Spengler’s “The Decline of the West”

3 main points

1. All cultures and traditions have a limited lifespan and all will eventually fail and give rise to a new set of traditions. Spengler supported this observation by providing examples which occurred throughout history prior to the contemporary time frame in which he wrote.

2. The future of warfare lies with paramilitary forces and contractors.

3. The groups that would overtake the dominant world powers were those which were developing in the East (India, China, and the like), those which he believed were Caesars to the West’s Napoleons. In other words, he believed those countries would be able to fight huge conflicts where the West couldn’t, or would spread themselves too thin.

Questions

Spengler bases his claims on precedent evidence throughout history. Have any of his predictions any merit? Have they come to fruition or are close to doing so?

Toward the end of this passage, he describes what will happen to Western culture: “The era of individualism, liberalism and democracy, of humanitarianism and freedom, is nearing its end. The masses will accept with resignation the victory of theĀ Caesars, the strong men, and will obey them. Life will descend to a level of general uniformity, a new kind of primitivism, and the world will be better for it…..” His predictions for civilization sound anarchic/Hobbesian. Do you agree?

Observation

His predictions about Western civilization are probably a reflection on Germany’s performance during the war and its state of affairs afterwards. His claim that paramilitary forces are the future of warfare may reflect Germany’s problems with such forces at the time of his writing. Similarly, Germany’s defeat at the hands of the Allies during WWI and its subsequent change of governmental structure could have influenced his claims that Western civilization was dying because rather than accepting defeat, Germany, unlike Western cultures, was adapting to change in order to survive.

4 thoughts on “Spengler’s “The Decline of the West”

  1. His description of what the Western culture will become sounds pessimistic and seems like a system in which there is no individuality or desire to change and improve.

  2. The balance of attention paid to different sections of this post feels a bit off. Your second main point feels neglected compared to your other points, and your questions may be a bit more in depth than necessary.

  3. His predictions certainly sound Hobbesian because of his dark pessimism and hopelessness for the people of Europe. In context, many probably agreed with him. This was one of the darkest periods seen in Europe in many generations. Perhaps Hobbes’ view of human nature should be given more merit because although human life is not always “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” it certainly did stoop to that level during WWI.

  4. He described the end of liberal society and the beginning of Caesars. From this statement, I can assume how much western countries around these ages suffer from a depression.

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