Spengler’s Therapy for the German People

Oswald Spengler wrote The Decline of the West following World War One, after his nation lost and was made weak. Spengler was a German philosopher and historian as well as an avid advocate for German hegemony. In his post-war writings he postulated that the European hold in world politics would inevitably come to an end.1 To prove his point he showed a trend in history where empires would reign for decades, even centuries, but would eventually collapse in on themselves.Read the rest here

Art as the Zeitgeist

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Wassily Kandinsky theorized that art was the essence of an era.1 Due to this idea, he believed that the observer of an art piece should not just casually look at art, instead he or she should really try to understand its meaning.2 He writes that because the masses just look at “art for art”, the artist becomes focused on the materialistic benefit of creating art, making his work greedy and vain.3

 

Kandinsky was a Russian painter and art theorist.Read the rest here

Smiles’ Contradiction

Samuel Smiles was a firm believer that growth comes from the individual; hard work, perseverance, and application all made an individual strong and knowledgeable.1 Smiles was a Scottish writer who learned the importance of self reliance from his childhood; as one of eleven children with no father, he learned from his mother the meaning of individual strength. When he was a little older he moved to England where he joined the chartists in fighting for worker’s rights.Read the rest here

A Critique of Imperialism

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John Hobson argued that the capitalist market drove the imperialistic trend of the late 1800s, as opposed to nationalism.1 Much like colonialism, imperialism is a policy that allows for one country to take control over another, generally by military force. Hobson was writing Imperialism in London just after the Long Depression, one of the worst recessions in history. The depression affected economies worldwide; however, England took the hardest hit. Being in the midst of all the economic failure around him must have prompted Hobson to criticize imperialism.Read the rest here

Doomed to a Cycle or Constantly Improving?

The Marquis de Condorcet’s believed one day humankind would reach a future where the individual could be free to reason for himself and there would be no more positions of power such as tyrants or priests.1 He wrote that this future would have equality between nations, equality between individuals, and where decisions are made based on science and rationalization.2 His view directly opposes Marx’s idea we heard in class the other day, that there must be oppressors and oppressed in society until the oppressed overthrow the oppressors in a revolution.Read the rest here

Jingoism in America’s Economy

Most Americans would argue that a capitalist economy is one of the strongest factors in forming a nation, however Karl Marx and Comte de Saint Simon, two enlightened philosophers, found major flaws in this system. Marx points out in his essay “Estranged Labor” how a capitalist economy alienates certain workers. Specifically he pointed out how some workers do not own the goods they produce and solely work for others, which in turn lends to a loss of self.Read the rest here

A Call for Nationalism

During the Enlightenment period there was a surge of nationalism in regions where there had been little unity before. Johann Gottfried von Herder, a German philosopher, presents nationalism as a people who, as well as being bound together geographically, are culturally, linguistically, and historically linked1. In 1784, when Gottfried Von Herder published his work interpreting nationalism, Germany as we know it today was made up of many different small territories, the most prominent of these being Prussia.Read the rest here