In 1914, Oswald Spengler
completed the first volume of his two volume work titled "The Decline
of the West." The other volume was completed in 1918.7
The principal thesis of that work is that all civilizations go through
a period of birth, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age,
old age, and death. By studying a number of historical civilizations,
Spengler concluded that the life cycle of a civilization usually lasted
about 1000 years, although many civilizations also exhibited about 1000
to 2000 years of "pre-history" where the roots of the civilization
could be traced back to small tribes of humans or to another
civilization, and an indeterminate amount of "post-history," where the
civilization lingers on with hardly a new thought. For Western
Civilization, the pre-cultural period ended approximately with the
reign of Charlemagne, about 800 CE, which marked the beginning of
the formation of an organized feudal order in Europe. Spengler noted
that strong parallels existed between all of the major civilizations he
studied, to the point that he could realistically predict the
approximate course of the remainder of Western Civilization.
From the perspective of 1994, about 80 years later, it is clear that Western Civilization has continued to move along the timeline predicted by Spengler in 1914-18. Writing in the second decade of this century, Spengler predicted that at about the time of the turn of the century (2000 CE), we would see the period of "contending states," the "dominance of money," and democracy coming to an end, to be replaced with the victory of "force politics" over money, the decay of the nations into a formless population, and the development of an "imperium" of gradually increasing crudity of despotism.8 Nobody can review the events of the last few years without clearly seeing the end to a period of "contending states." The decay of the nations into a formless population is also clear, because of the worldwide adoption of a universal system of values, communications, trade, and money.9 The development of the United Nations into a worldwide "imperial" government, or its impending replacement by such a government, is less clear at this time. But it should suffice to note the single fact that presidents of the United States are now politically obligated to get permission from the Security Council of the United Nations before they instigate any significant use of military force, while they continue to assert their right to ignore the Congress of the United States, so long as they can assert that the use of force is a "police action." Also, the victory of "force politics" over money is less obvious, at least here in the United States. But it should suffice to note that this is at present exhibited by the concept of Socialism (which is based, in turn, on a concept of the government as the pseudo-parent of each individual), which is far more advanced in other industrialized countries than it is in the United States.10 However, the final "victory" cannot occur until the politicians divorce themselves from the monied interests. The early stirrings of such a movement have been obvious for the last few decades, in the form of so-called "campaign reform" laws. Eventually, when the politicians simply pass laws requiring the public to bear the cost of their campaigns for public office, then you will have the final "victory" of "force politics" over "money" for our own Western Civilization. That change is probably closer than we all think!
Being German, Spengler himself asserted a far too mechanical interpretation of historical facts. Arnold Toynbee, following Spengler's lead, was able to make a much stronger case for the sorts of patterns Spengler relied upon to support his overall thesis.
In any case, at least the trend is clearly obvious for all of these factors. And you should never make the mistake of assuming that particular dates, picked for the sake of argument or convenience only, are cast in concrete. Just as the lengths of the natural lives of particular individuals may differ by several decades (one man naturally dies at 55 while another lives to 115), the length of the "lives" of two different civilizations might easily differ by several centuries. Also, particular transitions in the lives of various civilizations can be expected to take as long as several decades to complete, making precise dating quite difficult. Accordingly, it is erroneous to place too much emphasis on short-term aberrations in predicted occurrences when analyzing a long-term trend. And by the same token, short-term occurrences that are in line with the predicted trend ought to be viewed just as suspiciously.
Having said all of the above, it must be noted that Western Civilization is proceeding predictably on its course towards a certain death in the next century or two, and about now is as good a time as any for a new religion to "pop up" which will eventually form the basis for the successor civilization to Western Civilization. Thus, just as Christianity was basically born and nurtured in the bowels of the Roman Empire, before becoming the dominant religion of Western Civilization, the Agnostic Church is designed to be born and nurtured by Western Civilization, with the ultimate result being a new civilization which will supplant Western Civilization at some point in the future.
7 Each volume took four years to be published, during which time Spengler made corrections.
8 This sentence is actually extracted from a summary of the Spengler tables prepared by critic Richard D. Mullen as part of the Afterward to "Cities in Flight" by James Blish, in the 1970 Avon paperback edition.
9 The fundamental distinctions between the invasion of Haiti in 1994 and the similar invasion at the beginning of this century is the 1994 invasion is occurring for the purpose of re-imposing the preferred state form recognized by the United Nations (as opposed to the military dictatorship which rejected that state form), while the prior invasion was basically for the imperialistic goals of the United States individually, of which goals former President Theodore Roosevelt was the principal proponent.
10 In spite of the fact that the Cold War and other historical factors caused the politicians of the United States to ridicule Socialism with volumes of rhetoric, it did not stop those very same politicians from passing legislation to implement various aspects of Socialism inside of the United States. Social Security, and its cousins, Medicare and Medicaid are examples of this.
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