Sunday, November 23, 2008

Decline of the West Chapter 13, Part One.

Decline of the West
Oswald Spengler
Excerpts and Commentary
Chapter Thirteen
Cities and Peoples
Part one.

What the house is to the peasant, a symbol of "the settled," the town is to the man of culture. Only Civilization with its giant towns despises the soul-root [of landscape] and frees itself from it. The silhouette of a town speaks the language of its own soul.

[I would argue that the streetscape says far more than the skyline, but you get the idea.]

Town and country differ in soul: there is a difference in the great epochs of a Culture between one town and another, as well as between one Culture and another.

The peasant is eternal man, independent of all Cultures. World-history is town-history, though to a certain extent the countryside falls under the influence of the higher Cultures, and is then no longer historyless.

The town means intellect and money, compared with the country which is provencial. Eventually, the town itself, whether large or small, becomes provincial when compared to the Megalopolis.

All this has history and is history. One major political event - and the visage of the town falls into different folds. It is the Late city that first defies the land, contradicts Nature in the lines of its silhouette, denies all Nature. It wants to be something different and higher than Nature.

[In many cases, people start to think they're too "good" or two "elevated" for nature and for ordinary labour such as growing food and canning and preserving produce. They think they're "above" doing things that their ancestors did for thousands of years - they want to be "intellectuals," forgetting that even intellectuals have to eat an nobody else is obligated to feed them, when push comes to shove, which it invariable does.]

And then begins the gigantic megalopolis, the city-as-world, which suffers nothing beside itself and set about annihilating the country picture.

It follows, however, - and this is the most essential point of any - that we cannot comprehend political and economic history at all unless we realize that the city, with its gradual detachment from the final bankrupting of the country, is the determinative form to which the course and sense of higher history generally conforms. World-history is city-history.

But quite apart from this instance, we find in every Culture (and very soon) the type of capital city. Finally, there arises the monstrous symbol and vessel of the completely emancipated intellect, the world-city, the centre in which the course of a world-history ends by winding itself up.

The stone Colossus, "Cosmopolis," stands at the end of the life-course of every great Culture. Its image, as it appears with all its grandiose beauty in the light-world of the human eye, contains the whole noble death-symbolism of the definitive thing-become. The spirit-pervaded stone of Gothic buildings, after a millennium of style-evolution, has become the soulless material of this daemonic stone-desert.

[Demonic is an interesting way to describe large cities. Some would say they teem with life - but that's only an artificial facade. They teem with "entertainment," but not life. In fact, living in a city makes a person incapable of surviving outside the functional city environment. The first natural disaster, economic disaster, or political upheaval that comes along disrupts the impersonal, unfeeling machinery of the city and people die due to lack of the basic survival skills that a rural person would have known since childhood.]

We perceive the petrification of a historic being the exact epoch that marks the end of organic growth and the beginning of an inorganic and therefore unrestrained process of agglomerations. And now, too, appears that artificial, mathematical, utterly land-alien product of a pure intellectual satisfaction in the appropriate, the city of the city-architect. In all Civilizations alike, these cities aim at the chessboard form, which is the symbol of soullessness.

Even now [the last redaction of Spengler's work was in the 1093s, remember] the world-cities of the Western Civilization are far from having reached the peak of their development. I see, long after AD 2000, cities laid out for 10 to 20 million inhabitants, spread over enormous areas of countryside, with buildings that will dwarf the biggest of today's and notions of traffic and communications that we [1890s-1930s generation] should regard as fantastic to the point of madness.

[We certainly arrived at this prediction and beyond - we are actually as I write this beginning a post-peak realization that the way we have let cities evolve, without "natural" and "organic" oversight, has become a problem and not something to be glad about. It is a fact of biology that "growth is limited by the least available necessity of life." This is called the Law of the Minimum. American cities have grown past their minimum - growing so large that there is insufficient water in many areas, insufficient gasoline and oil production for private automobile traffic, and an insufficient job base to support this "intellectual" life that considers itself above ordinary honest manual labour. We ignored principles of sustainable growth and instead sprawled out everywhere in what urban planning critics are now called the "largest waste of resources in the history of the planet."]

What makes the man of the world-cities incapable of living on any but this artificial footing is that the cosmic beat in his being is ever decreasing, while the tensions of his waking-consciousness become more and more dangerous. Civilization has nothing but tension. The head, in all the outstanding men of the Civilizations, is dominated exclusively by an expression of extreme tension. Intelligence is only the capacity for understanding high tension, and in every Culture these heads are the types of its final men.

