintes, ou presque, comme le bison ; Des races entières de l'humanité ont presque atteint le point de disparition, comme les Indiens d'Amérique du Nord et les Australiens. »

Le golem de Prague ou la machine de Bernanos remplace le monde ancien :

« Toutes les choses organiques meurent sous l'emprise de l'organisation. Un monde artificiel imprègne et empoisonne le naturel. La civilisation elle-même est devenue une machine qui fait ou tente de tout faire de manière mécanique. Nous pensons seulement en chevaux [-vapeur] maintenant ; nous ne pouvons pas regarder une cascade sans la transformer mentalement en énergie électrique ; nous ne pouvons pas arpenter une campagne pleine de bétail en pâturage sans penser à son exploitation comme source d'approvisionnement en viande ; nous ne pouvons pas regarder la belle vieille main d'un peuple primitif intact sans vouloir le remplacer par un processus technique moderne. »

Puis Spengler annonce le grand mécontentement des années soixante, soixante-dix, la montée de l’écologie, des spiritualités emballées sous vide(Debord) et le scepticisme du progrès :

« La machine, par sa multiplication et son raffinement, va finalement à l'encontre de son objectif. Dans les grandes villes, l’automobile a, par son nombre, détruit sa propre valeur, et on marche plus vite à pied. En Argentine, à Java et ailleurs, la simple charrue à cheval du petit cultivateur s'est révélée économiquement supérieure au gros outil à moteur et chasse ce dernier. Déjà dans de nombreuses régions tropicales, l'homme noir ou brun avec ses méthodes de travail primitives est un concurrent dangereux de la technique moderne de plantation du blanc. Et le travailleur blanc de la vieille Europe et de l’Amérique du Nord commence à s’inquiéter de son travail. »

unterangDTV.jpgOn a parlé de l’écologie. Spengler écrit sur cette fatigue (plus que crise) du monde moderne :

« La pensée faustienne commence à en avoir assez des machines. Une lassitude se répand, une sorte de pacifisme de la bataille avec la Nature. Les hommes reviennent à des formes de vie plus simples et plus proches de la nature ; ils passent leur temps dans le sport au lieu d'expérimentations techniques. Les grandes villes leur deviennent odieuses, et elles voudraient bien se soustraire à la pression de faits sans âme et au climat froid et clair d'organisation technique. Et ce sont précisément les talents forts et créatifs qui se détournent des problèmes pratiques et des sciences pour se tourner vers la pure spéculation. »

Spengler voit bien le retour à l’orientalisme :

« L'occultisme et le spiritualisme, les philosophies hindoues, la curiosité métaphysique à la couleur chrétienne ou païenne, qui étaient tous méprisés à l'époque darwinienne, sont en train de réapparaître. C'est l'esprit de Rome à l'âge d'Auguste. Par satiété, les hommes se réfugient dans les parties les plus primitives de la terre, dans le vagabondage, dans le suicide. Chaque grand entrepreneur a l’occasion de constater une diminution des qualités intellectuelles de ses recrues. »

Car Spengler annonce même le déclin du QI comme on dit aujourd’hui :

« Le XIXe siècle n’a été possible que parce que le niveau intellectuel ne cessait de s’élever. Mais un état stationnaire, à moins d’une chute réelle, est dangereux et laisse présager une fin… »

C’est la mutinerie des mains :

« Il commence sous de multiples formes – du sabotage au suicide en passant par la grève – en passant par la mutinerie des Mains contre leur destin, contre la machine, contre la vie organisée, contre tout et n'importe quoi. »

Spengler voit aussi que notre déculottée sera longue et n’aura pas de fin heureuse ou digne. La fin de l’histoire c’est la maison de retraite :

« Face à ce destin, il n’existe qu’une vision du monde digne de nous, celle qui a déjà été mentionnée comme le choix d’Achille – mieux vaut une vie courte, accalmie des actes et de la gloire, qu'une longue vie sans contenu. Déjà, le danger est si grand, pour chaque individu, chaque classe, chaque peuple, que de chérir toute illusion déplorable. Le temps ne se laisse pas arrêter ; il n'est pas question de retraite prudente ni de sage renonciation. Seuls les rêveurs croient qu'il existe une issue. »

Spengler voit aussi le problème « racial » se profiler. Le sous-homme blanc n’aura pas le courage de continuer (et on est placés avec May, Merkel ou Macron pour voir qu’il se donne les chefs qu’il mérite) et il se fera remplacer :

« Le troisième et le plus grave symptôme de l'effondrement qui commence est cependant ce que je pourrais appeler une trahison envers la technique. »

L’humanisme ou l’humanitarisme blanc fait déjà école (derrière sa puissance industrielle ou militaire Nietzsche comme Goethe voyaient notre affaiblissement) :

« Au lieu de garder strictement les connaissances techniques qui constituaient leur plus grand atout, les peuples « blancs » l’offrent avec complaisance au monde entier, dans chaque Hochschule, verbalement et sur papier, et l’hommage étonné des Indiens et des Japonais les ravissait. »

Tout cela va avec la mondialisation et le commerce bien sûr :

 « La fameuse « diffusion de l’industrie » s’est installée, motivée par l’idée de réaliser des profits plus importants en amenant la production sur le marché. Ainsi, au lieu d'exporter exclusivement des produits finis, ils ont commencé à exporter des secrets, des processus, des méthodes, des ingénieurs et des organisateurs. Même les inventeurs émigrent, car le socialisme, qui pourrait, s'il le voulait, les exploiter dans son équipe, les expulse à la place. Et si récemment, les « indigènes » ont pénétré dans nos secrets, les ont compris et les ont pleinement utilisés. »

Résultat, la bataille de Tsushima en 1905 :

« En trente ans, les Japonais sont devenus des techniciens de premier rang et, dans leur guerre contre la Russie, ils ont révélé une supériorité technique à partir de laquelle leurs professeurs ont pu tirer de nombreuses leçons. »

C’est la vengeance des « races de couleur ». A l’époque de Spengler écrivent aussi les penseurs pessimistes américains Madison Grant et Lothrop Stoddard (parodiés dans Gatsby le magnifique) :

« Le monde exploité commence à se venger de ses seigneurs. Les innombrables mains des races de couleur – au moins aussi intelligentes et beaucoup moins exigeantes – briseront l'organisation économique des Blancs à sa base. Le luxe habituel de l'ouvrier blanc, en comparaison avec le coolie, sera son destin. Le travail du blanc devient lui-même indésirable. Les énormes masses d'hommes concentrés dans les bassins miniers du Nord, les grands travaux industriels, les capitaux investis dans ces régions, des villes et des quartiers entiers, sont confrontés à la probabilité de tomber dans la compétition. »

Détroit, Cleveland, Lorraine : Spengler voit alors la fin de notre civilisation « faustienne ». A la même époque (1931 donc) André Siegfried recense le déclin de la civilisation industrielle de la Grande-Bretagne :

« Cette technique de la machine se terminera avec la civilisation faustienne et un jour restera en fragments, oubliés – nos chemins de fer et bateaux à vapeur aussi morts que les routes romaines et le mur de Chine, nos villes géantes et nos gratte-ciels en ruines comme le vieux Memphis et Babylone. L’histoire de cette technique touche à sa fin inévitable. Elle sera mangée de l’intérieur, comme les grandes formes de toute culture. Quand et de quelle manière, nous ne le savons pas. »

Spengler ignore la civilisation postindustrielle et surtout la civilisation de la dette immonde – et perpétuellement augmentée (New deal, guerres, dépenses de beurre et de canons…). Le catastrophisme ignore en effet la dimension vraie de notre catastrophe, dimension qui est de durer. Plus notre société touche le fond, plus elle creuse !

Il termine brillamment avec ce style snob et envolé que lui reprochait Thomas Mann :

« L'optimisme est la lâcheté. Nous sommes nés à cette époque et devons courageusement suivre le chemin qui nous mène à la fin prévue. Il n'y a pas d'autre moyen. Notre devoir est de garder la position perdue, sans espoir, sans secours, comme ce soldat romain dont les ossements ont été retrouvés devant une porte à Pompéi, qui, lors de l'éruption du Vésuve, est décédé à son poste, faute d'avoir été relevé. C'est cela la grandeur. C'est ce que signifie être un pur-sang. Une fin honorable est la seule chose qui ne peut pas être prise à un homme. »

On se demande toutefois quelle fin honorable nous attend…

Source 

Oswald Spengler, l’homme et la technique (cinquième partie)

mercredi, 01 août 2018

The Historical Background of Oswald Spengler’s Philosophy of Science

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Between the Heroic & the Immeasurable:
The Historical Background of Oswald Spengler’s Philosophy of Science

Oswald Spengler’s writings on the subject of the philosophy of science are very controversial, not only among his detractors but even for his admirers. What is little understood is that his views on these matters did not exist in a vacuum. Rather, Spengler’s arguments on the sciences articulate a long German tradition of rejecting English science, a tradition that originated in the eighteenth century.

Luke Hodgkin notes:

It is today regarded as a matter of historical fact that Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz both independently conceived and developed the system of mathematical algorithms known collectively by the name of calculus. But this has not always been the prevalent point of view. During the eighteenth century, and much of the nineteenth, Leibniz was viewed by British mathematicians as a devious plagiarist who had not just stolen crucial ideas from Newton, but had also tried to claim the credit for the invention of the subject itself.[1] [2]

This wrongheaded view stems from Newton’s own catty libel of Leibniz on these matters. During this time, the beginning of the eighteenth century, Leibniz’s native Prussia had not yet become a serious power through the wars of Frederick the Great. Leibniz, together with Frederick the Great’s grandfather, founded the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences. Newton’s slanderous account of Leibniz’s achievements would never be forgiven by the Germans, to whom Newton remained a bête noire as long as Germany remained a proud nation.

In the context of inquiring into the matter of how such a pessimist as Spengler could admire so notorious an optimist as Leibniz, two foreign members of the Prussian Academy of Sciences merit attention. The thought of French scientist and philosopher Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis, an exponent and defender of Leibnizian ideas, was in many ways a precursor to modern biology. Maupertuis wrote under the patronage of Frederick the Great, about a generation after Leibniz. Compared to other eighteenth-century philosophies, Maupertuis’ worldview, like modern biology and unlike most Enlightenment thought, presents nature as rather “red in tooth and claw.”

An earlier foreign member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences, a contemporary and correspondent of Leibniz, Moldavian Prince (and eccentric pretender to descent from Tamerlane) Dimitrie Cantemir, left two cultural legacies to Western history. Initially an Ottoman vassal, he gave traditional Turkish music its first system of notation, ushering in the classical era of Turkish music that would later influence Mozart. Later – after he had turned against the Ottoman Porte in an alliance with Petrine Russia, but was driven out of power and into exile due to his abysmal battlefield leadership – he wrote much about history. Most impactful in the West was a two-volume book that would be translated into English in 1734 as The History of the Growth and Decay of the Othman Empire. Voltaire and Gibbon later read Cantemir’s work, as did Victor Hugo.[2] [3]

Notes one biographer, “Cantemir’s philosophy of history is empiric and mechanistic. The destiny in history of empires is viewed . . . through cycles similar to the natural stages of birth, growth, decline, and death.”[3] [4] Long before Nietzsche popularized the argument, Cantemir proposed that high cultures are initially founded by barbarians, and also that a civilization’s level of high culture has nothing to do with its political success.[4] [5] Thus was the Leibnizian intellectual legacy mixed with pessimism even in Leibniz’s own lifetime.

OswSP-MTech.jpegIt was most likely in the context of this scientific tradition and its enemies that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, generally recognized as Germany’s greatest poet (or one of them, at any rate), later authored attacks on Newton’s ideas, such as Theory of Colors. Goethe, an early pioneer in biology and the life sciences, loathed the notion that there is anything universally axiomatic about the mathematical sciences. Goethe had one major predecessor in this, the Anglo-Irish philosopher and Anglican bishop George Berkeley. Like Berkeley, Goethe argued that Newtonian abstractions contradict empirical understandings. Both Berkeley and Goethe, though for different reasons, took issue with the common (or at least, commonly Anglo-Saxon) wisdom that “mathematics is a universal language.”

By the early modern age of European history, when Goethe’s Faust takes place, cabalistic doctrines, notes Carl Schmitt, “became known outside Jewry, as can be gathered from Luther’s Table Talks, Bodin’s Demonomanie, Reland’s Analects, and Eisenmenger’s Entdecktes Judenthum.”[5] [6] This phenomenon can be traced to the indispensable influence of the very inventors of cabalism, collectively speaking, on the West’s transition from feudalism to modern capitalism since the Age of Discovery, and in some cases even earlier. In 1911’s The Jews and Modern Capitalism, Werner Sombart points out that “Venice was a city of Jews” as early as 1152.

Cabalism deeply permeates the worldviews of many influential secret societies of Western history since medieval times, and certainly continuing with the official establishment of Freemasonry in 1717. Although the details will never be entirely clear, it is known that Goethe was involved with the Bavarian Illuminati in his youth. He seems to have experienced conservative disillusionment with it later in life. It is possible that the posthumous publication of Faust: The Second Part of the Tragedy was due at least in part to the book’s ambivalently revealing too much about the esoterica of Goethe’s former occult activities.

What is clear is that he was directly interested in cabalistic concepts. Karin Schutjer persuasively argues that “Goethe had ample opportunity to learn about Jewish Kabbalah – particularly that of the sixteenth-century rabbi Isaac Luria – and good reason to take it seriously . . . Goethe’s interest in Kabbalah might have been further sparked by a prominent argument concerning its philosophical reception: the claim that Kabbalistic ideas underlie Spinoza’s philosophy.”[6] [7]

At one point in the second part of Faust, Goethe shows an interest in monetary issues related to usury or empty currency, as Schopenhauer after him would.[7] [8] This is fitting for a story that takes place in early modern Europe and concerns an alchemist. Some early modern alchemists were known as counterfeiters and would have most likely had contact with Jewish moneylenders. Insofar as his scientific philosophy had a social, and not just an intellectual, significance, this desire on Goethe’s part for economic concreteness was perhaps what led him to reject and combat one key cabalistic doctrine: numerology.

Numerology is the belief that numbers are divine and have prophetic power over the physical world. Goethe held the virtually opposite view of numbers and mathematical systems, proposing that “strict separation must be maintained between the physical sciences and mathematics.” According to Goethe, it is an “important task” to “banish mathematical-philosophical theories from those areas of physical science where they impede rather than advance knowledge,” and to discard the “false notion that a phrase of a mathematical formula can ever take the place of, or set aside, a phenomenon.” To Goethe, mathematics “runs into constant danger when it gets into the terrain of sense-experience.”[8] [9]

In his well-researched 1927 book on Freemasonry, General Erich Ludendorff remarks, “One must study the cabala in order to understand and evaluate the superstitious Jew correctly. He then is no longer a threatening opponent.”[9] [10] In his proceeding discussion of the subject, Ludendorff focuses exclusively on the numerological superstitions in cabalism. Such beliefs are affirmed by a Jewish cabalistic source, which informs us that “Sefirot” is the Hebrew word for numbers, which represent “a Tree of Divine Lights.”[10] [11]

Everything about Goethe’s rejection of scientific materialism can be seen as a rebellion against numerology in the sciences – and certainly, the modern mathematical sciences stand on the shoulders of numerology, as modern chemistry does on alchemy. Schmitt once mentioned the “mysterious Rosicrucian sensibility of Descartes,” a reference to the mysterious cabalistic initiatory movement that dominated the scientific philosophies of the seventeenth century.[11] [12] In this Descartes was hardly alone; the entire epoch of mostly French and English mathematicians in the early modern centuries, which ushered in the modern infinitesimal mathematical systems, was infused with cabalism. Even if it were possible to ignore the growing Jewish intellectual and economic influence on that age, one would still be left with the metaphysical affinities between numerology and even the most scientifically accomplished worldview that takes literally the assumption that numbers are eternal principles.

According to early National Socialist economist Gottfried Feder, “When the Babylonians overcame the Assyrians, the Romans the Carthaginians, the Germans the Romans, there was no continuance of interest slavery; there were no international world powers . . . Only the modern age with its continuity of possession and its international law allowed loan capitals to rise immeasurably.”[12] [13] Writing in 1919, Feder argues with the help of a graph that that “loan-interest capital . . . rises far above human conception and strives for infinity . . . The curve of industrial capital on the other hand remains within the finite!”[13] [14] Goethe may have similarly drawn connections between the kind of economic parasitism satirized in the second part of Faust and what he, like Berkeley, saw as the superstitious modern art of measuring the immeasurable.

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The fusion of science with numerology, it should be noted, is actually not of Hebrew or otherwise pre-Indo-European origin. It originates from pre-Socratic Greek philosophy’s debt, particularly that of the Pythagoreans, to the Indo-Iranian world, chiefly Thrace.[14] [15] (Possibly of note in this regard is that Schopenhauer admired the Thracians for their arch-pessimistic ethos, as though this mindset were the polar opposite of the world-affirming Jewish worldview he loathed.)[15] [16] In any case, Goethe recognized it as a powerful weapon. That he studied numerology has been established by scholars.[16] [17]

A generation before Goethe, Immanuel Kant had propounded the idea that the laws of polarity – the laws of attraction and repulsion – precede the Newtonian laws of matter and motion in every way. This argument would influence Goethe’s friend Friedrich Wilhelm von Schelling, another innovator in the life sciences as well as part of the literary and philosophical movement known as Romanticism. By the time Goethe propounded his anti-Newtonian theories and led a philosophical milieu, he had an entire German tradition of such theories to work from.

Goethe’s work was influential in Victorian Britain. Most notably, at least in terms of the scientific history of that era, Darwin would cite Goethe as a botanist in On the Origin of the Species. Darwin’s philosophy of science, to the extent that he had one, was largely built on that of Goethe and the age of what came to be known as Naturphilosophie. Historian of science Robert J. Richards has found that “Darwin was indebted to the Romantics in general and Goethe in particular.”[17] [18] Darwin had been introduced to the German accomplishments in biology, and the German ideas about philosophy of science, mainly through the work of Alexander von Humboldt.[18] [19]

Why has this influence been forgotten? “In the decade after 1918,” explains Nicholas Boyle, “when hundreds of British families of German origin were forcibly repatriated, and those who remained anglicized their names, British intellectual life was ethnically cleansed and the debt of Victorian culture to Germany was erased from memory, or ridiculed.”[19] [20] To some extent, this process had already started since the outbreak of the First World War.

This intellectual ethnic cleansing would not go unreciprocated. In 1915’s Händler und Helden (Merchants and Heroes), German economist and sociologist Werner Sombart attacked the “mercantile” English scientific tradition. Here, Sombart is particularly critical of what he calls the “department-store ethics” of Herbert Spencer, but in general Sombart calls for most English ideas – including English science – to be purged from German national life. In his writings on the philosophy of science, Spengler would answer this call.

Spengler heavily drew on the ideas of Goethe, and evidently also on the views of a pre-Darwinian French Lutheran paleontologist of German origin, Georges Cuvier. For instance, Spengler’s assault on universalism in the physical sciences mostly comes from Goethe, but his rationale for rejecting Darwinian evolution appears to come from Cuvier. The idea that life-forms are immutable, and simply die out, only to be superseded by unrelated new ones – a persistent theme in Spengler – comes more from Cuvier than Goethe.

oswSP-car.jpgCuvier, however, does not belong to the German transcendentalist tradition, so Spengler mentions him only peripherally. On the other hand, in the third chapter of the second volume of The Decline of the West, Spengler uses a word that Charles Francis Atkinson translates as “admitted” to describe how Cuvier propounded the theory of catastrophism. Clearly, Spengler shows himself to be more sympathetic to Cuvier than to what he calls the “English thought” of Darwin.[20] [21]

Several asides about Cuvier are in order. First of all, this criminally underrated thinker is by no means outmoded, at least not in every way. Modern geology operates on a more-Cuvieran-than-Darwinian plane.[21] [22] Secondly, it is worth noting that Ernst Jünger once astutely observed that Cuvier is more useful to modern military science than Darwin.[22] [23] It may also be of interest that the Cuvieran system is even further removed from Lamarckism – and its view of heredity, as a consequence, more thoroughly racialist – than the Darwinian system.[23] [24]

Another scientist of German origin who may have influenced Spengler is the Catholic monk Gregor Mendel, the discoverer of what is now known as genetics. One biography notes:

Though Mendel agreed with Darwin in many respects, he disagreed about the underlying rationale of evolution. Darwin, like most of his contemporaries, saw evolution as a linear process, one that always led to some sort of better product. He did not define “better” in a religious way – to him, a more evolved animal was no closer to God than a less evolved one, an ape no morally better than a squirrel – but in an adaptive way. The ladder that evolving creatures climbed led to greater adaption to the changing world. If Mendel believed in evolution – and whether he did remains a matter of much debate – it was an evolution that occurred within a finite system. The very observation that a particular character trait could be expressed in two opposing ways – round pea versus angular, tall plant versus dwarf – implied limits. Darwin’s evolution was entirely open-ended; Mendel’s, as any good gardener of the time could see, was closed.[24] [25]

How very Goethean – and Spenglerian.

His continuation of the German mission against English science explains, even if it does not entirely excuse, Spengler’s citation of Franz Boas’ now-discredited experiments in craniology in the second volume of The Decline of the West. In his posthumously-published book on Indo-Europeanology, the unfinished but lucid Frühzeit der Weltgeschichte, Spengler cites the contemporary German Nordicist race theorist Hans F. K. Günther in writing that “urbanization is racial decay.”[25] [26] This would seem quite a leap, from citing Boas to citing Günther. However, in the opinion of one historian, Boas and Günther had more in common than they liked to think, because they were both heirs more of the German Idealist tradition in science than what the Anglo-Saxon tradition recognizes as the scientific method.[26] [27] Spengler must have keenly detected this commonality, for his views on racial matters were never synonymous with those of Boas, any more than they were identical to Günther’s.

He probably went too far in his crusade against the Anglo-Saxon scientific tradition, but as we have seen, Spengler was not without his reasons. He was neither the first nor the greatest German philosopher of science to present alternatives to the ruling English paradigms in the sciences, but was rather an heir to a grand tradition. Before dismissing this anti-materialistic tradition as worthless, as today’s historiographers of science still do, we should take into account what it produced.

Darwin’s philosophy of nature was predominantly German; only his Malthusianism, the least interesting aspect of Darwin’s work, was singularly British. As for Einstein, that proficient but unoriginal thinker was absolutely steeped in the German anti-Newtonian tradition, to which he merely put a mathematical formula. These are only the most celebrated examples of scientists influenced by the German tradition defended – maniacally, perhaps, but with noble intentions – in the works of Oswald Spengler.

Whether we consider Spengler’s ideas useful to science or utterly hateful to it, one question remains: Should the German tradition of philosophy of science he defended be taken seriously? Ever since the post-Second World War de-Germanization of Germany, euphemistically called “de-Nazification,” this tradition is now pretty much dead in its own fatherland. But does that make it entirely wrong?

Notes

[1] [28] Luke Hodgkin, A History of Mathematics: From Mesopotamia to Modernity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

[2] [29] See the booklet of the CD Istanbul: Dimitrie Cantemir, 1630-1732, written by Stefan Lemny and translated by Jacqueline Minett.

[3] [30] Eugenia Popescu-Judetz, Prince Dimitrie Cantemir: Theorist and Composer of Turkish Music (Istanbul: Pan Yayıncılık, 1999), p. 34.

[4] [31] Dimitrie Cantemir, The History of the Growth and Decay of the Othman Empire, vol. I, tr. by Nicholas Tindal (London: Knapton, 1734), p. 151, note 14.

[5] [32] Carl Schmitt, The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes: Meaning and Failure of a Political Symbol, tr. by George Schwab and Erna Hilfstein (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), p. 8.

[6] [33] Karin Schutjer, “Goethe’s Kabbalistic Cosmology [34],” Colloquia Germanica, vol. 39, no. 1 (2006).

[7] [35] J. W. von Goethe, Faust, Part Two, Act I, “Imperial Palace” scene; Schopenhauer, The Wisdom of Life, Chapter III, “Property, or What a Man Has.”

[8] [36] Jeremy Naydler (ed.), Goethe on Science: An Anthology of Goethe’s Scientific Writings (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1996), pp. 65-67.

[9] [37] Erich Ludendorff, The Destruction of Freemasonry Through Revelation of Their Secrets (Mountain City, Tn.: Sacred Truth Publishing), p. 53.

[10] [38] Warren Kenton, Kabbalah: The Divine Plan (New York: HarperCollins, 1996), p. 25.

[11] [39] Schmitt, Leviathan, p. 26.

[12] [40] Gottfried Feder, Manifesto for Breaking the Financial Slavery to Interest, tr. by Alexander Jacob (London: Black House Publishing, 2016), p. 38.

[13] [41] Ibid., pp. 17-18.

[14] [42] See, i.e., Walter Wili, “The Orphic Mysteries and the Greek Spirit,” collected in Joseph Campbell (ed.), The Mysteries: Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1955).

[15] [43] Arthur Schopenhauer, tr. by E. F. J. Payne, The World as Will and Representation, vol. II (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, 2014), p. 585.

[16] [44] Ronald Douglas Gray, Goethe the Alchemist (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 6.

[17] [45] Robert J. Richards, The Romantic Conception of Life: Philosophy and Science in the Age of Goethe (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010), p. 435.

[18] [46] Ibid, pp. 518-526.

[19] [47] Nicholas Boyle, Goethe and the English-speaking World: Essays from the Cambridge Symposium for His 250th Anniversary (Rochester, N.Y.: Camden House, 2012), p. 12.

[20] [48] Oswald Spengler, tr. by Charles Francis Atkinson, The Decline of the West vol. II (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1928), p. 31.

[21] [49] Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), p. 94.

[22] [50] From Jünger’s Aladdin’s Problem: “It is astounding to see how inventiveness grows in nature when existence is at stake. This applies to both defense and pursuit. For every missile, an anti-missile is devised. At times, it all looks like sheer braggadocio. This could lead to a stalemate or else to the moment when the opponent says, ‘I give up’, if he does not knock over the chessboard and ruin the game. Darwin did not go that far; in this context, one is better off with Cuvier’s theory of catastrophes.”

[23] [51] See Georges Cuvier, Essay on the Theory of the Earth (London: Forgotten Books, 2012), pp. 125-128 & pp. 145-165.

[24] [52] Robin Marantz Henig, The Monk in the Garden: The Lost and Found Genius of Gregor Mendel, the Father of Genetics (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2017), p. 125.

[25] [53] Oswald Spengler, Frühzeit der Weltgeschichte (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1966), Fragment 101.

[26] [54] Amos Morris-Reich, “Race, Ideas, and Ideals: A Comparison of Franz Boas and Hans F. K. Günther [55],” History of European Ideas, vol. 32, no. 3 (2006).

 

Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: https://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2018/07/between-the-heroic-and-the-immeasurable/

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[34] Goethe’s Kabbalistic Cosmology: https://www.jstor.org/stable/23981598?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

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[55] Race, Ideas, and Ideals: A Comparison of Franz Boas and Hans F. K. Günther: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1016/j.histeuroideas.2006.05.001

vendredi, 25 mai 2018

Spengler's "Der Mensch Und Die Technik" / Troy Southgate

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Spengler's "Der Mensch

Und Die Technik"

Troy Southgate

 
Troy Southgate's speech about Oswald Spengler's
"Der Mensch Und Die Technik" @ International N-AM Conference
in Madrid 17th and 18th june 2017.
 
More info : www.national-anarchist.net
FIND US ON FACEBOOK!
 

mardi, 01 mai 2018

The Winter of Spengler’s Discontent

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The Winter of Spengler’s Discontent

 
The decline of Spengler: reconsidering High Cultures
 
Ex: http://westdest.blogspot.com
 
It has been decades since I last tackled Oswald Spengler, and it seemed time to refresh my understanding of his major work.  Upon the advice of a Spengler expert (and following the Pareto Principle), I acquired the abridged edition of The Decline of the West.
 
OSPb1.jpgFirst, a few words about Spengler’s writing in this book, which I found to be terrible: like Heidegger, overly dense and sometimes nearly incomprehensible in the pompous old school German style (in contrast, Nietzsche, particularly apart from Zarathustra, was exceedingly comprehensible and easily understandable).  Contrary to all of Spengler’s breathless fans, I did not find his magnum opus to be very well written.  It’s a terribly boring, turgid compilation of rambling prose.  I can only imagine the full-scale version is worse (and if memory serves, it was). Another point is that Spengler’s deconstructivism is highly annoying to the more empiricist among us, his idea that Nature is a function of a particular culture.  Well (and the same applies to some of Yockey’s [plagiarized] rambling on the subject), for some cultures, Nature apparently is a more accurate “function” of reality than for others, and this more accurate representation of objective reality has real world consequences that cannot be evaded.
 
Thus, Spengler’s rambling on “Nature Knowledge” can be for the most part safely ignored.  Spengler laughably wrote: “Every atomic theory, therefore, is a myth, and not an experience.”  Yes, tell that to the Japanese of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who encountered the myth – not the experience, oh no! – of being blasted by atom bombs.  Spengler’s comments about the “uranium atom” are particularly ludicrous in hindsight. I have to say: Spengler was an idiot (*).
 
The problem with Spengler (and Yockey) and science is that the Spenglerian view could be tenable if science was only a purely abstract phenomenon, with no practical real world consequences.  Unfortunately, for Spengler, science leads to technics, and the outcome of technics (contra Yockey) is directly related to the reality behind the science.  In the absence of real world consequences, in the absence of technics, the Spenglerians can pretend that there is no objective difference between, say, Classical or Egyptian physics on the one hand, and Faustian physics on the other. However, the former, if followed to technics, will not lead to methods that can obliterate cities, shatter mountains, and sink islands; while the latter can, and has.  Facts are facts. “Theory is working hypothesis…” according to Spengler’s formulation of Faustian technics, but that can be just as easily reversed: the working hypothesis is based upon theory.  Without scientific theory, practical technics is mere makeshift tinkering.
 
OSPb2.jpgThe sections “Race is Style” and “People and Nation” are of course relevant from a racial nationalist perspective, and reflects Spengler’s anti-scientific stupidity, this time about biological race.  Those of you familiar with Yockey’s wrong-headed assertions on this topic will see all the same in Spengler’s work (from which Yockey lifted his assertions).  This has been critiqued by many – from Revilo Oliver to myself – and it is not necessary to rehash all of the arguments against the Spenglerian (Boasian) deconstructivist attitudes toward biological race.  We can just shake our heads sadly about Spengler’s racial fantasies – that is as absurd as that of any hysterical leftist SJW race-denier – and move on to other issues.
 
The comments by Spengler (and others) about the Russian soul and Russian character, and its “non-Faustian” nature (‘the horizontal expansive plain…the plain, the plain….”) are interesting, and may well have some validity (as a close look at Russian literature informs us, to some degree).  But this can all be taken too far.  With the benefit of hindsight obviously not available to Spengler himself – but which is just as obviously available to modern-day Spenglerians – we look at the Russian interest in space exploration, particularly during the Soviet period, and ask – was that merely just for political propaganda purposes?  The answer is not quite clear.  There are differences between cultures, yes, but when there is an underlying racial affinity, then the different cultures are not quite orthogonal to each other.  And the same principle applies to the Classical-Faustian distinction as well. Spengler would argue that the Classical and Faustian are as different from each other than either are to, say, the Chinese, Indian, or Egyptian.  I think that’s nonsense, and the same applies to Russian-Faustian/Western.  There are differences and then there are DIFFERENCES.  Being more objective about Spengler’s ideas than Spengler himself, I hope the “differences between differences” are obvious.
 
