Thursday, January 29, 2009

Decline of the West, chapter 21, the last chapter.

Here, finally, we have arrived at the last chapter.

Decline of the West
Oswald Spengler
chapter twenty-one
The Form-World of Economic Life: The Machine

Technique is as old as free-moving life itself. The decisive turn in the history of higher life occurs when the ascertaining of nature's laws is followed by their practical application. With this, technique becomes more or less sovereign and the instinctive prime-experience changes into a definitely "conscious' prime-knowing. Thought has emancipated itself from sensation. It is the language of words that brings about this epochal change. With that, the system of identification-marks develops into a theory, a picture which is arrived at from the technique of the day and not vice versa - whether this be a day of high-level Civilized technics or a day of simplest beginnings - by way of abstraction, as a piece of waking-consciousness uncommitted to activity.

By numerical experience man is enabled to switch the secret on and off, but he has not discovered it. Life makes use of thought as an "open sesame," and at th epeak of many a Civilization, it is great cities, there arrives finally the moment when technical critique becomes tired of being life's servant and makes itself tyrant. Western Culture is even now experiencing an orgy of this unbridled thought, and on a tragic scale. The stock of discoveries grew and grew. Often they were made and forgotten and made again, were imitated, shunned, improved. But in the end they constituted for whole continents a store of self-evident resources.

On this foundation arose the technique of the higher Cultures. It need hardly be said that Classical Man, who felt himself and his environment alike Euclidean, set himself a priori in hostile opposition to the very idea of technique.

Very different is the Faustian technics, which with all its passion of the third dimension, thrusts itself upon Nature, with the firm resolve to be its master. Here, and only here, is the connection of insight and utilization a matter of course. The Westerner strives to direct the world according to his will.

Our whole culture has a discoverer's soul. To dis-cover that which is not seen, to draw it into the light-world of the inner eye so as to master it - that was its stubborn passion from the first days on. Here, if anywhere, the religious origins of all technical thought have manifested. These meditative discoverers in their monastic cells, who with prayers and fastings wrung God's secrets out of him, felt that they were serving God thereby. But for all of them, too, there was the truly Faustian danger of the Devil's having a hand in the game, the risk that he was leading them in spirit to that mountain on which he promises all the power of the earth. Again and again they succumbed to this ambition. They forced t his secret out of God in order themselves to be God. They listened for the laws of the cosmic pulse in order to overpower it. And so they created the idea of the machine as a small cosmos obeying the will of man alone.

Until then Nature had rendered services, but now she was tied to the yoke, as a slave, and her work was as though in contempt measured by a standard of horse-power. The numbers of the population increased and increased, on a scale that no other Culture ever thought possible. This growth is a product of the machine, which insists on being used and directed, and to that end centuples the powers of each individual.

And what now develops, in the space of hardly a century, is a drama of such greatness that the men of a future Culture, with other soul and other passions, will hardly be able to resist the conviction that "in those days" Nature herself was tottering. The technique will leave traces of its heyday behind it when all else is lost and forgotten. For this Faustian passion has altered the Face of the Earth.

Never save here as a microcosm felt itself superior to its macrocosm, but here the little life-units have by the sheer force of their intellect mastered inert matter. It is a triumph, so far as we can see, unparalleled. Only this, our Culture, has achieved it, and perhaps only for a few centuries.

But for that very reason Faustian man has become the slave of his creation. The machine has forcibly increased his numbers and changed his habits in a direction from which there is no return.

[Here I might object just a bit - sustainable farming and sustainable living can carefully incorporate many non-petroleum technologies and techniques. But we have to make a concerted effort to LEARN those old-fashioned or alternate ways and TRANSMIT that knowledge to our children so that it is not lost.]

Out of a quite small branch of manual work there is grown up, in this one Culture alone, a mighty tree that casts its shadow over all the other vocations - namely, the economy of the machine-industry. It forces the entrepreneur not less than the workman to obedience. Both become slaves, and not masters, of the machine - which now for the first time develops its devilish and occult power. Not merely the importance but the very existence of industry depends upon the existence of talented, rigorously schooled brains that command the technique and develop it onward and onward.

When, and only when, the crop of recruits for this army fails - this army whose thought-work forms one inward unit with the work of the machine - the industry must flicker out in spite of all that managerial energy and the workers can do.

[We see two aspects to this problem - one, education in America is the joke of the world now, with American kids coming in 19th, or 20th, or 21st amoung the industrialized nations in every academic area measured. And if that wasn't bad enough, the Chereidi community shuns even the dismal standards of ordinary American students when it comes to secular academic studies, making Chereidi the least employable of the uneducated overall. Not only do the Chereidi shun the obviously immoral and unethical exploitative giant industries that have stolen control of the economy away from ordinary decent people, but they even shun basic arts, crafts and skills that any society needs for its food production and its own long-term survival. In rejecting the broader decadency of Western Culture, they also have rejected the most basic work ethic that must underlie ALL viable cultures.]

Suppose that, in future generations, the most gifted minds were to find their soul's health more important than all the powers of this world. Suppose that, under the influence of the metaphysic and mysticism that is taking place of rationalism today, the very elite of intellect that is now concerned with the machine comes to be overpowered by a growing sense of its satanims. Then nothing can hinder the end of this drama that has been a play of intellects, with hands as mere auxiliaries.

[Ironically, this is indeed happening. American kids in general are starting to realize there's no point in going to college if they're just going to be saddled with debt forever afterward. There's no point in giving any loyalty or creativity to a corporation because the ideas they give birth to will simply be stolen from them. It will profit them nothing - and since the debt-interest economy has made it practically impossible to start new businesses that can succeed, the great ideas of today are dying unborn. Those ideas that do see the light of day are bought up by big business and buried deeply so as not to compete with the status quo. The result of all this is that the next generation IS rejecting the system, and IS refusing to be further educated, and IS trying to get away from or around the machine and not participate in the dysfunctional system. But this movement is small right now, and big business is doing everything in its power to squelch it and strangle it.