Through the city-spirit to the cosmopolitan intelligence - the very word with its sharp ring betraying the disappearance of the old cosmic foundation - can be described as a steady diminution of the Destiny-feeling and an unrestrained augmentation of needs according to the operation of a Causality. Intelligence is the replacement of unconscious living by the exercise of thought, masterly, but bloodless and jejune. The intelligent visage is similar in all races - what is recessive in this is, precisely, race.

[In other words, far from having a "Destiny," life in the city is pointless and empty and has lost any true sense of purpose. It is because it is, and has nowhere to go. "Creativity" supposedly happens in cities, where the "creative class" lives - but little if anything that is coming out of the art districts these days can be considered "creative" in the Classical sense - the artwork resembles garbage or resembles a temper-tantrum by someone with the maturity of a 4-year old because that's precisely what it is. Art and life in the city doesn't want to be "common," and therefore must offend any and all vestiges of common sense that remain with the people, who are considered an inferior "race" to the intelligentsia.]

The abundant proliferation of primitive peoples is a natural phenomenon, which is not even thought about, still less judged as to its utility or the reverse. When reasons have to be put forward at all in a question of life, life itself becomes questionable. At that point begins "prudent" limitation of the number of births. The primary woman, the peasant woman, is mother.

[The city-people believe that rural-people's lives have no value, and the "civilized" people of modern machinery believe that a simple rural life has no value. Often simplicity is equated with poverty and looked down upon or pitied when nothing could be further from the truth. Happiness does not depend on money and gadgets.

But city people feel threatened by rural people, and by people who don't buy into their more is more philosophy. Thus the populations of Western European and North American are greying rapidly as 1/3 of my "generation x" was killed in abortion mills, and fully 1/2 of "generation y" was so dispatched. No one asked who would support all the retiring baby boomers when so few children were being born - "the state" would do it, they thought, forgetting that taxpaying working adults ARE "the state." Meanwhile, other cultures which valued family and simple pleasures over wealth and selfishness continued to have children - meaning the people who will inherit America and Europe won't be native North Americans or Europeans, but rather the "foreign" races that immigrate there, that the Causasians so desperately tried to convince to also limit their populations, to little avail.

Israel is one country that is going to see the results of short-sighted Western ideas of rejecting motherhood and children - demographically speaking, the Arabs are well on their way to overtaking the Jewish state by sheer birthrate along, and politically the intolerant power-mongering ultra-orthodox will apparently be a majority of the Jews in one more generation. Moderate, "modern" people built a country that cannot last, because there will only be a fraction of the moderate, "modern" people left in it due to inadequate moderate, "modern" birthrate.]

It is all the same whether the case against children is the American lady's who would not miss a season for anything, or the Parisienne's who fears that her lover would leave her, or an Ibsen heroine's who "belongs to herself" - they all belong to themselves and they are all unfruitful. The same fact, in conjunction with the same arguments, is to be found in the Alexandrian, in the Roman, and, as a matter of course, every other civilized society.

And if we turn to our own civilization, we find that the old families of the French noblesse were not, in the great majority of cases, eradicated in the Revolution, but have died out since 1815, and their sterility has spread to the bourgeoisie and, since 1870, to the peasantry which that very Revolution almost re-created. Consequently we find everywhere in these civilizations that the provincial cities at an early state, and the giant cities in turn at the end of the evolution , stand empty.

We read of old, renowned cities in which the streets have become lines of empty, crumbling shells, where the cattle browse in forum and gymnasium, and the amphitheatre is a sown field, doted with emergent statues and hermae. Rome had in the 5th century of our era the population of a village, but its Imperial palaces were still habitable.

This, then, is the conclusion of the city's history, growing from primitive barter-centre to Culture-city and at last to world-city, and then the last flower of that growth to the spirit of Civilization - and so, doomed, moved on to final self-destruction.

[Of course, that self-destruction need not be by abandonment. Dearbornistan, I mean, Dearborn, Michigan simply filled its empty lots with foreigners, Arab Muslims, to be exact, and is fast ceasing to be an American Western City. Florida has such places, filled with Cubans, and the Mexican and other Latino populations have made no secret of their plan to simply re-populate the American Southwest and take it back by simple fiat - they increase their birthrate while we whither away, too "busy" doing and buying other things we think are more important to us than having children.]