The section on “State and History” was actually readable and made some valid points, but I disagree with Spenglerian inevitability, and I believe he draws the line of the Fellah stage too early in some historical cases. The high point of the Roman Empire, the Pax Romana – was a historyless desert?  Spengler, I think, became too enamored with his own theories (or nonsense, if you want to be harsh).  The “Philosophy of Politics” section is also readable, with some useful points, but also has, obviously, areas of profound disagreement between Spengler and reality.  The idea that the “born statesman” has – or should have - no convictions, should be a completely amoral actor dealing with facts and effects with no ideology affecting their actions - that I reject. Who is or is not a “born statesmen?”  The examples Spengler gives are ludicrous given his assertion. Sulla, Robespierre, Bismarck, and Pitt – they all acted with no underlying ideology or conviction influencing their actions?  I will say his comments about the value of a “tradition” in politics, statesmanship, in fact in any manifestation or organized human activity (comments mirrored by Yockey), are basically sound. Again, in reading Spengler, there are some diamonds in the piles of dirt and dung; one has to dig them out and treasure them.  However, the diamond-to-dung ratio is not enough to grant Spengler the acclaim as a “great writer.” While Spengler and his ideas have worth, whether or not we agree with all of them, I wonder if he may not be one of the most over-rated writers in history.
 
OSPb3.jpgThose are mere details however.  Important details, but not the fundamental, the main thesis.  So, what about the main thesis of his work?  The overall idea of cyclical history?  Yockey’s lifting of that idea in his own work?  Rereading Spengler’s major thesis hasn’t changed my mind about it in any major way, but there are some further points to make.
 
To begin with, I do believe that Spengler was on to something; his most fundamental observations about the cyclical nature of High Cultures, in their broadest sense, have validity.  I reject his self-assured assertions about inevitability and his smug and snide pontification about the emptiness of current and future cultural possibilities, as well as his complete lack of self-awareness of the effects of his fundamental observation on the ability of future generations to interfere with what was previously a completely unguided historical process.  By analogy, before the germ theory of infectious disease was asserted, and then proven as fact, man was for the most part helpless against the onslaught of microbes, apart from the natural and (by conscious thought) unguided processes of the human immune system.  After the discovery of the germ-disease link, we have preventive and therapeutic interventions against these diseases.  Furthering this analogy, we can say that before Spengler, man was helpless in the face of historical inevitability; after Spengler and his discovery, the situation is changed.
 
Another point: being more familiar with Yockey’s work than with Spengler’s, I note how much Yockey plagiarized from Spengler.  Everyone talks about Yockey plagiarizing Carl Schmitt, and that Spengler “inspired” Yockey  - well, if by “inspired” you mean ruthlessly copy than, yes, Yockey was very “inspired.”  However, I do not say that to disparage Yockey or Imperium, the work which contains most of the plagiarism in question.  Yockey was a political polemicist, and Imperium was meant to be a thoroughly political work, sort of a Communist Manifesto for fascists, it wasn’t meant as a scholarly work and Yockey made no pretense of any original thought in that book. So, I just note for the record that the plagiarism took place.  I also note that, in a real sense, it is good that the plagiarism did take place, because Imperium is much more readable, much more digestible, than Spengler’s ponderous work, which is, as stated above, a caricature of “heavy” self-indulgent pedantic German scholarship.  Spengler’s views on (biological) race, as derived from his statements in this book, were as wrong-headed as Yockey’s regurgitation of them.  But enough of that; it is a side-issue at this time, and has been already discussed, by myself and (many) others, with respect to Imperium.
 
OSPb4.jpgLet’s get back to Spengler’s content, and some of my objections alluded to above.  Thus, as far as content goes, my “take” on it remains the same; I agree with much but I disagree with much as well, particularly the “pessimistic” inevitability of it, and the smug arrogance in suggesting, or implying, that disagreement with that aspect of the work implies some sort of mental weakness, delusion, or cowardice on the part of the reader.  Spengler himself suggests that he “truth” of the book is a “truth” for him, a “truth” for a particular Culture in a particular time, and should not necessarily be viewed as an absolute truth in any or every sense (indeed, it everything from science to mathematics is, according to Spengler, formed by the Culture which creates it, and is thus no absolute in any universal sense, then we can quote Pilate ‘“what is truth?”).  Therefore, my “truth” in the current year leads me to conclusions different from Spengler; one can again assert that Spengler himself, by writing the book and outlining he problem, himself undermined his assertion of inevitability, since know we can understand the trajectories of Cultures and, possibly, how to affect those trajectories.
 
I’ll have more to say about that shortly.
 
One thing about re-reading the book that did influence me – more of a minor point – is that I’m now more in agreement (although not totally in agreement) with Spengler that the Classical Culture was quite different from out Western Faustian one.  There was always a sense of a different style, a different mindset, a different worldview, but The Decline of the West, and the evidence Spengler presents, helps clarify the Classical-Faustian distinction and brings it into stark relief.  So, yes, there’s more to that issue than I previously thought.  However, it doesn’t’ change the fact that both the Classical and the Faustian (or Western) High Cultures came into being in Europe, created by Europeans, and, therefore, if we accept one aspect of Spenglerian inevitability – the actual “decline of the West” – and indeed we appear to be ahead of schedule, well into Winter, then we can discard other aspects of inevitability and assert that Europe and Europeans are well capable of creating other High Cultures.
 
So, I will say that Spengler exaggerates the Classical-Faustian divide, even though I’m a bit more supportive of his views on that than before.  There is an intermediate ground between saying the two Cultures are completely and utterly distinct entities with absolutely no connection and saying that the Faustian is merely an outgrowth of the Classical.  On a side note, as a result of re-reading Spengler, I’m now studying the last period of the Western Roman Empire, from Adrianople to Odoacer, to (1) examine the parallels to our own day, (2) discern the “breaking point” where the last vestiges of the Classical World died out (What happened? How?  What came after, what was the result?), and (3) to re-examine stupid “movement” dogma on how the later Empire was becoming ever more decadent as a result of racial changes (if anything, the later Empire was more moral than before).
 
OSPb5.jpgThat is related to an important deficit in the work of Spengler that I have read.  He describes the lifecycle of High Cultures, but never really dissects why the cultures inevitably (or so he says) move from Culture to Civilization to Fellahdom.  What actually are the mechanistic causes of Spring to Summer to Fall to Winter?  I guess that Spengler (and Yockey) would just say that it is what it is, that the Culture is life an organism that grows old and dies.  The problem is that this analogy is just that, an analogy.  A Culture is composed of living organisms, humans, but is itself not alive. And esoteric rambling about a “cosmic beat” explains nothing.  If ones buys into the Spenglerian premise, then some rigorous analysis as to why High Cultures progress in particular ways is necessary.  We need an anatomical and molecular analysis of the “living organism” of the High Culture. Does Frost’s genetic pacification play a role? The cycle, noted by Hamilton, of barbarian invasions, the influx of altruism genes, followed by the aging of the civilization at which point fresh barbarian genes are required to spark a renaissance in the depleted fellhahs?  The moral decay that occurs with too much luxury, too much wealth, too much power?  A form of memetic exhaustion?  
 
By analogy to the memetic exhaustion hypothesis, consider successful television shows.  Although a few of these have been unusually very long lasting – but even these eventually do go off the air – the vast majority follow a trajectory of a lifespan of, say, half-a-dozen years or so.  In the first season of a successful show, there is freshness and novelty, experimentation with plotlines and characters, some unevenness, but excitement and the growth of a fan base.  Then the show reaches a crest wave of success – compelling storylines, solid character development, a strong fan base. This is followed by a bit of stagnation, attempts are made to shake things up, introducing new characters, altering the basic storyline, which may well cause a secondary, shorter spike in interest (Caesarism?), followed by “jumping the shark,” actors leaving the show, stale and repetitious stories, flat characters, a loss of interest of the fan base, decline, and eventual cancellation.  At some point, the show exhausts the memetic possibilities of its setting, characters, and fundamental storyline, and the “magic” is lost.  Does a Culture likewise exhaust all the possibilities of its actualization?  But unlike a TV show, where the station and the show writers (and the fans and reviewers) are consciously following the show’s trajectory and ratings, a High Culture is, or has been, independent of such analysis and direction.  In what way does memetic exhaustion promote the next phase of development?  Further, given Spengler’s identification of the cycle, does this now mean that a High Culture can be tracked analogous to a defined cultural artifact, like a TV show?  If so, how?  Can an elite consciously and directly alter a culture’s direction?  Can they “cancel” it and create a new one?  These are questions that require the rigorous analysis of mechanism previously stated as being required.
 
What about moving forward?
 
ospb6.jpgI maintain that those of us in the interregnum between High Cultures have the power to shape the next High Culture to come, to plant the seed, to choose the specific seed to plant, to nurture it as it grows up toward the sun.  Analogous to lucid dreaming, in our awareness of the Spenglerian thesis – to the extent that it is true – we can guide what was in the past an unconscious and organic flowering, speed it up, and mold it in particular directions.  Obviously, the extent of this control is limited; one cannot “preplan” an entire High Culture in advance, but one can influence its direction, and get it jumpstarted. Imagine some asteroid or comet hurtling toward Earth; if you can deflect it just a small bit, when it is far enough away, that small deflection will become amplified over time, over the long distances it travels at great speeds, and it would them miss the Earth by a healthy margin.  Giving a “nudge” in the right direction at the very beginning of a High Culture’s flowering can be enough, over time, to create a path along which it will develop.  The exact outcome, the precise path, cannot be determined or even precisely predicted, but the general direction, the overall constraints of a set of possible paths, I believe can be determined and predicted.  You might not be able to pinpoint a direction to the precision of saying, “we’re going to Boston” but perhaps to the extent of “we are going to the Northeast United States.”  And that would be enough.
 
In any case, imagine a person, or group of people, and here I mean our people, who today or tomorrow (broadly defined) wish to create cultural artifacts.  And this culture creation can be of our current Western Faustian High Culture or some new one to come.  Very well.  Should they refrain from doing so simply because Spengler insisted that the time of culture was over, and we should now be concerned only with technics and conquest?  When Spenglerism takes itself too seriously, it descends into absurdity.  It is best thought of as possible guidance, as broad outlines, as description – but not any sort of definitive absolute prescription.
 
By the way, having a European Imperium – which Spenglerians would say is a marker of late Civilization – is not in my opinion in any way incompatible with the creation of a new High Culture.  After all, some Spenglerians are fond of telling us that a new High Culture is likely to come from Russia, and Russia is, as many Duginite Russian “nationalists” like to tell us, an empire.  So massive states, including multiethnic empires, can very well be the wellsprings of new cultures.  We shouldn’t confuse surface political forms with the underlying cultural realities.
 
ospb7.jpgSpeaking of Russia, another part of Spengler’s work that I found reasonably well argued and somewhat convincing (as well as fairly novel) is his idea of applying the concept of pseudomorphosis to human populations. In particular, one cannot really dispute some of his points about the Magian and Russian cultures in this regard, but when he says that Antony should have won at Actium – what nonsense is that?  So, that Rome should have become more tainted with Near Eastern cults and ideas even more than it was?  What’s the opposite of pseudomorphosis – where a Civilization becomes memetically conquered by a meme originating from a young Culture?  How did the memetic virus of Christianity infect the West?  Wouldn’t it have been worse if Actium was won by the East?  When Spengler writes of “syncretism” he begins to touch upon this reversal, which eventually goes in both directions (and as Type I “movement” apologists for Christianity like to tell us, that religion was eventually “Germanized” in the West).
 
Speaking of Christianity, Spengler’s comments about Jesus are interesting, but in my opinion too naive and too positive.  Yes, the meeting between Jesus and Pontius Pilate was world historical and meaningful; however, I view it from the Pilate perspective rather than, as Spengler does, the Jesus perspective.  Spengler takes his own view too seriously in the sense that – and the Antony-Actium thing fits here – and he seems to think that we all need to look from the viewpoint of “what was best for the new Magian High Culture?”  Personally, I could care less – I care about – only care about – those High Cultures of racially European origin (Classical, Faustian, Russian, and what comes next for the West).  Let the Magians worry about the Magian.  What? The poor little NECs were suppressed by the Classical?  Too bad. Who cares about them?  Spengler rightfully outlines how alien the Magian worldview is from the Faustian; thus, why should Faustian peoples care about Magians or follow a Magian religion like Christianity?
 
Spengler’s basic, fundamental thesis is novel and powerful: the idea of a series of High Cultures, moving in parallel with similar life morphologies.  But he went too far, arrogantly casting his idea with the aura of rigid inevitability – neglecting that the very act of identifying and evaluating the phenomenon, and doing so as part of a history-obsessed Faustian High Culture, forever destroyed a basic prerequisite of the phenomenon’s previous record of repeatability; i.e., that it was unknown and ahistorical.  Ironically, Spengler’s own observations are a major reason why the patterns he observed are no longer inevitable, or, perhaps better said no longer immune from intentional manipulation and control.  When the process was unknown, unidentified, and occurring in the background independent of direct human perception, it was beyond control, once identified and classified, that no longer necessarily holds.  
 
Let’s reconsider the analogy I made above, about the discovery of the germ theory of disease.  Before discovery, there was inevitability of certain events; with vaccination, that no longer holds.  Smallpox epidemics are no longer inevitable.  Even if the decline of the West (which has already occurred) is not stoppable, the idea that rollover to the next European High Culture is beyond control has been refuted by the knowledge gained by Spengler’s own analysis.  Spengler himself is responsible for eliminating the clockwork inevitability of his system.  What kind of “Fellah” status can a people really have once they – or at least their intellectual elites – are aware of Spenglerism?  Is a “Fellah” aware of their “Fellahsm” really “Fellah” anymore?  Or is that an oxymoron?  The Spenglerian Cycle can occur in its previously manifested form only when its actors – human actors in various cultures and civilizations and post-civilizations – are not consciously aware of its workings.  Once aware, the illusion of inevitability fades, once aware, and awareness manifested in those with a will to power, the knowledge becomes a tool and the Cycle becomes amenable to manipulation and direction.  Spengler’s work was based on the analysis of High Cultures that were to a very basic extent unaware of their own existence in these terms, unable to look at themselves objectively from “outside.”  That is no longer the case.
 
ospb8.jpgAnd if Spengler’s main thesis is flawed by its own self-realization, what can one say about his side ideas?  Those, particularly dealing with science, are absolute hogwash.  In that sense, Spengler is over-rated, never mind his poor writing, including his horrifically turgid style.  Yockey may have been offended by this “blasphemy” against his idol – “The Philosopher of History” – but it is nevertheless warranted.
 
Do I recommend The Decline of the West to the reader?  No.  As per the Pareto Principle, just read Imperium, which will take 20% of your effort and give you 80% of Spenglerism.
 
Notes:
 
*A particularly retarded footnote: “And it may be asserted that the downright faith that Haeckel, for example, pins to the names atom, matter, energy, is not essentially different from the fetishism of Neanderthal Man.”
 
Yeah, that’s great Oswald, you pompous semi-Jewish purveyor of ponderous Teutonic rumblings.  Too bad this idiot wasn’t around in the 1950s; they could have tied him to the Castle Bravo thermonuclear device and he could have experienced the “downright faith” that what he was about to experience was just the subjective interpretation of the Faustian High Culture.  Oswald would have been deconstructed indeed!
 
And for those who wish to take the Yockeyian line that technics is separate from scientific theory - that is nonsense.  The technics of nuclear power or GPS systems require an understanding of the underlying physics; the technics of CRISPR requires an understanding of the biological principles involved.  Can you train someone to use those technics, at a low level, without understanding the science?  Of course you can, but what’s the point?  Someone can read a history book without knowing Spengler, someone can fix a car engine without knowing about internal combustion.  But you cannot construct, refine, improve, or replace with something superior a technic without knowing the principles behind it. Read up on the difficulties nations had in figuring out how to get thermonuclear weapons to work (and, no, it’s not that you stick a tank of hydrogen behind an atom bomb) and you’ll understand how integral theory is for getting the technics to work and keep working.  It doesn’t take an understanding of nuclear physics to drop the bomb; however, it does require such an understanding to invent the bomb to begin with.
 
Further:
 
I can’t help notice that the buffoon Chad Crowley cites Spengler to support some of his viewpoints, even though Spengler’s fundamental thesis was that ALL High Cultures have an innate tendency to travel along the same socio-economic-politico-religious trajectory; the case of Rome is not unique, and “racial degeneration” by no means needs to be invoked to explain any of the broader changes that, according to Spengler, were destined to occur there as in any other culture he studied.

lundi, 15 janvier 2018

Spenglers duiding van wiskunde als cultuurfenomeen

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Spenglers duiding van wiskunde als cultuurfenomeen

Verschillende cultuurzielen leveren verschillende soorten wiskunde op

door Emanuel Rutten

Ex: http://cult.tpo.nl

Welke rol speelt wiskunde in het denken van Spengler? In zijn hoofdwerk De ondergang van het avondland uit 1917 neemt de wiskunde ontegenzeggelijk een belangrijke plaats in. De titel van het eerste hoofdstuk – over de betekenis van getallen – verwijst er niet voor niets al naar.

Wiskunde is cultureel bepaald

Bekend is uiteraard dat volgens Spengler elke cultuur een bepaalde levenscyclus doormaakt en gekenmerkt wordt door een specifieke cultuurziel. Deze cultuurziel drukt zich uit op een groot aantal verschillende culturele en maatschappelijke terreinen. Alle cultuurfenomenen binnen een cultuur zijn ten diepste te begrijpen als veruitwendigingen of manifestaties van die ene cultuurziel die de gehele cultuur in kwestie bezield, draagt en in stand houdt.

Nu begrijpt Spengler de wiskunde eveneens als een cultuurfenomeen. Iedere cultuur drukt dus vanuit haar eigen verborgen ziel haar eigen wiskunde uit. Iedere cultuur heeft zijn eigen specifieke wiskunde precies omdat zelfs de wiskunde net zoals muziek, architectuur, politiek en alle andere cultuurfenomenen een uitdrukking is van de ziel van een cultuur. Zelfs de wiskunde is volgens Spengler dus een cultureel bepaald verschijnsel en niet universeel. Dit gaat uiteraard radicaal in tegen de gangbare Platoonse opvatting van wat wiskunde is.

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De cultuurziel van de Griekse Oudheid

In zijn boek behandelt hij vervolgens de wiskunde van een aantal verschillende culturen. In wat volgt zal ik stilstaan bij twee daarvan, namelijk de wiskunde van de Griekse Oudheid oftewel de klassieke tijd en de wiskunde van het Avondland oftewel het Europese Westen. Om goed te begrijpen hoe deze twee zich tot elkaar verhouden dienen we op grond van het voorgaande dus eerst na te gaan hoe beide cultuurzielen zich precies tot elkaar verhouden.

Welnu, de ziel van de Griekse Oudheid is apollinisch. Ze wordt gesymboliseerd door het oersymbool van het zintuiglijk waarneembare individuele menselijke lichaam dat zich in een vaste, begrensde en welbepaalde onveranderlijke vorm in onze nabijheid voor ons bevindt. Deze typische gerichtheid op het menselijke waarnemen, op het “zien”, vinden we onder andere in de openingspassage van De Metafysica van Aristoteles. Daarin stelt hij dat alle mensen van nature streven naar weten en dat de mens het meest gehecht is aan het “zien” omdat we daarvan het meeste leren. De klassieke tijd wordt dus gekarakteriseerd door een hang naar concreetheid, naar het zintuiglijk aanschouwelijke, naar het eindige, naar het begrensde en naar de vaste vorm. In genoemd werk ontwikkeld Aristoteles dan ook een specifieke ‘vormen’-metafysica. Iets “is”, iets bestaat pas, doordat en omdat het een eindige afgeronde concrete vorm heeft. Het onbepaald vormloze, zoals volgens hem bijvoorbeeld het actueel oneindige, kan dan ook eenvoudigweg niet bestaan. Het vormloze staat anders gezegd gelijk aan het niets. Daarnaast is de klassieke oerziel gericht op “zijn” in plaats van op worden en op het in stand willen houden van een vaste natuurlijke orde in plaats van het voortdurend willen overschrijden van natuurlijk gegeven grenzen. Men heeft een sterke voorkeur voor het statische boven het dynamische en voor het discrete boven het continue.

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De cultuurziel van het Avondland

Het oersymbool van de cultuurziel van het Avondland is daarentegen de abstracte oneindige, onmetelijke en onbegrensde ruimte. De Westerse cultuur is faustisch. Ze wordt gekenmerkt door het faustische streven naar oneindigheid en onmetelijkheid. Wat haar bezield is een enorme expansiedrift in ruimte en tijd. En dit ondanks dat deze abstracte oneindige ruimten haar ook een bepaalde angst kunnen inboezemen, zoals Pascal opmerkt in zijn Gedachten. De Westerse cultuur is steeds gericht op het abstracte, oneindige en onbegrensde. Men zoekt het vormloze en het onbepaalde. Ze wil in eerste instantie het intelligibele en niet het zintuiglijk waarneembare. Men wil “worden” in plaats van zijn. Het gaat voortdurend om het willen overschrijden van grenzen in plaats van om de gegeven natuurlijke orde in stand te houden. Ze heeft dan ook een sterke voorkeur voor het dynamische boven het statische en voor het continue boven het discrete.

Deze twee verschillende cultuurzielen leveren volgens Spengler twee volstrekt verschillende soorten wiskunde op. Eudoxis, Archimedes en Euclides waren wezenlijk andere wiskundigen dan Descartes, Leibniz en Newton, en later Euler, Lagrange, Poincare en Gauss.

ER-eucl.jpgApollinische antieke wiskunde

Uitgaande van haar oerziel wordt de apollinische antieke wiskunde gekenmerkt door de volgende aspecten. In de eerste plaats zijn getallen concrete meeteenheden voor het meten van de afmetingen en het volume van eindige voorwerpen die elk een welbepaalde en vaste vorm hebben. Daarnaast wordt de natuur gekenmerkt door volkomen harmonieuze onderling vergelijkbare verhoudingen. Al het waarneembare is anders gezegd ten opzichte van elkaar meetkundig commensurabel. Daarom erkent de apollinische wiskunde alléén gehele getallen en getallen die te schrijven zijn als verhouding van twee gehele getallen (i.e., breuken).

Alleen deze getallen representeren immers een harmonieuze maat. Het getal nul, negatieve getallen en irrationale getallen werden onverbiddelijk afgewezen omdat ze niet passen in de door hen veronderstelde harmonieuze orde van de natuur. Dergelijke getallen corresponderen niet met een eindige commensurabele vorm. Ze werden daarom tegennatuurlijk gevonden. Bekend is dan ook de legende uit de klassieke tijd dat de man die op een gegeven moment inzag dat de wortel van twee niet als breuk te schrijven is – en zo de irrationale getallen ontdekte – deze ontdekking vervolgens met de dood moest bekopen door op zee schipbreuk te leiden.

Zintuiglijk waarneembare bewijsvoering

Ten derde erkende de Griekse wiskunde geen actuele oneindigheden. Uitsluitend potentiële oneindigheden werden erkend. Actuele oneindigheden werden naar hun wezen verondersteld onbepaald en vormloos te zijn en dus onmogelijk te kunnen bestaan. Precies om deze reden wees men oneindig convergente rekenkundige reeksen – zoals de reeks 1/2+1/4+1/8+… met als limietsom het getal 1 – resoluut af. Een wiskunde van de limieten van dergelijke reeksen kwam dan ook niet van de grond. Ook werd om dezelfde reden het bestaan van een oneindig continuüm afgewezen. Want zo’n continuüm zou een actuele oneindigheid impliceren. En omdat actuele oneindigheden ontkend werden, werkte men nooit met oneindige verzamelingen van objecten, zoals de oneindige verzameling van alle driehoeken.

De aandacht richtte zich louter op één enkel concreet object, zoals een bepaalde driehoek die in de aanschouwing is gegeven. Iedere verdergaande abstractie werd geschuwd. In de vierde plaats was ook de wiskundige bewijsvoering altijd concreet en aanschouwelijk. Bewijsvoering diende plaats te vinden op grond van zintuiglijk waarneembare en uitvoerbare constructies en nooit op grond van een onthechte abstracte formele afleiding. Tenslotte maakte men om deze reden nooit gebruik van abstracte variabelen. Vanuit hun gerichtheid op het “statische” kende men meer in het algemeen géén dynamische wiskundige concepten zoals het moderne functiebegrip. Functies beelden de ene collectie entiteiten af op een andere en zijn dus te formeel en te dynamisch.

Faustische wiskunde

Uitgaande van haar oerziel wordt daarentegen de grensverleggende faustische wiskunde van het Avondland gekenmerkt door de volgende aspecten. Getallen worden geheel formeel en abstract begrepen als functies of als verzamelingen van verzamelingen. Het getal ‘drie’ wordt bijvoorbeeld strikt formeel gedefinieerd als de collectie van alle verzamelingen die in een één-op-één correspondentie te brengen zijn met de verzameling {a, b, c}. Zo ontstaat een zuiver abstract en onthecht getalbegrip.

De faustische wiskunde richt zich vanuit haar drang tot expansie en grensoverschrijding vervolgens op het ontwikkelen van zoveel mogelijk nieuwe soorten abstracte getallen. Naast het getal nul, de negatieve en de irrationale getallen kan hierbij gedacht worden aan complexe getallen, quaternionen, transcendentale getallen, kardinaalgetallen, ordinaalgetallen en infinitesimalen. De hechte band met de concreet gegeven empirisch waarneembare werkelijkheid die voor de Griekse wiskunde heilig was, wordt dus volledig losgelaten, ook al bleken later verrassend veel van deze nieuwe abstracte getallen zeer concrete toepassingen te hebben in de technische wetenschappen. Veel moderne technologische ontdekkingen zijn zonder deze nieuwe abstracte getallen zelfs onmogelijk.

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Wiskundige bewijsvoering werd formeel en abstract

In de tweede plaats erkent men volop het bestaan van actuele oneindigheden. Sterker nog, de wiskundige Cantor introduceerde een abstracte verzamelingenleer waarmee oneindig veel soorten oneindigheden ontsloten werden. Het aantal verschillende soorten oneindigheden bleek hierbij zelfs zo groot dat er niet aftelbaar maar zelfs overaftelbaar veel verschillende soorten oneindigheden zijn. De Duitse wiskundige Hilbert merkte na Cantors ontdekking dan ook op dat de moderne wiskunde zich nooit meer uit het door Cantor ontsloten paradijs zou laten verdrijven. In het verlengde hiervan begonnen de wiskundigen van het Avondland te werken met willekeurige oneindige verzamelingen van objecten in plaats van met één enkel object dat ons in de zintuiglijke aanschouwing gegeven is. Dit leidde tot een stormvloed aan nieuwe wiskundige ontdekkingen.

Ten derde werd wiskundige bewijsvoering volstrekt formeel en abstract. Ook in dit opzicht verbrak men dus de oude band met de concrete zintuiglijk waarneembare werkelijkheid. We kunnen hierbij denken aan de louter abstracte algebra en het inzetten van de zuiver formele rekenmethodes van de door Newton en Leibniz ontdekte integraal en differentiaalrekening. Daarnaast introduceerde men vanuit haar gerichtheid op het dynamische in tegenstelling tot het statische formele variabelen en abstracte functies. Het moderne functiebegrip had in de Oudheid dan ook nooit tot ontwikkeling kunnen komen. Tenslotte denkt men niet langer na over begrensde en eindige meetkundige figuren. De aandacht wordt volledig verlegd naar het analyseren van oneindige ruimten en abstracte oneindige structuren zonder directe concrete wetenschappelijke toepassingen. Dit resulteerde in een heel universum van nieuwe oneindige ruimten, zoals niet-Euclidische – , metrische – , Sobolev – , Banach – en Lebesque ruimten. Eveneens ontstonden allerlei nieuwe oneindige wiskundige structuren, zoals de structuren van de mathematische groepen –, Galois –, en categorieëntheorie.

Eeuwen wachten op oneindig convergente reeksen

Deze abstracte Westerse wiskunde zou door de concrete apollinische antieke cultuur gezien worden als een ernstige, ja zelfs perverse, ontaarding en ontkenning van het primaat van de harmonische natuurlijke orde. Men zou het hebben afgedaan als onthecht, onnatuurlijk, niet reëel en illusoir. Dit pathos van de Griekse cultuurziel heeft er echter wel voor gezorgd dat zij zich nooit zo sterk expansief heeft kunnen ontwikkelen als in het Avondland. Vele belangrijke paradoxen, zoals die van Zeno, zijn voor de Griekse wiskunde altijd onoplosbaar gebleven. En dit precies omdat zij de faustische wiskundige concepten die nodig zijn voor het oplossen ervan – zoals in dit geval oneindig convergente reeksen – nooit heeft kunnen overwegen en aannemen. De mensheid moest na de Griekse Oudheid dan ook nog vele eeuwen wachten voordat de wiskunde van het Avondland deze en andere problemen eindelijk zou oplossen.

Dr. ir. Emanuel Rutten (1973) is filosoof en verbonden aan de Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Het onderzoeks- en onderwijsterrein van Emanuel omvat de relatie tussen geloof en wetenschap, evalueren van de rationaliteit van seculiere en religieuze wereldbeelden, kennisleer en speculatief realisme, logica, retorica en esthetiek.

jeudi, 14 décembre 2017

Ondergang van het Avondland

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Ondergang van het Avondland

Bestaat er wel een wereldziel, een soort geestelijke grammatica die aan de basis van elke grote cultuur ligt?

Dit is zo’n boek dat velen kennen maar weinigen lazen. Het is nochtans, zoals vele van zulke boeken, ruim de moeite waard. Er bestaan maar weinig studies waaruit een dergelijke eruditie spreekt, waar wetenschap, kunst, filosofie, wiskunde, religie, politiek, techniek, landschap … niet als dusdanig worden voorgesteld, maar vanuit hun ziel en dus onderlinge samenhang worden besproken. Eigenlijk vormt dat de grootst mogelijke (hedendaagse) kritiek op deze studie: bestaat dat wel, zo’n overkoepelend, alomvattend systeem dat elke cultuur in al haar veruitwendigingen verklaart? Bestaat er wel een wereldziel, een soort geestelijke grammatica die aan de basis van elke grote cultuur ligt? Gehoorzamen alle culturen aan eenzelfde historische wetmatigheid? Dreigt de werkelijkheid dan niet te worden opgeofferd aan het systeem?

Toen men Hegel opmerkte dat sommige elementen en gebeurtenissen uit de werkelijkheid niet pasten in zijn systeem, zou die koudweg geantwoord hebben: “Dat is dan jammer voor de werkelijkheid.” Is dat in Spenglers ‘morfologie van de culturen’ ook het geval? De manhaftige en (daardoor) aanvechtbare aanpak van Spengler wordt nu voor het eerst volledig in Nederlandse vertaling door Mark Wildschut aangeboden door Uitgeverij Boom. De uitgever lanceert tegelijk ook het digitaal platform LeesSpengler.nl waar u mits een in het boek meegegeven code toegang krijgt op commentaren, samenvattingen en een hele video-voorstelling per hoofdstuk door Ad Verbrugge.

Rome

Ondanks wat veelal wordt beweerd, gaat het in dit boek niet om een pessimisme. Dat veronderstelt immers de mogelijkheid van een weliswaar afgewezen optimistische lezing van de geschiedenis. Spengler bejubelt noch betreurt, nog minder vuurt hij aan tot ‘redding’ uit de ondergang. Die ondergang heeft namelijk geen morele betekenis, alleen een fysionomische. De westerse cultuur, het Avondland, is oud geworden en treedt haar laatste fase in: de civilisatie. Dat leest Spengler af aan haar prioriteiten: een geesteloze pragmatiek, totale metropolisatie en geld als ultieme maat voor de weging van de wereld. Dat is geen veroordeling, een te remediëren toestand, een laakbare historische misstap van enkelen. Zo vergaat het nu eenmaal elke cultuur. Zo betekende Rome de laatste fase, de ondergang van de antieke cultuur.

