"For us, too - let there be no mistake about it - the age of theory is drawing to its end. The great systems of Liberalism and Socialism all arose between about 1750 and 1850. That of Marx is already [in 1922] half a century old, and it has had no successor. Inwardly it means, with its materialist view of history, that Nationalism has reached its extreme logical conclusion; it is therefore an end-term. But, as belief in Rousseau's Rights of Man lost its force from (say) 1848, so belief in Marx lost its force from the World War [I].93 When one contrasts the devotion unto death that Rousseau's ideas found in the French Revolution with the attitude of the Socialists of 1918,94 who had to keep up before and in their adherents a conviction that they themselves no longer possessed - for the sake, not of the idea, but of the power that depended on it - one discerns also the stretches of the road ahead, where what still remains of program is doomed to fall by the way as being henceforth a mere handicap in the struggle for power. Belief in program was the mark and the glory of our grandfathers - in our grandsons it will be a proof of provincialism.95 In its place is developing even now the seed of a new resigned piety, sprung from tortured conscience and spiritual hunger, whose task will be to found a new Hither-side that looks for secrets instead of steel-bright concepts and in the end will find them in the deeps of the `Second Religiousness.'96
"This is the one side, the verbal side, of the great fact Democracy. It remains now to consider the other, the decisive side, that of race.97 Democracy would have remained in minds and on paper had there not been amongst its champions true master-natures for whom - unconscious though they may be, and often have been, of the fact - the people is nothing but an object and the ideal nothing but a means.98 All, even the most irresponsible, methods of demagogy - which inwardly is exactly the same as the diplomacy of the ancien régime,99 but designed for application to masses instead of to princes and ambassadors, to wild opinions and sentiments and will-outbursts instead of to choice spirits, an orchestra of brass instead of old chamber music - have been worked out by honest but practical democrats, and it was from them that the parties of tradition learnt them.100
"It is characteristic, however, of the course of democracy, that the authors of popular constitutions have never had any idea of the actual workings of their schemes - neither the authors of the `Servian' Constitution in Rome nor the National Assembly in Paris. Since these forms of theirs are not, like feudalism, the result of growth, but of thought (and based, moreover, not on deep knowledge of men and things, but on abstract ideas of right and justice), a gulf opens between the intellectual side of the laws and - the practical habits that silently form under the pressure of them, and either adapt them to, or fend them off from, the rhythm of actual life. Only experience has ever taught the lesson, and only at the end of the whole development has it been assimilated, that the rights of the people and the influence of the people are two different things. The more nearly universal a franchise is, the less becomes the power of the electorate.
"In the beginning of a democracy, the field belongs to intellect alone. History has nothing nobler and purer to show than the night session of the 4th August 1789 and the Tennis-Court Oath, or the assembly in the Frankfurt Paulskirche101 on the 18th May 1848 - when men, with power in their very hands, debated general truths so long that the forces of actuality were able to rally and thrust the dreamers aside. But, meantime, that other democratic quantity lost no time in making its appearance and reminding men of the fact that one can make use of constitutional rights only when one has money.102 That a franchise should work even approximately as the idealist supposes it to work presumes the absence of any organized leadership operating on the electors (in its interest) to the extent that its available money permits.103 As soon as such leadership does appear, the vote ceases to possess anything more than the significance of a censure applied by the multitude to the individual organizations, over whose structure it possesses in the end not the slightest positive influence.104 So also with the ideal thesis of Western constitutions, the fundamental right of the mass to choose its own representatives - it remains pure theory, for in actuality every developed organization recruits itself.105 Finally, the feeling emerges that the universal franchise contains no effective rights at all, not even that of choosing between parties.106 For the powerful figures that have grown up on their soil control, through money, all the intellectual machinery of speech and script, and are able, on the one hand, to guide the individual's opinions as they please above the parties, and, on the other, through their patronage, influence, and legislation, to create a firm body of whole-hearted supporters (the `Caucus') which excludes the rest and induces in it a vote-apathy which at the last it cannot shake off even for the great crisis.107
"In appearance, there are vast differences between the Western, parliamentary, democracy and the democracies of the Egyptian, Chinese, and Arabian Civilizations, to which the idea of a universal popular franchise is wholly alien. But in reality, for us in this age of ours, the mass is `in form' as an electorate in exactly the same sense as it used to be `in form' as a collectivity of obedience - namely, as an object for a subject - as it was `in form' in Baghdad as the sects, and in Byzantium in its monks, and elsewhere again as a dominant army or a secret society or a `state within a state.' Freedom is, as always, purely negative. It consists in the repudiation of tradition, dynasty, Caliphate; but the executive power passes, at once and undiminished, from these institutions to new forces - party leaders, dictators, presidents, prophets, and their adherents - towards which the multitude continues to be unconditionally the passive object.108 `Popular self-determination' is a courteous figure of speech - in reality, under a universal-inorganic franchise, election has soon ceased to possess its original meaning. The more radical the political elimination of the matured old order of Estates and callings, the more formless and feckless the electoral mass, the more completely is it delivered into the hands of the new powers, the party leaders, who dictate their will to the people through all the machinery of intellectual compulsion; fence with each other for primacy by methods which in the end the multitude can neither perceive nor comprehend; and treat public opinion merely as a weapon to be forged and used for blows at each other. But this very process, viewed from another angle, is seen as an irresistible tendency driving every democracy further and further on the road to suicide.109
93 This is obviously untrue, as belief in Marx held sway at least through the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. The death of that belief dates to no earlier than about 1980, when countries such as Hungary began to experiment with "mixed" economies of Capitalist and Socialist forms.