Not now Destiny, but Causality, not now living Direction, but Extension, rules. It follows from this that whereas every form-language of a Culture, together with the history of its evolution, adheres to the original spot, civilized forms are at home anywhere and are capable, therefore, of unlimited extension as soon as they appear.

The literature [for example] of the leading world-city, against which a provincial liturature, native to the soil but negligible, struggles everywhere with difficulty to maintain itself [against cultural contamination and even cultural genocide]. Consequently, in all Civilizations the "modern" cities assume a more and more uniform shape.

[The "geography of nowhere" urban planning critics call it - every town, every city has the same shops, the same signs, the same restaurants, the same everything.]

But that which was thus disseminated was no longer a style but a taste, not genuine custom but mannerism, not national costume but the fashion. This, of course, makes it possible for remote peoples not only to accept the "permanent" gains of a Civilization, but even to re-radiate them in an independent form.

All these forms of a waking-consciousness now acute to excess, mitigated or limited by no cosmic force, purely intellectual and extensive, but on that very account capable of so powerful an output that their last flickering rays reach out and superpose effects over almost the whole earth.

[Take private automobiles, for example. For some 10 or 20 years now, people no longer primarily buy a car because they need one. Their old one may still have plenty of miles left in her, but they don't care. They bought a new one because according to the lastest fashion, the old one was "ugly." Or because it didn't have "features" in it or on it that no one ever needed before - but suddenly "can't live without" now. They get a new car every two or three years because society "expects" them to keep up with the latest fad, not because there was anything wrong with the old car. And this crazy idea caused the private automobile companies to manufacture more and more cars - when we didn't NEED them. So much overproduction made it INEVITABLE that in an economic downturn, auto sales would drop sharply, because in a fit of temporary sanity people would realize that they DO NOT "need" a new car every year or two.]

But while this process of extension was overpassing all frontiers, the development of inner form of the Civilization was fulfilling itself with impressive consistency. Three stages are clearly to be distinguished - the release from the Culture, the production of the thoroughbred Civilization-form, and the final hardening. For us, this development has now set in.

Style, in the Cultures, has been the rhythm of the process of self-implementing. But the Civilized style (if we may use the word at all) arises as the expression of the state of completeness. It a splendid perfection, and imparts this perfection to all the utterances of life inwardly unalterable, to its ceremonial and mien as to the superfine and studied forms of its art practice.

[Style springs from the same soil as the race that originally formed the Culture.] A race has roots. Race and landscape belong together. Where a plant takes root, there is dies also.

[We can best see this in the ultra-orthodoxy of Western Europe, it was born there and it has made its best effort to completely destroy the native Hebrew Culture of the Near East and North Africa that it has supplanted. As long as the Hebrew Culture stayed in the Near East and North Africa, it stayed "authentic." But as the influence of the European Jews grew and grew, and they embarked on their imperialistic quest to discredit and de-legitimize all other forms of Judaism, the authentic, tolerant, multi-faceted Hebrew Culture was nearly crushed to death. It barely breathes now, in the shuls of Karaites and in the homes of the secretly lenient amoung the Orthodox. Judaism is no longer Hebrew - it is now White European. In the same way, White European missionaries sought to separate Native American children from their ancestral homeland and their people's culture, in order to "civilize" them. China had the very same intentions, namely cultural genocide, when it took Tibet by force and displaced the Native Tibetans and brought in hordes of Han Chinese to take their place. The Tibetans can never be the same, nor can the Native Americans. The Jews only hope for having authentic Judaism restored is Divine Intervention. Left to our own devices, we appear content to have all Jewish Culture smothered and absorbed, borg-like, by the Chereidi.]

The race adheres permanently to this home with some of its most essential characters of body and soul. If in that home the race cannot now be found, this means that the race has ceased to exist.

[He's using the term "race" in a strictly 1930s academic sense, by the way. He is using it to refer to those people whose genetic ancestors settled and developed a culture in a specific area of land. His point, and he is correct, is once they move away from that original land, their culture changes. It is no longer the same that it was before they left and cannot be. So in that sense, the race that was, that was born and developed in that geographic area under those conditions, no longer exists. It cannot still exist, because the Culture has now become mixed and mingled with outside influences (not just outside bloodlines, though that is part of it. Genetic diseases, for example, can be diluted away eventually - or acquired - by mixing with peoples of new area. Such influences subtly change a Culture. It's never the same as it was before.]