Europees denken

De antieke cultuur is niet onze voorloper of de primitieve versie van de moderne cultuur, zoals dat vandaag de dag nog steeds wordt verkondigd. De antieke cultuur en de westerse cultuur staan volledig op zichzelf, net als bijvoorbeeld de Chinese, de Indiase, de Babylonische, de Egyptische, de Arabische en de Mexicaanse. Dat zijn ze dan ineens allemaal. Spengler wijst op twee fouten in het bedrijven van cultuurgeschiedenis, met name de (typisch moderne) idee van vooruitgang als bovengeschiedlijke as waarlangs culturen zich opvolgen;  de (even typisch moderne) promotie van de eigen tijd als een historische finaliteit. Culturen zijn namelijk zo goed als onvertaalbaar naar elkaar, dus zeker niet afleidbaar uit elkaar volgens een boventijdelijk schema. Bovendien is er niets speciaals aan het heden, dat heeft geen enkele prevalentie op eender welke andere periode. Elke vorm van eurocentrisme of moderne arrogantie is dus uit den boze. Wél is het zo dat we alleen volgens het westers schema over culturen kunnen nadenken, omdat er nu eenmaal geen buiten-cultureel standpunt bestaat. We denken dus Europees, maar zonder Europa een speciale plaats binnen het wereldgebeuren te geven.

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In die zin start Spengler een redelijk nieuwe geschiedbeoefening op, waarbij culturen vanbinnen uit als organismen worden opgevat, organismen die groeien, bloeien en afsterven. Spengler aanvaardt dus geen overkoepelende geschiedenis waarin culturen elk hun voorbestemde positie innemen, maar wel een organische wetmatigheid, een fysionomie, waaraan elke cultuur gehoorzaamt. Dat wil wel zeggen dat Spenglers geschiedenistheorie een westerse is, noodgedwongen. Eigenlijk is dat zelfs niet eens zo vreemd, omdat het belang dat wordt gehecht aan geschiedenis typisch westers is.

Getal

De westerse cultuur noemt Spengler ‘faustisch’, naar het bekende stuk van Goethe. De antieke cultuur heet dan apollinisch, de Arabische magisch … De faustische ziel wordt geëvoceerd in alle mogelijke facetten van de westerse cultuur: het oneindige (tot haar hoogtepunt gebracht in de infinitesimaalrekening en het ‘limietbegrip’), het muzikale (‘voelbaar’ tot in de architectuur), de innerlijk-reflexieve ziel (het tragische bewustzijn van King Lear versus de tragische situaties bij Oidipous), de hang naar steeds meer tot in het onbereikbare … Dat leest Spengler zelfs af in de manier waarop het Westen het getal ‘cultiveert’. Het is werkelijk fascinerend hoe die in een getal, voor de geciviliseerde westerling een louter rekenmiddel, de basisgrammatica van een hele cultuur kan oproepen. Geduldig ontvouwt Spengler hoe elke cultuur anders omgaat met het getal en hoe die manier telkens weer tekenend is voor die cultuur. Het getal als basissymbool en betekenaar voor de cultuurziel.

Caesarisme

Wat ons te doen staat, is het begrijpen van de actualiteit vanuit die ziel, voornamelijk dan in termen van haar politieke opdracht. Dat laatste maakte trouwens de oorspronkelijke opzet van deze studie uit. Maar om de politiek binnen het culturele raamwerk te kunnen begrijpen, in de ‘diepte’, moest hij eerst in een cultuurhistorische en –filosofische studie voorzien. Die ligt dus nu en hier voor. De westerse ziel is uitgeput, haar beschaving markeert haar eigen ondergang. Nogmaals, Spengler bepleit hier geen politiek die tegen die ondergang ingaat, dat is een foute nazi-lezing. De nazi-ideologen wilden de klok terugdraaien en de waarden en instellingen waarvan Spengler in zijn diagnose de erosie noteerde, nieuw leven inblazen. Dat is nu precies wat Spengler niét zegt. Hij voorspelt een terugval in een ‘primitiever’ politiek stadium, met onder meer een vorm van ‘caesarisme’, iets waarnaar ons huidig populisme misschien verwijst. Immers, democratie is een vervallen politieke vorm waarin geld en wetenschap overnemen van adel en priesterstand. Vervallen, omdat het volgens Spengler nooit om een echte democratie gaat, maar veeleer een verhulde dictatuur waarin het geld via dictatuur van partij en pers wezenlijk het maatschappelijk gebeuren bepaalt. Dat laat een mechanisme toe waar uiteindelijk een charismatisch figuur wars van elk programma of ideologie, utopie of visie, botweg de macht neemt door het handig inzetten van de massa. Het heeft geen enkele zin hier tegenin ter gaan, want zo vergaat het nu eenmaal elke cultuur.

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Cultuurrelativisme

Het verschil tussen het grote historische schema van Hegel en dat van Spengler zit hem hierin dat de eerste een alomvattende geschiedenis ontvouwt terwijl de laatste een westerse geschiedenis van binnenuit uitrolt volgens een universeel programma, geïnspireerd op het levend organisme. Dat leverde hem ten onrechte de titel van ‘cultuurrelativist’. Volgens Spengler kan niemand, zelfs geen cultuurfilosoof, uit de cultuur stappen om vanuit een ‘view fromnowhere’ culturen als objecten te bestuderen. Cultuurrelativisme vooronderstelt namelijk dergelijk abstract gezichtspunt. De vraag naar de cultuurgeschiedenis is zelf typisch voor de westerse cultuur. Ook al bekritiseert hij de bestaande historische modellen en theorieën, toch noemt hij zijn aanpak en methode onvervalst westers.

We komen tussen de regels van deze studie vele voorlopers en volgelingen uit de (westerse) filosofie en wetenschap tegen. We lezen de echo’s van onder meer Dilthey (natuur vs. geschiedenis) en Bergson (ruimte vs. tijd), begrijpen waar onder meer Heidegger (er bestaat geen universele historische dialectiek), Cassirer (symbolische vormen als bouwstenen van cultuur), Gadamer (historische horizontaliteit van het begrijpen) en Fukuyama (apocalyptiek van de westerse beschaving) hun inspiratie vandaan haalden. In die zin kan dus dit monumentale werk van Spengler terecht als mijlpaal worden gelezen.

samedi, 28 octobre 2017

Het Avondland in het licht van Spengler en de Islam

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Het Avondland in het licht van Spengler en de Islam

door Sid Lukkassen

De nu volgende tekst is een ingekorte versie van een voordracht die Sid Lukkassen op 23 oktober jl. hield voor het KVHV Leuven.

Het motto van deze voordracht is: “Ducunt fata volentem, nolentem trahunt”: de gewillige leidt het lot, de onwillige wordt erdoor meegesleept; het lot zal leiden wie wil, wie niet wil zal het dwingen.Uitgeverij Boom voltooide een vertaling van Der Untergang des Abendlandes (1918) van Oswald Spengler. Boom onderstreept met de publicatie (terecht) de urgentie en relevantie van Spenglers werk voor de huidige tijd. In deze verhandeling maak ik u deelgenoot van mijn omgang met Spengler en de waarde van zijn werk voor een politiek filosoof.

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Culturen voorgesteld als levensvormen

Over Spengler moet allereerst gezegd worden dat zijn levensloop in alles naar de conceptie voert van Der Untergang des Abendlandes. Daarop volgt de receptie van dat werk en ten slotte wordt Spenglers leven geheel beheerst en getekend door zijn reacties op die receptie. Steeds keert daarbij terug dat er volgens Spengler ‘culturen’ bestaan; wezenlijk van elkaar te onderscheiden ‘levensvormen’. In de geschiedenis maken zij een analoge ontwikkeling door die in essentie de levenscyclus van een mensenwezen volgt.

Spenglers uitgangspunt wijkt af van het ‘maakbaarheidsdenken’ van de Verlichting en het techno-utopisme – daarom wordt zijn werk verworpen in progressieve kringen. Ook botst de cyclische uitleg van de historie met de lineaire voorstelling van het christendom (vanaf de schepping tot de openbaring gevolgd door de Apocalyps en de verlossing). Ook de nazi’s maakten Spengler het leven zuur: zijn geschiedsopvatting zou het onderwerp ‘ras’ verwaarlozen en werd als ‘fatalistisch’ aangemerkt.

Deze auteur overstijgt zijn tijdsgewricht

Spengler was groot vóór de machtsovername van de nazi’s en dit maakte hem tot een van de enkelen die nog in een positie was om het nieuwe regime te kunnen bekritiseren; dit scenario kan zich in onze toekomst makkelijk herhalen. Het zijn er maar weinigen die intrinsiek gedreven zijn om in alle omstandigheden objectief en kritisch te blijven – dit type mensen keert maar zelden terug op verkiesbare lijstplaatsen: partijbesturen kunnen dit persoonlijkheidstype simpelweg niet aan.

Het is ook precies waarom Spengler zijn tijdsgeest kon overstijgen en waarom het nazi-regime dat niet kon, evenzeer als dat de Westerse politieke partijen zichzelf vandaag overbodig maken. Permanent gevangen in de noodzaak om stemmen te trekken kijken partijleiders niet vooruit maar raken zij blijvend verweven in de waan van de dag. Populariteit, meeklappen en meeglibberen boven inhoud: de buitendienstcultuur in een notendop.

Wat de hofintriges van het politieke spel betreft zag Spengler scherp de schaduwzijden. Hij herkende die in de massapolitiek als voorwaarde voor plebiscieten en demagogie. Zoals toen grote aantallen mensen werden samengeperst in de straten van Rome; zuchtend naar vermaak en afleiding waren zij gevoelig voor bespeling en ophitsing door populaire volksleiders. Kijkend naar hoe joviaal de huidige leiders zich profileren zult u de buitendienstcultuur moeiteloos in hen herkennen: besef dat achter deze gemoedelijke façades meedogenloze partijhiërarchieën schuilgaan. De leden zijn aanvankelijk noodzakelijk om de partij op de kaart te zetten en populair te maken; zij worden gaandeweg op de achtergrond geplaatst en vervangen door teams van professionele spindoctors en imagomakers.

Spengler zou het daarom met ons eens zijn dat de oplossing van onze huidige malaise niet ligt in partijen met hun fladderige leiders – steeds vluchtig en jachtig op zoek naar bekende individuen wier populariteit op hen moet afstralen en die zij vervolgens weer afdanken en aan de kant schuiven – maar ligt in de geaarde binding aan een gemeenschap; een gemeenschap zoals zij vorm krijgt en wortels aanmaakt in een Nieuwe Zuil.

Dit project begrenst tegelijk de libertijnse en hedonistische ego’s van politici: het is de politicus die de zuil dient en politiek vertegenwoordigt; het is de zuil die de politicus corrigeert. De politicus kan omgekeerd niet leven zonder de zuil – zonder de zuil is het geen bestendigd gedachtegoed dat hem draagt maar slechts het vergankelijke beeld dat de spindoctor produceert. Daarmee – zonder zuil – ligt de macht bij de spindoctor en niet bij de gekozen volksvertegenwoordiger. Het zijn zuilen die democratieën überhaupt mogelijk maken, want zonder verankering in gewortelde gemeenschappen, in intellectuele arbeid en in Bildung, is het de wispelturigheid van het moment die de democratie beheerst; zo’n democratie is decadent en gedraagt zich min of meer als tirannie. Ook Spengler constateert in Der Untergang des Abendlandes dat de handel in imago’s een decadente democratie typeert.

Het boek zelf las ik voor het eerst in de vroege lente van 2008. Ik nam het boek mee op studiereis naar Berlijn, de hoofdstad van wat eens “het noordelijke Sparta” werd genoemd. Als er eens een uur was waarin de leerlingen zichzelf vermaakten, dan trok ik mij terug om in rust wat pagina’s te lezen – ik zette daarbij de ramen open en voelde hoe de lentebries zich binnenliet vanuit de skyline van de betonnen metropool. Zo werkte ik het boek in zijn totaliteit door, van kaft tot kaft – als een roman.

Duiding van het thema ‘Avondland’

Volgens Spengler is ‘alleen zijn in het woud’ de diepste religieuze ervaring van Europeanen. Gotische kathedralen bootsen die ervaring na – de meest geslaagde bouwwerken raken iets van het eindeloos ronddolen, wat we ook zien in de epische verhalen van de Westerse cultuur: het ronddolen van koning Arthur, Parsifal en The Lord of the Rings gaat terug op Odin: “Veel heb ik gereisd, veel heb ik gezien, veel van goden ervaren.” aldus het Vikinggedicht Vafþrúðnismál. Ook verwees Spengler vaak naar Gauss en Leibniz – naar ontdekkingsreizen en wiskundige formules. Het Westerse brein heeft een existentiële behoefte aan doorgronding en expansie: de oer-Europeaan vecht tegen de elementen en vormt het leven op het aambeeld van zijn wilskracht.

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Europa is voor Spengler het ‘Avondland’ omdat het met zijn westelijke ligging de grond verbeeldt waarachter de zon verdwijnt wanneer de avond valt. Verkenningsschepen doorkruisten kolkende oceanen, zoekend naar nieuwe gebieden met helwitte stranden, waar de zon tot aan de einder loopt – dit was een tijd waarin de schepen van hout waren en de mannen van staal. “Westerse kunst staat gelijk aan het weghakken van de overvloedigheid der natuur” schrijft Camille Paglia. “De Westerse geest maakt definities; dat wil zeggen – deze trekt lijnen.” Het Europees intellect schept een logica die zich exponentieel doorzet, voorbij de grenzen van tijd en ruimte – het oneindige, het lineaire, het abstracte – raketten lancerend door een ijl heelal, afkoersend op onbekende bestemmingen. Dit is een belangrijk verschil met de Oosterse religies – in het boeddhistische Morgenland ligt het einddoel juist in het ophouden te streven. Vanuit deze tegenstelling denkend is ‘Avondland’ tevens een overkoepelend begrip voor de geestelijke cultuur van de Europese beschaving.

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In Avondland en Identiteit wees ik vooral op de invloed van Spengler tegen de achtergrond van het fin de siècle. De meesters van de achterdocht, zoals Marx, Nietzsche en Freud brachten het Europese zelfvertrouwen aan het wankelen. Was die indrukwekkende Westerse beschaving niet een façade voor allerlei economische klassenbelangen, machtswellust en seksuele driften? Ook bleek het zelfnuancerende, zelfreflexieve bewustzijn van het christendom gevolgen te hebben voor het zelfbeeld van de Europese beschaving. Het Bijbelboek Daniël beschrijft een opeenvolging van wereldrijken die ten val komen: mede hierdoor hebben Euro­peanen de neiging om zichzelf te duiden binnen een geschiedenis die eigenlijk al is afgerond – als een uitvloeisel van een tijdperk dat reeds is afgesloten. Dit leidde tot relativisme en uiteindelijk tot schuldbesef, vermoeidheid en verlamming. Het is tegen deze achtergrond dat Spengler Der Untergang des Abendlandes schreef.

Een mogelijk dilemma is de lastige falsifieerbaarheid van Spenglers voorspellingen. Ieder fenomeen van verval is uit te leggen als een voorteken van het naderende instorten van een beschaving; dat verval is immers aangekondigd en vervolgens wordt alles in dat licht gezien. Alexis de Tocqueville, toch niet de minste, stelde het zeer krachtig: iedere nieuwe generatie biedt weer vers materiaal om te vormen naar de wensen die wetgevers vooropstellen. Als de wetgevers eenmaal decadent worden, dan is er een groter probleem.

Vervreemding van de eigen cultuur

Spinoza merkte al op dat wetten niet zijn opgewassen tegen de gebreken waarin mensen vervallen die te veel vrije tijd hebben – gebreken die niet zelden de val van een rijk veroorzaken. Zo stelt hij in hoofdstuk tien van Tractatus Politicus (1677) dat in het lichaam van een staat zich net als in een natuurlijk lichaam kwalijke stoffen ophopen, die zo nu en dan moeten worden gereinigd en doorgespoeld. De staat moet dan terugkeren naar haar uitgangspunt – naar de normen en waarden die de grondslag vormen van de bijbehorende cultuur. Blijft deze omwenteling uit, dan zullen het karakter van het volk en het karakter van haar staat volgens Spinoza twee verschillende paden inslaan. “Waardoor men er ten slotte toe komt de vaderlijke zeden te minachten en zich vreemde eigen maken, wat erop neer komt zichzelf te knechten.”

Vanuit deze verandering van heersende zeden komen wij vanzelf op de actuele migratiekwestie en het ‘Heimatgefühl’. Dit wil zeggen dat mensen, wanneer ze niet in de toeristische modus zijn, het liefst in een omgeving verkeren waar ze zich thuis, vertrouwd en geborgen voelen. Het woord ‘goed’ hangt oorspronkelijk samen met dat wat je ervaart als het eigene – vandaar ook een woord als ‘landgoed’. Met de instroom van andere culturen maakt dit thuisgevoel plaats voor maatschappelijke versplintering en sociaal atomisme. Mensen identificeren zich minder met elkaar waardoor solidariteit verdwijnt voor berekenend gedrag. De tradities die voor maatschappelijke samenhang zorgen verwaaien en men krijgt er enclavevorming voor terug.

Als een beschaving de fase van cultuurvervreemding heeft bereikt, dan treedt het onderscheid naar voren dat Spengler in Der Untergang des Abendlandes aanbracht tussen ‘slapende’ en ‘wakende’ zielen. De slapende zielen vertegenwoordigen de onderstroom van een beschaving: ze overdenken hun cultuur niet bewust maar beleven deze gevoelsmatig. Ze zijn verbonden met een oerkracht en sluimeren tussen met mos begroeide ruïnes waaruit een lichte nevel opstijgt. Soms komen ze spontaan in roering – precies om de “giftige stoffen uit te spoelen”. De wakkere zielen daarentegen staan volgens Spengler meer op hun eigen oordeelskracht: ze denken systemen uit en zijn op abstracties gericht, op ‘hoe de wereld in theorie zou moeten functioneren’.

In theorie kan men inderdaad zeggen: “Hoe erg is het als er duizenden of zelfs honderdduizenden immigranten naar Europa komen? Geen enkele cultuur is statisch – we passen ons vanzelf aan.” In de praktijk redeneren alleen mensen op deze wijze die voortdurend in een toeristische modus zijn: het slag mensen voor wie cultuur, geschiedenis en erfgoed geen intrinsieke waarde hebben, en voor hen volledig inwisselbaar zijn. Het is hierom dat Spengler in het tweede deel van zijn magnum opus concludeert dat ontworteling en doorgedreven kosmopolitisme kenmerkend zijn voor oude en stervende beschavingen. 

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Nu eerst meer over de invloed van de islam op het Avondland. Daarvoor verdiepen wij ons in een bespiegeling op Michel Houellebecqs roman Onderworpen. Het is in 2015 geschreven als Soumission en naar het Nederlands vertaald door Martin de Haan, dat onze gedachten in die richting stuurt. Het boek verscheen in Frankrijk op exact dezelfde dag dat de moordaanslag op Charlie Hebdo plaatsvond, waarbij tekenaars van onwelgevallige cartoons door moslimfundamentalisten met machinegeweren werden doorzeefd. De provocatieve titel verwijst naar de significantie van het woord islam, wat letterlijk “onderwerping” betekent en uitdraagt dat het leven van de individuele gelovige niet aan hemzelf toebehoort maar aan diens opperwezen.

Integratie tussen de lakens?

In mijn leven deed zich een ontmoeting voor die het voorgaande bevestigt. Dit was toen ik tijdens een wetenschappelijke conferentie een knappe jongedame trof met een migratieachtergrond. Ze kwam me zeer Westers voor. Niet alleen was ze als een veelbelovend wetenschapper uitgekozen voor de bijeenkomst: ook accentueerde de dunne stof van haar kleding haar zandloperfiguur. De rok die ze droeg benadrukte hoe haar venusheuvel afstak tegen de musculatuur van haar onderbuik. Haar ontblote schouders boden uitzicht op de verfijnde pezen en zelfs de amberkleurige huid van haar bescheiden borsten was bij de juiste invalshoek te zien. Plots vertelde ze dat ze de relatie met haar Nederlandse vriend had verbroken vanwege de islam.

Hij was naar haar zeggen goed op weg. Drie jaar geleden had hij zich voor haar bekeerd en sindsdien hadden ze een relatie. Hij had echter laten doorschemeren dat hij voor haar alcohol en varkensvlees liet staan. Met een verzoekende ondertoon vroeg hij haar of er dan ook een punt was waarop zij concessies kon doen. “Hij moet zich aan Allah geven ter wille van Allah,” zei ze resoluut. “niet ter wille van mij.” Precies, zo vulde ik aan, “want zijn overgave moet absoluut zijn.” Haar okerkleurige ogen begonnen te fonkelen: “Absoluut, volkomen en totaal. De kern van ons geloof is onderwerping. Onderwerping aan Allah vanwege Allah en niet vanwege je vriendin.”

Onderworpen is het levensverhaal van een docent in de negentiende-eeuwse Franse literatuur aan een prestigieuze universiteit. Buiten enige affaires met studentes is zijn leven eigenlijk bar saai. Dat verandert zodra de Moslimbroederschap in Frankrijk aan de macht komt en salafistische oliesjeiks zich met het onderwijsbeleid gaan bemoeien. In Onderworpen vertegenwoordigt de islam niet zozeer een bedreiging voor Europa alswel de redding van Europa:

“Want in dezelfde mate als het liberale individualisme wel moest zegevieren zolang het alleen tussenstructuren zoals vaderlanden, corporaties en kasten ontbond, had het zijn eigen doodvonnis getekend toen het zijn aanval richtte op de ultieme structuur van het gezin, en dus op de demografie; daarna kwam logischerwijs de tijd van de islam.” (blz 212).

“De massale komst van immigrantenpopulaties die waren doordrongen van een traditionele cultuur waarin de natuurlijke hiërarchieën, de onderworpenheid van de vrouw en het respect voor ouderen nog niet waren aangetast, vormde een historische kans voor de morele en familiale herbewapening van Europa. Dit opende de weg voor een nieuwe bloeitijd van het oude continent.” (blz 215).

Dit brengt ons terug op wat ik zei over de politieke filosofen van de twintigste eeuw. Als politiek filosoof vermoed ik dat de politieke wijsbegeerte na de voornoemde ‘grote leermeesters’ feitelijk stil kwam te staan. De literatuur blijkt ons te hebben ingehaald en drukt ons nu met de neus op de feiten. Ik bedoel hiermee de enorm visionaire kracht van Houellebecq: terwijl liberalen en socialisten elkaar bevechten met economische vertogen (Piketty) voelt de schrijver haarfijn aan dat het politieke debat zich verplaatst naar identiteit. Politieke botsingen zullen gaan om de demografische voorwaarden die een beschaving nodig heeft om überhaupt te kunnen voortbestaan.

“De Moslimbroederschap is een bijzondere partij – voor hen zijn demografie en onderwijs de hoofdpunten: de bevolkingsgroep die de beste vruchtbaarheidscijfers heeft en die zijn waarden weet door te geven trekt aan het langste eind. Zo simpel is het in hun ogen, economie en zelfs geopolitiek zijn maar bijzaak: wie de kinderen heeft, heeft de toekomst, punt uit.” (blz 64).

Wat Onderworpen nóg controversiëler maakt is dat het Front National in het verhaal een verzetsbeweging wordt, als de enige groep die nog bereid is voor de traditionele Westerse waarden te vechten. Sociaal-liberalen zijn bezig met ‘lauwe’ economische compromissen en ondertussen verplaatst het ‘bezielend-ideologische vuur’ zich naar de rechterkant van het politiek spectrum. Zoals in een debat tussen filosoof Etienne Vermeersch en politicus Bart de Wever al werd gezegd “zijn de mensen nu wel een beetje klaar met de holle vertogen over wereldburgerschap die ze vanuit hun maatschappelijke elites krijgen opgedrongen”. Rond dezelfde tijd omschreef Martin Bosma zichzelf als leider van een club rebellen die zich verzet tegen de afschaffing van Nederland. Dit was in een interview over zijn boek Minderheid in eigen land (2015). Ook de recente oprichting van een nieuwe groep in het Europees Parlement, met daarin onder meer Front National, PVV en Vlaams Belang, is een teken aan de wand.

Westerse zelfopheffing?

Minder visionair was de bijeenkomst in Utrecht op 16 mei 2015 waar de schrijver optrad ondersteund door diens vertaler. Wie in de ban is van Houellebecqs boeken is dat wegens de aangrijpende thema’s: de invloed van feminisme op man-vrouw verhoudingen, de pornografisering van de samenleving en de botsing tussen de islam en het Westen. Het vraaggesprek ging echter over technische trivialiteiten omtrent het vertalingsproces. “Hoe vaak herhaal je een woord binnen een alinea – volg je daarin Flaubert of Balzac?” Helaas kreeg het publiek maar vijf minuutjes om vragen te stellen en het debat te ontketenen.

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In een interview met Paris Review (2 januari 2015) noemde Houellebecq Frankrijk juist een verzetshaard tegen deze collectieve zelfopheffing; dat maakt het land vrij uniek in vergelijking met andere Europese landen (zoals Zweden). De uitspraak is interessant omdat de discussie «wel of geen Westerse zelfopheffing en zo ja, in hoeverre?» de inhoud van zowel politieke filosofie als geopolitiek zal bepalen. Deze kwestie is de ultieme inleiding tot mijn nieuwe boek Levenslust en Doodsdrift: essays over cultuur en politiek, dat op de boekenbeurs van Antwerpen gepresenteerd zal worden en uitvoerig ingaat op de laatstgenoemde vraag.

jeudi, 07 septembre 2017

Oswald Spengler y la Europa fáustica

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Un libro ejemplar.

Volver a leer a Oswald Spengler.

Reseña del libro de Carlos X. Blanco Martín, Oswald Spengler y la Europa fáustica (Fides Ediciones, 2016).

Manuel F. Lorenzo

Profesor Titular de Filosofía, Universidad de Oviedo (España).

En el libro que reseñamos, el autor, después de una breve presentación del, filósofo alemán Ostwald Spengler, nos pide, ya en la Introducción, una lectura urgente y necesaria hoy de la obra spengleriana, al que considera el pensador más importante del pasado siglo XX. Afirmación polémica, esta última, que contrasta con el olvido académico de su figura a lo largo de la segunda mitad del siglo XX. Pues, durante ese tiempo se habría preferido la Filosofía materialista de la Historia del marxismo a la Filosofía de la Historia de Spengler, de carácter vitalista nietzscheano. No obstante, justo a finales del pasado siglo, con la caída del Muro de Berlín y la guerra civil que llevó a la destrucción de la antigua Yugoslavia, irrumpe con fuerza de nuevo la influencia spengleriana en los ambientes académicos de la Historia política, con el famoso artículo de Samuel Huntington, ¿Choque de civilizaciones?(1996), convertido posteriormente en libro, en el cual el autor resucita el concepto histórico de Civilización como Gran Cultura, utilizado por Spengler y otros historiadores, para interpretar dicha guerra como una guerra, no tanto de conflicto ideológico tipo capitalismo/comunismo, sino como una guerra de Choque de las Civilizaciones culturales, Cristiana Occidental, Ortodoxa Rusa e Islámica. Los atentados neoyorkinos del 11 de Septiembre, de efecto mundial, reforzarían esta interpretación del Choque de Civilizaciones.

Tiene sin embargo razón el autor cuando mantiene la persistencia del olvido de la obra de Spengler en los ambientes académico-filosóficos. De ahí creemos que viene la  presentación que Carlos X. Blanco hace del alemán como el Gran filósofo ignorado del siglo XX (p.17). Otros nombres, sin embargo, parecen hoy más merecedores de tal galardón, como Husserl, Heidegger o Wittgenstein, según preferencia de escuelas. Aunque sabemos de la relatividad de tales juicios, que precisan del paso quizás de siglos para fijar esa consistencia valorativa, nos basta con considerarlo el mejor filósofo de la Historia del siglo XX. Pues, ni Schopenhauer ni Nietzsche, padres del Vitalismo filosófico, desarrollaron sistemáticamente una Filosofia de la Historia vitalista que se pudiese contraponer a la propia de las filosofías progresistas, del positivismo y del marxismo (La teoría de los Tres Estadios de Augusto Comte o el Materialismo Histórico de Marx). Lo hizo, sin embargo, Spengler en su famoso libro La decadencia de Occidente (1918). Hoy es necesaria de nuevo su lectura como antídoto contra el dominante Multiculturalismo y relativismo cultural. Pues Spengler, aunque parte del pluralismo histórico de las grandes culturas o civilizaciones, no cree en “la porosidad y mezcla de rasgos culturales que se ve positiva en sí misma de una manera acrítica y ajena a toda evidencia empírica. El filósofo de Blanckenburg nos enseñó que, en realidad, cada cultura es un organismo único, intraducible, irrepetible” (p. 27). Tampoco cree Spengler en la Humanidad como algo realmente existente, sino como una mera Idea abstracta. En la realidad Histórica la Humanidad se dice de muchas maneras, y estas son las Civilizaciones actuales y las ya desaparecidas. No hay una Civilización como suma de Civilizaciones (La Humanidad) ni tampoco una multiplicidad equívoca de ellas (Globalización y Multiculturalismo), sino una pluralidad análoga, susceptible de desarrollar una Historia Comparada de dichas Civilizaciones, la cual permite obtener, en base a dichas analogías, unos rasgos que se repiten y permiten extraer ciertas leyes comunes de desarrollo en cuyo marco se perciben diferentes fisonomías.

De ahí su visión fisiognómica de las Civilizaciones orientada a captar intuitivamente su proceso vital, su impulso vital creador, como diría Bergson, lo que acerca la investigación histórica, según Spengler, más a la labor de un hermeneuta, que interpreta la acción creadora de un poeta, que a la de un físico que se limita a coordinar meros hechos (p. 54). Dicho Análisis Morfológico de las Civilizaciones permite, paradójicamente, que la ciencia histórica pueda hacer predicciones, como hacen las ciencias físicas, que nos permita “savoir pour prevoir, prevoir pou pouvoir”, como preconizaba el fisicalismo científico de Augusto Comte. Pues de dichos análisis Spengler diagnostica la Decadencia de Europa, no al modo de un “fatum mahometanum”, como diría Leibniz, sino más en la línea de un “fatum cristianum”, que permitiría combatir dicha decadencia para retrasarla o preparar una reestructuración anamórfica, generando una civilización superior, como ocurrió en el propio surgimiento de la Civilización Europea al final del mundo antiguo. Como escribe Carlos X. Blanco, “Spengler afirma que una filosofía a la altura de nuestro tiempo es una filosofía que pueda poner ante la mirada una morfología de la historia. Los grandes de la filosofía moderna habían ignorado o despreciado  esta ciencia: Kant, Schopenhauer. Es preciso dejar de ser moderno. La Física-matemática no es la categoría central en torno a cuyo punto de gravedad orbite la totalidad de la filosofía. Hay que hacerse cargo de la nueva ciencia de la historia, de su específica morfología. Y en esa ciencia se necesita acostumbrar la mente al método comparativo, entendiendo por comparación la búsqueda de correspondencias, homologías. Los periodos pueden corresponderse analógicamente: nuestro periodo (iniciado hace un siglo, cuando Spengler publicó LDO) se corresponde perfectamente con la Antigüedad decadente” (p. 128).