94 Spengler is probably referring to the Socialists of Germany, who were in a difficult position at the end of World War I (1918). It is amazing to me that the Russian Revolution of 1917 receives no mention at all in this treatise! The conclusion must be that, even by his Second Edition of 1922, Spengler did not yet perceive the force that this dramatic change in Russia would have on the history of the remainder of the twentieth century. Perhaps he was of the opinion that it would be but a minor aberration in the stream of events, much as was the Second Republic in France (1848-1852).
95 Program still has power as a political message. The Republican "Contract with America" is but the most recent example of this. As recent revelations show, Newt Gingrich began plotting this 1994 power grab all the way back in 1989! The entire basis of the power grab was to offer Americans a program which would be non-controversial and would attract votes. It was, and it did. But the true message of the 1994 election is that an attractive program still begets power, and the corresponding message from the 1992 elections (where President Bush essentially vetoed the use of the identical program for that election) is that lack of a program is what kept the Republicans out of power for so long. Thus, we hardly seem to be anywhere near the point where politicians will run on the strength of personality alone, which is the essence of the run-up to Cęsarism.
96 Spengler's footnote at this point refers to an exposition on the "Second Religiousness." Another footnote there leaves no doubt: the "Second Religiousness" must be a form which contains certain elements of Gothic Christianity, and it will be seen as sect-like as it grows. The main text notes that the "Second Religiousness" is characterized by a strong feeling of piety, and will implement a syncretism of religious movements. In my humble opinion, all of these elements are fulfilled by the "Born-Again Christian" movement which arose around 1965. It: 1) is a sect of Christianity; 2) is open to present or former adherents of any Christian (or other) church, and is insensitive to variations in ritual (thus implementing the indicated syncretism); and 3) holds itself out as a strongly pious belief system (although far too many of the sects are seemingly involved in scandal of one sort or another). A clear distinction, however, exists in the fact that the Christian Coalition is attempting to mount a political program on behalf of the adherents of this religious sect. The program, for example, includes such "steel-bright concepts" as a firm opposition to all forms of abortion and suppression of entertainment options which are not illustrative of so-called "family values." Whether or not Spengler would consider that a disqualifying factor is open to speculation. My personal opinion is that it is NOT a disqualification for a "Second Religiousness" sect to have a political program. But since it should be the companion of Cęsarism, its rise over the last couple of decades would clearly indicate that part of the program may well be to install the Cęsar-figure as our ruler. The first attempt at this was clearly when Pat Robertson first ran for President. While no obvious religious leader is in the current field, that should not be taken as an indication that the influence of this group is not felt.
97 It is difficult for an American of the 1990s to read the word "race" as Spengler writes it and give it the proper meaning. At this point, Spengler's text contains a footnote which refers to an explanatory text pointing out that the distinctions of "race" consist of both genetic ("blood") and psychic ("soul") components. But if you read the description in Volume I of the Magian "race," of which the Jews are but one prominent branch, it becomes clear that the genetic component is not the primary distinction. As Spengler points out, Jews from around the world (due to a certain amount of inter-marriage down through time) have physical characteristics which are similar to the peoples in which they reside as a separate community, but none of this alters, to any significant degree, their membership in the Jewish nation or the Magian "race." Thus, when Spengler writes "race" I prefer to think of the soul forces which are striving to compete with other people, nations, or Civilizations for "survival of the fittest." This is more along the lines of a "foot race" than it is along the lines of what we normally understand as "race" as modern Americans.
