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Spengler on Causation

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One of the most interesting and original aspects of Oswald Spengler’s philosophy is his separation of history from causality. For Spengler, history is an examination of the fulfillment of a particular group’s destiny that is not necessarily subject to the strictures of cause and effect:

…[A]s yet there exists no theory-enlightened art of historical treatment. What passes as such draws its methods almost exclusively from the domains of that science which alone has completely disciplined the methods of cognition, viz., physics, and thus we imagine ourselves to be carrying on historical research when we are really following out objective connections of cause and effect. It is a remarkable fact that the old-fashioned philosophy never imagined even the possibility of there being any other relation than this between the conscious human understanding and the world outside.1

While Spengler’s approach has the effect of challenging the very basis of historiography since the time of von Ranke, it also has the liberating effect of allowing us to see more clearly the limited ability of human agency to effect historical change. Now, before the Alt-Right purists join their civnat compatriots in robustly reciting William Ernest Henley’s poem “Invictus” and loudly proclaiming the transcendental superiority of the individual will, consider the following: In the 45 years of the Cold War, literally trillions of dollars were spent and trillions of man-hours were used to create weapons systems and espionage networks to contain and eventually defeat the Soviet Union and her allies. The best minds and the resources of the finest universities and think tanks were tasked with trying to understand what was happening behind the Iron Curtain. Every May Day and other Soviet holidays, the most brilliant analysts in North America and Europe would parse every photograph taken of Politburo members watching the military parades in Moscow to see how close the various members stood to the current Party Chairman so as to gain an inkling behind the politics of our adversaries. And we now know that throughout the course of the Cold War almost all of the communications in the Soviet Union were being intercepted and monitored by Western agencies. Yet, when the Soviet Union fell apart, it took the West completely by surprise. Not one—repeat, not one—Western expert saw the collapse coming. In fact, analyses by American intelligence agencies predicted a strong future for the Soviet Union for the foreseeable future.

The “official” reason given for the collapse of the Soviet Union is that President Reagan’s arms buildup led to a competitive arms race that bankrupted the Soviet Union. That is pure hogwash. North Korea has assembled a nuclear program with an economy just a small fraction of that of the former Soviet Union and with a far greater power differential than that which existed between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The real reason for the collapse of the Soviet Union was a collective loss of will, a loss that has yet to affect North Korea.

But how does one go about explaining a nation’s loss of will? There are too many variables, too many moving parts, for a cause-and-effect explanation to be satisfactory. Spengler’s great insight is that nations, like individual human beings, are organic entities, and all organic entities have a life span. One can eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, avoid drugs, tobacco, and excessive alcohol consumption, and yet one will inevitably die. This is the destiny of all individuals, and according to Spengler, the destiny of all cultures and civilizations.

We on the dissident Right have the advantage that we are aware that the West has lost its will to survive, that Western Civilization is slowly committing suicide. This is indeed sad and such feelings give rise to the understandable but mistaken desire to “do something.” But first, we need to ask ourselves, “Is America worth saving?” Is a country that actively discriminates against the interests of white persons worthy of white support? Is a political system in which the only two viable political parties are actively working against the national interests worthy of being preserved? I think many of us would answer in the negative.

So then, what is to be done? Uncoordinated individual actions are pointless. Collective actions in the form of political organizing are necessary not with a mind towards a restoration of the “republic,” but of protecting white interests, stymieing our enemies, and preparing for the next stage of white cultural and political evolution. The American “Experiment” has been tried and found wanting, the Enlightenment was a fraud, and Leftism in all its varieties has been revealed to be not a polity but a mental disease completely divorced from reality. One thing is certain: When the end of America and Western liberalism comes about, it will be completely unexpected by all of the experts both as to its timing and method of collapse.


1 Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. I, trans. by Charles Francis Atkinson, (New York, Knopf, 1932), p. 7.


  1. BroncoColorado
    Posted June 7, 2019 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    A very good article, particularly the last paragraph.
    Spengler in using analogies provided by the biological aspects of animal growth completely ignored the plant world and its subtle ways. For example the grape vine in Winter is a lifeless stick, for all appearances a dead twig, but the life force resides within the root of the vine and when Spring returns the vine bursts once again into life and produces abundant fruit. In a similar way civilizations as expressions of a particular people or ethnic group produce achievements in favorable times but must be quiescent appearing dormant when the tide of history is adverse. As long as the root, the rhizome, is intact all is well. The periodic outward appearances of a civilization, the ‘fruit and leaves’ are not so important, it is the root that must be safeguarded.
    Chinese and Indian civilizations instinctively know this and have survived by holding strong to their inner being and convictions. Western man must do likewise.

  2. Ovidiu
    Posted June 7, 2019 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Spengler offers not explanation at all. To say that “it is in the nature of things” (everything grows old and dies eventually) is not an explanation but a description. It is useful but not explanatory.

    We don’t know the causes of the rise-and-fall cycle of civilizations, though there is no shortage of theories, but we have well documented the ‘symptoms’ of the stages of the cycle and , based on that, we can indeed say the West is now slipping on the declining and disintegrating slope.

    But will it necessarily fall ? The Roman Republic went into a nose a dive during the 1 century BC and fell apart in civil wars. It dissolved into inter-ethnic wars (the Socii war) and a string of political wars (optimates versus populares) which decimated the population. There were more Romans who died in the Battle of the Colline Gate than a century before in the Battle of Cannae against Hannibal.
    But the Romans eventually recouped under a new politico-administrative organization and went on to have another hugely successful two centuries. That until the disintegrative forces appeared again -the so called Crisis of the Third Century- and from then on until the end it was only slow decline, chronic weakness, chronic crisis and economic and cultural dissolution.

    We can’t say what will happen precisely because we do not have and explanatory theory but only a Spenglerian description. Such a description is useful as a frame for analysis only after the cycle has been completed. Otherwise, while it is still on, any downturn may be just a temporary downturn, a transient crisis to be followed by a reorganization and a regaining of the momentum, or it may be indeed the last gasps.

  3. Posted June 7, 2019 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Every scintilla of evidence that we have been able to collect as a species tells us that the Universe operates on the basis of cause-and-effect relationships, that is, on the principles of Causality. It is not governed by supernatural forces, nor on the mental constructions and wishful thinking of intellectuals and ideologues, nor on the religious fantasies of theologians.

    There is undoubtedly genius in Spengler’s theories, and in the insights of his acolytes Francis Parker Yockey and Julius Evola. But to the degree that their thought-world is built on inorganic thinking that is divorced from biological reality, they are wrong.

    • J. Goodlow
      Posted June 9, 2019 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      But cause and effect is also a mental construction. It is an explanation of something inherent in appearance but is not to be found in the appearance itself.

      • Martin Kerr
        Posted June 10, 2019 at 12:48 am | Permalink


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