Es este diagnóstico spengleriano de la Decadencia de Occidente que nos corresponde el que mejor actualiza el autor interpretando, de un modo congenial con el gran filósofo alemán, los nuevos fenómenos a los que estamos asistiendo en Occidente del Abandono de las raíces (pg. 113 ss.), del creciente parasitismo de Estado (p. 151 ss.), la Civilización pornográfica (p. 122 ss.), el Hombre Masa (p.132 ss.), el capitalismo globalizador, deslocalizador y esclavizador (p. 163 ss.), etc. Son interesantes, asimismo, los análisis que hace Carlos X. Blanco sobre la Reconquista española, que tiene su foco originario principal en Asturias con la mítica sublevación fronteriza de Pelayo frente al Islám en Covadonga, y que el autor sitúa en el empuje fundacional de la propia Civilización Occidental, cuyo núcleo metropolitano de mayor influencia inmediata surge en la Aquisgrán de Carlomagno. La importancia, en principio menor, de la sublevación de Covadonga, no se debe, sin embargo, determinar kantianamente a priori, como se podría hacer con el foco del Sacro Imperio, el cual, aunque comienza bien a priori,  no mantuvo su unidad tras la muerte de Carlomagno. La importancia de Covadonga debe determinarse a posteriori, por sus consecuencias, que se podrán de manifiesto, como diría Eugenio Trías, por la lógica de la frontera o limes con el Islám, que los reinos ibéricos vivieron más intensamente que el resto de los europeos. Pues la España de la Reconquista, que derrota al Islám, emergerá en el Renacimiento como la gran Superpotencia europea, cuya política Contrareformista acabará provocando la división y crisis del propio Sacro Imperio.

Para finalizar esta reseña, me gustaría matizar la propia contextualización de la Decadencia que el autor hace al considerar que estamos entrando en una fase similar a lo que fue el llamado Bajo Imperio, que el propio Spengler sitúa en el siglo IV después de Cristo, con el ascenso del cristianismo apoyado por el emperador Constantino. Habría que hacer antes la matización de que Spengler profetizó la Decadencia de una Europa que sería dominada por Rusia, una nueva Roma. En esto Spengler se equivocó, como reconoce el autor, pues fueron los Norteamericanos los que acabaron asumiendo el papel de una nueva Roma en relación con Europa, tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial  y con el resto del mundo tras la desintegración de la URSS. Pero, con ello Occidente no decayó sino todo lo contrario, nunca fue más extensa su influencia y prestigio civilizatorio. Otra cosa es que estemos asistiendo hoy, tras la victoria de Trump a una fuerte crisis y división de la sociedad norteamericana a consecuencia de fenómenos característicos de la decadencia cultural, como el triunfo aplastante de la cultura de masas, los fenómenos de corrupción económica crecientes, la penetración del relativismo multiculturalista a través de las grandes ciudades, como Nueva York o San Francisco, enfrentadas a la llamada “América profunda”, etc. Pero esto podría verse como algo similar a la crisis del siglo I antes de Cristo que marcó el paso de la Republica al Imperio, el cual mantendría la política civilizadora de Roma por todo el Mediterráneo durante varios siglos más. En tal sentido, podríamos decir que, lejos de haber entrado ya en una decadencia semejante a la romana, estaríamos hoy en una crisis de la propia Democracia Americana, como la llamaba Tocqueville, que deberá adoptar otra forma política más adecuada si quiere seguir el lema de su actual presidente, Donald Trump, America first. El cual no debe ser visto como una renuncia a su influencia mundial, sino todo lo contrario, pues la propia Globalización Multiculturalista todavía dominante, podría conducir a la hegemonía mundial de China en detrimento de USA y, con ello, de Occidente. Seguramente se acabará girando en USA hacia una democracia más autoritaria y menos fundamentalista.  Pues otro de los errores de Spengler fue su creencia de que el Socialismo superaría económica y políticamente al Capitalismo. Despues de la caída del Muro de Berlín sabemos que esto no es posible. Al esclavismo romano sucedió el feudalismo, un régimen relativamente mejor, pero que nadie previó. Sencillamente resulto de los fenómenos de anamórfosis que dieron lugar al surgimiento de la Europa medieval. Por todo ello, lo único que se puede desear, a corto y medio plazo, es la evolución  de las sociedades occidentales a formas que frenen esta degeneración prematura que amenaza a Occidente como Gran Cultura,  y que se puedan hacer las reformas precisas, incluyendo la mayor influencia de esta filosofía vitalista de la Historia spengleriana, para que se mantengan vivas las  posibilidades de continuar la influencia civilizadora occidental durante un periodo tan largo como fue el que tuvo la antigua Roma, que permita el surgimiento de una futura civilización en la que surgirán, sin duda, nuevas creencias y valores más firmes, profundos y mejores que los actuales.

dimanche, 09 juillet 2017

Troy Southgate: Spengler's "Der Mensch und die Technik"

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Spengler's "Der Mensch Und Die Technik"

Troy Southgate (First N-AM International Conference,Madrid)

jeudi, 22 décembre 2016

L’homme et la technique

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L’homme et la technique

Ex: https://argoul.com

Oswald Spengler fut célèbre en son temps. Notamment parce qu’il a publié une vaste fresque du destin humain intitulée ‘Le déclin de l’Occident’ en 1918. Presqu’un siècle plus tard, il reste d’actualité ! En 2018 (dans 7 ans), la Chine sera le premier exportateur mondial, le premier prédateur mondial de matières premières, le premier néocolonialiste économique mondial. Elle défendra aussi âprement ses intérêts que l’Angleterre de la reine Victoria ou les États-Unis de George W. Bush. Car, analyse Oswald Spengler, ce sont l’essor de la technique et de la population qui ont bouleversé le monde.

oswald-spengler-l-homme-et-la-technique.jpg‘L’homme et la technique’ est un opuscule qui devrait ravir les écolos et les économistes de la décroissance ; il devrait stimuler les souverainistes et les partisans d’une Europe puissance ; il décrit parfaitement le mental américain face aux défis chinois. Paru en 1931, après la crise financière de 1929 et avant les cataclysmes nationalistes, racistes et guerriers des années 1940, il en a le vocabulaire daté. Mais Spengler livre une intuition, pas un système dogmatique. Il ne prône aucune révolution qui passerait une quelconque catégorie sociale ou raciale par les armes, il analyse la longue histoire. Il dit une manière d’être, la nôtre, ce qu’il appelle « la culture faustienne ».

Pour Oswald Spengler, la culture est le devenir, le mouvement ; la civilisation est le devenu, l’aboutissement historique. Or, dit-il, notre culture faustienne, alimentée par le désir et l’incessante exploration curieuse des choses, se meurt. Elle est désormais ‘civilisation’ : matérielle, matérialiste, comptable. La vie quotidienne, la famille, la morale, les croyances, les espoirs – tout est façonné par la technique, dit Oswald Spengler (y compris la procréation). Qui lui donnerait tort ?

Or la technique est la meilleure et la pire des choses, comme la langue d’Ésope. Elle est tactique pour survivre dans la nature. Le singe nu a utilisé ses mains, libérées par la station debout, pour prendre les armes et se défendre ou faire levier. La première dialectique de la main et de l’outil a fait de l’homme un animal de proie pour son environnement qui le libère de ses déterminants génétiques. L’être humain n’est pas une fourmi, il devient intelligent. Tout ce qu’il crée est « artificiel », non naturel.

Première tragédie : la nature sera toujours la plus forte, elle a les millions d’années pour elle, mais l’homme ne sait pas faire autrement que l’artifice. Jusqu’à lever la main contre sa mère, en rebelle, et peut-être détruire le climat, la faune ou la planète…

Vient la seconde dialectique entre le langage et l’entreprise. Car l’être humain n’est pas seul : il vit en famille, en horde, en clan, plus tard en village, en ville, en société. Animal politique, l’homme s’entend par le langage pour un projet commun : projet de la cité pour organiser les hommes, projet de l’entreprise pour utiliser la matière et produire des biens. Le langage ne sert pas à comprendre le monde, écrit Spengler, mais à la conversation pour agir.

Seconde tragédie : toute organisation prend sur la liberté humaine. L’entreprise oblige à commander ou à exécuter, à laisser une part de son travail pour le bénéfice et l’investissement, en bref à être plus ou moins exploité ; la cité elle-même contraint par ses lois, sa morale, ses obligations physiques comme le service militaire. L’homme s’aliène en s’organisant en groupes humains.

L’Occident – ce qui est à la fois sa grandeur et sa tragédie – incarne au plus haut point l’insatiable curiosité de savoir, l’exploration ultime des secrets de la nature, la volonté de maîtrise et de création. De la culture technique est née la civilisation matérielle que nous connaissons. Cet « ensemble de modes de vie artificiels, personnels, autogènes, se transforme en une cage aux barreaux serrés pour les âmes rebelles à tout frein » (p.124). L’accroissement de la population, grâce à la technique (alimentation, confort, hygiène, médecine), noie l’individu et lui fait perdre toute importance. Les nations, organisées en États (« L’État est l’ordre intérieur d’un peuple en vue de ses objectifs extérieurs » p.120), instaurent des frontières pour se préserver (accès aux ressources, emplois, style de vie, croyances) et entrent en rivalité entre elles. « La frontière, de quelque nature qu’elle soit, ne serait-ce qu’intellectuelle, est l’ennemi mortel de la volonté de puissance », écrit l’auteur dans un cri libertaire.

Car Oswald Spengler est analyste, pas politicien ni philosophe. Il dit que l’Occident court à sa perte mais qu’il n’y peut rien. Toute civilisation est mortelle. Il prédit dès 1931 les rébellions : hippie contre la vie bourgeoise, révolutionnaire contre l’accaparement de la rente pétrolière, écologiste contre le mode de vie consumériste industriel. « Il n’est pas vrai que la technique humaine économise du travail », écrit Spengler. « Chaque découverte contient la virtualité et la nécessité de découvertes nouvelles, tout désir satisfait en éveille des milliers d’autres, chaque triomphe sur la nature en appelle d’autres encore » (p.125).

D’où « le dernier acte » qui fait l’objet du chapitre 5 : l’avènement et la dissolution de la culture machiniste.

  • Par le mouvement social : La technique appelle la société pour organiser son règne. Toute société crée des classes sociales pour la division nécessaire du travail. « Avec la croissance des agglomérations urbaines, la technique prit un caractère bourgeois » (p.148). Naît le luxe, « la culture dans sa forme la plus poussée » (p.134), donc l’envie sociale et la contestation.
  • Par le divorce de la vérité et des faits : Se séparent le prêtre, le savant et le philosophe qui vivent dans le monde des vérités – et le noble, le guerrier et l’aventurier (l’entrepreneur), qui vivent dans le monde des faits. « Le successeur de ces moines gothiques fut l’inventeur laïque cultivé, le prêtre-expert de la machine. Enfin, avec l’avènement du rationalisme, la croyance à la technique tend presque à devenir une religion matérialiste » (p.148). Éternelle, immortelle, elle apporte le salut à l’humanité. La découverte est jouissance pour soi, sans aucun souci des conséquences, parfois immenses pour le genre humain. Les découvertes se multiplient mais la peine de l’homme n’est pas réduite, il faut toujours plus de mains pour alimenter la machine. Pour quel but ?
  • Par la lutte des États : Seul l’État a un but qui est d’accroître sa puissance politique en accroissant sa richesse, donc son industrie. D’où les guerres pour l’accès aux ressources, qui exploitent ou achètent les pays miniers ou pétroliers dans une sorte de néocolonialisme, la guerre des monnaies qui déstabilise l’épargne, l’emploi et la redistribution sociale. Malgré la tendance européenne à se vouloir hors de l’histoire, jouissant bourgeoisement de ses richesses acquises, Spengler nous rappelle que vivre est lutter. La Chine nous le montre à l’envi, mais aussi le Brésil (qui va choisir le F18 plutôt que le Rafale) ou la Turquie (qui négocie avec l’Iran contre l’Occident) ou le Mexique (qui se fout des intellos médiatiques français). Or « au lieu de garder jalousement pour eux-mêmes le savoir technique qui constituait leur meilleur atout, les peuples ‘blancs’ l’offrirent avec complaisance au tout-venant dans le monde entier » (p.174). Ceux qui « grâce au bas niveau des salaires, vont nous mettre en face d’une concurrence mortelle » (p.175). C’est exactement ce qui se passe : notre fameux TGV est copié par les Chinois, ils préparent leur Airbus pour 2014, les Coréens ont des centrales nucléaires moins sophistiquées que nous (et moins chères) à exporter, les Iraniens usent d’un logiciel allemand Siemens pour leurs centrifugeuses destinées à la bombe nucléaire.
  • Par les menaces sur le climat et la planète : « La mécanisation du monde est entrée dans une phase d’hypertension périlleuse à l’extrême. La face même de la terre, avec ses plantes, ses animaux et ses hommes, n’est plus la même. (…) Un monde artificiel pénètre le monde naturel et l’empoisonne. La civilisation est elle-même devenue une machine faisant ou essayant de tout faire mécaniquement » (p161).
  • Par la perte de sens : L’âme se dilue dans le calcul, la computation et la mathématisation froide du monde : « notre propre culture faustienne représente pour sa part le triomphe de la pensée technique pure sur les grands problèmes » (p.135). On l’a vu avec le krach de la raison pure dans la finance, les échecs humains de la rationalisation du personnel chez France Télécom. A trop rationaliser l’humain perd son âme. « La culture faustienne, celle de l’ouest européen, n’est probablement pas la dernière mais elle est certainement la plus puissante, la plus véhémente et, conséquence du conflit intérieur entre son intellectualité compréhensive et son manque d’harmonie spirituelle, de toutes la plus tragique » (p.136). « Être donc soi-même Dieu, c’est bien cela le rêve du chercheur faustien » (p.146) – mais être Dieu, en ce monde-ci, est-ce possible ou même raisonnable ? « La pensée faustienne commence à ressentir la nausée des machines. Une lassitude se propage, une sorte de pacifisme dans la lutte contre la nature » (p.167).

Ce qui nous fait être, notre culture faustienne, est attaqué de toute part. Or, si les autres cultures usent de la technique comme d’un outil, nous seuls en faisons un but spirituel, la quête incessante pour savoir et pour explorer la nature. D’où notre condamnation à terme, de l’intérieur par l’écologie, de l’extérieur par l’émergence des pays tiers. Entre Montaigne et Nietzsche, un petit livre à méditer ! Il a inspiré Heidegger.

Oswald Spengler, L’Homme et la technique, 1931, Gallimard Idées, 1969, 181 pages. Difficile à trouver, mais occasion possible.

lundi, 18 juillet 2016

Islam: The Magian Revolution

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Islam: The Magian Revolution

Western academics and media-types write a lot of drivel about Islam. Part of the problem is there is a dearth of good information, and a bounty of superficial, politically self-serving garbage. But the real problem is misplaced emphasis. Western experts and commenters are used to thinking of history in simplistic terms--as the story of human progress. This model might be a good fit for Euro-American history, it is at least workable. But the progressive model falls apart when applied to the history of Islam. Islam’s heights seem to correspond to the West’s depths, and vice-versa. The “Progress” model causes Westerners to ask the wrong questions about Islamic history. “What went wrong?” “Why has the Middle East been so beset by violence?” “When will Islam adopt modern political and ethical principles?”

This misguided criticism has two faces--liberal and reactionary. Both sides share a simplistic view of history--that millennia-long, worldwide advance of the human spirit. But each side approaches its subject with different motives. Liberals, who dominate public discourse on the subject (surprise), assume the intrinsic goodness of all people. “Islam is peace” (eye roll). They feel good when they can cite examples of seemingly precocious modernism, such as early Muslim rulers’ tolerance (in the strictest sense) for religious minorities. It makes them feel good to contrast these anecdotes with the supposedly unrelenting fanaticism of Euro-Americans throughout the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, the 19th and 20th centuries, up to and including last week. This rosy, Islamophilic picture is not really about Islam. It is just another stick with which to beat guilt into the Euro-American historical conscience.

The liberal position, while dominant, does not go unchallenged. On the other side are the reactionaries. They are “reactionaries” because they have no real position on Islam, they only know that the liberals are wrong, and reflexively counterattack. Theirs is a form of hypercriticism, given to denying long-established facts and trends of Islamic history with little or no justification other than to refute the Islamophiles. Given the current situation in the West, their excesses are understandable. But the reactionaries’ zeal leads them to stake out indefensible positions. Many of them are have ulterior motives--some are pro-Jewish fanatics or apologists for imperialism, others are democratic ideologues. But they share a defect. They lack a healthy, Faustian drive to pursue universal Truth--whether we like its conclusions or not.

Both approaches fail for two reasons. First, neither affords its subject the proper attitude of “sympathetic criticism.” The student must devote himself to understanding a culture on its own terms--learning its languages, reading its history and literature--all the while imagining things from its perspective. Once he has done this, he can render judgment on its ethics, its cultural attainments, and its overall importance to history. This was the approach of the great orientalists of the late 19th and early 20th century. They devoted tremendous intellectual effort to comprehending Islamic civilization, yet they were unafraid to pass judgment on its shortcomings. The liberals have no aptitude for criticism, the reactionaries have none for sympathy.

Second, the liberals and reactionaries neglect the questions of philosophical history. It is from this oversight that they fall into their assumption of perpetual historical progress. But there is a better way. One hundred years ago, Oswald Spengler reframed the discussion of history by tearing down an idea of progress (at least as it is commonly understood). His “Copernican revolution” in historical thought worked wonders for the study of Classical civilization and Europe, but it would prove even more effective for understanding the meaning of Middle Eastern history. Spengler shifted the emphasis away from time and toward Cultures. Following Spengler, we can understand how meaningless most of the questions posed by conventional commenters are, and begin to see Islam for what it really is.

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The Magian Reformation

Spengler rejected the conventional historical focus on religions and polities. He saw these as merely superficial expressions of something deeper--the Culture. Cultures, in Spengler’s scheme, are a complex of peoples who share a world-outlook. This outlook--the spirit of a Culture--drives it to produce or adapt a religion. “Religion” is the outward expression of the world-outlook and includes such things as prayer rituals, religious architecture, calligraphy, and sculpture. For example, while Euro-Americans and Korean evangelicals may both be “Christians,” they do not belong to the same Culture, because their world-outlooks differ so drastically, despite their notionally common religion. A present-day American protestant has more in common, spiritually, with a 9th-century Norse pagan than with a modern-day Korean convert, despite professing the same doctrines. Cultures are the basic unit by which to analyze history.

Islam is part of the “Magian” Culture. In his Decline of the West, Spengler defines the Magian Culture as comprising the Muslim Arabs, but also many pre-Islamic Middle Eastern groups such as the Babylonian Jews, the Zoroastrians, the Coptic and Syriac Christians, as well as syncretic/heretical groups like the Manichaeans. It arose around the time of Christ and lasted until the 12th century when the anti-rationalist thinker Al-Ghazali dealt the deathblow to Magian philosophical speculation. All of subsequent Magian history was, in Spengler’s view, “civilization”--grandiose, bombastic, imperial, but sterile. No new philosophical or religious ideas could arise from the Magian world outlook. The culture had run its course.

So the birth of Islam does not represent the foundation of a new religion. It was, rather, a revolution in Magian religious thought. As such, it is analogous to the Reformation in Western history. Like Luther, Muhammad preached a puritanical systematization of earlier currents in the spiritual thought of his Culture. Muhammad and Luther were both anti-clerical, iconoclastic reformers who exhorted their adherents to build a more personal relationship with God. They both made the scripture accessible to the masses--Luther by translating the Bible into the vernacular, Muhammad by “receiving revelations” in easily memorized rhymed prose. After their deaths, their Cultures were unified the culture by marginalizing the earlier creeds and, at the same time, quickly spawning an array of heresies. The puritanical movements unleashed a storm, driving the post-reformation Europeans and post-Islam Magians to conquer half the world in a fanatical outburst of religious fervor--compare that to the religious and colonial wars of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Both movements, to a large degree, cleansed their cultures of foreign influence. Hellenistic influence on the Middle East, while not wiped out, was severely reduced in the first centuries of Islam. The Greek language, long the lingua franca of the Eastern Mediterranean, died out in Egypt and Syria, and later in Anatolia. To use Spengler’s term, Islam ended the Hellenistic pseudomorphosis (false-development) of early Magian Culture, allowing it to come into its own. Likewise after Luther, Northern Europe was free to work out its own cultural development. Free of Rome, the North underwent its own Renaissance. Florence and Rome were replaced by Nuremberg, Rotterdam, and Weimar. The Italian composers of the baroque were, by degrees, superseded by the likes of Bach and Handel. Thus Muhammad is not an Islamic Jesus, but a Luther. His movement, Islam, is a puritanical systematization of earlier currents in the Magian spirit.

Islam needs a Reformation

All this flies in the face of the conventional wisdom. Lacking any deeper insight into the place of Islam in history, the Mass-Media has been promoting a meme, “Islam needs a Reformation” eg: (WSJ and HuffPo). It makes sense superficially. Based on the conventional historical assumptions, one would compare Muhammad to Jesus as founders of world-religions. It follows then that Islam, having gotten a late start, is due for a reformation. After all, it’s been 14 centuries since Muhammad fled to Medina, and about the same duration separates Jesus from Martin Luther. The pre-Reformation Church superficially resembles current-day Islam.

But with a deeper understanding of history, comparing Jesus to Muhammad is preposterous. In contrasting the current state of the West and the Middle East, it would be ridiculous to set the two up as analogs. Jesus no longer matters to Faustian man. When the decadent West looks for myths and heroes, it looks for world-denying saints of Tolerance and Progress. New heroes must spring up or be manufactured--MLK and Gandhi, Anne Frank and Mother Theresa. Jesus would seem to fit the mold, but he is too bound-up in the popular imagination with the distant past. And in the popular imagination, History is Progress, therefore the farther back you go, the more evil everything is. But the West has absolutely no need for heroic men-of-the-world like Luther, so his place in our history is undervalued.

hitti8_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBut the reborn Islamic fury, much pondered in the West, is not the necessary outcome of Islam’s doctrines. That the Middle East is still populated by “Muslims” is of less consequence than its stage of historical development. Islam is in winter. For centuries following the Crusades the Arabs and Persians were inactive. Islam’s last great conquests were not carried out by these “core-Magians,” but by the Berbers, Turks, and Mughals. And these imperial peoples could only prolong the agony of Magian decline. After c. 1500, the Magians had no meaningful history. They have endured wars and changes of dynasty, but no revolutions of thought or spirit. Classic histories of Middle East recognized this historical void--in over 750 pages of The History of the Arabs, the Lebanese Christian scholar Philip Hitti devoted less than 100 to anything after the 13th century.

What’s to be done

The liberal and reactionary views of Islam are shallow and polemic. They are worthless as history. Neither framework allows us to understand the relationship between Magian culture and ours because the Magians are actually ahead of us. Their decline did not begin in the 19th century, but in the 11th. Their reformation did not happen in the 16th century, but in the 7th.

Where are we now? Today’s situation resembles the era of the Crusades, with the roles reversed. Like Islam of the 1100s, the West has passed its peak. Our spirit is dying, our philosophy and art have ossified. We find ourselves beset by external enemies, barely able to summon the strength for our own preservation. Like Europe of the 1100s, the Middle East is the matrix of peoples--young, vigorous and aggressive.

What can we look forward to? If the West follows the same trajectory as Islam did after 1100, we are doomed. While Islam expelled the Crusaders and launched counteroffensives on its Eastern and Western frontiers, it only did so because it received infusions of fresh blood semi-civilized converts. These barbarian peoples adopted the outward forms of Magian Culture--Islam--but were unable to revive its spiritual vigor.

So contrary to the common view, the West does not face an ancient religious enemy. Islam died centuries ago--any invocation of its doctrines is now entirely superficial. The Arabs have for centuries wallowed in spiritual decrepitude. The “refugees” are not driven on by religious fervor, but simple greed, lust, and envy. They are not so much religious fanatics as they are zombies. Soulless and decrepit, they swarm to history’s last civilization. Do we still have the spirit to do what needs to be done?


Holland, Tom. In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire. New York: Doubleday, 2012.

Spengler, Oswald, and Charles Francis Atkinson. The Decline of the West: Perspectives of World-history. Vol. 2. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957.

jeudi, 09 juin 2016

Is de ondergang van Europa onvermijdelijk?

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Is de ondergang van Europa onvermijdelijk?

Ex: http://www.erkenbrand.nl

De geschiedenisfilosoof Oswald Spengler voorspelde in zijn beroemde boek 'Der Untergang des Abendlandes' de onvermijdelijke ondergang van de Europese beschaving. Wie was hij en hoe kwam hij tot deze conclusie?

Afgelopen week bezochten drie leden van Erkenbrand een lezing van de NSV! Gent. De NSV! is een Vlaamse nationalistische studentenvereniging met afdelingen in de universiteitssteden Gent, Antwerpen, Brussel en Leuven. Voor de lezing maakten we een mooie stadswandeling door het middeleeuwse Gent. Daarbij ontbraken natuurlijk het heerlijke Vlaamse bier en de Vlaamse frieten niet.

Aldus gesterkt richtten we onze schreden naar de lezing, die gegeven zou worden door Peter Logghe, redacteur van de uitgeverij TeKoS. Deze uitgeverij brengt boeken uit van bijvoorbeeld Alain de Benoist en Koenraad Elst. Dit jaar verschijnt bij hen ook een nieuwe Nederlandse vertaling van "Der Untergang des Abendlandes" van Oswald Spengler. Over deze beroemde filosoof en geschiedkundige zou de lezing gaan. Wat nu volgt is geen weergave van de lezing, maar een kort essay waar ik onder andere deze lezing voor heb gebruikt.

Oswald Spengler wordt gerekend tot zogenaamde 'Conservatieve Revolutie'. Dit was een intellectuele stroming die antwoorden zocht op de maatschappelijke chaos na de ineenstorting van het Duitse keizerrijk in de Eerste Wereldoorlog. Overal waren opstanden en revoluties door de communisten. De hele samenleving dreigde af te glijden naar links en dus naar de heerschappij van de meute.

De Conservatieve Revolutie wilde de laffe toegeeflijkheid van het doorsnee conservatisme vervangen door een radicaal doordacht maatschappelijk en cultureel model. Daarin stonden hiërarchie, kwaliteit en onderscheid centraal. Een rechtvaardige samenleving leek volgens hen eerder op een leger dan op een markt. Kwaliteit moest doorslaggevend zijn, niet kwantiteit, de massa. Het is typerend voor de Conservatieve Revolutie dat de meeste leden ook Hitler afwezen omdat ze hem een proleet vonden.

Wat is nu de centrale stelling van Spengler? Spengler onderzocht culturen van over de hele wereld. Hij probeerde patronen te ontdekken in hun geschiedenis. Hij wilde tot een morfologie te komen die zowel de geschiedenis van culturen zou kunnen verklaren als hun toekomst zou kunnen voorspellen. Spengler kwam tot de conclusie dat alle culturen een onontkoombare levenscyclus doormaken, net als een bloem, of de wisseling der seizoenen. Na een periode van groei en bloei komt verval en dood, en daar is niets tegen te doen. Ook niet bij onze cultuur, die nu in haar laatste fase zou zitten.

faust-690792.jpgOnze cultuur, de cultuur van het Avondland, ziet Spengler als 'Faustisch', naar het toneelstuk 'Faust' van Goethe. Het idee is dat de mens van onze cultuur streeft naar onbeperkte kennis, zelfs als hij daarvoor – net als Faust – een pact met de duivel moet sluiten. Als poëtisch beeld voor deze cultuur geeft Spengler “de oneindige ruimte”. Het ruimtevaartprogramma zou hij als een typerende  cultuuruiting van het Avondland zien.

Het begin van onze cultuur legt Spengler rond 900, bij de opkomst van een sterk Germaans beïnvloed Katholicisme. Hierna volgde de eerste fase, die Spengler 'Kultur' noemt, en die zijn hoogtepunt bereikt rond 1500, op het snijpunt van de Gotiek en de Barok. De tweede fase, die van het verval, noemt Spengler 'Zivilisation'. Deze begint met de Verlichting, en de Amerikaanse- en Franse Revolutie. 'Zivilisation' betekent een toenemende vormloosheid, een overwinning van de stad op het platteland, van de massa op de elite, van de kwantiteit op de kwaliteit, van het geld op de politiek. De kosmopolitische, ontwortelde, vormeloze massa grijpt de macht. De cultuur kent geen innerlijke morele beleving meer, heeft geen binding meer met het land, en wordt intolerant en oorlogszuchtig.

Op grond van zijn historische voorbeelden, met name van het Romeinse rijk, voorziet Spengler drie fasen in de 'Zivilisation' van het Avondland. Van 1800 tot 2000 de fase van de democratie, wat in feite de heerschappij van het geld betekent. Dan tot 2200 de heerschappij van steeds primitievere volksmenners en despoten in de lijn van Caesar. In de laatste fase volgt dan volledige verstarring en onmacht door nepotisme en corruptie van de machthebbers, een krimpen van de bevolking en totale weerloosheid tegen het binnendringen van andere culturen en volken.

De houding die Spengler aanbeveelt tegenover deze onvermijdelijke loop van de geschiedenis is een 'heroïsch realisme': acceptatie van het einde en het dapper dragen van het noodlot. Alain de Benoist vult hierbij aan dat het einde ook een voltooiing is. Optimisme is volgens Spengler  ongegrond en laf. Geïnspireerd door Nietzsche spreekt hij zelfs over een "amor fati", een liefhebben en omarmen van het lot. Wat telt is karakter en moed, naar het voorbeeld van de Romeinse soldaat van Herculaneum. Deze werd opgegraven uit de lava, nog steeds op zijn post staande. Hij had zijn plaats niet verlaten tijdens de uitbarsting van de vulkaan Vesuvius, omdat hij niet was afgelost.

De invloed van Spenglers ideeën was enorm en reikt tot in onze tijd. We zien zijn ideeën bijvoorbeeld terug bij Patrick Buchanan en bij Samuel Huntington. Deze laatste ziet de verschillende culturen als een soort acteurs op het wereldtoneel in zijn boek "The Clash of Civilizations". We kunnen de invloed van Spengler ook terugzien bij Tolkien. De opeenvolgende tijdperken in diens Midden-aarde kennen allemaal opbloeiende- en afstervende culturen. Zelfs in de overwinning op de Zwarte Heerser Sauron ligt een zekere melancholie, omdat daarmee "het tijdperk van de Elfen" ten einde gaat.

In hoeverre kunnen wij nu Spengler volgen in zijn analyse?

Wetenschap houdt zich bezig met het ontdekken van patronen in de werkelijkheid, maar de kans is aanwezig dat de onderzoeker patronen ziet die er niet zijn. De enorme feitenkennis van Spengler is geen garantie. Het is natuurlijk vrij opvallend dat de door hem geponeerde neergangsfase van onze cultuur precies die kenmerken vertoont die Spengler als persoon afkeurde. Bovendien is een absoluut determinisme van de historische ontwikkeling bij Spengler net zo min gerechtvaardigd als bij Marx of Hegel. De toekomst is per definitie onvoorspelbaar.

We zouden Spengler misschien wel kunnen gebruiken voor het ontdekken en inschatten van globale trends. Wat kan de geschiedenis van andere culturen ons leren over de toestand in onze huidige cultuur? Spengler heeft wellicht de menselijke neigingen in groepsprocessen goed in kaart gebracht.

Zo zouden we in het Duitsland en Italië van de jaren twintig tot vijfenveertig een periode van 'Caesarisme' kunnen zien, de tweede fase van de 'Zivilisation'. Onze huidige tijd zou een combinatie kunnen zijn van de eerste en derde fase: de heerschappij van democratie en het geld, gecombineerd met verstarde despoten op de achtergrond die heersen door geld en "soft power" ( dat wil zeggen: indoctrinatie via de media en het schoolsysteem ).