A race [in this sense] does not migrate. Men migrate, and their successive generations are born in ever-changing landscapes, but the landscape exercises a secret force upon the plant-nature in them, and eventually the race-expression is completely transformed by the extinction of the old and the appearance of a new one.

[Judaism is the absolute perfect example of this. There is no doubt that native Hebrew Near Eastern people were brown complected - they were not "white" Causasians. But to the Askenaz, that is, European Jews that have taken over all of Judaism, brown and black persons are considered inferior and not Jewish in character and spirit - though authentic Hebrew Jews most certainly were brown and black. A new white race of Jews has replaced the authentic brown race of Hebrew Jews. As I've said before, Yes, Moshe did marry an Ethopian woman, talmudic gymnastics by White European Rabbis of the middle ages to the contrary.]

This is not a special case, but a general phenomenon, and it should serve to make us very cautious in dealing with those migrations of history about which we know nothing ore than some names of vagrant tribes and relics of languages. As to the race of these "peoples" we can conclude nothing whatever.

Not so with language. The home of a language means merely the accidental place of its formation, and this has no relation to its inner form. Languages migrate in that they are spread by carriage from tribe to tribe. Above all, they are capable of being, and are, exchanged.

Piety towards the mother tongue - the very term testifies to deep ethical forces, and accounts for the bitterness of our ever-recurring language-battles, is a trait of the Late Western soul, almost unknowable for the men of other Cultures and entirely so for the primitive.

[Hebrew, of course, had ceased to exist as a spoken language until a single Rabbi of the Late Western era decided to revive it. Hebrew itself had long been replaced by Aramaic, Arabic, Yiddish and other Hebrew-hybrid dialects. Words for modern devices and concepts had to be artificially manufactured from the ancient root forms - they had not evolved naturally because no one had been speaking Hebrew for centuries, if not over a millennium.]

With talk of adaptation and inheritance, [the modern idea of race] sets up a soulless causal concatenation of superficial characters, and blots out the fact that here the blood and there the power of the land over the blood are expressing themselves - secrets that cannot be inspected and measured, but only livingly experienced and felt from eye to eye. Nor are scientists at one as to the relative rank of these superficial characteristics.

[Western Culture, in its quest to quantify and measure everything, has reduced the idea of race to something completely devoid of the spirit and rural lifestyle and landscape that went into forming a culture. Culture, to a Western person, means nothing more than what city-technology-machinery a person has now and what color they are (and sometimes where they're "from" if it's obviously not where they are now) when Culture is not made of either of these things. A Culture is a social/religious/ethical construct, not a mathematical or technological one. Westerners, for example, think that if they can just bring "democracy" and "modern conveniences" to the Muslim world, then they will forget all about Allah and Jihad and play nice. They think this because their Culture gave up its Judeo-Christian heritage and "went secular," and now they have no stomach for warfare. But the Judeo-Christian culture was never originally (catholic church gleefully burning people at the stake not withstanding) a culture of violence. Islam always was. Islam has no "turn the other cheek." Giving Muslims Cuisinarts won't change that.]

There is that mysterious cosmic force of the syntony of close human connections. It is just this, too, that has bred the types of the European Jew, with his immense race-energy and his thousand years of ghetto life, and it always will forge a population into a race whenever it has stood for long together spiritually firm and united into the presence of its Destiny. The yearning of a ruling class towards this ideal, its will to be just so and not otherwise, operates (quite independently of the choosing of wives) towards actualizing this ideal and eventually achieves it.

[Spengler's praise of European Jewish Culture having achieved a goal of national/racial unity was a bit premature, methinks. If such an ideal was ever achieved, it died quickly under the weight of the power-mongering, social terrorism and spirit-killing control of the Ravs who set out to destroy the unity of the tolerant halachic framework and impose an intolerant authoritarian fascism in its place.]

This ends part one of chapter thirteen.


TH in SoC said...

I found this post to be quite fascinating. Though I am Christian and not Jewish, I appreciate finding another person who integrates their faith with an accurate understanding of the challenges the world faces because of Peak Oil and resource constraints. I also appreciate your pointing out the fact that early Jews were not all blond haired and blue eyed

Zvi said...

Well duhhh, TH in SoC...
Only hate mongering, race bating liars (usually non-Jewish) spread the myth that early Jews were somehow all blond haired and blue eyed.