Tuesday, September 20, 2016
I owe the excerpt from Oswald Spengler below to statistician Briggs. It is indeed interesting. Spengler was a popular German thinker of the early 20th century. He thought that European civilization had just about reached its limit and was bound to fall while some other civilization arose. The gutless reaction to Islamic hostility in the Western world today certainly does bring Spengler to mind.
And it is notable that Spengler identifies socialism as the power-hungry but ultimately nihilistic force that is destroying the countries it dominates. His diagnosis of socialism as inherently totalitarian has certainly been borne out by subsequent events in Russia and Germany.
But in an indirect way, Spengler was responsible for the rise of Nazism. He never was a Nazi and rejected its antisemitism but his diagnosis of his own society as dying from its own weakness and lack of self-confidence did plant in people's minds the hope that a strong leader would emerge who would restore the national will and self-confidence -- make it great again -- and thus rescue European civilization from its decline. And we all know who came along in Germany to offer just that.
Hitler was of course an idol who had feet of clay but it is not unreasonable to hope that a new leader with fewer flaws could arise. And that seems to be where we are now. No matter how often Muslim terrorists murder us, our Left-dominated leaders refuse to do anything about it. And the rise of Trump has exposed the great discontent among the people about the lack of reaction to Islamic supremacism.
Trump is also far from a perfect saviour but he seems to be the only saviour we've got. A successful American businessman and an undistinguished Austrian artist are very different people so very different things are to be expected from them. What we get may not be ideal but it may include what we need.
But the rescue we need is NOT from Islam. As Spengler foresaw, it is from the ever more powerful Left. There is no lack of patriotic pride and civilizational confidence among ordinary Americans. It is the Left who are keeping a lid on it rather than proclaiming and defending it. There is nothing wrong with America and Americans. It is only the Leftist and Left-dominated parasites riding on its back that are the problem. Reagan neutered them for a while but they have regrouped. Trump is our best hope of purging their influence and hitting back at Islam
In spite of its foreground appearances, ethical Socialism is not a system of compassion, humanity, peace and kindly care, but one of will-to-power. Any other reading of it is illusory. The Stoic takes the world as he finds it, but the Socialist wants to organize and recast it in form and substance, to fill it with his own spirit. The Stoic adapts himself, the Socialist commands. He would have the whole would take the shape he desires, thus transferring the idea of the Critique of Pure Reason into the ethical field.
This is the ultimate meaning of the Categorical Imperative, which he brings to bear in political, social and economic matters alike—act as thought the maxims that you practise were to become by your will the law for all. And this tyrannical tendency is not absent from even the shallowest phenomena of the time. It is not attitude and mien, but activity that is to be given form. As in China and Egypt, life only counts insofar as it is deed. And it is mechanicalizing of the organic concept of Deed that leads to the concept of work as commonly understood, the civilized form of Faustian effecting.
Apollian man looked back to a Golden Age; this relieved him of the trouble of thinking upon what was still to come. The Socialist feels the Future as his task and aim, and accounts the happiness of the moment as worthless in comparison. The Classical spirit, with its oracles and its omens, wants only to know the future, but the Westerner would shape it. The Third Kingdom is the Germanic ideal. From Joachim of Floris to Nietzsche and Ibsen—arrows of yearning to the other bank, as the Zarathustra says—every great man has linked his life to an eternal morning.
And here Socialism becomes tragic. It is of the deepest significance that Nietzsche, so completely clear and sure in dealing with what should be destroyed, what transvalued, loses himself in nebulous generalities as soon as he comes to discuss the Whither, the Aim. His criticism of decadence is unanswerable, but his theory of the Superman is a castle in the air.
And therein lies a deep necessity; for, from Rousseau onwards, Faustian man has nothing more to hope for in anything pertaining to the grand style of Life. Something has come to an end. The Northern soul has exhausted its inner possibilities, and of the dynamic force and insistence that had exposed itself in world-historical visions of the future—visions of a millennial scope—nothing remains but the mere pressure, the passionate desire to create, the form without the content.
The soul was Will and nothing but Will. It needed an aim for its Columbus-longing; it had to give its inherent activity at least the illusion of a meaning and an object. And so the keener critic will find a trace of Hjalmar Ekdal in all modernity, even its highest phenomena. Ibsen called it the lie of life.
For deep down beneath it all is the gloomy feeling, not to be repressed, that all this hectic zeal is the despairing self-deception of a soul that may not and cannot rest. This is the tragic situation—the inversion of the Hamlet motive—and a thread of it runs through the entire fabric of Socialism, political, economic and ethical, which forces itself to ignore the annihilating seriousness of its own final implications, so as to keep alive the illusion of the historical necessity of its own existence.