Zeker is dat de door Spengler beschreven kenmerken van verval in onze cultuur ruimschoots aanwezig zijn, zoals wijdverbreide gevoelens van leegte, verlies, decadentie en ontworteling, een laag geboortecijfer en een binnendringen van vreemde culturen en volken. Het is een grote verdienste van Spengler dat hij de aandacht vestigt op deze kwetsbaarheid van onze cultuur. Dit staat haaks op het gevaarlijk naïeve idee van de Verlichting en de Amerikaanse- en Franse Revolutie dat er alleen maar lineaire vooruitgang mogelijk is in de geschiedenis. Tegenover dit aan het Christendom ontleende lineaire denken stelt hij het heidense, cyclische denken, dat juist ook rekening houdt met neergang in plaats van alleen maar vooruitgang.

Misschien heeft Spengler gelijk, en maken wij nu de onafwendbare ondergang van het Avondland mee. Volgens zijn theorie zal echter ook uit de vergane glorie een nieuwe cultuur verrijzen. Daar kunnen wij wellicht toch al een bijdrage aan leveren, ook al zullen wij haar opbloei niet meer meemaken.  Hoe het ook zij, voor onze instelling zou het niet mogen uitmaken. Er zijn nooit  garanties. Zoals Tolkien schrijft:

'Ik wou dat het niet in mijn tijd hoefde te gebeuren,' zei Frodo.

'Ik ook,' zei Gandalf, 'en dat geldt voor allen die in een dergelijke tijd leven. Maar die beslissing is niet aan hen. Het enige dat wij moeten beslissen, is wat we zullen doen met de tijd die ons gegeven is.'

mercredi, 01 juin 2016

Oswald Spengler & the Controversy of Caesarism

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Oswald Spengler & the Controversy of Caesarism

There has long been a commonplace notion in journalism (now often repeated in blogs and social media), that Oswald Spengler declared us to be at the end of Civilization. After all, he did write The Decline of the West, didn’t he? Furthermore, Spengler’s end-phase of Civilization is Caesarism, and we passed that many decades ago—so the story goes—during the age of Musso & Dolf.

This is all nonsense, of course. It comes as no surprise that this misrepresentation took hold during the 1930s and early 1940s, when Spengler came to be recast as a kind of prophet for National Socialist Germany. But before getting to that, let me just point out that the “Caesarism” bit is easily disproven. You need only consult the fold-out endpaper charts of “Historical Morphology” in The Decline of the West to set the facts straight.

I reproduce a portion of the relevant ‘Contemporary “Political” Epochs’ table at the bottom of this essay for reference, but the essential takeaway is this: Spengler’s “Winter” epoch, when Civilization finally supplants Culture, begins with the age of Napoleon around 1800 and moves on through two centuries of Imperialism and Wars of Annihilation. After 2000 comes the period of Caesarism, which reaches final maturity, and decay, after 2200.[1]

cae73720959.jpgAccording to this matrix, our Caesarism period of 2000-2200 corresponds to 100 BC – 100 AD in Classical civilization. The post-2200 era corresponds to the Roman Empire from Trajan onwards. Here civilization has attained its peak, while cultural forms are completed, calcified, past evolution. This, you might say, is the true End of History—for our Western, Faustian civilization at least. But we have a way to go.

Now, one can dismiss Spengler’s schema as hogwash, the way one might reject astrology or Kondratieff waves; but one should at least know Spengler’s timeline before declaring an opinion on it. Just as one should bear in mind that in presenting his theory of the morphology of history, Spengler uses convenient analogies, e.g., the cultural epochs of Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. When he says the great cultures are organic—they mature, bloom, and decay—he does not literally mean they are flowers. Yet these metaphors have always been a sore point with his critics. [2]

Getting back to Caesarism, let’s accept Spengler’s thesis arguendo and look at its significance. Caesarism marks the end of “Democracy,” brings “Victory of force politics over money” (chart at bottom). Economic powers give way to an authoritarian model that promotes collective values of health and social justice—or to use Spengler’s own description, “Ethical socialism after 2000” (Table I, Contemporary “Spiritual” Epochs—not reproduced here).

Breaking the money-power and promoting the national welfare was of course what the European nationalist governments of the 1920s and 1930s imagined they were doing, or intended to do. Spengler himself rejected the association of ‘Caesarism’ with National Socialism (The Hour of Decision). But it is easy to see how journalists—or Nazis—might confuse the two.

To Spengler, Caesarism isn’t a good thing or a bad thing, it just is. But his description of the epoch in Roman times is bleak. This truly was the end of that culture’s growth-and-struggle:

There are no more of those great decisions which concentrate the inner meaning of the whole culture . . . All great political questions are solved, as they are solved sooner or later in every civilization, inasmuch as questions are no longer felt as questions and are not asked . . .

. . . The struggle for the Caesar-title became steadily more and more negroid, and might have gone on century after century in increasingly primitive and, therefore, eternal” forms.

These populations no longer possessed a soul. Consequently they could no longer have a history proper to themselves. At best they might acquire some significance as an object in the history of an alien Culture and whatever deeper meaning this relation possessed would be derived entirely from the will of the alien Life. (Vol .2, pp. 50-51)

The “alien Life” Spengler has in mind here is of course our own culture and civilization, what he called Western or Faustian-Gothic. The solons of the Renaissance and Enlightenment might have liked to imagine otherwise, but there is no real continuity between the civilization of Greece and Rome and our own; we merely treasure their artifacts as museum-pieces.

Confusion about Caesarism, and Spengler’s schema in general, has been around a long while. But it was apparently not there in the 1920s when thoughtful people read Decline for the first time. That cynosure of high-middlebrow discernment, Time magazine, treated it appreciatively, almost worshipfully, when it reviewed Vols 1 and 2 in 1926 and 1928.

Hard to improve upon is Time’s deft précis of the complete work, noting that Spengler

. . . analyzes history by huge analogies. Civilizations he sees as emerging & disappearing in cycles, each one, like a flower, experiencing birth, growth, decay, death. Our own Western civilization he declares to be in the phase of decay, characterized by material expansion, effete spirituality. Collapse is imminent in perhaps 300 years. But by that time another human group will be unwittingly generating a new civilization to flourish and sink in its own long turn. Herein lies the refutation of the charge of pessimism applied to Spengler by lesser minds. Regarding civilizations as organisms, he is no more the pessimist than any man who recognizes the transient nature of all organic life.[3]

This would be the high point of Spengler’s international reputation. A polymath and popular philosopher with a special appeal to autodidacts, Spengler was inevitably ground down by other, more specialized critics. Scholars in every field nit-picked his assertions and called him an amateur, a dilettante, a shoddy researcher. (A mere Gymnasium teacher, moreover.) Writing in The Spectator in 1929, an English reviewer lambasted Spengler’s whole conception of history as a “top-heavy tower,” a house of cards built upon factual inaccuracies and murky reasoning. Spengler’s description of the coming Caesarism came in for particular criticism as obscurantist wish-fulfillment.[4]

Oswald-Spenglerkkkk.jpgAnyway, when Time reviewed Man and Technics a few years later, the bloom was off the rose. In an about-face from 1926, Time now declared Spengler a pessimist, one who thinks Civilization is done for. This time around, the reviewer dismissed his work with lip-smacking sarcasm:

To ward off suicidal despair Spengler recommends the psychological attitude of the Roman soldier who died at his post in Pompeii. When the volcano under civilization explodes, and the burning dust begins to descend, the more honorable Spenglerian carnivores will take it standing, polish up their buttons as the lava rises. [5]

The height of anti-Spenglerism came about ten years later. At the height of World War II, Foreign Affairs ran a 25-year retrospective of Decline of the West and found it all nail-bitingly depraved. 1942 was of course the height of the Second World War, thus this essay by Georgetown diplomatic historian Hans W. Wiegert can be regarded as a sort of stuffy, highbrow equivalent of Der Fuehrer’s Face.

Since Spenglerism is a flame which burns and can cripple souls, we are justified in reexamining it twenty-five years later. Indeed, we have a duty to do so. [6]

Wiegert demonizes Spengler’s masterwork as pure proto-Nazi propaganda on a par with Karl Haushofer. Decline is so tendentious that although Spengler pretends to be writing about the West (Abendland), he’s really describing an aggressive, expansive Germany:

The realm which he calls the West is not the West as we understand it. It is limited distinctly to Germany, and not even the whole of Germany, but only those parts of it which can be labeled (spiritually rather than geographically) the Germanic North. England and America, even France and Italy, are not within the boundaries of the West which he covers in his factual materials and comparisons.

* * *

The present writer believes that the human area which Spengler calls the Faustian-Nordic-German sphere, and whence he drew the factual foundations of his doctrine, is the only one where a Spenglerian conception of a human type fits—the type, that is, which gave up its freedom to become an earth-bound slave of Hitlerism.[7]

Wiegert spends several pages musing over the interplay of Spengler’s Caesarism forecasts and the rise of Hitler. At no point does he ever admit that Hitler just doesn’t fit into Spengler’s Caesar-time-scheme. He doesn’t care. Spengler sounded the drumbeat for Caesarism, incited the crowds. Thus he bears the weight of guilt for Nazism.

Spengler’s conception of Caesarism foreshadowed the growth of the totalitarian religions of our time. He translated Plato’s ideas on the relationship of tyranny and democracy into the language of the twentieth century. The dictatorship of money had used democracy as its political weapon. At the end of the First World War Spengler saw the doom of this money-power age. New forces, the forces of Caesarism, of which the multitude becomes willingly the passive object, were arising from the soil of democracy. The scene was set for the final battle between the forces of financial plutocracy and the purely political will-to-order of the Caesars.

* * *

Those Caesars who would rule the world when all the creative forces of culture had disappeared would be war-keen men. The appearance of one, Spengler wrote in 1917, would suddenly raise a powerless nation to the very peak, and his death would plunge a mighty nation into chaos. “They are for war, and they want war,” he added. “Within two generations it will be they whose will prevails.”[8]

For Wiegert, Hitler is plain-and-simple part of the Caesarian drama. He tops off his analysis with the suggestion that Hitler himself will succumb a military coup. (“The great drama of German Caesarism: the fall of the tyrant and the rise of army rule.”[9])

Wiegert seems to be suggesting an officers’ revolt along the lines of what became the failed coup of July 1944. But that’s really beside the point here, because he is trying to shoehorn the Hitler situation into Spenglerian Caesarism, and it just doesn’t fit.

Notes

1. This is taken from the combined one-volume 1928 edition of The Decline of the West, published by Alfred Knopf, translated by C. F. Atkinson. In the original two-volume format published in 1926 and 27, the tables appear at the end of Volume One, subtitled “Form and Actuality.”

2. See for example the C.E.M. Joad review in The Spectator, quoted below. (And not to belabor the point, but I have found that Spengler’s metaphors are very hard for some people to wrap their heads around. Decades ago I gave Yockey’s Imperium to a co-worker, thinking he’d enjoy it. And he did, but found the Spenglerian conceits ridiculous because “Culture isn’t really a living organism.” It is as though I showed him a chair for the first time and referred to its legs, and he said: “But those aren’t really legs! Those are just pieces of wood!” Maybe we’re all autistes when encountering the unfamiliar.)

3. Time, June 28, 1926.

4. “A Top-heavy Tower”, C.E.M. Joad, The Spectator, 12 January 1929.

5. Time, Feb. 29, 1932

6. Hans W. Wiegert, “Spengler Twenty-Five Years After,” Foreign Affairs, Oct. 1942.

7, 8, 9. Ibid.

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URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2016/05/oswald-spengler-and-the-controversy-of-caesarism/

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lundi, 09 mai 2016

Understanding Spengler

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Understanding Spengler

Editor’s Note:

This is the transcript by V. S. of Richard Spencer’s Vanguard Podcast interview of Jonathan Bowden about Oswald Spengler. You can listen to the podcast here [2]

Richard Spencer: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Vanguard! And welcome back as well, Jonathan Bowden! How are you, Jonathan? 

Jonathan Bowden: Yes, hello! I’m very well. Thanks for having me on again.

RS: Quite good. Today we’re going to talk about the philosophy of Oswald Spengler. In these podcasts we’ve talked quite a bit about philosophers who are of interest to the New Right or the Alternative Right or White Nationalists or whatever you want to call us. And we’ve talked about Nietzsche in particular. Nietzsche is an interesting case in the sense that, despite the fact that he has quite a few unfashionable ideas from the standpoint of our enlightened modern age, nevertheless he is still quite popular. Libraries and bookstores are well-stocked with titles on Nietzsche.

Spengler, on the other hand, who equaled or surpassed Nietzsche’s popularity in Central Europe in his own time, has gone down the memory hole in a way. It’s hard to find a book by Spengler at your local bookstore, even a large one. Though I think people have heard about him or they have some general notion that he was a pessimistic German or something like this, they don’t really know a lot about the man and his philosophy. We hope we can increase the level of understanding, certainly, with this discussion today.

Jonathan, the way I wanted to start out this talk about Spengler and the philosophy of history is at a very basic level of understanding. I was thinking before we started this conversation that this idea of linear history is one that is really powerful for people and it also has something to do with Christianity in a way, but it’s also something that’s survived well into the post-Christian West. What I mean by linear history is what maybe could be described in just a simple phrase like “It keeps getting better all the time,” this notion that we’re the next step in history, and this history leads to greater freedom, greater liberation, greater understanding, greater technology, so on and so forth and that, yes, there might be some bad things that happen along the way but those are kind of speed bumps along this highway towards utopia or something like that.

I think if we look at the world from the standpoint of technology perhaps that is true. We’ve had the creation of medicines, from the automobile to the iPhone. Obviously, there’s a way that things have been getting better. They’ve been slowly perfected.

But, of course, culture and civilization, these are two very different things than technology.

Jonathan, maybe we can talk just a little about that just to get this conversation started and to get our listeners’ minds’ wheels turning, so to speak, about the philosophy of history. Think about that powerful assumption. Just that it seems like something that everyone in the modern West, maybe even the modern world, Left and Right, all have and that is of linear history and how Spengler is really challenging that. What do you think about that idea, Jonathan?

osspççç.jpgJB: Yes, I think that’s a good way in. Spengler is a cosmologist of history. He’s a botanist of history, in a way. He sees human cultures and their attendant civilizations very much like geological strata or the morphology of plant life in that they have a natural cycle, even a diurnal, seasonal one. They have a brief flowering and they have a spring, they have a summer, they have an autumnal phase, and then they have a winter of the soul, and then they die. They literally atrophy and die. His belief in the death of great cultures, that cultures could be seen to come to an end, or they can lie silent for enormously long periods prior to some renaissance or kickstart, is deeply troubling to the modern mind which is addicted to the idea of progress and progressivism whatever its standpoint.

Spengler’s emotional register was profoundly melancholic and pessimistic. He once famously in Man and Technics said that “optimism is cowardice.” There is a degree to which his view of history, which is these radial circles which overlap with each other rather like a Venn diagram in mathematics, a science with which he was familiar, accords very much with his own view that things are cyclic and circular and turn back upon themselves, and cultures go through various stages which are inevitable, and each stage follows from the other one and has the seeds of death in its own mouth in the sense that the thing will turn full circle on itself. He turned cultural decline away from merely being of archival and archeological interest.

These are forbidding and almost totalitarian insights of pessimism which don’t accord easily with the 20th century. If you look at a book like Niall Ferguson’s The War of the World, for example, which is a narrative of the extreme violence in Western and global society in the century of the masses, the 20th century, that’s a mordant book. It’s an apocalyptic book. It’s a book that in some ways is opposed to the idea that things are getting better and better. Yet at the same time, it doesn’t feel emotionally pessimistic despite the fact that it’s brimming, on the whole, with pessimistic criteria. So, Ferguson remains an optimist in a sort of belletrist liberal methodology, the belief that things can get better even if they turn out for the worst at a particular time, which he wishes to express.

Spengler would have no truck with that. Spengler believes that cultures are sort of caged in a way and will wither and die a natural death just as [. . .] beauty in accordance with the rhythm which is close to that of biological life in human affairs.

RS: Before we get into his organic concept of history let’s talk a little bit about his milieu, where he was coming from. I would like to talk about the milieu of his life in Germany at the first quarter, first half of the 20th century.

But before that I think it’s worthwhile going back a little bit to the 19th century and some of the philosophies of history which preceded Spengler’s, and I’m thinking, of course, of Hegel and Kant — probably the two biggest figures in that philosophical school. Maybe you could just mention what are some of the ways that Hegel, probably the most well-known, influenced Spengler. Obviously Hegel had a dialectical view of history which is certainly more complicated than “it’s getting better all the time” linear view, but nevertheless it was a progress view of history. He actually felt that history was coming to an end with the Prussian state and so on and so forth.

So, what do you think about, say, the influence of some of these great German idealist thinkers that came before Spengler and how that impacted his notion of the decline of the West?

JB: Yes, I think that they obviously affected him deeply, because they looked for systematic answers unlike the neo-Kantian school that said there is no time for history and that all attempts to find a time in history are artistic and subjective and therefore historically worthless.

It’s important to realize that for a proportion of critics Spengler’s view is not just anathema, but it’s been fundamentally mysterious, because quite a few philosophical schools believe, whether it’s on the Left with Toynbee or it’s on the Right with Spengler, that it’s utterly pointless to have attempts at historical analysis which are non-linear and which seek for an answer to the conundrum of history, that seeks to elucidate the Sphinx and get it to answer questions about the nature of historical reality. They consider that there is no plan. There is nothing other than linear motion in the spasm of time and any attempt to find a historical plan other than the received wisdom of a work is fruitless. They would consider a work like The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbon to be perfect in its way because it takes the Roman Empire as its topic where you have an enormous unfolding vista of historical time, and you have the idea that you have many triumphs and many disasters, but the end is partly a projection of the beginning. So, you have almost a biography of a society.

That’s acceptable. What isn’t acceptable from this school of thinking, which is the current one in academic orthodoxy at the present time, is to try to find a key or philosophical agency to history, to interpret history, that history has a meaning in the way that Thomas Carlyle believed it had meaning in the 19th century. Spengler’s addicted to finding the meaning in history, which pulls him to the outside of several of the major historical schools to begin with. There’s also the fact that he was self-taught and was a sort of autodidact and a sort of terribly gifted dilettante, as someone not completely kindly once said. History is an area par excellence which only academics really believe they are entitled to write.

So, in two areas, academicism and the search for an ontology in history — the search for teleology, the belief that there is a prospective future which can be determined, as Marx believed in a different way, and mapped out — those lie outside of Spengler’s purview and yet make marginal his historical essay, his attempt at finding out the meaning of things in his two volume enormous work The Decline of the West published in 1918 and 1923.

So, he draws on the primary idealists like Hegel, but I don’t think there’s much comparison to be frank when you get to the work, because Hegel believes that history will reach its fulcrum and its termination in the idealistic presentation of the Prussian state in history — a sort of being in history — whereas for Spengler the Prussian state, although he wanted Germany and the Germany of his time to dominate Europe, was just a part of the West and a part of the cycle of the West that would be doomed to decline as all of the great civilizations — the Arab, the Eastern Chinese, the Medieval — were doomed to decline in their way.

ossp750480.jpgRS: Before we talk a little bit more about Germany in his time, actually, I think it would be good to lay out some of the basic terms of Spengler’s history. He talked about a series of great or high cultures and these included the Magian culture, which I guess is the Semitic culture, and the Apollonian of Classical culture, and then Western-American culture, which he described as quintessentially Faustian in nature.

So, Jonathan, maybe you could elucidate some of these big ideas for our listeners so they could have an idea of his organic historical sense, just in particular with those three massive cultures. And again, we’re not talking about epochs, because he’s getting away from a sense of time and he’s putting it in terms of a culture and a people, a civilization. So, maybe you could explain those basic concepts and then also just delineate for our listeners what he means by the Magian, Apollonian, and then finally the Faustian culture, which he felt was coming to a close.

JB: Yes. He felt cultures were self-enclosed and were organic and were not time-concentric. He thought they have a period or expanse of time associated with them.

He sees the Middle Eastern culture as essentially magical and somewhat sterile and introverted and flat and a culture of the desert.

He sees Greek culture as proportioned and massive in its architectural and classical relief. He sees it as less dynamic than the Western culture, more staid, more fixed, and had a tendency towards a preternatural order and the specificity of same.

The Western culture, which he is most keen on, he sees as a partly diabolical culture. He sees it as Faustian. He sees it as a mismatch and matching of things that don’t coherently go together in other cultures. He sees it as a culture of advanced restlessness and absence of an inner sense of ease and with an extraordinary desire for self-transcendence, which is a desire to change everything again and again and again to make it new and make it work and make the Western culture the most dynamically aggressive culture on Earth.

RS: So, is he talking about a mindset with this — I hesitate to use this term but — a collective consciousness, so to speak, amongst the people that is expressed most fully in some of the great people of the civilization? Is that a good way to describe what he’s talking about?

JB: Yes, it’s a sort of civilizational construct of culture permeated through an elite as articulated through and by the masses within a particular civics over time. It’s racially-based to an extent, but only partly so, because his positions are sublimated racialisms whereby, although the Semitic mostly goes with the Magian and the Eastern Mediterranean largely goes with the Apollonian, and the Western is made up of most of Europe and ex-Europe in the New World and the far reaches of the world associated with Western imperial conquests and settlements, North America in particular, the notion that they are purely racial is not one that he accedes to.

He has a Nietzschean concept of race which is that race is important, because breeding is the basis of everything, but it’s too rudimentary for reasons of analysis. For analysis, you have to look at the culture and the civics which are created by specific races and intermingled variants of races over time, and pure biology is not enough to describe man’s ascent, if indeed it has been an ascent rather than a withering to death of prior acknowledged cultures of whatever beauty.

So, Spengler’s always an unhappy bedfellow for various people, because he never fits in with people’s preconditions and prior suppositions. There will always be a tension even with the racialist Right with Spengler as there is with the Left over his pessimistic and non-materialist views of history, his intuitionism, his opening to the subjective elements in culture, his belief in the wintering of the soul of a culture and its partial decline over time, his obsession with the coming up to decadence. All of these would not render him attractive to a Left-wing mind at all. But, at the same time, the liberal progressive sees little in him, the man of the center, because he’s too morbid, too mordant, and pessimistic, too professorial, and too linked to a prior theory which cuts against their ingrained optimism, including the idea, as you said at the beginning of this clip, that “things are getting better and better.”

RS: Jonathan, why don’t you tell us a little bit about this organic story of Western or Faustian culture and its origins after the collapse of the Roman Empire and then how he felt that it was declining and ending in his own lifetime? Maybe you could just give us some outlines of Faustian culture’s birth and flowering and then decline. What was he talking about? Obviously, in order to talk about these things you have to paint in really broad strokes, but I think that’s good, particularly with a podcast like this. So, give our listeners a sense of this organic story of Faustian culture.

JB: With the collapse of the Roman Empire I think he thinks that the classical world comes to an end and the medieval world as such begins. The medieval world is a static and closed civilization which is a magical one based upon totem and taboo and based upon a stiff and regulated cosmology that is only unsettled by the return of classical wisdom in what becomes the proto-Renaissance and then the Renaissance.

The Renaissance inflamed the entire civilization mentally and culturally and sends an enormous coursing torrent of energy through it which leads to an unmapping and an unfolding of new visions and new vistas. Whereby, we see the Middle Ages replaced by a post-Medieval Europe that looks back on the classical period but based upon the stolidity and solidity and the transcendental Magianship of the Middle Ages. It’s the Renaissance and the scientific methodology that gives rise to it, which is a return to a particular intellectual inheritance of the Greeks that gives man this diabolical pact element in the Western cosmos. This is the idea that Faust literally would sell his soul to Mephistopheles for knowledge. He would sell his soul for power over given things, for the power of magic almost in the interpretation of physical reality and the ability to hold sway over the physical world with which the sciences are concerned.

Western man begins a transmutation of everything in life, of every science, of every art, of all forms of economic dealing, all forms of culture and civilizational intent. Recalibrated and cast anew through this prism of Faustian fire, and this enables the West to set out as the Athenians had once done in a restricted Grecian compass to conquer much of the known world and to subdue it to their own restless tasking and desire for self-overbecoming at every possible instance. So, the West is seen as in some ways as a culture of the superman, in Nietzschean terms, reaching out across the world, reshaping other cultures and interacting with them in often destructively creative ways to release more energy, to enhance more transcendence, to enhance more creativity, to lead to more Faustian pacts and bargains, and then to become even more enraptured of its own colossal strength and vigor by importing even more energy through even greater and deeper and more resonating Faustian pacts until the thing teeters on the brink of absurdity to a degree, because the West becomes so enamored of its own mettle that it can’t see that it’s beginning, like all cultures, to engage upon ineffable decline.

RS: What creates the decline? What leads to decadence? What turns continual self-overcoming into decadence?

JB: Probably repetition and probably the fact that he believes that everything is pre-programmed like a computer chip to decay over time. You can only go to the well so often. Probably the spread of democratic, liberal humanist, and materialist ideas and the disjunction between the Enlightenment and the Renaissance.

The Renaissance is seen by most Enlightenment thinkers as a precursor of the Enlightenment, but he doubtless sees the Enlightenment as a giving way of the Faustian bargain to decadence to untrammeled ideas about the will of the majority which the people who put them forward, he believes, must know are absurd because the majority of men could never decide any question of any importance amongst themselves. That women would be given the vote and would be allowed into the function hall of the male. The liberal humanism that would increasingly refuse to distinguish between patterns of being and hierarchies in nature as they express themselves in society.

So, really, it’s the Enlightenment and its definition of the West, which is necessary, because in my reading of his codex of history the decline is necessary and therefore is inborn and the forces which are there, rather like illness and death in the individual, are there to permit change in the rule in the future and the ending of a cycle which is natural as it is in the biological world. So, he doesn’t see decadence as a disaster. He sees it as a necessity.

RS: So, are we still living in an enlightened age in a way that that was the turning point, and we’re kind of the last dregs of the Enlightenment?

JB: You could interpret it in that way, although at the end of The Decline of the West, of course, in the second volume, he preaches a new caesarism, that there may be a democratic caesarism, which of course came to be true throughout the latter third of the first quadrant of the 20th century.

His view that democratic niceties would be replaced by a much more Machiavellian and realistic politics, a politics of ruthless Realpolitik associated, even though he never advocated it, with Fascism. Although some of his political sayings are close to that of a fascistic or faschistoid conservative. That’s why, again, he falls between two camps. He’s not fascistic enough for those people who are enamored of those governments, movements, and regimes at a particular time, but nor is he conservative enough not to be associated with them at least through the glamor of nostalgia. So, he’s too quasi-fascistic for many conservatives, particularly now, but he’s also too conservative for thoroughgoing fascistic types. And that was his attitude, of course, to one of the most notorious governments in the Western world which he lived through the early stages of in the 1930s in his own country.

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RS: Right. Actually, we talked about that and the Nazi regime banned his book, The Hour of Decision, which, again, I’m sure in the most of the modern mind they would probably just lump someone like Spengler on in there with Hitler as evil Right-wingers, but obviously that’s certainly not the way they saw it at the time.

Let’s put a little more pressure on this, because this is an interesting issue of Spengler’s life in an age which could even be described as “democratic caesarism.” That is, one based on populism, on popular sovereignty, but then one that is harsh and brutal in many ways, enamored with Realpolitik and so on and so forth. I think it’s a very interesting topic of Spengler’s own life.

JB: Yes, there’s always been a liberal qualm here as to why he didn’t support the Nazi regime. He did vote for Hitler against Hindenburg in the presidential election, which of course Hitler lost. Hindenburg retained the presidency until he died in office, and then it was after the Gleichschaltung it was just rolled up and it became one of Hitler’s many offices as he became supreme leader of all elements of the state and the offices of the president and chancellor were amalgamated into that of the Leader figure.

He also put a swastika outside his lodging windows to annoy the neighbors with his sister, saying that if he unfurled it one should always be prepared to pay the price for annoying people.

But, at the same time, he thought of them as irretrievably vulgar and without high culture, very much Ernst Jünger’s snobbish intellectual attitude towards them. He wasn’t so much bothered about the social origins of many of them, which is what convulsed the German old Right with which Spengler would have been more comfortable, but he was concerned about their cultural ignorance, as far as he was concerned, and the greatness and glory of what it was to be German seen in cultural terms.

In some ways, he’s too spare and too stark and too elitist a figure. For him, just to make mouthwatering speeches about Germany and German identity entirely begins it, what you mean by Germany, what you mean by German cultural identity, unless you’re highly educated, civilized, and knowledgeable about what it means to be German, or to be European in extenso, these political remarks are slightly meaningless.

His one intervention into politics, when he was attempting to get the power for a German on Ludendorff’s general staff during the First World War, General von Schacht I think, didn’t really go anywhere, because his view of practical politics as a man of the study was rather probably overly conspiratorial and sort of overly rarefied. Like a lot of academic intellectuals, he wouldn’t make a good politician.

But, at the same time, although he despised the Weimar Republic and regarded it as an unnecessary appendage, he looked at the glory of the German Empire which had preceded it. He was actually not particularly enamored of the Germans, partly because he believed they were too hostile to other European peoples, and he believed that the coming battles were civilizational and there should be alliances with other European nation-states against the hordes of Asia and Africa and the Far East who would be the real enemies in the future.

RS: So, he had an almost Nietzschean “Good European” sense or one that was almost similar to maybe even Lothrop Stoddard and some of the other people in that general time period.

JB: That’s right. To a Leftist’s mind, he’s almost as Right-wing as Hitler, but he doesn’t agree with his views, just as there are an enormous number of Left-wing intellectuals who, of course, didn’t agree with Stalin. So, there’s a degree to which he also didn’t entirely agree with the aggressive technological features in the Third Reich, which was Romantic and realist and agrarian at one level and yet embraced motorways and rockets and high technology at another, because he believed that technology had become a part of the enslavement of modern man. Very much prefiguring Heidegger’s thinking in this regard.

Also, of course, he didn’t share the anti-Semitism either, particularly. While in no sense being philo-Semitic, like Nietzsche, he didn’t share the crude Jew-baiting, beer hall attitudes that swirled around the German Right. It’s not civilizationally part of the way he perceived reality, because he didn’t view the world conspiratorially or metaphysically conspiratorially. He viewed the world in terms of these great overarching abstractions of cultural civilizations of which Germany was only a part.

He also was a pessimist and didn’t share the extreme and rather myopic optimism of that regime that was very shrill, particularly on its own behalf.

ossp15177784.jpgRS: So, Jonathan, what kind of ideas did Spengler have for the future and did he see the rise of a new civilization?

This past weekend I attended the American Renaissance conference, and Dr. Richard Lynn was there and he gave a very enjoyable and informative talk about eugenics, actually, but he ended by talking about the world of the 21st and probably 22nd, maybe 23rd century being that of the East and China in particular.

Did Spengler talk about any of this? Or did he believe that a new civilization would arise, that an Oriental civilization might have a new rebirth? Did he talk about this? Maybe you could even speculate on it yourself.

JB: Yes, he didn’t really speak of it. He sounded the death knell of an ever present West that was exhausted at the end of the Great War. His thesis was misunderstood and tens of thousands of copies that made him from a sort of penniless, living in genteel poverty intellectual into a sort of major cultural figure throughout Germany and the West, was based on a misnomer.

The mass of the cultured people, of course we’re talking in terms of hundreds of thousands and not the millions, who bought his enormous book and some of the others, which made him moderately wealthy as a consequence and able to live independently, they interpreted the book as an explanation for Germany’s defeat in the First World War, and because it put it into world-historical and cosmological terms it exonerated Germany from its personal defeat. It also seemed scholarly and well-wrought and was not propagandistic. It was not the “stab in the back” mythology. It was not the fact that they’d been let down by forces at home, nor was it the normative liberal view that they’d just run out of men, run out of material, run out of resources and been defeated in that way.