98 The "master-natures" which Spengler refers to here can arise out of any group of people, and often have. In our society, there are many characteristics of mankind which we argue one way or another about whether they are the product of genealogy or environment. Increasingly, environment has the edge. For example, one group of scientists now asserts that mathematical ability in a child can be created by exposing the fetus and newborn child to the music of Mozart. Time and time again we see examples where a strong ghetto parent raised an otherwise disadvantaged child to be a prodigy of one sort or another. I, for one, refuse to believe that the ability to lead is in the genes.
99 The term "ancien regime" is "a French expression meaning `old order,' commonly used to denote the social and political system of the kingdom of France (with particular reference to the form given to it under the Bourbon kings in the 17th and 18th centuries), overthrown by the Revolution of 1789." (Encyclopędia Britannica (1975), Volume I, page 348.)
100 The key thought in this extremely convoluted sentence (which, remember, has its ancestry in the German language) says: "All methods of demagogy have been worked out by honest but practical democrats." With that thought, I can only agree. Democracy is grounded in a free exchange of ideas between the opposing sides, and complete freedom leads to abuse by all participants; so the most abusive forms of demagogy are the natural result of any truly democratic system.
101 The word "kirche" in German is "church" in English, so this is an untranslated proper name which would translate to "Paul's Church."
102 Spengler's footnote at this point states: "The early democracy, which in our case reaches up to Lincoln, Bismarck, and Gladstone, has to learn this by experience. The later democracy, in our case mature parliamentarianism, starts out from it; here truths and facts finally separate out in the form of party ideals and party funds. It is the money that gives the real parliamentarian his sense of being freed from the dependence which is implicit in the naive idea that the elector has of his delegate." In a much broader sense, however, this statement would also apply to ANY rights we all presume to have. The most recent example of this is the O. J. Simpson trial; a poor defendant would not have been freed.
103 This, of course, is the Ultimate Truth about democracy. However, here in the United States, we are still able to shame our delegates from time to time into curbing the power of money in various ways. Congress this year passed "Gift Reform" and "Lobby Reform" legislation, and campaign reform lies on the horizon (but, of course, that is where the bodies are really buried, so it is still possible that nothing may happen). But it is at least the public recognition that this is a problem that should give us all hope that our delegates might yet devise a way to prohibit the most obvious and glaring abuses.
104 This is a telling observation. To me, this embodies the reasoning behind the modern voting method: pick the lesser of the two evils (applying "censure" to the other choice).
105 This is obviously true. One of the key points to come out of the recent GOPAC scandal involving Speaker Gingrich is that funds from GOPAC were being used to recruit candidates for Congress before GOPAC registered under federal laws. In general, the "favored" candidate in any primary election will be the one picked by the party bosses, and who thereby has access to the money, power, and prestige of organizations such as GOPAC. While it is still possible for a candidate to be nominated without first being the object of that kind of recruitment, it is problematical whether or not such a candidate, if elected, will have any power to do anything significant in the legislative body without first joining "the club" of the party's inner circle.
106 This feeling has surely been growing in the United States, as evidenced by the poor voter turnout figures of recent elections. In most elections, the majority of the electorate can't be bothered with actually voting.
107 This explanation is overly simplistic because it fails to consider the effect of modern technology. Still, it is a disturbing vision of at least a potential reality, which is clearly partly realized.
108 Spengler's footnote at this point says: "That the mass all the same feels itself as freed is simply another outcome of the profound incompatibility between megalopolitan spirit and mature tradition. Its acts, so far from being independent, are in inward relation with its subjection to money rule."
109 Spengler's footnote at this point refers to the German constitution of 1919, which established a system of proportional representation based upon lists of candidates selected by the various parties. This form of democracy is the best (or worst?) example of self-selection possible, as the party leaders, with their names heading the list, are those most certain of election. As Spengler notes, the rights are given to parties, not to individuals, and thus this constitution with "a few small alterations and it confers unrestricted powers upon individuals." Of course, it is just that sort of "unrestricted" power which led to Hitler. Thus, Spengler's "Cęsarism of the organizations" led directly to Hitler as Cęsar. But Hitler was "out of form," as the rest of the West was unready to be ruled by a Cęsar, especially a German Cęsar, and thus the outcome of World War II was to create yet another German constitution.
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