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Where Is Our Caesar?


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Isn't Spengler still tainted by his association with Nazism? Wasn't his work used (like Nietzsche's) to give a spurious intellectual underpinning to Nazi ideology? Doubtless someone out there knows more than I do about this area, but Nietzsche seems to have been subsequently exhonorated to a degree that Spengler hasn't.

Spengler was never associated with Nazism. The Nazis wanted to co-opt some of his ideas, but he didn't play ball:

The Hour of Decision, published in 1934, was a bestseller, but was later banned by the Nazis for its critiques of National Socialism. Spengler's criticisms of liberalism were welcomed by the Nazis, but Spengler disagreed with their biological ideology and anti-Semitism. While racial mysticism played a key role in his own worldview, Spengler had always been an outspoken critic of the pseudoscientific racial theories professed by the Nazis and many others in his time, and was not inclined to change his views upon Hitler's rise to power. Although himself a German nationalist, Spengler also viewed the Nazis as too narrowly German, and not occidental enough to lead the fight against other peoples.
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OK, does this populist revulsion against money, and where its power has led us, seem yet to happen before we get our Ceasar? Maybe soon but not quite yet?

I'm an ignoramus regarding Roman history, but l can't quite level the whole anti-money stance by Ceasar and his populairty with the middle classes. Was it because the system was captured by the real elite?

I think the point Spengler makes is that the populace become ever more aware that democracy is merely the tool of the plutocracy, and start to look elsewhere.

He then suggests that the only cultural element stronger than money is "blood" (as opposed to Marx who suggested class). By "blood" Spengler isn't suggesting ethnicity, but a kind of shared tribal/cultural identity, and it is by emphasising this shared tribal/cultural identity that the Caesar makes himself attractive.

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"e.g. that art would become meaningless and influenced by fashion, that irreligiousness and skepticism would spread."

You need another line.

Just because art has explored the possibility life may be meaningless does not make that art meaningless. As for irreligiousness and skepticism, see Chaucer and Rabelias.

(Incidentally it's better to get at Chaucer on cd or tape or whatever because who can read the Wife of Bath's tale better than Prunella Scales?)

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I would say this doesn't have to happen.

Yes, but Spengler doesn't give us any option. His model states that democracy is followed by Caesarism, which eventually breaks down into a dark age of warlordism.

So for him civilisation is an organism of itself that has a defined birth, life and death.

I'm just using this thread as a thought experiment. If his model is correct, and we're at the democracy stage, and the Caesar is inevitable, can we spot him/her at the present moment?

If not where are they going to come from? Historically it is from the Army. Here in the UK, although the Caesar figure is not yet visible, I would suggest that the conditions might be being prepared - there's a lot more military fetishism than there used to be (Wootton Bassett for example).

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Yeah - Spengler saw that every civilisation of the past followed pretty much the same pattern, and it was a pattern that the West was following quite closely. Some of his predictions (e.g. that art would become meaningless and influenced by fashion, that irreligiousness and skepticism would spread) are unnervingly accurate.

According to him, the collapse of democracy and the emergence of an autocrat would be inevitable. I can think of some people who might emerge in the US, but haven't seen anyone in the UK of any kind of equivalence.

Yes, the economic bankruptcy the West finds tself in is a reflection of a deeper moral and intellectual bankruptcy that preceded it. We tend only to look at the outer material conditions of life today without looking at the internal conditions which make them possible. From a history of ideas perspective, the problem grew as the medieval synthesis was lost; on the continent idealism developed and in the anglo countries you got realism, both are unbalanced and lead to the barbarism of ideology which is anti-thetical to culture. Culture is almost a meaningless term today.

Edited by roman holiday
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Good Lord. If government of self-determination is not the answer, then what is? Anarchy? Plutocracy?

Spreading out power to the greatest practical extent is the best outcome.

I think the ideal is a mixed constitution as was found in Britain where you have a counter-balance between the people, the aristocracy [supposedly a leisured intelligentsia] and a monarchy. But as I said, just an ideal.

In the states you have the Presidency, the Senate and Congress. What is needed now is very good STRONG leadership, but I fear Obama will not be able to provide it and continual squabbles will persist in Congress. This could be very detrimental to the future of America.

Edited by roman holiday
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Technically that might be true, but Spengler's model states that the Caesar stands against the power of money - this is why the populace choose him over democracy.

How do the corporate states of fascism compare? And wasn't Rome the model for fascists?

And then isn't there an element of a "self-fulfilling prophecy" to Spengler's thought?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oswald_Spengler

G. K. Chesterton took issue with both pessimists (such as Spengler) and their optimistic critics, arguing that neither took into consideration human choice: "The pessimists believe that the cosmos is a clock that is running down; the progressives believe it is a clock that they themselves are winding up. But I happen to believe that the world is what we choose to make it, and that we are what we choose to make ourselves; and that our renascence or our ruin will alike, ultimately and equally, testify with a trumpet to our liberty."
Edited by roman holiday
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Yeah - Spengler saw that every civilisation of the past followed pretty much the same pattern, and it was a pattern that the West was following quite closely. Some of his predictions (e.g. that art would become meaningless and influenced by fashion, that irreligiousness and skepticism would spread) are unnervingly accurate.

According to him, the collapse of democracy and the emergence of an autocrat would be inevitable. I can think of some people who might emerge in the US, but haven't seen anyone in the UK of any kind of equivalence.

What about the royals?

They already have the public eye, they're quite charasmatic and popular (Well, William and Harry at least). Already thought of as being in a position of power. If the goverment fooks things up enough, maybe they would 'step in' and rule over an 'interim' period.

Having said that, the way things are in th UK at the minute, we'll probably end up voting for him in some pop idol spin-off.

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