So, people stuck to his book really on the misnomer, because what he was saying was that Germany’s defeat was part of a pattern of defeats that were going on within the civilization at a particular time.

He posited the idea that these defeats could be arrested for a time by democratic caesarism and various forms of populism for which he had a distaste actually, but which he believed to be necessary at this time in the cycle. In Man and Technics, for example, there’s a quite ruthless extolling of the virtues of some of these sorts of regimes up to a point. But he never thought that they were the be all and end all for culture. So, his belief was that the West would continue to decline throughout the 20th century. One of Spengler’s offshoots, of course, is the doctrine of the “clash of civilizations,” which was made famous by that book, The Clash of Civilizations.

RS: Right. By Samuel Huntington.

JB: Yes, written about what? Fifteen years ago now?

RS: Or so, yeah.

JB: Now, that’s a Spenglerian thesis, which he may not like to admit to be influenced by Spengler, some people don’t choose to. You have all sorts of people like the Beats on the Left, or metacultural Left — let’s put it that way — like Burroughs and Ginsberg and Kerouac, who openly admitted being strongly influenced by Spengler, but other people are very reluctant to even admit the fact that he’s come anywhere hear them and their thinking at all.

Nevertheless, the idea that other civilizations will rise, particularly in the Far East, and will challenge the West’s hegemony later in the last century — don’t forget he died in 1936 — is indisputable from the nature of his work, but he doesn’t go on to specify it very much. The second volume of The Decline of the West basically closes on the turnaround of democratic caesarism and the fact that the West is, nevertheless, going into an autumnal and wintry stage and leaves it at that.

But lots of people, of course, take up the mantle. Yockey’s views are strongly Spenglerian even though he fills in Spengler’s work by essentially giving it a National Socialist register. In some ways, Yockey is a Nazified Spengler, because Spengler was never a whole-hogger as far as they were concerned and actually had a different viewpoint. That’s why Yockey’s book tends to be two books in one. Eighty percent of it is a Spenglerian exercise and then at the end there’s the 20% where he basically adopts a Fourth Reich/Third Reich viewpoint, which is his own grafting onto the Spenglerian architecture of a sort of neo-National Socialist Proclamation of London opinion or editorial.

RS: One question that was coming to my mind was we are witnessing, experiencing the winter of Faustian Western culture. Do you think that if there were a rebirth amongst European peoples that it would be something different than Faustian culture? Would it be a kind of revival of the West as we’ve known it, or would there actually be a different paradigm that would be adopted by European peoples?

JB: Well, that’s very broad. I, personally, think that if there is to be a revival it would probably have to be more Classical than anything else and has to be a sort of classicism and has to be a return to the verities of the Greco-Roman world as at least a cultural basis and a starting point for thinking, because that provides you with a pre-Christian as well as a post-Christian dynamic. It’s rational. All of Western high culture had the Hellenic stamp upon it filtered through Rome and the Holy Roman Empire, Christianized and Germanicized, that came after it. And in some ways it’s a common appeal to the inner tensions in Western man that can be resolved classically. So, that’s the inner reason for GRECE, de Benoist’s outfit, calling itself the Group for Research and Study of European Civilization and culture. They want to go back to Greece with modern technology and with the hallmark of a new West and they want a new Right rather than an old Right to carry that project forward even though there are at least five currents of the New Right now separated even from de Benoist.

RS: Right. That’s certainly true. Well, Jonathan, this has been a fascinating discussion and I’m just going to put a bookmark in it because I think we could return to Spengler later on. As with so many of our podcasts, we only scratch the surface on these ideas and — I’m sure I speak for a lot of the listeners — I’m waiting for more. So, we should do it again. Thanks for being on the show again and speaking to us about Spengler, and we’ll talk to you soon.

JB: Thanks very much! All the best.Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

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dimanche, 07 février 2016

Spiritual Roots of Russo-American Conflict

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Spiritual Roots of Russo-American Conflict

Whatever Russia is called outwardly, there is an inner eternal Russia whose embryonic character places her on an antithetical course to that of the USA.

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The rivalry between the USA and Russia is something more than geopolitics or economics. These are reflections of antithetical worldviews of a spiritual character. The German conservative historian-philosopher Oswald Spengler, who wrote of the morphology of cultures as having organic life-cycles, in his epochal book The Decline of The West had much to say about Russia that is too easily mistaken as being of a Russophobic nature. That is not the case, and Spengler wrote of Russia in similar terms to that of the ‘Slavophils’. Spengler, Dostoyevski, Berdyaev, and Solzhenistyn have much of relevance to say in analyzing the conflict between the USA and Russia. Considering the differences as fundamentally ‘spiritual’ explains why this conflict will continue and why the optimism among Western political circles at the prospect of a compliant Russia, fully integrated into the ‘world community’, was so short-lived.

Of the religious character of this confrontation, an American analyst, Paul Coyer, has written:

Amidst the geopolitical confrontation between Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the US and its allies, little attention has been paid to the role played by religion either as a shaper of Russian domestic politics or as a means of understanding Putin’s international actions. The role of religion has long tended to get short thrift in the study of statecraft (although it has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance of late), yet nowhere has it played a more prominent role—and perhaps nowhere has its importance been more unrecognized—than in its role in supporting the Russian state and Russia’s current place in world affairs.[1]

spengmermmmm.jpgRussia’s ‘Soul’

Spengler regarded Russians as formed by the vastness of the land-plain, as innately antagonistic to the Machine, as rooted in the soil, irrepressibly peasant, religious, and ‘primitive’. Without a wider understanding of Spengler’s philosophy, it appears that he was a Slavophobe. However, when Spengler wrote of these Russian characteristics, he was referring to the Russians as a still youthful people in contrast to the senile West. Hence the ‘primitive’ Russian is not synonymous with ‘primitivity’ as popularly understood at that time in regard to ‘primitive’ tribal peoples. Nor was it to be confounded with the Hitlerite perception of the ‘primitive Slav’ incapable of building his own State.

To Spengler, the ‘primitive peasant’ is the wellspring from which a people draws its healthiest elements during its epochs of cultural vigor. Agriculture is the foundation of a High Culture, enabling stable communities to diversify labor into specialization from which Civilization proceeds.

However, according to Spengler, each people has its own soul, a conception derived from the German Idealism of Herder, Fichte et al. A High Culture reflects that soul, whether in its mathematics, music, architecture; both in the arts and the physical sciences. The Russian soul is not the same as the Western Faustian, as Spengler called it, the ‘Magian’ of the Arabian civilization, or the Classical of the Hellenes and Romans. The Western Culture that was imposed on Russia by Peter the Great, what Spengler called Petrinism, is a veneer.

Spengler stated that the Russian soul is ‘the plain without limit’.[2] The Russian soul expresses its own type of infinity, albeit not that of the Westerner’s Faustian soul, which becomes enslaved by its own technics at the end of its life-cycle.[3] (Although it could be argued that Sovietism enslaved man to machine, a Spenglerian would cite this as an example of Petrinism). However, Civilizations follow their life’s course, and one cannot see Spengler’s descriptions as moral judgements but as observations. The finale for Western Civilization according to Spengler cannot be to create further great forms of art and music, which belong to the youthful or ‘spring’ epoch of a civilization, but to dominate the world under a technocratic-military dispensation, before declining into oblivion like prior world civilizations. While Spengler saw this as the fulfilment of the Western Civilization, the form it has assumed since World War II has been under U.S. dispensation and is quite different from what might have been assumed under European imperialism.

It is after this Western decline—which now means U.S. decline—that Spengler alluded to the next world civilization being Russian.

According to Spengler, Russian Orthodox architecture does not represent the infinity towards space that is symbolized by the Western high culture’s Gothic Cathedral spire, nor the enclosed space of the Mosque of the Magian Culture,[4] but the impression of sitting upon a horizon. Spengler considered that this Russian architecture is ‘not yet a style, only the promise of a style that will awaken when the real Russian religion awakens’.[5] Spengler was writing of the Russian culture as an outsider, and by his own reckoning must have realized the limitations of that. It is therefore useful to compare his thoughts on Russia with those of Russians of note.

Nikolai Berdyaev in The Russian Idea affirms what Spengler describes:

There is that in the Russian soul which corresponds to the immensity, the vagueness, the infinitude of the Russian land, spiritual geography corresponds with physical. In the Russian soul there is a sort of immensity, a vagueness, a predilection for the infinite, such as is suggested by the great plain of Russia.[6]

The connections between family, nation, birth, unity and motherland are reflected in the Russian language:

род [rod]: family, kind, sort, genus

родина [ródina]: homeland, motherland

родители [rodíteli]: parents

родить [rodít’]: to give birth

роднить [rodnít’]: to unite, bring together

родовой [rodovói]: ancestral, tribal

родство [rodstvó]: kinship

Western-liberalism, rationalism, even the most strenuous efforts of Bolshevik dialectal materialism, have so far not been able to permanently destroy, but at most repress, these conceptions—conscious or unconscious—of what it is to be ‘Russian’. Spengler, as will be seen, even during the early period of Russian Bolshevism, already predicted that even this would take on a different, even antithetical form, to the Petrine import of Marxism. It was soon that the USSR was again paying homage to Holy Mother Russia rather than the international proletariat, much to Trotsky’s lament.

rusoc677099.jpg‘Russian Socialism’, Not Marxism

Of the Russian soul, the ego/vanity of the Western culture-man is missing; the persona seeks impersonal growth in service, ‘in the brother-world of the plain’. Orthodox Christianity condemns the ‘I’ as ‘sin’.[7]

The Russian concept of ‘we’ rather than ‘I’, and of impersonal service to the expanse of one’s land, implies another form socialism to that of Marxism. It is perhaps in this sense that Stalinism proceeded along lines often antithetical to the Bolshevism envisaged by Trotsky, et al.[8] A recent comment by an American visitor to Russia, Barbara J. Brothers, as part of a scientific delegation, states something akin to Spengler’s observation:

The Russians have a sense of connectedness to themselves and to other human beings that is just not a part of American reality. It isn’t that competitiveness does not exist; it is just that there always seems to be more consideration and respect for others in any given situation.[9]

Of the Russian traditional ethos, intrinsically antithetical to Western individualism, including that of property relations, Berdyaev wrote:

Of all peoples in the world the Russians have the community spirit; in the highest degree the Russian way of life and Russian manners, are of that kind. Russian hospitality is an indication of this sense of community.[10]

Taras Bulba

Russian National Literature starting from the 1840s began to consciously express the Russian soul. Firstly Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol’s Taras Bulba, which along with the poetry of Pushkin, founded a Russian literary tradition; that is to say, truly Russian, and distinct from the previous literature based on German, French, and English. John Cournos states of this in his introduction to Taras Bulba:

The spoken word, born of the people, gave soul and wing to literature; only by coming to earth, the native earth, was it enabled to soar. Coming up from Little Russia, the Ukraine, with Cossack blood in his veins, Gogol injected his own healthy virus into an effete body, blew his own virile spirit, the spirit of his race, into its nostrils, and gave the Russian novel its direction to this very day.

Taras Bulba is a tale on the formation of the Cossack folk. In this folk-formation the outer enemy plays a crucial role. The Russian has been formed largely as the result of battling over centuries with Tartars, Muslims and Mongols.[11]

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Their society and nationality were defined by religiosity, as was the West’s by Gothic Christianity during its ‘Spring’ epoch, in Spenglerian terms. The newcomer to a Setch, or permanent village, was greeted by the Chief as a Christian and as a warrior: ‘Welcome! Do you believe in Christ?’ —‘I do’, replied the new-comer. ‘And do you believe in the Holy Trinity?’— ‘I do’.—‘And do you go to church?’—‘I do.’ ‘Now cross yourself’.[12]

Gogol depicts the scorn in which trade is held, and when commerce has entered among Russians, rather than being confined to non-Russians associated with trade, it is regarded as a symptom of decadence:

I know that baseness has now made its way into our land. Men care only to have their ricks of grain and hay, and their droves of horses, and that their mead may be safe in their cellars; they adopt, the devil only knows what Mussulman customs. They speak scornfully with their tongues. They care not to speak their real thoughts with their own countrymen. They sell their own things to their own comrades, like soulless creatures in the market-place…. . Let them know what brotherhood means on Russian soil![13]

Here we might see a Russian socialism that is, so far from being the dialectical materialism offered by Marx, the mystic we-feeling forged by the vastness of the plains and the imperative for brotherhood above economics, imposed by that landscape. Russia’s feeling of world-mission has its own form of messianism whether expressed through Christian Orthodoxy or the non-Marxian form of ‘world revolution’ under Stalin, or both in combination, as suggested by the later rapport between Stalinism and the Church from 1943 with the creation of the Council for Russian Orthodox Church Affairs.[14] In both senses, and even in the embryonic forms taking place under Putin, Russia is conscious of a world-mission, expressed today as Russia’s role in forging a multipolar world, with Russia as being pivotal in resisting unipolarism.

Commerce is the concern of foreigners, and the intrusions bring with them the corruption of the Russian soul and culture in general: in speech, social interaction, servility, undermining Russian ‘brotherhood’, the Russian ‘we’ feeling that Spengler described.[15]

The Cossack brotherhood is portrayed by Gogol as the formative process in the building up of the Russian people. This process is not one of biology but of spirit, even transcending the family bond. Spengler treated the matter of race as that of soul rather than of zoology.[16] To Spengler, landscape was crucial in determining what becomes ‘race’, and the duration of families grouped in a particular landscape—including nomads who have a defined range of wandering—form ‘a character of duration’, which was Spengler’s definition of ‘race’.[17] Gogol describes this ‘race’ forming process among the Russians. So far from being an aggressive race nationalism it is an expanding mystic brotherhood under God:

The father loves his children, the mother loves her children, the children love their father and mother; but this is not like that, brothers. The wild beast also loves its young. But a man can be related only by similarity of mind and not of blood. There have been brotherhoods in other lands, but never any such brotherhoods as on our Russian soil.[18]

The Russian soul is born in suffering. The Russian accepts the fate of life in service to God and to his Motherland. Russia and Faith are inseparable. When the elderly warrior Bovdug is mortally struck by a Turkish bullet, his final words are exhortations on the nobility of suffering, after which his spirit soars to join his ancestors.[19] The mystique of death and suffering for the Motherland is described in the death of Tarus Bulba when he is captured and executed, his final words being ones of resurrection:

‘Wait, the time will come when ye shall learn what the orthodox Russian faith is! Already the people scent it far and near. A czar shall arise from Russian soil, and there shall not be a power in the world which shall not submit to him!’[20]

Petrinism

A dichotomy has existed for centuries, starting with Peter the Great, of attempts to impose a Western veneer over Russia. This is called Petrinism. The resistance of those attempts is what Spengler called ‘Old Russia’.[21] Berdyaev wrote: ‘Russia is a complete section of the world, a colossal East-West. It unites two worlds, and within the Russian soul two principles are always engaged in strife—the Eastern and the Western’.[22]

With the orientation of Russian policy towards the West, ‘Old Russia’ was ‘forced into a false and artificial history’.[23] Spengler wrote that Russia had become dominated by Late Western culture:

Late-period arts and sciences, enlightenment, social ethics, the materialism of world-cities, were introduced, although in this pre-cultural time religion was the only language in which man understood himself and the world.[24]

Pierre_le_grand_1305833229.jpg‘The first condition of emancipation for the Russian soul’, wrote Ivan Sergyeyevich Aksakov, founder of the anti-Petrinist ‘Slavophil’ group, in 1863 to Dostoyevski, ‘is that it should hate Petersburg with all this might and all its soul’. Moscow is holy, Petersburg satanic. A widespread popular legend presents Peter the Great as Antichrist.

The hatred of the ‘West’ and of ‘Europe’ is the hatred for a Civilization that had already reached an advanced state of decay into materialism and sought to impose its primacy by cultural subversion rather than by combat, with its City-based and money-based outlook, ‘poisoning the unborn culture in the womb of the land’.[25] Russia was still a land where there were no bourgeoisie and no true class system, but only lord and peasant, a view confirmed by Berdyaev, writing: ‘The various lines of social demarcation did not exist in Russia; there were no pronounced classes. Russia was never an aristocratic country in the Western sense, and equally there was no bourgeoisie’.[26]

The cities that emerged threw up an intelligentsia, copying the intelligentsia of Late Westerndom, ‘bent on discovering problems and conflicts, and below, an uprooted peasantry, with all the metaphysical gloom, anxiety, and misery of their own Dostoyevski, perpetually homesick for the open land and bitterly hating the stony grey world into which the Antichrist had tempted them. Moscow had no proper soul’.[27] Berdyaev likewise states of the Petrinism of the upper class that ‘Russian history was a struggle between East and West within the Russian soul’.[28]

Berdyaev2.jpgKatechon

Berdyaev states that while Petrinism introduced an epoch of cultural dynamism, it also placed a heavy burden upon Russia, and a disunity of spirit.[29] However, Russia has her own religious sense of mission, which is as universal as the Vatican’s. Spengler quotes Dostoyevski as writing in 1878: ‘all men must become Russian, first and foremost Russian. If general humanity is the Russian ideal, then everyone must first of all become a Russian’.[30] The Russian messianic idea found a forceful expression in Dostoyevski’s The Possessed, where, in a conversation with Stavrogin, Shatov states:

Reduce God to the attribute of nationality? … On the contrary, I elevate the nation to God…. The people is the body of God. Every nation is a nation only so long as it has its own particular God, excluding all other gods on earth without any possible reconciliation, so long as it believes that by its own God it will conquer and drive all other gods off the face of the earth…. The sole ‘God bearing’ nation is the Russian nation….[31]

This is Russia as the Katechon, as the ‘nation’ whose world-historical mission is to resist the son of perdition, a literal Anti-Christ, according to the Revelation of St. John, or as the birthplace of a great Czar serving the traditional role of nexus between the terrestrial and the divine around which Russia is united in this mission. This mission as the Katechon defines Russia as something more than merely an ethno-nation-state, as Dostoyevski expressed it.[32] Even the USSR, supposedly purged of all such notions, merely re-expressed them with Marxist rhetoric, which was no less apocalyptic and messianic, and which saw the ‘decadent West’ in terms analogous to elements of Islam regarding the USA as the ‘Great Satan’. It is not surprising that the pundits of secularized, liberal Western academia, politics, and media could not understand, and indeed were outraged, when Solzhenitsyn seemed so ungrateful when in his Western exile he unequivocally condemned the liberalism and materialism of the a ‘decadent West’. A figure who was for so long held up as a martyr by Western liberalism transpired to be a traditional Russian and not someone who was willing to remake himself in the image of a Western liberal to for the sake of continued plaudits. He attacked the modern West’s conceptions of ‘rights’, ‘freedom’, ‘happiness’, ‘wealth’, the irresponsibility of the ‘free press’, ‘television stupor’, and referred to a ‘Western decline’ in courage. He emphasized that this was a spiritual matter:

But should I be asked, instead, whether I would propose the West, such as it is today, as a model to my country, I would frankly have to answer negatively. No, I could not recommend your society as an ideal for the transformation of ours. Through deep suffering, people in our own country have now achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive. Even those characteristics of your life which I have just enumerated are extremely saddening.[33]

These are all matters that have been addressed by Spengler, and by traditional Russians, whether calling themselves Czarists Orthodox Christians or even ‘Bolsheviks’ or followers of Putin.

Spengler’s thesis that Western Civilization is in decay is analogous to the more mystical evaluations of the West by the Slavophils, both reaching similar conclusions. Solzhenitsyn was in that tradition, and Putin is influenced by it in his condemnation of Western liberalism. Putin recently pointed out the differences between the West and Russia as at root being ‘moral’ and religious:

Another serious challenge to Russia’s identity is linked to events taking place in the world. Here there are both foreign policy and moral aspects. We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual.[34]

Spengler saw Russia as outside of Europe, and even as ‘Asian’. He even saw a Western rebirth vis-à-vis opposition to Russia, which he regarded as leading the ‘colored world’ against the whites, under the mantle of Bolshevism. Yet there were also other destinies that Spengler saw over the horizon, which had been predicted by Dostoyevski.

Once Russia had overthrown its alien intrusions, it could look with another perspective upon the world, and reconsider Europe not with hatred and vengeance but in kinship. Spengler wrote that while Tolstoi, the Petrinist, whose doctrine was the precursor of Bolshevism, was ‘the former Russia’, Dostoyevski was ‘the coming Russia’. Dostoyevski as the representative of the ‘coming Russia’ ‘does not know’ the hatred of Russia for the West. Dostoyevski and the old Russia are transcendent. ‘His passionate power of living is comprehensive enough to embrace all things Western as well’. Spengler quotes Dostoyevski: ‘I have two fatherlands, Russia and Europe’. Dostoyevski as the harbinger of a Russian high culture ‘has passed beyond both Petrinism and revolution, and from his future he looks back over them as from afar. His soul is apocalyptic, yearning, desperate, but of this future he is certain’.[35]

To the ‘Slavophil’, Europe is precious. The Slavophil appreciates the richness of European high culture while realizing that Europe is in a state of decay. We might recall that while the USA—through the CIA front, the Congress for Cultural Freedom—promoted Abstract Expressionism and Jazz to Europe (like it now promotes Hi-Hop, which the State Department calls ‘Hip-Hop diplomacy’), the USSR condemned this as ‘rootless cosmopolitanism’. Berdyaev discussed what he regarded as an inconsistency in Dostoyevski and the Slavophils towards Europe, yet one that is comprehensible when we consider Spengler’s crucial differentiation between Culture and Civilisation:

Dostoyevsky calls himself a Slavophil. He thought, as did also a large number of thinkers on the theme of Russia and Europe, that he knew decay was setting in, but that a great past exists in her, and that she has made contributions of great value to the history of mankind.[36]

It is notable that while this differentiation between Kultur and Zivilisation is ascribed to a particularly German philosophical tradition, Berdyaev comments that it was present among the Russians ‘long before Spengler’:

It is to be noted that long before Spengler, the Russians drew the distinction between ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’, that they attacked ‘civilization’ even when they remained supporters of ‘culture’. This distinction in actual fact, although expressed in a different phraseology, was to be found among the Slavophils.[37]

dostoTTTT.jpgDostoyevski was indifferent to the Late West, while Tolstoi was a product of it, the Russian Rousseau. Imbued with ideas from the Late West, the Marxists sought to replace one Petrine ruling class with another. Neither represented the soul of Russia. Spengler stated: ‘The real Russian is the disciple of Dostoyevski, even though he might not have read Dostoyevski, or anyone else, nay, perhaps because he cannot read, he is himself Dostoyevski in substance’. The intelligentsia hates, the peasant does not. He would eventually overthrow Bolshevism and any other form of Petrinism. Here we see Spengler unequivocally stating that the post-Western civilisation will be Russian.

For what this townless people yearns for is its own life-form, its own religion, its own history. Tolstoi’s Christianity was a misunderstanding. He spoke of Christ and he meant Marx. But to Dostoyevski’s Christianity, the next thousand years will belong.[38]

To the true Russia, as Dostoyevski stated it, ‘not a single nation has ever been founded on principles of science or reason’.[39]

By the time Spengler’s final book, The Hour of Decision, had been published in 1934 he was stating that Russia had overthrown Petrinism and the trappings of the Late West. While he called the new orientation of Russia ‘Asian’, he said that it was ‘a new Idea, and an idea with a future too’.[40] To clarify, Russia looks towards the ‘East’, but while the Westerner assumes that ‘Asia’ and East are synonymous with Mongol, the etymology of the word ‘Asia’ comes from Greek Aσία, ca. 440 BC, referring to all regions east of Greece.[41] During his time Spengler saw in Russia that,

Race, language, popular customs, religion, in their present form… all or any of them can and will be fundamentally transformed. What we see today then is simply the new kind of life which a vast land has conceived and will presently bring forth. It is not definable in words, nor is its bearer aware of it. Those who attempt to define, establish, lay down a program, are confusing life with a phrase, as does the ruling Bolshevism, which is not sufficiently conscious of its own West-European, Rationalistic and cosmopolitan origin.[42]

Of Russia in 1934, Spengler already saw that ‘of genuine Marxism there is very little except in names and programs’. He doubted that the Communist program is ‘really still taken seriously’. He saw the possibility of the vestiges of Petrine Bolshevism being overthrown, to be replaced by a ‘nationalistic’ Eastern type which would reach ‘gigantic proportions unchecked’.[43] Spengler also referred to Russia as the country ‘least troubled by Bolshevism’,[44] and the ‘Marxian face [was] only worn for the benefit of the outside world’.[45] A decade after Spengler’s death the direction of Russia under Stalin had pursued clearer definitions, and Petrine Bolshevism had been transformed in the way Spengler foresaw.[46]

Conclusion

As in Spengler’s time, and centuries before, there continues to exist two tendencies in Russia : the Old Russian and the Petrine. Neither one nor the other spirit is presently dominant, although under Putin Old Russia struggles for resurgence. U.S. political circles see this Russia as a threat, and expend a great deal on promoting ‘regime change’ via the National Endowment for Democracy, and many others; these activities recently bringing reaction from the Putin government against such NGOs.[47]

Spengler in a published lecture to the Rheinish-Westphalian Business Convention in 1922 referred to the ‘ancient, instinctive, unclear, unconscious, and subliminal drive that is present in every Russian, no matter how thoroughly westernized his conscious life may be—a mystical yearning for the South, for Constantinople and Jerusalem, a genuine crusading spirit similar to the spirit our Gothic forebears had in their blood but which we can hardly appreciated today’.[48]

Bolshevism destroyed one form of Petrinism with another form, clearing the way ‘for a new culture that will some day arise between Europe and East Asia. It is more a beginning than an end’. The peasantry ‘will some day become conscious of its own will, which points in a wholly different direction’. ‘The peasantry is the true Russian people of the future. It will not allow itself to be perverted or suffocated’.[49]

The arch-Conservative anti-Marxist, Spengler, in keeping with the German tradition of realpolitik, considered the possibility of a Russo-German alliance in his 1922 speech, the Treaty of Rapallo being a reflection of that tradition. ‘A new type of leader’ would be awakened in adversity, to ‘new crusades and legendary conquests’. The rest of the world, filled with religious yearning but falling on infertile ground, is ‘torn and tired enough to allow it suddenly to take on a new character under the proper circumstances’. Spengler suggested that ‘perhaps Bolshevism itself will change in this way under new leaders’. ‘But the silent, deeper Russia,’ would turn its attention towards the Near and East Asia, as a people of ‘great inland expanses’.[50]

While Spengler postulated the organic cycles of a High Culture going through the life-phases of birth, youthful vigor, maturity, old age and death, it should be kept in mind that a life-cycle can be disrupted, aborted, murdered or struck by disease, at any time, and end without fulfilling itself. Each has its analogy in politics, and there are plenty of Russophobes eager to stunt Russia’s destiny with political, economic and cultural contagion. The Soviet bloc fell through inner and outer contagion.

Spengler foresaw new possibilities for Russia, yet to fulfil its historic mission, messianic and of world-scope, a traditional mission of which Putin seems conscious, or at least willing to play his part. Coyer cogently states: ‘The conflict between Russia and the West, therefore, is portrayed by both the Russian Orthodox Church and by Vladimir Putin and his cohorts as nothing less than a spiritual/civilizational conflict’.[51]

The invigoration of Orthodoxy is part of this process, as is the leadership style of Putin, as distinct from a Yeltsin for example. Whatever Russia is called outwardly, whether, monarchical, Bolshevik, or democratic, there is an inner—eternal—Russia that is unfolding, and whose embryonic character places her on an antithetical course to that of the USA.

References

[1] Paul Coyer, (Un)Holy Alliance: Vladimir Putin, The Russian Orthodox Church And Russian Exceptionalism, Forbes, May 21, 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulcoyer/2015/05/21/unholy-a...

[2] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of The West, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1971, Vol. I, 201.

[3] Ibid., Vol. II, 502.

[4] Ibid., Vol. I, 183-216.

[5] Ibid., 201

[6] Nikolai Berdyaev, The Russian Idea, Macmillan Co., New York, 1948, 1.

[7] Oswald Spengler, The Decline, op. cit., Vol. I, 309.

[8] Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed: what is the Soviet Union and where is it going?, 1936.

[9] Barbara J. Brothers, From Russia, With Soul, Psychology Today, January 1, 1993, https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199301/russia-soul

[10] Berdyaev, op. cit., 97-98.

[11] H Cournos,‘Introduction’, N V Gogol, Taras Bulba & Other Tales, 1842, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1197/1197-h/1197-h.htm

[12] N V Gogol, ibid., III.

[13] Ibid.

[14] T A Chumachenko, Church and State in Soviet Russia, M. E. Sharpe Inc., New York, 2002.

[15] Spengler, The Decline, op. cit., I, 309

[16] Ibid., II, 113-155.

[17] Ibid., Vol. II, 113

[18] Golgol, op. cit., IX.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid., XII.

[21] Spengler, The Decline, op. cit., II, 192.

[22] Berdyaev, op. cit., 1

[23] Spengler, The Decline, op. cit., II, 193

[24] Ibid., II, 193

[25] Ibid., II, 194

[26] Berdyaev, 1

[27] Spengler, The Decline, op. cit., II, 194

[28] Berdyaev, op. cit., 15

[29] Ibid.

[30] Spengler, The Hour of Decision, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1963, 63n.

[31] Fyodor Dostoevski, The Possessed, Oxford University Press, 1992, Part II: I: 7, 265-266.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Alexander Solzhenitsyn, A World Split Apart — Commencement Address Delivered At Harvard University, June 8, 1978

[34] V Putin, address to the Valdai Club, 19 September 2013.

[35] Spengler, The Decline, op. cit., II, 194

[36] Berdyaev, op. cit., 70

[37] Ibid.

[38] Spengler, The Decline, op. cit., Vol. II, 196

[39] Dostoyevski, op. cit., II: I: VII

[40] Spengler, The Hour of Decision, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1963, 60

[41] Ibid., 61

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid., 63.

[44] Ibid.,182

[45] Ibid., 212

[46] D Brandenberger, National Bolshevism: Stalinist culture and the Formation of Modern Russian National Identity 1931-1956. Harvard University Press, Massachusetts, 2002.

[47] Telegraph, Vladimir Putin signs new law against ‘undesirable NGOs’, May 24, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/1...

[48] Spengler, ‘The Two Faces of Russia and Germany’s Eastern Problems’, Politische Schriften, Munich, February 14, 1922.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Paul Coyer, op. cit.

Oswald Spengler e i segni premonitori del globalismo occidentale

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Oswald Spengler e i segni premonitori del globalismo occidentale

Vincenzo Bovino

Ex: http://www.ereticamente.net

“Senza una politica forte non c’è mai stata in alcun luogo, un’economia sana”
O. Spengler

L’idea di tramonto dell’Occidente fa pensare all’esaurimento delle energie vitali di una civiltà ma anche all’insorgere di altre: declino di un mondo e alba di un altro.

Oswald Spengler si è occupato del problema negli anni Venti, in piena euforia progressista, con una straordinaria capacità di anticipo sui tempi. Nelle sue pagine complesse e laboriose, si colgono i primi segni di quello che nei decenni successivi diventerà il progetto cosmopolita dell’Occidente.


Pessimista, Spengler ritiene fatale il declino e invita a tener duro rifiutando un atteggiamento passivo. Mentre altri vedevano nelle contaminazioni tra vecchio e nuovo, un fattore di arricchimento, Spengler evidenziava l’impossibilità di aggregare ciò che è non assimilabile. Il rifiuto del cosmopolitismo è inevitabile per cui considera strutturale l’unità di una civiltà, che può dirsi tale se possiede un radicamento in una precisa realtà spazio-temporale e, quindi, una forte identità.

