Oswald Spengler. The Decline of the West. An abridged edition by Helmut Werner. English abridged edition prepared by Arthur Helps from the translation by Charles Francis Atkinson. New York: oxford University Press c199 [1926, 1928, 1932]. xxxx,415, xvix


There are streams of being which are "in form" in the same sense in which the term is used in sports... When [players] are "in form," the riskiest acts and moves come off easily and naturally. An art-period is in form when its tradition is second nature, as counterpoint was to Bach.

The word for race-or breed-education is "training" as against the shaping which creates communities of waking- consciousness on a basis of uniform teachings or beliefs...



The destiny question, for States that exist in reality and not merely in intellectual schemes, is not that of their ideal task or structure, but that of their inner authority, which cannot in the long run be maintained by material means, but only by a belief-of friend and foe--in their effectiveness. The decisive problems lie, not in the working out of constitutions, but in the organization of a sound working government...

[361]In every healthy State the letter of the written constitution is of small importance compared with the practice of the living constitution... The leader's responsibility is always to a minority that possesses the instincts of statesmanship and represents the rest of the nation in the struggle of history.

The true class-State is an expression of the general historical experience that is always a single social stratum e=which, constitutionally or otherwise, provides the political leading. It is always a definite minority that represents the world- historical tendency of a State...


At the point when a Culture is beginning to turn itself into a Civilization, the non-Estate intervenes in affairs decisively--and for the first time--as an independent force....

The State, with its heavy demands on each individual in it, is felt by urban reason as a burden. So , in the smae phase, the great forms of the baroque arts begin to be felt as restrictive and become Classicist or Romanticist-- that is, sickly or formless, German literature from 1770 is one long revolt of strong individual personalities against strict poetry. The idea of the whole nation being "in training" or Uquot;in form" for anything becomes intolerable, for the individual himself inwardly is no longer in condition. This holds good in morals, in arts and in modes of thought, but most of all in politics. Every bourgeois revolution has as its scene the great city, and as its hallmark the incomprehension of the old symbols, which it replaces by tangible interests and the craving (or even the mere wish) of enthusiastic thinkers and world-improvers to see their conceptions actualized...

[365] There is another aspect, too under which this epoch has its importance--in it for the first time abstract truths seek to intervene in the world of facts...

[369] The mistrust felt for high form by the inwardly formless non-Estate is so deep that everywhere and always it is ready to rescue its freedom--from all form--by means of a dictatorship, which acknowledges no rules and is, therefore, hostile to all that has grown up...


With this enters the age of gigantic conflicts, in which we find ourselves today [written during World War I and revised in twenties]. It is the transition from Napoleonism to Caesarism, a general phase of evolution, which occupies at least two centuries and can be shown to exist in all the Cultures...


[377] In these conditions so much of old and great traditions a remains, so much of historical "fitness" and experience as has got into the blood of the twentieth-century nations, acquires an unequalled potency. For us creative piety, or (to use a more fundamental term) the pulse that has come down to us from first origins, adheres only to forms that are older than the Revolution and Napoleon, forms which grew and were not made. Every remnant of them, however tiny, that has kept itself alive in the being of any self-contained minority whatever will before long rise to incalculable values and bring about historical effects which no one yet imagines...


By the term "Caesarism" I mean that kind of government which, irrespective of any constitutional formulation that it may have, is in its inward self a return to thorough formlessness. It does not matter that Augustus in Rome, and Huang Ti in China, Amasis in Egypt and Alp Arslan in Baghdad disguised their position under antique forms. the spirit of these forms was dead, and so all institutions, however carefully maintained, were thenceforth destitute of all meaning and weight. Real importance centred in the wholly personal power exercised by the Caesar...

{281]With the formed state having finished its course, high history also lays itself down weary to sleep. Man becomes a plant again adhering to the soil, dumb and enduring. The timeless village and the "eternal" peasant reappear, begetting children and burying seed in Mother Earth.. Men live from hand to mouth, with petty thrifts and petty fortunes and endure...

Sections from Spengler, The Decline of the West:
Introduction: Civilization
Introduction: Imperialism
Architecture and Divinities
Imitation and Ornament
The History of Style as an Organism
Arts as Symbol of the Higher Order
Popular and Esoteric
Will to Power
Morale of Dawning Civilizations
The History of Style as an Organism
Pergamum and Bayreuth: the End of Art
Classical Behaviour Drama and Faustian Character Drama
Every Culture Possesses its own Ethic
Every Science is Dependent upon Religion
Origin and Landscape: the Group of the Higher Cultures
Second Religiousness
The State

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