PJCV 6/2 - Oswald Spengler’s International Influence: From The Decline of the West till the Present Day
Philosophical Journal of Conflict and Violence
Editor-in-Chief: Andreas Wilmes
Guest Editor: Gregory Morgan Swer
Vol. VI (Issue 2/2022)
You can read this issue in open access
DOSSIER: Oswald Spengler’s International Influence: From The Decline of the West till the Present Day
By Gregory Morgan Swer
Stephen R. L. Clark
Abstract: The apparently pessimistic implications of Spenglerian analysis have often appealed to others who foresaw the end of Western civilization, but Spengler himself was less discouraged. Even if no great art, music or literature could be expected in these latter days, great engineering projects were possible, and to be admired. Nor was Western (“Faustian”) Culture and Civilization the only game in town: other Cultures, like the “Magian,” had been embedded and distorted by the dominant regimes, both Classical and Western, and could still be an inspiring presence. A similarly distorted Culture might still be growing in Russia. And even when all present Cultures were exhausted there would be hope of some new, unpredictable, emergence, for which I offer some imaginable examples drawn from contemporary fantasy, as well as the abiding presence of what Spengler usually thought “pre-cultural,” or “primitive” societies.
Abstract: For Oswald Spengler, the dwindling power of resistance against any physical or psychical threat is a typical symptom of the late stage of every civilisation. Strangely at odds with the obvious violence of the World Wars, Spengler’s predictions seem to concord oddly enough with today’s phenomenon of “post-heroism.” In the following, we will examine this question from the angle of the work of the German writer Monika Maron, whose novel Artur Lanz (2020) is not only devoted to the crisis of heroism and masculinity in the modern West, but also explicitly refers to Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West as a key source.
From Periodic Decline to Permanent Rebirth: Alexander Raven Thomson on Civilization, Pathology, and Violence
Rory Lawrence Phillips
Abstract: Alexander Raven Thomson was a British fascist philosopher, active from 1932 to 1955. I outline Thomson’s Spenglerian views on civilization and decline. I argue that Thomson in his first book is an orthodox Spenglerian who accepts that decline is inevitable and thinks that it is morally required to destroy civilization in its final stages. I argue that this suffers from conceptual issues which may have caused Thomson’s change to a revised form of Spenglerianism, which is more authentically fascist. This authentically fascist view is then seen to fall prey into the problem inherent in the very idea of permanent rebirth.
Becoming a Cultural Pessimist: Johan Huizinga’s In the Shadow of Tomorrow and The Decline of the West
Abstract: This paper explores Johan Huizinga’s cultural pessimism and the developments in his thought during the 1930’s. It will contextualize the evolution of his methodology in relation to perhaps the most exemplary cultural pessimist of modernity, Oswald Spengler. This paper traces the evolution of Huizinga’s thought, from his initial refutation of Spengler’s ‘romantical and metaphysical’ outlook on world history in a book review, to his eventual assimilation of similar methods and ideas.
European Revolutions and World War as Way Stations to Planetary Man: Rosenstock-Huessy’s Christian Rejoinder to Spengler’s The Decline of the West
Abstract: Along with Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929), Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy (1888-1973) developed an existential Speech Thinking that he critically applied to Spengler’s Decline of the West, portraying it in an early essay as evidence of “The Suicide of Europe” through a Greek posture of objective detachment. He would return to it throughout his life as a foil to the narrative “We” of living memory unfolding in the historical sequence of European Revolutions he described in several books and lectures as the working-out of second-millennium Christianity, adumbrating a third-millennium Planetary Man born of world war.
Tropical Faustian: Nick Joaquin’s Spenglerian Imagining of Colonial History in the Post-Authoritarian Philippines
Hidde van der Wall
Abstract: This article discusses how Philippine writer Nick Joaquin applied the ideas of Oswald Spengler in his historiography, notably the collection Culture and History (1988), his contribution to the post-authoritarian renegotiation of a national history fraught with colonial conflict and loss. This article argues that Joaquin adapted Spengler’s ideas, proposing the presence of a “Faustian” Filipino soul formed during the Spanish-colonial period, to a contradictory effect. It allowed him to assert a national identity that challenged the dichotomous ways in which Philippine history was conventionally conceived, but it also reintroduced Eurocentric and homogenizing schemes, reinforcing existing hegemonies in the postcolony.
Ben Van de Wall
Abstract: Through a discussion of Carl Schmitt's work this paper explores the theoretical implications of a war fought against a non-human enemy and suggests that Schmitt's work provides a useful framework of analysis for understanding the martial rhetoric that has surrounded Covid-19 policies. In Schmitt’s work we can identify the intricate relation between the absolutization and dehumanization of the enemy on the one hand and the dissolution of the distinction between the public and private sphere on the other. Schmitt’s warnings about the dangers of a global war in the name of humanity prove relevant to the war against a virus.
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