W. R. Collier Jr- Some 80 plus years ago Oswald Spengler, in his “Man and Technics”, described the final form of “materialism” a civilization takes before it enters a dead Caesarism which he felt had been expressed in the 18th and 19th centuries but which would give way to the fascism of the 1930’s which, though he was no fan of fascism, he felt was inevitable.
Spengler was prescient but wrong, at the same time. While he described a genuine philosophy of “materialism”, rooted in Hegel and Marx’s interpretation of Hegel, he failed to see that this ideology as a rebellion against morality had not taken root in the masses, but only among the elite. It is for our day that what he called materialism, and which I describe, I think more accurately, as libertine collectivism has become so general that in much of Western Civilization it has displaced faith and morality as surely as it has replaced science and reason, it’s constant claims to be “scientific” notwithstanding.
And so he writes of this utopian, but actually dystopian, fantasy that poisons the minds of a late and dying culture:
“No more war; no more distinctions between races, peoples, states, or religions; no criminals or adventurers; no conflicts arising out of superiorities and differences, no hate or vengeance anymore, but eternal comfort throughout the millennia. Even today, when we experience the last phases of this trivial optimism, these idiocies make one shudder, thinking of the appalling boredom — the taedium vitae of the Roman Imperial age — that spreads over the soul in the mere reading of such idylls, of which even a partial actualisation in real life could only lead to wholesale murder and suicide.”
What he leaves us with, however, is only resignation and despair. The Caesar must come, sewing together the ruined pieces sundered by the time of fantastical decadence, and he must reign some centuries before the final curtain falls on a civilization.
Spengler failed on three counts: the attempted Caesarism of the 1930’s and 40’s in the West was only a dry run for the real thing, his “materialism” had not run its course (and still has not), and he neglected to take into account that the history of civilizations is not linear- one civilization does not follow another, but one begins even as another is coming to an end, and many escape the vissicitudes of the dying civilization by embracing the ideals of the new civilization.
His description, however, of 19th century materialism in its propositions, promises, and its gross pride in its alleged scientific basis (witness the global warming cult, akin to the classic end-times cults of the mid to later 19th century which were just as “certain” of their theological and mathematical predictions), sounds like the pop-culture version of late Western “progressivism” which, as he also notes, actually seeks a stasis of luxury for all without want, a paradise on earth, achieved by the gods of men, the technocracy, all for pleasure, a utility of “whatever pleases the majority”, that sweeps aside the individual, all while claiming to practically adore the individual, that, like Caesar, “makes a desert and calls it peace.”
Because MOST people, even some reading this, have such a tiny porthole through which they view such things as history and philosophy, instead of the grand vistas of 30,000 plus years of the rise and fall of human societies, it is impossible to dig deeper than perhaps 100 years back and to look no further than the next “most important ever” election! When you see the march of history, in its cycles and patterns, it is a wonder everyone isn’t even now looking for signs of the coming civlization which, like all new civilizations, will be first and foremost moral, virtuous. They would discard the pleasure seekers and fantasy weavers, knowing that these are not prophets of a golden age but pallbearers of a dying culture.