Monday, July 14, 2008

The Decline of the West

Having recently completed reading an abridgment of Spengler's Decline of the West, I see not only things applicable to the course of Western civilization in general, but also to European and American Jewish Culture in particular. I will point out specifics as we go. This will be a lengthy study - even the abridgment is 400+ pages of tiny print. I will go chapter by chapter, inserting comments as necessary.

Excerpts from the abridged English translation of Oswald Spengler's classic two volume work:

Introduction, part one.

Is there a logic of history?

If..we are to discover in what form the destiny of the Western Culture will be accomplished, we must first be clear as to what culture is, what its relations are to visible history, to life, to soul, to nature, to intellect...what the forms of its manifestation are and how far these forms - peoples, tongues, and epochs, battles and ideas, states and gods, arts and craftworks, sciences, laws, economic types and world ideas, great men and great events - may be accepted and pointed to as symbols.

...Eras, epochs, situations, persons, are ever repeating themselves true to type.

In this region no one hitherto has set himself to work out a method, nor as the slightest inkling that there is here a root, in fact the only root, from which can come a broad solution to the problem of History...the philosophy of the future, so far as the metaphysically exhausted soil of the West can bear such, and in any case the only philosophy which is within the possibilities of the West European mind in its next stages. It expands into the conception of a morphology of world-history.

What concerns us is not what the historical facts which appear at this or that time are, per se, but what they signify, what they point to, by appearing.

...There is, besides a necessity of cause and effect - which I may call the logic of space - another necessity, an organic necessity of life, that of Destiny - the logic of time - is a fact of the deepest inward certainty, a fact which suffuses the whole of mythological religions and artistic thought and constitutes the essence and kernel of all history (in contradistinction to nature) but is unapproachable through he cognition forms which the Critique of Pure Reason investigates.

It makes a great difference whether anyone lives under the constant impression that his life is an element in a far wider life-course that goes on for hundreds and thousands of years, or conceives of himself as something rounded off and self-contained. For the latter type of consciousness there is certainly no world-history, no world-as-history.

...Every kind of psychological comparison and analysis of alien peoples, times, and customs yields as to the soul of a Culture as a whole.

Care - which is the spiritual counterpoise of distance - care for the future...[is] necessarily bound up therefore, [with] care for the past.

I would add here that purposeful distortion of the past is done in the present to control the future - a process clearly well known to the Rabbis and western propagandists everywhere.

We men of the Western Culture are, with our historical sense, an exception and not a rule. World history [as now conceived in academia] is our [own] world picture and not all mankind's...and perhaps when in due course the civilization of the West is extinguished, there will never again be a Culture and a human type in which "world history" is so potent a form of the waking consciousness.

Jewish culture, seen through western lenses, appears to also be obsessed with "history" in the western sense of the word, a linear progression - but true Hebraic thought does not understand time as linear. Time is cyclical, and the events of the moedim of the Hebrew Calendar repeat over and over again in different ages and places. They are a guide to the future as well as the past. Our goal then is to achieve a new and improved manifestation of an event from the past - the Messianic Kingdom of David's heir, a new and improved version of David and Solomon's own kingdom. We used understand history in this manner: as cycling around and areound to reinactments of old events, but lately we have been infected by Western and Christian ideas of linear time, which negates the cyclical nature of the Hebrew Calendar. Our pattern is the past - they choose to throw away patterns and traditions and build new castles on air, having tossed their foundations in the trash.

What then is world history?

...even today, it is only partial shapes of it that we know and not the shape of it, which is the mirror image of our own inner life.

...we have failed to perceive the true position in the general history of higher mankind of thel ittle part-world which has developed on West European soil...

The Cultures that are to come will find it difficult to believe that the validity of such a scheme with its simple rectilinear progression and its meaningless proportions, becoming more and more preposterous with each century...was in spite of all, never wholeheartedly attacked.

Jewish thinkers make a show of attacking Western Culture, but in fact are heavily invested in it. At worst, we are parasites off the system we claim to not be part of. At best, we have embraced Greek and Roman "logic" and a great deal of their mythology and pretended it was Hebrew all along.

It is not only that the scheme circumscribes the area of history. What is worse, it rigs the stage. The Western European area is regarded as a fixed pole,a unique patch chosen on the surface of hte sphere for not better reason, it seems, that because we live on it - and great histories of millennial duration and mighty faraway Cultures are made to revolve around this pole in all modesty. It is a quaintly conceived system of sun and planets! We select a single bit of ground as the natural centre of the historical system, and make it the central sun. From it all the events of history receive their "real" light, from it their importance is judged in perspective.

But is it permissible to found a scheme of world-history on estimates of such a sort?

How, from the morphological point of view, should our eighteenth century be more important than any other of the sixty centuries that preceded it?