Chereidi society has taken this good, basic idea, however, and as usual gone way too far with it. An entire generation of young people is SO uneducated that they can't even make intelligent efforts to understand the geo-political situation, global-vs.-regional economics, historical trends or the philosophies of those who are running this country into the ground. They can't oppose what they don't understand, and they understand basically nothing. They have been told money will fall from the sky if they just have enough faith - they don't need to work at all. No Culture can withstand such a wrong-headed ideology. Our entire Judaic infrastructure is in imminent danger of failing due to the burden of the numerous able-bodied men who simply refuse to accept their God-given responsibility to support their wives and children.]

But titanic, too, is the onslaught of money upon this intellectual force. Only high finance is wholly free, wholly intangible. Since 1789 the banks, and with them the bourses, have developed themselves on the credit-needs of an industry growing ever more enormous, as a power on their own account, and they will (as money wills in every Civilization) to be the only power.

[And they were, until last year. Now, however, people are starting to see the trap they were in and work to avoid it - to get out of debt, to not be reliant on credit, to find other ways of meeting their needs, to not be dependent upon petroleum by walking, biking, using mass transit and moving nearer their jobs, to not be dependent upon money but to create a community where things are NOT ruled by the almighty dollar.]

This battle is the despairing struggle of technical though to maintain its liberty against money-thought.

The dictature of money marches on, tending to its material peak, in the Faustian Civilization as in every other. And now something happens that is intelligible only to one who has penetrated to the essence of money. If it were anything tangible, then its existence would be forever - but, as it is a form of thought, it fades out as soon as it has thought its economic world to finality, and has no more material on which to feed.

The machine with its human retinue, the real queen of this century, is in danger of succumbing to a stronger power. Money, also, is beginning to lose its authority, as the last conflict is at hand in which Civilization receives its conclusive form - the conflict between money and blood.

[And that is where Western Civilization is at this very moment, when lives are thought to be worth less than the ghosts in the machine used to pay them, when children are viewed as economic burdens, when even the "compassionate left" starts to think they and the poor should be exterminated rather than nurtured - as should anyone else who stands in the way of the moneyed elite.]

The coming of Caesarism breaks the dictature of money and its political weapon, democracy. The sword is victorious over money, the master-will subdues again the plunderer-will.

This battle is also the battle of money and law. The private powers of the economy want free paths for their acquisition of great resources. No legislation must stand in their way. They want to make the law themselves, in their interests, and to that end they make use of the tool they have made for themselves, democracy, the subsidized party.

A power can be overthrown ONLY by another power, not by a principle, and only one power that can confront money is left. Money is overthrown and abolished by blood.

And so the drama of a High Culture - that wondrous world of deities, arts, thoughts, battles, cities - closes with the return of the pristine facts of the blood eternal that is one and the same as the ever-circling cosmic flow.

Time triumphs over Space.

For us, however, whom a Destiny has placed in this Culture and at this moment of its development - the moment when money is celebrating its last victories, and the Caesarism that is to succeed apporaches with quiet, firm step - our direction, willed and obligatory at once, is set for us within narrow limits. We have not the freedom to reach to this or to that, but the freedom to do the necessary or to do nothing. And a task that historic necessity has set WILL be accomplished, with the individual, or against him.

[And here it ends. Modern Western Culture will fall just like every Civilization before it has fallen. There is no "difference" this time. Every other Culture before American Culture thought it was "different" and would last forever. They didn't, and neither will we.

Unable to shake the bonds of slavery that the moneyed elite has imposed on us, we will look to a Caesar to break those bonds and give us the Jubilee that we were supposed to have from the crushing insatiable hunger of the debt-interest economy. And he will break it - and us. That is the path we are on and at this point there's no way to get off of it. All we can do now is try and position ourselves in such a way as to get out of debt, relocalize our buying of both food and household goods, and make our communities as self-sufficient as possible, so that when the multinational corporations go down, we don't go down with them. But the sad fact is that most people are already going down - losing their homes, their cars, and their livelihoods on the altar of the debt-interest economy that God forbade - and the greed of the CEOs and their cronies who have sucked the Earth, the Economy, and you dry. We thought we were so much smarter than God, and we will now reap what we have sown.

Chereidi Culture has, unfortunately, bound itself apparently irrevocably to Western Culture - which is terribly ironic, really, when you consider that Jews have more reason to mistrust the powers-that-be than any other group in history. Yet we rely to a staggering extent on the misguided principles of Western Culture to keep our communities going - even if the face of the terribly obvious fact that it isn't working. Rather than making a herculean effort to make our communities self-sufficient and sustainable, the Ravs are busy doing the EXACT OPPOSITE - promoting the false something-for-nothing mentality and teaching that honest labour, work, and the arts, crafts, and skills that sustained our forebears for generations are somehow beneath us. It can't last, class. This path has no future.

And speaking of shooting ourselves in the foot: Some 83% of Jews supposedly voted for Barak Obama on the promise of "change," and he very promptly showed his true colors by making it clear he is on the side of Israel's enemies and for "change" he intends to throw Israel under the bus for "peace" - and many if not most knew or suspected this all along. Make no mistake, petroleum is more important to the US Government that the lives of Jews, either in Israel or here. But we didn't care - we want prosperity at any cost, apparently. We could have remade our communities so that they are not even affected by the economic calamity going on in Western Culture. We could have saved not just ourselves but Israel, too. But we didn't, and we aren't going to. Just imagine what we'll vote in when we're really broke and really hungry. I shudder to think about it.]

No comments: