". . . .
"In England Tories and Whigs constituted themselves, from the beginning of the nineteenth century, as parties, both becoming in form bourgeois and both taking up the liberal program literally, whereby public opinion as usual was completely convinced and set at rest. This was a master-stroke, delivered at the correct moment, and prevented the formation of a party hostile to the Estate-principle such as arose in France in 1789. The members of the lower house, hitherto emissaries of the ruling stratum, became popular representatives, but still continued to depend financially upon it. The leading remained in the same hands, and the opposition of the parties, which from 1830 assumed the titles of Liberal and Conservative almost as a matter of course, was always one of pluses and minuses, never of blank alternatives. In these same years . . . in America . . . the National-Whig and Democratic parties organized themselves as opposites,80 and open recognition was given to the principle that elections were a business, and state offices from top to bottom the `spoils of the victors.'
"But the form of the governing minority develops steadily from that of the Estate, through that of the Party, towards that of the Individual's following. The outward sign of the end of Democracy and its transition into Cęsarism is not, for example, the disappearance of the party of the . . . Liberal, but the disappearance of party itself as a form. The sentiments, the popular aim, the abstract ideals that characterize all genuine party politics, dissolve and are supplanted by private politics, the unchecked will-to-power of the race-strong few. An Estate has instincts, a party has a program, but a following has a master.81 That was the course of events from Patricians and Plebeians, through Optimates and Populares, to Pompeians and Cęsarians. The period of real party government covers scarcely two centuries, and in our own case is, since the World War, well on the decline. That the entire mass of the electorate, actuated by a common impulse, should send up men who are capable of managing their affairs - which is the naive assumption in all constitutions - is a possibility only in the first rush, and presupposes that not even the rudiments of organization by definite groups exists. So it was in France in 1789 and in 1848.82 An assembly has only to be, and tactical units will form at once within it, whose cohesion depends upon the will to maintain the dominant position once won, and which, so far from regarding themselves as the mouthpieces of their constituents, set about making all the expedients of agitation amenable to their influence and usable for their purposes. A tendency that has organized itself in the people, has already ipso facto become the tool of the organization, and continues steadily along the same path until the organization also becomes in turn the tool of the leader. The will-to-power is stronger than any theory. In the beginning the leading and the apparatus come into existence for the sake of the program. Then they are held onto defensively by their incumbents for the sake of power and booty - as is already universally the case to-day, for thousands in every country live on the party and the offices and functions that it distributes. Lastly the program vanishes from memory, and the organization works for its own sake alone.
". . . [Eventually,] the old purely patriarchal and aristocratic relation of loyalty between patron and client evolved into a community of interest based on very material foundations, and even before Cęsar there were written compacts between candidates and electors with specific provisions as to payment and performances. On the other side, just as in present-day  America,83 clubs and election committees were formed, which so controlled or frightened the mass of the electors of their wards as to be able to do election business with the great leaders, the pre-Cęsars, as one power with another. Far from this being the shipwreck of democracy, it is its very meaning and necessary issue, and the lamentations of unworldly idealists over this destruction of their hopes only show their blind ignorance of the inexorable duality of truths and facts and of the intimate linkage of intellect and money.84
"Political-social theory is only one of the bases of party politics, but it is a necessary one. . . .
"Whether these doctrines are `true' or `false' is - we must reiterate and emphasize - a question without meaning for political history. The refutation of, say, Marxism belongs to the realm of academic dissertation and public debates, in which everyone is always right and his opponent always wrong. But whether they are effective - from when, and for how long, the belief that actuality can be ameliorated by a system of concepts is a real force that politics must reckon with - that does matter. We of to-day[, in 1922,] find ourselves in a period of boundless confidence in the omnipotence of reason. Great general ideas of freedom, justice, humanity, progress are sacrosanct. The great theories are gospels. Their power to convince does not rest upon logical premises, for the mass of a party possesses neither the critical energy nor the detachment seriously to test them, but upon the sacramental hypostasis in their keywords. At the same time, the spell is limited to the populations of the great cities and the period of Rationalism as the `educated man's religion.' On a peasantry it has no hold, and even on the city masses its effect lasts only for a certain time. But for that time it has all the irresistibleness of a new revelation. They are converted to it, hang fervently upon the words and the preachers thereof, go to martyrdom on barricades and battle-field and gallows; their gaze is set upon a political and social other-world, and dry sober criticism seems base, impious, worthy of death.
"But for this very reason, documents like the Contrat Social85 and the Communist Manifesto86 are engines of highest power in the hands of forceful men who have come to the top in party life and know how to form and to use the convictions of the dominated masses.
"The power that these abstract ideals possess, however, scarcely extends in time beyond the two centuries that belong to party politics, and their end comes not from refutation, but from boredom87 - which has killed Rousseau long since and will shortly kill Marx.88 Men finally give up, not this or that theory, but the belief in theory of any kind and with it the sentimental optimism of an eighteenth century that imagined that unsatisfactory actualities could be improved by the application of concepts.89 When Plato, Aristotle, and their contemporaries defined and blended the various kinds of Classical constitution so as to obtain a wise and beautiful resultant, all the world listened, and Plato himself tried to transform Syracuse in accordance with an ideological recipe - and sent the city downhill to its ruin.90 It appears to me equally certain that it was philosophical experimentation of this kind that put the Chinese southern states out of condition and delivered them up to the imperialism of Tsin.91 The Jacobin fanatics of liberty and equality delivered France, from the Directory onward, into the hands of Army and Bourse for ever, and every Socialistic outbreak only blazes new paths for Capitalism.92 . . .
80 At the founding of the United States, no political parties existed. A "Federalist" party was the first one to organize, but it had no force after electing our second President, John Adams. Thomas Jefferson formed the first opposition party, calling it the "Republican Party." In the 1820s, this party divided into the "National Republicans" and the "Democratic Republicans." Eventually, the Nationals became the nucleus of the Whig party, and in 1854, most of the Whigs joined the new Republican Party. Meanwhile, the remainder adopted the simplified name of "Democratic" party about 1830.
81 There are unkind souls out there who would assert that this is the case with the new Reform Party, formed by Ross Perot, and seemingly mesmerized into doing his bidding, on demand.
82 In 1789, a mob in Paris overthrew Louis XVI and formed the First Republic. After the first defeat of Napoleon, in 1814, France compromised on a constitutional monarchy, headed by the surviving heir to the French throne, Louis XVIII. Another riot in Paris in 1848 led to the creation of the short-lived Second Republic. By the end of 1852, Napoleon III had been proclaimed Emperor.
83 The footnote at this point refers to Tammany Hall in New York. However, its power and influence declined substantially, particularly after President Franklin D. Roosevelt reduced its authority after Tammany Hall had failed to support his election, and again during the administrations of certain reform-minded mayors of New York, such as La Guardia and Lindsay. Modern election laws have all but outlawed most of what Tammany Hall did to maintain its power base.
84 This vision denies the possibility of true "reform." So far, the history in America is that we can periodically find leaders who will honestly implement a program of "reform." In particular, it is now totally illegal to trade votes in the legislative bodies for campaign contributions, or whatever. In the last decade, quite a number of politicians have been indicted, convicted, and sent to prison for just this sort of thing. But, as "where there's a will, there's a way," corruption still continues. But the masses still SEE this as corruption, and will tend to vote out clearly corrupt politicians. I feel that it is only when the mass of electors begins to openly tolerate corruption that you can achieve the full range of consequences which are predicted here by Spengler.
85 "The Social Contract" (1762), by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. This document formed the theoretical basis of most modern governments, but is impractical to implement. But you still hear references during debate to a "Social Contract" by one advocate or another of some particular point of view.
86 "The Communist Manifesto" (1848), by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. This document was the theoretical basis of Marxism and Communism, the now-discredited system of government.
87 I suppose boredom is as good a word as any, although I would much prefer a word which would simultaneously connote the spiritual bankruptcy in which each system finds itself at its finish.
88 It took six more decades for the Socialists to actually admit that Marx was dead, as an economic and social theoretician. A few years later, the greatest monument to Marx crumbled in its boots, as the Soviet Union turned itself into a "pillar of salt." Now, recalcitrant Fidel Castro is the only leader left who still acts as if he truly believes in Marx.
89 This is a sentence which I find repulsive. There is a kernel of truth buried within, but that does not ameliorate the overly pessimistic nature implicit in these words. While Spengler focuses upon repeating circular cycles, I find instead a picture of a rising spiral. (see Part III of this book.)
90 This example does not illustrate the wrongness of the Platonic theories, but instead, the failure of Plato, in his role as leader, to wisely implement those theories in accordance with the then current needs of his own people. If Spengler had paid attention to his own written words, which are quoted above in this very same section of this very same book, such a failure could have been predicted, solely upon the basis of the distinction drawn by Spengler between the "statesman" and the theoretician. It seems so obvious; as those with the gift for one occupation rarely also have the gift for another, so too it would be nearly inconceivable to find a theoretician par excellence, such as Plato, with the gift to actually lead.
91 Spengler's footnote cites to "examples of the pedagogic in interventions of `wisdom' into the province of politics." But again, these are distinct talents; and it is Spengler himself who notes that the rise of the bourgeoisie occurs when it "comes forward as a party with a program, consisting of aims that are not felt but defined, and the rejection of everything that cannot be rationally grasped." (see about ten paragraphs up in this quotation.) Such a program cannot be anything but "interventions of `wisdom' into the province of politics," and it is the very beginnings of the party phase of the cycle! In fact, the very definition of the bourgeoisie is that it is intellect and money. There is much more to say on this subject in Part III of this book.
92 Will and Ariel Durant, writing in "The Lessons of History" (1968), have a much better perspective on this phenomena. Throughout history, Capitalistic and Socialistic governments arise in reaction to each other; when the people perceive that Capitalism has overly oppressed them, they will cause a Socialistic government to be in power for a relatively short period of time; and then, they will revert to their primarily Capitalistic economic system, because that is the only system which instinctively feeds our inherent selfishness.
Please send us your feedback!