It is now the 21st century, and Western and especially American world-views still consider the West and America to be the pinnacle of all history and progress - but nothing could be further from the truth. The economic house of cards that Western Culture has made is starting to show signs of wear and tear, to say the least. What is a shame is that Judaism has allowed itself to be sucked into this vortex of false progress and is now shackled to it. Our economic and social future depends entirely on the success of the Western and American economic and social futures. We have not kept ourselves separate at all - in spite of vigorous claims to the contrary.

The most appropriate designation for this current West European scheme of history, in which the great Cultures are made to follow orbits round us as the presumed centre of all world happenings, is the Ptolemaic system of history. The system that is put forward in this work in place of it [Spengler]regards as the Copernican discovery in the historical sphere, in that it admits no sort of privileged position to the Classical or the Western Cultures.

The scheme "ancient-medieval-modern" in its first form was a creation of the Magian world-sense. It first appeared in the [post-exilic]Persian and Jewish religions after Cyrus, received an apocalyptic sense in the teaching of the Book of Daniel on the four world-eras, and was developed into a world-history in the post-Christian religions of the East, notably the Gnostic systems.

Here in this sort paragraph is summed up the contamination of Judaism, first with Babylonian and later with Hellenistic mythology and cultural influences.

The historical change of period wears the characteristic dress of the religious "Redeption." This "world-history" in short was a conception narrow and provincial, but within its limits logical and complete. Necessarily, therefore, it was specific to this region and this humanity, and incapable of any natural extension.

Judaism became insular, declined to take up the role of light to the nations, and became prejudiced and hateful to other races and nations. Judaism has been entirely entrapped in a white european vision of history and culture which bears no resemblance whatsoever to the real middle eastern and north african origins of Jewish thought and culture. (Yes, Moshe did marry a CUSHITE woman, class - she was black, contrary to the linguistic and historical gymnastics modern white european Jewish thinkers use to claim otherwise.)

The oriental picture [of history] was at rest. It presented a self-contained antithesis, with equilibrium as its outcome and a unique divine act as its turning point. But, adopted and assumed by a wholly new type of mankind, it was quickly transformed (without anyone's noticing the oddity of the change) into a conception of a linear progress.

This third term, "modern times" which in form asserts that it is the last and conclusive term of the series, has in effect, ever since the Crusades, been stretched and stretched again to the elastic limit at which it will bear no more.

Now we say "post-modern," a curious linguistic construction.

It would appear then that the Western consciousness feels itself urged to predicate a sort of finality inherent in its own appearance.

And Judaism's thought process has been so contaminated by it that even we are now convinced that the Messianic Age will be more of this same lifestyle continued - when there is no evidence for such an assertion at all.

It is a quite indefensible method of presenting world-history to begin by giving rein to one's own [cultural], political or social convictions and endowing hte sacrosanct three-phase system with tendencies that will bring it exactly to one's own standpoint. This is, in effect, making some formula - say, the "Age of Reason," ...a criterion whereby to judge the whole millennia of history. And so we judge that they were ignorant of the "True Path," or that they failed to follow it...

In the case of Judaism, we simply re-defined the past to claim that they not only shared but established our modern point of view.

...when the fact is simply that their will and purpose were not the same as ours.

We know it to be true of every organism that the rhythm, form and duration of its life, and all the expression-details of that life as well, are determined by the properties of its species.

In the case of higher human history, on the contrary, we take our ideas as to the course of the future from an unbridled optimism that sets at naught all historical, ie organic, experience, and everyone therefore sets himself to discover in the accidental present fterms that he can expand into some striking progression serioes, the existence of which rests not on scientific proof but on predillection.

[Spengler] sees, in place of that empty figment of one linear history which can be kept up only by shutting ones eyes to an overwhelming multitude of the facts, the drama of a number of mighty Cultures...each stamping its material, its mankind, in its own image. Each having its own idea, its own passions, its own life, will and feeling, its own death.

Each culture has it own new possibilities of self-expression which arise, ripen, decay, and never return.

[Spengler] sees world-history as a picture of endless formation and transformations, of the marvelous waxing and waning of organic forms. The professional historian, on the contrary, sees it as a sort of tapeworm industriously adding onto itself one epoch after another.

Modern Western Culture is a product of its place and time, in other words, and the current practice of "Orthodox" Judaism is also not historical, but is simply the actions and reactions of the Jewish thinkers in response to contact with Western and then American Cultures. Judaism is not the same as it has always been - no culture is. What the "gedolim" are claiming is correct Judaism that always has been is nothing more than a product of their own time and place, revisionist history to the contrary. Our grandparents and great-grandparents would not recognize today's Orthodox Judaism - nor would Moshe and Aharon.

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