“Una civiltà scrive – fiorisce su una terra esattamente delimitabile, alla quale resta radicata come una pianta”.

La multiculturalità che parte dal rifiuto di ogni elemento spaziale si fonda sulla convinzione che ogni tradizione può e deve convivere con altre, anche se tra di esse ci sono differenze incompatibili, talvolta manifestate con ostilità e ferocia.  Spengler quando lo scrisse non avvertiva il problema con la stessa intensità di oggi, dove più forti sono i contrasti tra gruppi etnici in Europa e Stati Uniti. Il progetto multiculturale viene utilizzato ideologicamente per affrontare la questione dell’integrazione dei flussi migratori che portano in Occidente masse di popolazioni sempre più numerose ed estranee. Non si tratta di impedire ai gruppi etnici di rispettare le loro usanze, bensì di rifiutare la protezione legale, comprensione e indulgenza culturale a quei gruppi le cui usanze risultino incompatibili, ostili e in conflitto con i nostri principi di libertà.


Culture diverse radicate in tradizioni differenti non si possono mescolare, è l’avvertimento impietoso di Spengler verso chi difende ancora l’ideologia multiculturalista, mostrando come la sua effettiva conseguenza sia l’accelerazione del declino dell’Occidente per opera di popoli che credono nella loro tradizione e identità culturale. Popoli, direbbe Spengler, ricchi di simbolicità, non disposti a farsi “contaminare” da altre civiltà e che in questa loro determinazione esprimono la forza aggressiva di una civiltà in ascesa rispetto a quella occidentale del tramonto.


In questo senso si spiega come il globalismo economico dell’Occidente, sia l’atto finale della sua avventura e non un processo espansionistico della propria civiltà. Il globalismo cancella differenze storiche, identitarie, tradizionali delle popolazioni, imponendo un analogo modello di sviluppo economico che esige una cultura omogenea, necessaria per uniformare i popoli sulla base della stessa idea di benessere e di felicità. Questa omologazione trova la sua ragion d’essere in un contesto il più possibile “de-simbolizzato”.


Spengler non indica i motivi per i quali la cultura si sarebbe esaurita nel passaggio verso la civilizzazione; egli si esprime solo in termini biologico-organici.

Una volta che lo scopo è raggiunto e che l’idea è esteriormente realizzata nella pienezza di una tutte le sua interne possibilità, la civiltà d’un tratto s’irrigidisce, muore, il suo sangue scorre via, le sue forze sono spezzate, essa diviene civilizzazione”.

Obiettivo del globalismo è la perdita di riferimenti simbolici. Spengler ha cercato in migliaia di pagine di mostrare come sia la cultura simbolica a dare forza e energia vitale a una civiltà, consentendone la crescita. La sua desimbolizzazione non è che il segno evidente del tramonto. Quindi, la globalizzazione non può rappresentare l’apogeo di una civiltà, bensì il segno di un irreversibile declino.

Con la cortese collaborazione delle Edizioni di Ar (www.edizionidiar.it), sezione segnalazioni librarie periodiche.

 

dimanche, 08 novembre 2015

Oswald Spengler and the Soul of Russia

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Oswald Spengler and the Soul of Russia

By Kerry Bolton
Ex: http://katehon.com

It would be easy to regard Oswald Spengler, author of the epochal Decline of The West in the aftermath of World War I, as a Russophobe.

In so doing the role of Russia in the unfolding of history from this era onward could be easily dismissed, opposed or ridiculed by proponents of Spengler, while in Russia his insights into culture-morphology would be understandably unwelcome as being from an Slavophobic German nationalist. However, while Spengler, like many others of the time in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution, regarded – partially - Russia as the Asianised leader of a ‘coloured revolution’ against the white world, he also considered other possibilities. This paper examines Spengler’s views on Russia as a distinct culture that had not yet fulfilled her destiny, while Western civilisation is about to take a final bow on the world historical stage. His views on Russia as an outsider are considered in relation to the depiction of the Russian soul by seminal Russians such as Gogol.

Russia’s ‘Soul’

Spengler regarded Russians as formed by the vastness of the land-plain, as innately antagonistic to the Machine, as rooted in the soil, irrepressibly peasant, religious, and ‘primitive’. Without a wider understanding of Spengler’s philosophy it appears that he was – like Hitler – a Slavophobe. However, when Spengler wrote of these Russian characteristics he was referencing the Russians as a still youthful people in contrats to the senile West. Hence the ‘primitive’ Russian is not synonymous with ‘primitivity’ as popularly understood at that time in regard to ‘primitive’ tribal peoples. Nor was it to be confounded with the Hitlerite perception of the ‘primitive Slav’ incapable of building his own State.

To Spengler, the ‘primitive peasant’ is the well-spring from which a race draws its healthiest elements during its epochs of cultural vigour.

Agriculture is the foundation of a High Culture, enabling stable communities to diversify labour into specialisation from which Civilisation proceeds.

However, according to Spengler, each people has its own soul, a German conception derived from the German Idealism of Herder, Fichte et al. A High culture reflects that soul, whether in its mathematics, music, architecture; both in the arts and the physical sciences. The Russian soul is not the same as the Western Faustian, as Spengler called it, the ‘ Magian’ of the Arabian civilisation, or the Classical of the Hellenes and Romans. The Western Culture that was imposed on Russia by Peter the Great, what Spengler called Petrinism, is a veneer.

The basis of the Russian soul is not infinite space – as in the West’s Faustian (Spengler, 1971, I, 183) imperative, but is ‘the plain without limit’ (Spengler, 1971, I, 201). The Russian soul expresses its own type of infinity, albeit not that of the Western which becomes even enslaved by its own technics at the end of its life-cycle. (Spengler, 1971, II, 502). (Although it could be argued that Sovietism enslaved man to machine, a Spenglerian would cite this as an example of Petrinism). However, Civilisations cannot do anything but follow their life’s course, and one cannot see Spengler’s descriptions as moral judgements but as observations. The finale for Western Civilisation according to Spengler cannot be to create further great forms of art and music, which belong to the youthful or ‘ spring’ epoch of a civilisation, but to dominate the world under a technocratic-military dispensation, before declining into oblivion that all prior world civilisations. It is after this Western decline that Spengler alluded to the next word civilisation being that of Russia. At that stage Spengler could only hint at the possibilities.

Hence, according to Spengler, Russian Orthodox architecture does not represent the infinity towards space that is symbolised by the Western high culture’s Gothic Cathedral spire, nor the enclosed space of the Mosque of the Magian Culture, (Spengler, 1971, I, 183-216) but the impression of sitting upon a horizon. Spengler considered that this Russian architecture is ‘not yet a style, only the promise of a style that will awaken when the real Russian religion awakens’ (Spengler, 1971, I, p. 201. Spengler was writing of the Russian culture as an outsider, and by his own reckoning must have realised the limitations of that. It is therefore useful to compare his thoughts on Russia with those of Russians of note.

Nikolai Berdyaev in The Russian Idea affirms what Spengler describes:

There is that in the Russian soul which corresponds to the immensity, the vagueness, the infinitude of the Russian land, spiritual geography corresponds with physical. In the Russian soul there is a sort of immensity, a vagueness, a predilection for the infinite, such as is suggested by the great plain of Russia. (Berdyaev, 1).

‘Prussian Socialism’, ‘Russian Socialism’


Of the Russian soul, the ego/vanity of the Western culture-man is missing; the persona seeks impersonal growth in service, ‘in the brother-world of the plain’. Orthodox Christianity condemns the ‘I’ as ‘sin’ (Spengler, 1971, I, 309). Spengler wrote of ‘Prussian Socialism’, based on the Prussian ethos of duty to the state, as the foundation of a new Western ethos under the return to Faith and Authority during the final epoch of Western civilisation. He contrasted this with the ‘socialism’ of Karl Marx, which he regarded as a product of English economics, (Spengler, 1919) as distinct from the German economics of Friedrich List for example, described as the ‘ national system of political economy’, where nation is the raison d’etre of the economy and not class or individual.

The Russian concept of ‘we’ rather than ‘I’, and of impersonal service to the expanse of one’s land implies another form socialism. It is perhaps in this sense that Stalinism proceeded along lines different and often antithetical to the Bolshevism envisaged by Trotsky et al. (Trotsky, 1936), and established an enduring legacy on Russia.

A recent comment by an American visitor to Russia, Barbara J. Brothers, as part of a scientific delegation, states something akin to Spengler’s observation:

The Russians have a sense of connectedness to themselves and to other human beings that is just not a part of American reality. It isn’t that competitiveness does not exist; it is just that there always seems to be more consideration and respect for others in any given situation.

Of the Russian concept of property and of capitalism, Berdyaev wrote:

The social theme occupied a predominant place in Russian nineteenth century thought. It might even be said that Russian thought in that century was to a remarkable extent coloured by socialistic ideas. If the word socialism is not taken in its doctrinaire sense, one might say that socialism is deeply rooted in the Russian nature. There is already an expression of this truth in the fact that the Russian people did not recognize the Roman conception of property. It has been said of Muscovite Russia that it was innocent of the sin of ownership in land, the one and only landed proprietor being the Tsar: there was no freedom, but there was a greater sense of what was right. This is of interest in the light that it throws upon the rise of communism. The Slavophils also repudiated the Western bourgeois interpretation of private property equally with the socialists of a revolutionary way of thinking. Almost all of them thought that the Russian people was called upon to give actual effect to social troth and righteousness and to the brotherhood of man. One and all they hoped that Russia would escape the wrongness and evil of capitalism, that it would be able to pass over to a better social order while avoiding the capitalist stage of economic development. And they all considered the backwardness of Russia as conferring upon her a great advantage. It was the wisdom of the Russians to be socialists during the period of serfdom and autocracy. Of all peoples in the world the Russians have the community spirit; in the highest degree the Russian way of life and Russian manners, are of that kind. Russian hospitality is an indication of this sense of community. (Berdyaev, 97-98).

Here again, we see with Berdyaev, as with Spengler, that there is a ‘Russian Socialism’ based on what Spengler referred to as the Russian ‘we’ in contrast to the Late Western ‘I’, and of the sense of brotherhood dramatised by Gogol in Taras Bulba, shaped not by factories and money-thinking, but by the kinship that arises from a people formed from the vastness of the plains, and forged through the adversity of centuries of Muslim and Mongol invasions.

The Russian Soul - Русская душа

The connections between family, nation, birth, unity and motherland are reflected in the Russian language.

род [rod]: family, kind, sort, genus
родина [ródina]: homeland, motherland
родители [rodíteli]: parents
родить [rodít']: to give birth
роднить [rodnít']: to unite, bring together
родовой [rodovói]: ancestral, tribal
родство [rodstvó]: kinship

Russian National Literature starting from the 1840s began to consciously express the Russian soul. Firstly Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol’s Taras Bulba, which along with the poetry of Pushkin, founded a Russian literary tradition; that is to say, truly Russian, and distinct from the previous literature based on German, French and English. John Cournos states of this in his introduction to Taras Bulba:

The spoken word, born of the people, gave soul and wing to literature; only by coming to earth, the native earth, was it enabled to soar. Coming up from Little Russia, the Ukraine, with Cossack blood in his veins, Gogol injected his own healthy virus into an effete body, blew his own virile spirit, the spirit of his race, into its nostrils, and gave the Russian novel its direction to this very day.

Taras Bulba is a tale on the formation of the Cossack folk. In this folk-formation the outer enemy plays a crucial role. The Russian has been formed largely as the result of battling over centuries with Tartars, Muslims and Mongols. Cournos writes of the Gogol myths in reference to the shaping of the Russian character through adversity and landscape:

This same Prince Guedimin freed Kieff from the Tatar yoke. This city had been laid waste by the golden hordes of Ghengis Khan and hidden for a very long time from the Slavonic chronicler as behind an impenetrable curtain. A shrewd man, Guedimin appointed a Slavonic prince to rule over the city and permitted the inhabitants to practise their own faith, Greek Christianity. Prior to the Mongol invasion, which brought conflagration and ruin, and subjected Russia to a two-century bondage, cutting her off from Europe, a state of chaos existed and the separate tribes fought with one another constantly and for the most petty reasons. Mutual depredations were possible owing to the absence of mountain ranges; there were no natural barriers against sudden attack. The openness of the steppe made the people war-like. But this very openness made it possible later for Guedimin’s pagan hosts, fresh from the fir forests of what is now White Russia, to make a clean sweep of the whole country between Lithuania and Poland, and thus give the scattered princedoms a much-needed cohesion. In this way Ukrainia was formed. (Cournos, ‘Introduction’, ibid).

Their society and nationality were defined by religiosity, as was the West’s by Gothic Christianity during its ‘Spring’ epoch. The newcomer to a Setch or permanent village was greeted by the Chief as a Christian and as a warrior: ‘Welcome! Do you believe in Christ?’ —‘I do’, replied the new-comer. ‘And do you believe in the Holy Trinity?’— ‘I do’.—‘And do you go to church?’—‘I do.’ ‘Now cross yourself’. (Gogol, III).

Gogol depicts the scorn in which trade is held, and when commerce has entered among Russians, rather than being confined to non-Russians associated with trade, it is regarded as a symptom of decadence:

I know that baseness has now made its way into our land. Men care only to have their ricks of grain and hay, and their droves of horses, and that their mead may be safe in their cellars; they adopt, the devil only knows what Mussulman customs. They speak scornfully with their tongues. They care not to speak their real thoughts with their own countrymen. They sell their own things to their own comrades, like soulless creatures in the market-place. The favour of a foreign king, and not even a king, but the poor favour of a Polish magnate, who beats them on the mouth with his yellow shoe, is dearer to them than all brotherhood. But the very meanest of these vile men, whoever he may be, given over though he be to vileness and slavishness, even he, brothers, has some grains of Russian feeling; and they will assert themselves some day. And then the wretched man will beat his breast with his hands; and will tear his hair, cursing his vile life loudly, and ready to expiate his disgraceful deeds with torture. Let them know what brotherhood means on Russian soil! (Spengler, 1971, II, 113).

Here we might see a Russian socialism that is, so far form being the dialectical materialism offered by Marx, the mystic we-feeling forged by the vastness of the plains and the imperative for brotherhood above economics, imposed by that landscape. Russia’s feeling of world-mission has its own form of messianism whether expressed through Christian Orthodoxy or the non-Marxian form of ‘world revolution’ under Stalin, or both in combination, as suggested by the later rapport between Stalinism and the Church from 1943 with the creation of the Council for Russian Orthodox Church Affairs (Chumachenko, 2002). In both senses, and even in the embryonic forms taking place under Putin, Russia is conscious of a world-mission, expressed today as Russia’s role in forging a multipolar world, with Russia as being pivotal in resisting unipolarism.
 

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Commerce is the concern of foreigners, and the intrusions bring with them the corruption of the Russian soul and culture in general: in speech, social interaction, servility, undermining Russian ‘brotherhood’, the Russian ‘we’ feeling that Spengler described. (Spengler 1971, I, 309). However, Gogol also states that this materialistic decay will eventually be purged even from the soul of the most craven Russian.

And all the Setch prayed in one church, and were willing to defend it to their last drop of blood, although they would not hearken to aught about fasting or abstinence. Jews, Armenians, and Tatars, inspired by strong avarice, took the liberty of living and trading in the suburbs; for the Zaporozhtzi never cared for bargaining, and paid whatever money their hand chanced to grasp in their pocket. Moreover, the lot of these gain-loving traders was pitiable in the extreme. They resembled people settled at the foot of Vesuvius; for when the Zaporozhtzi lacked money, these bold adventurers broke down their booths and took everything gratis. (Gogol, III).

The description of these people shows that they would not stoop to haggling; they decided what a merchant should receive. Money-talk is repugnant to them.

The Cossack brotherhood is portrayed by Gogol as the formative process in the building up of the Russian people. This process is, significantly, not one of biology but of spirit, even transcending the family bond. Spengler treated the matter of race as that of soul rather than of zoology. (Spengler, 1971, II, 113-155). To Spengler landscape was crucial in determining what becomes ‘race’, and the duration of families grouped in a particular landscape – including nomads who have a defined range of wandering – form ‘a character of duration’, which was Spengler’s definition of ‘race’. (Spengler, Vol. II, 113). Gogol describes this ‘ race’ forming process among the Russians. So far from being an aggressive race nationalism it is an expanding mystic brotherhood under God:

The father loves his children, the mother loves her children, the children love their father and mother; but this is not like that, brothers. The wild beast also loves its young. But a man can be related only by similarity of mind and not of blood. There have been brotherhoods in other lands, but never any such brotherhoods as on our Russian soil. It has happened to many of you to be in foreign lands. … No, brothers, to love as the Russian soul loves, is to love not with the mind or anything else, but with all that God has given, all that is within you. Ah! (Golgol, IX).

The Russian soul is born in suffering. The Russian accepts the fate of life in service to God and to his Motherland. Russia and Faith are inseparable. When the elderly warrior Bovdug is mortally struck by a Turkish bullet his final words are exhortations on the nobility of suffering, after which his spirit soars to join his ancestors:

‘I sorrow not to part from the world. God grant every man such an end! May the Russian land be forever glorious!’ And Bovdug’s spirit flew above, to tell the old men who had gone on long before that men still knew how to fight on Russian soil, and better still, that they knew how to die for it and the holy faith. (Gogol, IX).

The depth and duration of this cult of the martyrs attached to Holy Mother Russia was revived under Stalin during the Great Patriotic War. This is today as vigorous as ever, as indicated by the celebration of Victory Day on 7 May 2015, and the absence of Western representatives indicating the diverging course Russia is again taking from the West.

The mystique of death and suffering for the Motherland is described in the death of Tarus Bulba when he is captured and executed, his final words being ones of resurrection:

‘Wait, the time will come when ye shall learn what the orthodox Russian faith is! Already the people scent it far and near. A czar shall arise from Russian soil, and there shall not be a power in the world which shall not submit to him!’ But fire had already risen from the fagots; it lapped his feet, and the flame spread to the tree.... But can any fire, flames, or power be found on earth which are capable of overpowering Russian strength? (Gogol, XII).

The characteristics of the Russian soul that run through Tarus Bulba are those of faith, fate, struggle, suffering, strength, brotherhood and resurrection. Tarus Bulba established the Russian national literature that articulated the Russian soul.

Pseudomorphosis

A significant element of Spengler’s culture morphology is ‘Historic Pseudomorphosis’. Spengler drew an analogy from geology, when crystals of a mineral are embedded in a rock-stratum: where ‘clefts and cracks occur, water filters in, and the crystals are gradually washed out so that in due course only their hollow mould remains’. (Spengler, II, 89).

Then comes volcanic outbursts which explode the mountain; molten masses pour in, stiffen and crystallize out in their turn. But these are not free to do so in their own special forms. They must fill out the spaces that they find available. Thus there arise distorted forms, crystals whose inner structure contradicts their external shape, stones of one kind presenting the appearance of stones of another kind. The mineralogists call this phenomenon Pseudomorphosis. (Ibid.).

Spengler explained:

By the term ‘historical pseudomorphosis’ I propose to designate those cases in which an older alien Culture lies so massively over the land that a young Culture, born in this land, cannot get its breath and fails not only to achieve pure and specific expression-forms, but even to develop its own fully self-consciousness. All that wells up from the depths of the young soul is cast in the old moulds, young feelings stiffen in senile works, and instead of rearing itself up in its own creative power, it can only hate the distant power with a hate that grows to be monstrous. (Ibid.).

Russia is the example of ‘Historic Pseudomorphosis’ given by Spengler as being ‘presented to our eyes to-day’. A dichotomy has existed for centuries, starting with Peter the Great, of attempts to impose a Western veneer over Russia. This is called Petrinism. The resistance of those attempts is what Spengler called ‘Old Russia’. Spengler, 1971, II, 192). Spengler described this dichotomy:

…This Muscovite period of the great Boyar families and Patriarchs, in which a constant element is the resistance of an Old Russia party to the friends of Western Culture, is followed, from the founding of Petersburg in 1703, by the pseudomorphosis which forced the primitive Russian soul into an alien mould, first of full Baroque, then of the Enlightenment, and then of the nineteenth century. (Ibid., II, p. 192).

Spengler’s view is again in accord with what is spoken of Russia by Russians. Nikolai Berdyaev wrote in terms similar to Spengler’s:

The inconsistency and complexity of the Russian soul may be due to the fact that in Russia two streams of world history East and West jostle and influence one another. The Russian people is not purely European and it is not purely Asiatic. Russia is a complete section of the world a colossal East-West. It unites two worlds, and within the Russian soul two principles are always engaged in strife - the Eastern and the Western. (Berdyaev, 1).

With the orientation of Russian policy towards the West, ‘Old Russia’ was ‘forced into a false and artificial history’. (Spengler, II, 193). Spengler wrote that Russia had become dominated by Western culture from its ‘Late’ epoch:

Late-period arts and sciences, enlightenment, social ethics, the materialism of world-cities, were introduced, although in this pre-cultural time religion was the only language in which man understood himself and the world. In the townless land with its primitive peasantry, cities of alien type fixed themselves like ulcers – false, unnatural, unconvincing. ‘Petersburg’, says Dostoyevski, ‘it is the most abstract and artificial city in the world’.
After this everything that arose around it was felt by the true Russdom as lies and poison. A truly apocalyptic hatred was directed on Europe, and ‘Europe’ was all that was not Russia… ‘The first condition of emancipation for the Russian soul’, wrote Aksakov [1] in 1863 to Dostoyevski, ‘is that it should hate Petersburg with all this might and all its soul’. Moscow is holy, Petersburg Satanic. A widespread popular legend presents Peter the Great as Antichrist.
(Spengler, 1971, II, 193).


Berdyaev also discusses the introduction of Enlightenment doctrines from France into Russia:

The Western culture of Russia in the eighteenth century was a superficial aristocratic borrowing and imitation. Independent thought had not yet awakened. At first it was French influences which prevailed among us and a superficial philosophy of enlightenment was assimilated. The Russian aristocrats of the eighteenth century absorbed Western culture in the form of a miserable rehash of Voltaire.
(Berdyaev, 16).


domes-ancient-russian-church-11780967.jpgThe hatred of the ‘West’ and of ‘Europe’ is the hatred for a Civilisation that had already reached an advanced state of decay into materialism and sought to impose its primacy by cultural subversion rather than by combat, with its City-based and money-based outlook, ‘poisoning the unborn culture in the womb of the land’. (Spengler, 1971, II, 194). Russia was still a land where there were no bourgeoisie and no true class system but only lord and peasant, a view confirmed by Berdyaev, writing:

The various lines of social demarcation did not exist in Russia; there were no pronounced classes. Russia was never an aristocratic country in the Western sense, and equally there was no bourgeoisie. (Berdyaev, 1).

The cities that emerged threw up an intelligentsia, copying the intelligentsia of Late Westerndom, ‘bent on discovering problems and conflicts, and below, an uprooted peasantry, with all the metaphysical gloom, anxiety, and misery of their own Dostoyevski, perpetually homesick for the open land and bitterly hating the stony grey world into which the Antichrist had tempted them. Moscow had no proper soul’. (Spengler, 1971, II, 194).

The spirit of the upper classes was Western, and the lower had brought in with them the soul of the countryside. Between the two worlds there was no reciprocal comprehension, no communication, no charity. To understand the two spokesmen and victims of the pseudomorphosis, it is enough that Dostoyevski is the peasant, and Tolstoi the man of Western society. The one could never in his soul get away from the land; the other, in spite of his desperate efforts, could never get near it. (Ibid.).

Berdyaev likewise states of the Petrinism of the upper class:

Peter secularized the Russian Tsardoni and brought it into touch with Western absolutism of the more enlightened kind. The Tsardom of Moscow had not given actual effect to the messianic idea of Moscow as the Third Rome, but the efforts of Peter created a gulf between a police absolutism and the sacred Tsardom. A breach took place between the upper governing classes of Russian society and the masses of the people among whom the old religious beliefs and hopes were still preserved. The Western influences which led on to the remarkable Russian culture of the nineteenth century found no welcome among the bulk of the people. The power of the nobility increased and it became entirely alien from the people. The very manner of life of the landowning nobility was a thing incomprehensible to the people. It was precisely in the Petrine epoch during the reign of Katherine II that the Russian people finally fell under the sway of the system of serfdom. The whole Petrine period of Russian history was a struggle between East and West within the Russian soul. (Berdyaev, 15).

Russian Messianism

Berdyaev states that while Petrinism introduced an epoch of cultural dynamism, it also placed a heavy burden upon Russia, and a disunity of spirit. (Ibid.). However, Russia has her own religious sense of Mission, which is as universal as the Vatican’s. Spengler quotes Dostoyevski as writing in 1878: ‘all men must become Russian, first and foremost Russian. If general humanity is the Russian ideal, then everyone must first of all become a Russian’. (Spengler, 1963, 63n). The Russian Messianic idea found a forceful expression in Dostoyevski’s The Possessed, where, in a conversation with Stavrogin, Shatov states:

Reduce God to the attribute of nationality?...On the contrary, I elevate the nation to God...The people is the body of God. Every nation is a nation only so long as it has its own particular God, excluding all other gods on earth without any possible reconciliation, so long as it believes that by its own God it will conquer and drive all other gods off the face of the earth. At least that’s what all great nations have believed since the beginning of time, all those remarkable in any way, those standing in the vanguard of humanity...The Jews lived solely in expectation of the true God, and they left this true God to the world...A nation which loses faith is no longer a nation. But there is only one truth; consequently, only one nation can posses the true God...The sole ‘God bearing’ nation is the Russian nation... (Dostoevsky, 1992, Part II: I: 7, 265-266).

Spengler saw Russia as outside of Europe, and even as ‘Asian’. He even saw a Western rebirth vis-à-vis opposition to Russia, which he regarded as leading the ‘coloured world’ against the white, under the mantle of Bolshevism. Yet there were also other destinies that Spengler saw over the horizon, which had been predicted by Dostoyevski.

Once Russia had overthrown its alien intrusions, it could look with another perspective upon the world, and reconsider Europe not with hatred and vengeance but in kinship. Spengler wrote that while Tolstoi, the Petrinist, whose doctrine was the precursor of Bolshevism, was ‘the former Russia’, Dostoyevski was ‘the coming Russia’. Dostoyevski as the representative of the ‘coming Russia’ ‘does not know’ the hatred of Russia for the West. Dostoyevski and the old Russia are transcendent. ‘His passionate power of living is comprehensive enough to embrace all things Western as well’. Spengler quotes Dostoyevski: ‘I have two fatherlands, Russia and Europe’. Dostoyevski as the harbinger of a Russian high culture ‘has passed beyond both Petrinism and revolution, and from his future he looks back over them as from afar. His soul is apocalyptic, yearning, desperate, but of this future he is certain’. [65] (Spengler, 1971, II, 194). Spengler cites Dostoyevski’s The Brothers Karamazov, where Ivan Karamazov (Dostoyevski, 1880, 34: II: V: 3) says to his mother:

I want to travel in Europe… I know well enough that I shall be going only to a churchyard, but I know too that that churchyard is dear, very dear to me. Beloved dead lie buried there, every stone over them tell of a life so ardently lived, so passionately a belief in its own achievements, its own truth, its own battle, its own knowledge, that I know – even now I know – I shall fall down and kiss these stones and weep over them’. (Spengler, 1971, II, 195).

To the ‘Slavophil’, of which Dostoyevski was one, Europe is precious. The Slavophil appreciates the richness of European high culture while realising that Europe is in a state of decay. Berdyaev discussed what he regarded as an inconsistency in Dostoyevski and the Slavophils towards Europe, yet one that is comprehensible when we consider Spengler’s crucial differentiation between Culture and Civilisation:

Dostoyevsky calls himself a Slavophil. He thought, as did also a large number of thinkers on the theme of Russia and Europe, that he knew decay was setting in, but that a great past exists in her, and that she has made contributions of great value to the history of mankind. (Berdyaev, 70).

It is notable that while this differentiation between Kultur and Zivilisation is ascribed to a particularly German philosophical tradition, Berdyaev comments that it was present among the Russians ‘long before Spengler’, although deriving from German sources:

It is to be noted that long before Spengler, the Russians drew the distinction between ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’, that they attacked ‘civilization’ even when they remained supporters of ‘culture’. This distinction in actual fact, although expressed in a different phraseology, was to be found among the Slavophils. (Ibid.).

Tolstoi, who sought to overcome the problems of Civilisation by a ‘return-to-Nature’ in the manner of the Western Enlightenment philosopher J J Rousseau, on the other hand, is the product of the Late West, ‘enlightened and socially minded’, and sees only a problem, ‘whereas Dostoyevski ‘does not even know what a problem is’. (Spengler, 1971, II, 195). Spengler states that the problematic nature of life is a question that arises in Late Civilisations, and is a symptom of an epoch where life itself has become questionable. It is a symptom of the Late West transplanted as a weed onto the soil of Russia, represented by Tolstoi who, stands midway between Peter and Bolshevism, and neither he nor they managed to get within sight of Russian earth…. Their kind of opposition is not apocalyptic but intellectual. Tolstoi’s hatred of property is an economist’s, his hatred of society a social reformer’s, his hatred of the State a political theorist’s. Hence his immense effect upon the West – he belongs, in one respect as in another, to the band of Marx, Ibsen, and Zola. (Ibid.).

Dostoyevski, on the contrary, was indifferent to the Late West, looking beyond the physical, beyond questions of social reform and economics, and to the metaphysical: ‘Dostoyevski, like every primitive Russian, is fundamentally unaware’ of the physical world and ‘lives in a second, metaphysical world beyond’. The living reality is a religious one, which Spengler compares most closely with ‘primitive Christianity’. Dostoyevski is a ‘saint’, Tolstoi, ‘only a revolutionary’, the representative of Petrinism, as the forerunner of Bolshevism, ‘the last dishonouring of the metaphysical by the social’, and a new form of pseudomorphosis. The Bolshevists and other such revolutionaries were ‘the lowest stratum of … Petrine society’. (Ibid., II, 196). Imbued with ideas from the Late West, the Marxists sought to replace one Petrine ruling class with another. Neither represented the soul of Russia. Spengler states: ‘The real Russian is the disciple of Dostoyevski, even though he might not have read Dostoyevski, or anyone else, nay, perhaps because he cannot read, he is himself Dostoyevski in substance’. The intelligentsia hates, the peasant does not. (Ibid.). He would eventually overthrow Bolshevism and any other form of Petrinism. Here we see Spengler unequivocally stating that the post-Western civilisation will be Russian.

For what this townless people yearns for is its own life-form, its own religion, its own history. Tolstoi’s Christianity was a misunderstanding. He spoke of Christ and he meant Marx. But to Dostoyevski’s Christianity, the next thousand years will belong. (Ibid.).

