Oswald Spengler (May 29, 1880 - May 8, 1936) was a German philosopher and mathematician.
His work The Decline of the West argues that the development of civilizations
follows a recognizable series of repetitive rises and falls.
The Decline of the West
Spengler, a man of wide education with a PhD in philosophy, conceived the idea for
"The Decline of the West" during the Agadir Crisis
of 1911, when he formed the opinion that a general European war was inevitable.
Spengler's work was written largely during the times of the carnage of
the first world war, the first volume being published in 1918.
According to Spengler:-
.....The future of the West is not a limitless tending upwards and onwards for all
time towards our presents ideals, but a single phenomenon of history,
strictly limited and defined as to form and duration, which covers a
few centuries and can be viewed and, in essentials, calculated from
available precedents. With this enters the age of gigantic conflicts,
in which we find ourselves today. 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 Cultures.....
Spengler had been influenced by a cultural tendency, over the last quarter of the
19th century by many
people, to suggested that the then modern era of the West bore significant
similarities to the Hellenistic era and the late Roman Republic, a period
running roughly from the death of Alexander the Great (330 B.C.) to the
assassination of Julius Caesar (44 B.C.).
.....The last century [the 19th] was the winter of the West, the victory of materialism
and scepticism, of socialism, parliamentarianism, and money. But in this century
blood and instinct will regain their rights against the power of money and intellect.
The era of individualism, liberalism and democracy, of humanitarianism and freedom,
is nearing its end. The masses will accept with resignation the victory of the Caesars,
the strong men, and will obey them.....
Based on such a comparison of
historical situation Spengler considered that the West was entering a
period of two centuries of
wars for world power, like that between the Battles of Cannae (216 B.C.) and
Actium (31 B.C.).
According to Spengler under the emerging Caesars:-
.....Life will descend to a level of general uniformity,
a new kind of primitivism, and the world will be better for it.....
Popular European History pages
The preparation of these pages was influenced to some degree by a particular "Philosophy
of History" as suggested by this quote from the famous Essay "History" by Ralph Waldo Emerson:-
There is one mind common to all individual men...
Of the works of this mind history is the record. Its genius is
illustrated by the entire series of days. Man is explicable by
nothing less than all his history. Without hurry, without rest,
the human spirit goes forth from the beginning to embody every
faculty, every thought, every emotion, which belongs to it in
appropriate events. But the thought is always prior to the fact;
all the facts of history preexist in the mind as laws. Each law
in turn is made by circumstances predominant, and the limits of
nature give power to but one at a time. A man is the whole
encyclopaedia of facts. The creation of a thousand forests is in
one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie
folded already in the first man. Epoch after epoch, camp,
kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application
of his manifold spirit to the manifold world.
- The European Revolution of 1848 begins
- A broad outline of the background to the onset of the turmoils and a consideration of some of the early events.
- The French Revolution of 1848
- A particular focus on France - as the influential Austrian minister Prince Metternich, who sought to encourage the re-establishment of "Order" in the wake of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic turmoils of 1789-1815, said:-"When France sneezes Europe catches a cold".
- The Revolution of 1848 in the German Lands and central Europe
- "Germany" had a movement for a single parliament in 1848 and many central European would-be "nations" attempted
to assert a distinct existence separate from the dynastic sovereignties they had been living under.
- The "Italian" Revolution of 1848
- A "liberal" Papacy after 1846 helps allow the embers of an "Italian" national aspiration to rekindle across the Italian Peninsula.
- The Monarchs recover power 1848-1849
- Some instances of social and political extremism allow previously pro-reform conservative elements to support
the return of traditional authority. Louis Napoleon, (who later became the Emperor Napoleon III), attains to power
in France offering social stability at home but ultimately follows policies productive of dramatic change in the wider European
structure of states and their sovereignty.