To the true Russia, as Dostoyevski stated it, ‘not a single nation has ever been founded on principles of science or reason’. Dostoyevski continues, with the character Shatov explaining:

[N]ot a single nation has ever been founded on principles of science or reason. There has never been an example of it, except for a brief moment, through folly. Socialism is from its very nature bound to be atheism, seeing that it has from the very first proclaimed that it is an atheistic organisation of society, and that it intends to establish itself exclusively on the elements of science and reason. Science and reason have, from the beginning of time, played a secondary and subordinate part in the life of nations; so it will be till the end of time. Nations are built up and moved by another force which sways and dominates them, the origin of which is unknown and inexplicable: that force is the force of an insatiable desire to go on to the end, though at the same time it denies that end. It is the force of the persistent assertion of one's own existence, and a denial of death. It’s the spirit of life, as the Scriptures call it, ‘the river of living water’, the drying up of which is threatened in the Apocalypse. It’s the æsthetic principle, as the philosophers call it, the ethical principle with which they identify it, ‘the seeking for God’, as I call it more simply. The object of every national movement, in every people and at every period of its existence is only the seeking for its god, who must be its own god, and the faith in Him as the only true one. God is the synthetic personality of the whole people, taken from its beginning to its end. It has never happened that all, or even many, peoples have had one common god, but each has always had its own. It’s a sign of the decay of nations when they begin to have gods in common. When gods begin to be common to several nations the gods are dying and the faith in them, together with the nations themselves. The stronger a people the more individual their God. There never has been a nation without a religion, that is, without an idea of good and evil. Every people has its own conception of good and evil, and its own good and evil. When the same conceptions of good and evil become prevalent in several nations, then these nations are dying, and then the very distinction between good and evil is beginning to disappear. Reason has never had the power to define good and evil, or even to distinguish between good and evil, even approximately; on the contrary, it has always mixed them up in a disgraceful and pitiful way; science has even given the solution by the fist. This is particularly characteristic of the half-truths of science, the most terrible scourge of humanity, unknown till this century, and worse than plague, famine, or war. (Dostoyevski, 1872, II: I: VII).

Here we have the expression of the Russian soul, its repudiation of Petrinism, and in a manner similar to Spengler’s, the identification of faith, not darwinian zoology or economics, as the premise of culture-nation-race-formation, and the primacy of rationalistic doctrines as a symptom of decay.

‘Conflict Between Money & Blood’

Spengler states that at the Late – ‘Winter’ - epoch of a Civilisation where money-thinking dominates, a point is reached where there is a reaction: a ‘Second Religiousness’ which returns a decaying Civilisation to its spiritual foundations. There proceeds a revolt against oligarchy and a return to authority, or what Spengler called ‘Cæsarism’, and from there the fulfilment of a destiny before being eclipsed by a new high culture.

The Second Religiousness is the necessary counterpart of Cæsarism, which is the final political constitution of a Late Civilisation… In both phenomena the creative young strength of the Early Culture is lacking. But both have their greatness nevertheless. That of the Second Religiousness consists of a deep piety that fills the waking-consciousness… (Spengler, 1971, II, 310).

Spengler states that the ‘profoundly mystical inner life feels “thinking in money” as a sin’. The money-thinking imposed on Russia as Communism was ‘Western’ insofar as Marxism reflects the economic thinking of Western civilisation in its Late epoch, (Ibid., II, 402):

[A]n upper, alien and civilised world intruded from the West (the Bolshevism of the first years, totally Western and un-Russian, is the lees of this importation), and a townless barter-life that goes on deep below, uncalculating and exchanging only for immediate needs. We have to think of the catchwords of the surface as a voice, in which the Russian, simple and busied wholly with his soul bears resignedly the will of God. Marxism amongst Russians is based on an inward misunderstanding. They bore with the higher economic life of Petrinism, but they neither created it nor recognised it. The Russian does not fight Capital, but he does not comprehend it. Anyone who understands Dostoyevski will sense in these people a young humanity for which as yet no money exists, but only goods in relation to a life whose centre of gravity does not lie on the economical side. (Ibid., II, 495n)

dome.jpgSpengler states above that the Russians do not ‘fight’ capital. (Ibid., 495). Yet their young soul brings them into conflict with money, as both oligarchy from inside and plutocracy from outside contend with the Russian soul for supremacy. It was something observed by both Gogol and Dostoyevski. The anti-capitalism and ‘world revolution’ of Stalinism took on features that were drawn more from Russian messianism than from Marxism, reflected in the struggle between Trotsky and Stalin. The revival of the Czarist and Orthodox icons, martyrs and heroes and of Russian folk-culture in conjunction with a campaign against ‘ rootless cosmopolitanism’, reflected the emergence of primal Russian soul amidst Petrine Marxism. (Brandenberger, 2002). Today the conflict between two world-views can be seen in the conflicts between Putin and certain ‘oligarchs’ and the uneasiness Putin causes among the West.

The conflict that arises is metaphysical, but oligarchy and plutocracy can only understand the physical. Hence, ‘money-getting by means of money is an impiety, and (from the viewpoint of the coming Russian religion) a sin’. (Ibid.). ‘Money-getting by means of money’ manifests in speculation and usury. It is the basis upon which the economics of the Late West is founded, and from which it is now tottering. That this was not the case in the Gothic era of the West’s ‘high culture’ is indicated by the Church’s strident condemnation of usury as ‘ sin’.

Spengler predicted that in answer to the money-ethos a ‘third kind of Christianity’, based on the ‘John Gospel’, would arise, ‘looking towards Jerusalem with premonitions of coming crusades’. (Ibid.). The Russian also eschews the machine, to which Faustian man is enslaved, and if today he adopts Western technics, he does so ‘with fear and hatred of wheels, cables, and rails’, and will ‘blot the whole thing from his memory and his environment, and create about himself a wholly new world, in which nothing of this Devil’s technique is left’. (Ibid., II, 504).

Has time proved Spengler wrong in his observation that the Russian soul is repelled by the materialism, rationalism, technics and scientism of the Late West, given that the USSR went full throttle to industrialise? Spengler also said that Russia would adapt Western technics for her own use, as a weapon. Anecdotally, in our time, Barbara Brothers, a psycho-therapist, while part of a scientific delegation to Russia in 1993, observed that even among Russian scientists the focus is on the metaphysical:

The Russians seem not to make the divorce between ‘hard’ science and heart and soul that we do in the United States. Elena is probably a classic example. In her position as a part of the Academy of National Economy, a division of the Academy of Science, she works in facts and statistics all day long; when you ask her how (how in the world!) she thinks they will make it, she gives you a metaphysical answer. The scientist part of her gave a presentation that showed us how it was absolutely impossible for the economy to begin to work. Yet, she says, ‘I am not pessimistic’.

Again, Spengler’s observations of the Russian soul are confirmed by this anecdote: the true Russian – even the scientist and mathematician - does not comprehend everything as a ‘problem’ in the Late Western sense. His decisions are not made by Western rationalism, but by metaphysics and instinct. It is an interesting aside to recall that under the USSR, supposedly predicated on dialectical materialism, the metaphysical and the psychic were subjects of serious investigation to an extent that would be scoffed at by Western scientists.
(Kernbach, 2013).


By the time Spengler had published The Hour of Decision in 1934 he was stating that Russia had overthrown Petrinism and the trappings of the late West, and while he called the new orientation of Russia ‘Asian’, he said that it was ‘a new Idea, and an idea with a future too’. (Spengler, 1963, 60). To clarify, Russia looks towards the ‘East’, but while the Westerner assumes that ‘Asia’ and East are synonymous with Mongol, the etymology of the word ‘Asia’ comes from Greek Aσία, ca. 440 BC, referring to all regions east of Greece. (Ibid., 61). As an ethnic, historical, cultural or religious designation it means as little as as the World War I propaganda reference to Germans as ‘Huns’. During his time Spengler saw in Russia that,

Race, language, popular customs, religion, in their present form… all or any of them can and will be fundamentally transformed. What we see today then is simply the new kind of life which a vast land has conceived and will presently bring forth. It is not definable in words, nor is its bearer aware of it. Those who attempt to define, establish, lay down a program, are confusing life with a phrase, as does the ruling Bolshevism, which is not sufficiently conscious of its own West-European, Rationalistic and cosmopolitan origin. (Ibid.).

Of Russia in 1934 Spengler already saw that ‘of genuine Marxism there is very little except in names and programs’. He doubted that the Communist programme is ‘really still taken seriously’. He saw the possibility of the vestiges of Petrine Bolshevism being overthrown, to be replaced by a ‘nationalistic’ Eastern type which would reach ‘gigantic proportions unchecked’. (Spengler, 1963, 63).Spengler also referred to Russia as the country ‘least troubled by Bolshevism’, (Ibid.,182) and the ‘Marxian face [was] only worn for the benefit of the outside world’. (Ibid., 212). A decade after Spengler’s death the direction of Russia under Stalin had pursued clearer definitions, and Petrine Bolshevism had been transformed in the way Spengler foresaw. (Brandenberger, 2002).

Conclusion

As in Spengler’s time, and centuries before, there continues to exist two tendencies in Russia : the Old Russian and the Petrine. Neither one nor the other spirit is presently dominant, although under Putin Old Russia struggles for resurgence. Spengler in a published lecture to the Rheinish-Westphalian Business Convention in 1922 referred to the ‘ancient, instinctive, unclear, unconscious, and subliminal drive that is present in every Russian, no matter how thoroughly westernised his conscious life may be – a mystical yearning for the South, for Constantinople and Jerusalem, a genuine crusading spirit similar to the spirit our Gothic forebears had in their blood but which we can hardly appreciated today’. (Spengler, 1922).

Bolshevism destroyed one form of Petrinism with another form, clearing the way ‘for a new culture that will some day arise between “Europe” and East Asia. It is more a beginning than an end’. The peasantry ‘will some day become conscious of its own will, which points in a wholly different direction’. ‘The peasantry is the true Russian people of the future. It will not allow itself to be perverted or suffocated’. (Ibid.).

The ‘Great Patriotic War’ gave Stalin the opportunity to return Russia to its roots. Russia’s Orthodox foundations were returned on the basis of a myth, an archetypically Russian mysticism. The myth goes that in 1941:

The Virgin appeared to Metropolitan Ilya of the Antiochian Church, who prayed wholeheartedly for Russia. She instructed him to tell the Russians that they should carry the Kazan Icon in a religious procession around the besieged city of Leningrad (St Petersburg). Then, the Virgin said, they should serve a molieben [2] before the icon in Moscow. The Virgin said that the icon should stay with the Russian troops in Stalingrad, and later move with them to the Russian border. Leningrad didn’t surrender. Miraculously, Moscow was also saved. During the Battle of Stalingrad, the icon was with the Russian army on the right bank of the Volga, and the Nazi troops couldn’t cross the river. The Battle of Stalingrad began with a molieben before the Kazan Icon. Only when it was finished, did the troops receive the order to attack. The Kazan Icon was at the most important sectors of the front, and in the places where the troops were preparing for an offensive. It was like in the old times, when in response to earnest prayers, the Virgin instilled fear in enemies and drove them away. Even atheists told stories of the Virgin’s help to the Russian troops. During the assault on Königsberg in 1945, the Soviet troops were in a critical situation. Suddenly, the soldiers saw their commander arrive with priests and an icon. Many made jokes, ‘Just wait, that’ll help us!’ The commander silenced the jokers. He ordered everybody to line up and to take off their caps. When the priests finished the molieben, they moved to the frontline carrying the icon. The amazed soldiers watched them going straight forward, under intense Nazi fire. Suddenly, the Nazis stopped shooting. Then, the Russian troops received orders to attack on the ground and from the sea. Nazis died in the thousands. Nazi prisoners told the Russians that they saw the Virgin in the sky before the Russians began to attack, the whole of the Nazi army saw Her, and their weapons wouldn’t fire. (Voices from Russia).

The message to Metropolitan Ilya from The Theotokos [3] for Russia was that:

‘The cathedrals, monasteries, theological seminaries and academies have to be opened in the whole country. The priests have to be sent back from the front and released from incarceration. They must begin serving again…. When the war will be over, Metropolitan Elijah has to come to Russia and witness how she was saved’. The metropolitan contacted both Russian church representatives and Soviet government officials. Stalin then promised to do everything God indicated. (Russia before the Second Coming).

During ‘The Great Patriotic War’ 20,000 churches were opened. In 1942 the Soviet Government allowed Easter celebrations. On 4 September 1943 Stalin invited the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Kremlin to discuss the need for reviving religious life in the USSR and the prompt election of a Patriarch.

This is the type of Myth that is nation-forming. It exists as a constant possibility within Russia. Spengler stated in his lecture to the German businessmen in 1922 that,

There can be no doubt: a new Russian people is in the process of becoming. Shaken and threatened to the very soul by a frightful destiny, forced to an inner distance, it will in time become firm and come to bloom. It is passionately religious in a way that we Western Europeans have not been, indeed could not have been, for centuries. As soon as this religious drive is directed towards a goal, it possesses an immense expansive potential. Unlike us, such a people does not count the victims who die for an idea, for it is a young, vigorous, and fertile people. (Spengler, 1922).

The arch-Conservative anti-Marxist, Spengler, in keeping with the German tradition of realpolitik, considered the possibility of a Russo-German alliance in his 1922 speech, the Treaty of Rapallo being a reflection of that tradition. ‘A new type of leader’ would be awakened in adversity, to ‘new crusades and legendary conquests’. The rest of the world, filled with religious yearning but falling on infertile ground, is ‘torn and tired enough to allow it suddenly to take on a new character under the proper circumstances’. Spengler suggested that ‘perhaps Bolshevism itself will change in this way under new leaders’. ‘But the silent, deeper Russia,’ would turn its attention towards the Near and East Asia, as a people of ‘great inland expanses’. (Ibid.). Berdyaev, discussing the Slavophil outlook, wrote:

Russian reflections upon the subject of the philosophy of history led to the consciousness that the path of Russia was a special one. Russia is the great East-West; it is a whole immense world and in its people vast powers are confined. The Russian people are a people of the future; they will decide questions which the West has not yet the strength to decide, which it does not even pose in their full depth. (Berdyaev, 70).

There are no certainties. While Spengler postulated the organic cycles of a High Culture going through the life-phases of birth, youthful vigour, maturity, old age and death, it should be kept in mind that a life-cycle can be disrupted, aborted, murdered or struck by disease, at any time, and end without fulfilling itself. Each has its analogy in politics, and there are plenty of Russophobes eager to stunt Russia’s destiny with political, economic and cultural contagion. The Soviet bloc fell through inner and outer contagion.

What Spengler foresaw for the possibilities of Russia, yet to fulfil its historic mission, messianic and of world-scope, might now be unfolding if Russia eschews pressures from within and without. The invigoration of Orthodoxy is part of this process, as is the leadership style of Putin, as distinct from a Yeltsin for example. Whatever Russia is called outwardly, whether, monarchical, Bolshevik or democratic, there is an inner – eternal – Russia that endures and awaits its time on the world historical stage. We see it now with the re-emergence of Eurasianism, for example; not of the ‘East’ nor the ‘West’, but of Russia.

Notes

1. Ivan Sergyeyevich Aksakov (1823-1886) a Pan-Slavic leader, established the ‘Slavophil’ group at Moscow to restore Russia to its pre-Petrine culture.
2. Orthodox service for the sick.
3. Mary.

References

Berdyaev, Nikolai. The Russian Idea, MacMillan Co., New York, 1948
Brandenberger, D. National Bolshevism: Stalinist culture and the Formation of Modern Russian National Identity 1931-1956. Harvard University Press, Massachusetts, 2002.
Brothers, Barbara J. Psychiatry Today, 1 January 1993, http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199301/russia-soul
Chumachenko, T.A. Church and State in Soviet Russia, M. E. Sharpe Inc., New York, 2002.
Cournos, H. ‘Introduction’, N V Gogol, Taras Bulba & Other Tales, 1842, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1197/1197-h/1197-h.htm
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov, 1880
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Possessed, Oxford University Press, 1992.
Kernback, S. ‘Unconventional research in USSR and Russia: short overview, 2013, http://arxiv.org/pdf/1312.1148.pdf
Russia before the Second Coming, Svyato-Troitskaya Sergiyeva Lavra Monastery, p. 239; Archbishop Alypy, ‘My thoughts about the Declaration of 1927’, 2 February 2005, http://www.stjamesok.org/ArbpAlypyBIO.htm
Spengler, Oswald. Prussian and Socialism, 1919.
Spengler, Oswald ‘The Two Faces of Russia and Germany’s Eastern Problems’, Politische Schriften, Munich, 14 February, 1922.
Spengler, Oswald. The Hour of Decision, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1963.
Spengler, Oswald. The Decline of The West, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1971.
Trotsky, Leon. The Revolution Betrayed: what is the Soviet Union and where is it going?, 1936.
Voices from Russia, 15 January 2008, http://02varvara.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/the-wonderworking-icon-of-kazan-of-the-most-holy-mother-of-god/

jeudi, 29 octobre 2015

Vico, der Vorläufer Spenglers

GiambattistaVico.jpg

Vico, der Vorläufer Spenglers

von Carlos Wefers Verástegui

Ex: http://www.blauenarzisse.de

Der Geschichtstheoretiker und Kulturphilosoph Giambattista Vico (16681744) ist, wenn überhaupt, nur als „Vorläufer Spenglers“ bekannt.

Zu Unrecht, denn der Neapolitaner Vico ist Spengler in Sachen Eingebungskraft, Selbständigkeit und Reichhaltigkeit des Denkens überlegen. Er verdient es, als Bildungsmacht neben den ganzen Deutschen Idealismus gestellt zu werden, aber auch Wilhelm Dilthey, Friedrich Nietzsche – vor allem der geniale Nietzsche von „Lüge und Wahrheit im außermoralischen Sinne“ – und Ferdinand Tönnies sind Vico ebenbürtig. Vicos leidenschaftliche, aber dennoch den Tatsachen auf den Grund gehende Beschäftigung mit der Geschichte lassen ihn vorteilhafter als Spengler erscheinen. Anders als die herkömmlichen Geschichtsphilosophen neigt Vico nicht zu Ideologie und politischer Auswertung der Vergangenheit.

Bedeutung Vicos für den Konservatismus

Dass Vico immer noch so wenig bekannt ist, liegt vor allem daran, dass er im Gegensatz zu Spengler keinen durch Zeitumstände bedingten Erfolg hatte. Sein Hauptwerk, die „Neue Wissenschaft“ (Scienza Nuova), war seiner Zeit derart voraus, dass es über ein Jahrhundert lang einsam dastand und auch später meist unverstanden blieb.

Erst die Arbeiten des italienischen Philosophen Benedetto Croce sowie die Forschungen Deutscher, wie Richard Peters, aber auch Karl Löwith, haben die Viquianische Methode der historischen Einsicht in ihrem Wert wiedererkannt. Auch konservative Gelehrte, wie Werner Sombart und Carl Schmitt, haben Vico durchaus die Wertschätzung zuteil kommen lassen, die er verdient. Der ehemalige Spann-​Schüler Eric Voegelin hat in ausdrücklicher Anlehnung an Vico seinem Hauptwerk den Titel „Die neue Wissenschaft der Politik“ gegeben.

Gemäß ihrem Schöpfer ist die neue Wissenschaft eine teologia civile e ragionata della provvidenza divina, frei übersetzt: eine „auf Vernunftbelege gegründete politische Theologie der göttlichen Vorsehung“. Hinter dem barocken Ausdruck verbirgt sich eine Philosophie des Geistes, ähnlich imposant wie die Hegelsche. Dazu gesellen sich noch eine empirische Geschichte oder, wie Croce präzisiert, „eine Gruppe von verschiedenen Geschichten“, sowie eine Gesellschaftswissenschaft. Obwohl Vico den Begriff nicht gebraucht, ist sein Werk als eine umfassende Kulturphilosophie zu bezeichnen, die sich bereits im Übergang zu einer konservativen Soziologie befindet.

vico755A3482.jpg

Ideale ewige Geschichte

Nach Vico bezeichnet seine Wissenschaft eine „ideale ewige Geschichte“. Dieser idealistische Begriff geht auf zwei Gegenstände Viquianischer Eingebung zurück: durch die Erfassung des Heroenzeitalter Homers ist er im Mythos verankert, die römische Geschichte hat ihm als Vorlage für alles Weitere gedient – sie stand geradezu Modell für Vicos geschichtliche Zyklenlehre der corsi und recorsi. Vicos Geschichtsbild gemäß dieser „idealen ewigen Geschichte“ ist aufs innigste verwand mit romantischen Naturgeschichtsvorstellungen, wie denen Heinrich Leos oder Wilhelm Roschers, aber auch Othmar Spanns universalistische Geschichtstheorie gehört hier her.

Das Geschaffene ist das Wahre

Wie leicht es ist, Vico mißzuverstehen, beleuchtet Spanns Fehlurteil über Vico als eines „naturalistischen Geschichtsphilosophen“. Der Ernst von Vicos System ist, wie bei Spann, „objektiver Idealismus“. Auch führte Vico konsequent die fundamentale Unterscheidung zwischen Natur und Kultur, zwischen physischer Welt und Welt des Geistes als erkenntnistheoretischer Grundlage einer von den Naturwissenschaften geschiedenen und, im Gegensatz zu diesen, wahren Wissenschaft – der vom menschlichen Geist nämlich – ein.

Dadurch, dass Vico seinen Gottesglauben gedanklich ausführte, kam er zu der Feststellung: In Gott sind Einsicht, Erkennen und Schaffen eins. Nur Gott, als dem Schöpfer, gebührt vollkommene Einsicht in sein Werk, nur er besitzt wahres Wissen über alles. Der Mensch aber findet sich in einer natürlichen Welt zurecht, die er nicht geschaffen hat, und über die er deshalb nur „Gewissheit“, niemals aber „wahres Wissen“ erlangen kann. Nur was der Mensch selbst schafft, vermag er auch vollkommen zu erkennen, wahres Wissen erlangt er nur über seine eigenen Erzeugnisse.

Vico stützt sich in seinen Untersuchungen auf die Fähigkeit des menschlichen Geistes, Erkenntnis über sich selbst zu erlangen, auf die Einheit des Menschengeschlechtes sowie die (relative) Unveränderlichkeit der Menschennatur. Relativ unveränderlich ist die Menschennatur deshalb, weil Vico sich der Geschichtlichkeit des Menschen sowie seiner individuellen Abhängigkeit vom geschichtlichen Schicksal der „Völker und Nationen“ sicher ist.

Gegen Naturrecht, Rationalismus und Atheismus

Diese dogmatische Erkenntnisvoraussetzung nimmt bei Vico die Gestalt einer Kritik des Rationalismus sowie der utilitaristischen Naturrechtslehren, vor allem von Hobbes und Spinozas, an. Am Ende dieser Kritik steht bei Vico eine entschieden fromme Philosophie der Autorität, die für sich beansprucht, die gesamte Überlieferung, den Mythos, die Phantasie und überhaupt die Intuition wieder in ihr angestammtes Recht eingesetzt zu haben. Überhaupt ist die Frömmigkeit bei Vico erster und letzter Begriff.

Erst der Fromme besitzt den Schlüssel zum wahren, nämlich einfühlsamen Verständnis der gesellschaftlich-​geschichtlichen Welt. Gegenüber dem Frommen und seiner wahren Einsicht nehmen sich die Naturrechtler und Rationalisten toll und hochmütig aus; die Wahrheit bleibt ihnen auf immer verschlossen, und sie merken es nicht einmal. Derselbe tolle Hochmut macht für Vico auch die Atheisten so hassenswert. Über hundert Jahre später übernimmt der spanische Reaktionär Juan Donoso Cortés dieses Viquianischen Argument in seinem Kampf gegen die politischen Nachfahren der Rationalisten und Naturrechtler, die Liberalen und Sozialisten.

Die Rolle der „Vorsehung“

Vico_La_scienza_nuova.gifAls strenger Theist ist Vico der Ansicht, dass die Geschichte, die ihm immer eine Geschichte der „Völker und Nationen“, niemals von Individuen ist, zwar von Menschen gemacht ist, dass aber hinter den Menschen und selbst durch die Menschen hindurch unentwegt die göttliche Vorsehung wirkt. Die Selbsterkenntnisfähigkeit des menschlichen Geistes ist ein Beweis für dieses Wirken der Vorsehung, ja, sie nähert den Menschen selbst in gewisser Weise an Gott an.

Dieses Vergnügen in der Gewissheit, in der Erkenntnis der menschlichen Dinge über sich selbst als Menschen herausgewachsen zu sein, macht Vico zu einem würdigen Nachfahren und Geistesverwandten Machiavellis, der für sich – und für intelligente Leser ebenfalls – stillschweigend beanspruchte, die politischen Dinge sowohl von der Ebene als auch zugleich von der Anhöhe aus zu betrachten. Was aber bei Machiavelli verhohlener Stolz und eine kleine Eitelkeit gegenüber den Fürsten ist, ist bei Vico freudige Demut ob der errungenen wahren Einsicht im Angesicht Gottes.

Gott besitzt die vollkommene Einsicht, nur er besitzt die ganze Wahrheit, und sich ein wenig zu ihm emporgerungen zu haben, ist keine Kleinigkeit für den menschlichen Geist. Darauf ist Vico stolz. Die Menschen spielen sich nämlich dauernd selbst Streiche, sie irren über die wahren Beweggründe ihres Handelns. Sie meinen, etwas zu wollen oder zu tun, erreichen aber etwas ganz anderes, was ihnen nicht aufgeht – es ist die Vorsehung, die die Selbstsucht, die Triebe, den Ehrgeiz, die Laster, die Leidenschaften, die Irrtümer und überhaupt alles Streben der Menschen dazu benutzt, das Allgemeinwohl hinter dem Rücken der Akteure und über ihre Köpfe hinweg zustande zu bringen.

Machiavellischer Realismus und geschichtliche Dialektik

Vicos „Vorsehung“ hat zwar auf den ersten Blick etwas von Adam Smiths „unsichtbarer Hand“, die gerade da die allgemeine Wohlfahrt befördert, wo jeder seinem eigenen Vorteil nachgeht. Ihre genaue Entsprechung ist jedoch Hegels List der Vernunft: dadurch, dass die Menschen sich in ihren wesentlichen Überzeugungen, Glaubensartikeln, Ansichten und Zwecksetzungen täuschen bzw. sich grundsätzlich irren, machen sie sich letzen Endes selbst, nämlich freiwillig und ohne dass sie irgendetwas davon ahnten, zu Werkzeugen der Vorsehung.

Diese eigentümliche dialektische Spannung zwischen Existenz, Bewusstsein und Handeln des Individuums und dessen eigentlicher, ungeahnter Bewandtnis innerhalb von Gottes Vorsehung, sagt trotz ihrer, für heutiges Empfinden mythologischen Einkleidung, tatsächlich etwas über die Struktur der menschlichen Wirklichkeit aus. Sie tut es auf die gleiche Weise, wie es Machiavelli mit dem Hinweis getan hat, dass der Fürst sich auch darauf verstehen müsse, nach Notwendigkeit böse zu handeln. Nur ist bei Vico das Aktivistische von Machiavellis individualistischer Handlungstheorie eben zum überindividuellen Prozess der Vorsehung ausgeweitet, der so zur geschichtlichen Dialektik wird. Die Vorsehung ist gerade deshalb, weil sie göttlichem Ratschluss, Gottes Vernunft und Autorität in einem, entsprungen ist, gut und gerecht; in der Notwendigkeit des geschichtlichen Verlaufs rechtfertigt, d.h. reinigt, heilt und korrigiert sie diesen.

Sympathie für barbarische Heroen

vico1zs1fqL._UY250_.jpgAls tief einem in der Tradition verwurzelten Katholiken fehlte Vico jeder Begriff von „Fortschritt“. Trotzdem beinhaltet seine „Neue Wissenschaft“ eine intensive Auseinandersetzung mit dem Aufstieg und Verfall der Völker und Nationen. Nach Vico liegt der Anfang der Völker in einem dunklen Heroenzeitalter. Dies ist gekennzeichnet durch barbarische Gefühlsausbrüche und körperliche Sinnlichkeit. Doch gerade dieses unmenschliche Zeitalter der rohen Gewalt und Barbarei ist ganz im Sinn der Vorsehung, und zwar zum Besten der Menschen: sie sind der Urkeim eines wahrhaft geselligen Zustandes, der erst ein menschenwürdiges Zusammenleben möglich macht. Obwohl Vico nicht mit groben Bezeichnungen für seine barbarischen Helden spart, behandelt er diese Vorzeit mit Liebe und Verständnis, ja sogar mit Sympathie für die „Riesen und Polypheme“, wie er die Barbaren nennt. Ihr Zeitalter ist das einer unschuldigen Jugend, reichlich ausgestattet mit Phantasie und ursprünglicher Schaffenskraft.

Sind es auch Barbaren, so sind sie doch edelmütig und aufrichtig bei aller Gewalttätigkeit. Indem sie ihr zyklopisches Heroenrecht gegenüber anderen Barbaren und, vor allem, den nichtheroischen Schwachen durchsetzten, wurden sie zu Stiftern der Zivilisation. Die Schwachen machten sie sich unterwürfig, nahmen sie in ihre Obhut und gewährten ihnen so ein erträgliches Dasein.

Den weiteren Fortschritt der Kultur zeichnet Vico, hauptsächlich anhand der römischen Geschichte, als eine Folge von Kämpfen, Klassenkämpfen und Bürgerkriegen, zwischen Adligen und Niedriggeborenen, einheimischen Patriziat und fremdstämmigen Plebejern. Nach jedem dieser Kämpfe kommt es zu einem Ausgleich, der immer mehr diese „Gemeinen“, die für Vico die eigentliche Menschheit ausmachen, begünstigt. Dadurch, dass die Plebejer in der Geschichte gegenüber den sich immer mehr weibischen Adligen an Boden gewinnen, wird die mildeste und den Schwachen gemäße Zeit eingeläutet: das „menschliche Zeitalter“. In diesem sichert ein rechtlicher Zustand den Schwachen das Dasein, die „Gesellschaft“ – im Gegensatz zur Gemeinschaft. Auch die Regierungsformen ändern sich während dieses Prozesses: die Aristokratenrepublik, bestehend aus Heroennachkommen, weicht dem demokratischen „Volksstaat“, welcher am Ende in einen Cäsarismus bei bloß „sozialer“ Demokratie ausläuft.

Demokratie bloß eine Durchgangsphase

Die gesellschaftliche Entwicklung geht dabei vom Notwendigen zum Nützlichen. Darauf folgen nacheinander das Bequeme, das Gefällige und, schließlich, der völkerverderbende Luxus. Die „humanen Zeiten“ sind nicht dazu bestimmt, eine den Leuten zuträgliche demokratische Staatsform zu stabilisieren. Nach Vico wissen die „Menschen“ mit ihrer Sicherheit und ihrem Wohlsein nichts Besseres anzufangen, als sich immer mehr in ihrem Eigennutz und ihrer Genussucht gehen zu lassen.

Auch ihren hochentwickelten Verstand benutzen sie nur zu Falschheiten – zur Gemeinheit und Niedertracht. Entgegen den Behauptungen eines Forschers zeigt Vico überhaupt kein besonderes Interesse an der „Demokratie“, sondern sieht diese nur in ihrer geschichtlichen Notwendigkeit und Bestimmung in Egoismus und Unrecht umzuschlagen. Auf sie folgt wieder der ungesellige Zustand, es wird unerträglich für alle. Wegen dieser unerträglichen Ungerechtigkeit des Daseins legt nun die Vorsehung bei der idealen ewigen Geschichte als einem obersten Weltgericht „Berufung“ – ricorso – ein.

Drei Möglichkeiten sind es nun, die sich dabei auftun: 1. Der Retter kommt, gleich Oktavian-​Kaiser Augustus, aus den eigenen Reihen. Es ist die cäsarische Lösung. 2. Es kommt ein fremder Eroberer, der über die erwiesenermaßen sich selbst zu regierenden Unfähigen herrscht – zu ihrem eigenen Besten. 3. Es ist zu spät, die zivilisatorisch überfeinerte Gemeinheit und die Barbarei des Verstandes gehen so lange weiter, bis die Völker sich total heruntergebracht haben. Hier greift nun die Vorsehung rettend ein und gewährt der Menschheit nach all dem Schmerz und Unrecht eine zweite Chance – ein neues Mittelalter bricht an. Nur dieser völlige Rückfall in eine ganz ursprüngliche und gewalttätige Barbarei, wie die, die das Mittelalter ermöglichte, ist in der Lage, die zivilisierte Menschheit zu läutern und von sich selbst, als einem leidigen Übel, zu kurieren.