skip to Main Content
From a photograph of Oswald Spengler
Kerry Bolton

Spengler, Epigenetics and the Idea of ‘Race’ – Part 1

Series: Epigenetics and the Idea of ‘Race’

Oswald Spengler’s teaching on human race, controversial to both the Right and the Left, might be vindicated by recent studies in epigenetics.

1. Introduction

Oswald Spengler affronts both the positivism of Liberalism and Marxism on the one hand (which are based on a lineal ‘march of history’ from ‘primitive to modern’, ending in a utopian ‘end of history’, at which humanity has reached its apex of striving), and the ‘Right’ on the other, from which Spengler himself emerged, but which has nevertheless often rejected his non-zoological definitions of ‘race’. Both concepts, whether of ‘Right’ or Left’, Spengler saw as hangovers of 19th century materialism, the Zeitgeist which was primarily represented by England. Hence, Marxism for example was just as much a product of that Zeitgeist as the Manchester School of Free Trade, and Darwinism. Indeed, these doctrines were often conflated (Social Darwinism), while Darwinism was brought to Germany by Haeckel and largely displaced German Idealism in the name of science. Because the present Zeitgeist remains that of the 19th century, with Free Trade now more entrenched over much of the Earth than ever, under the name of ‘globalization’ and ‘democracy’, materialist doctrines remain dominant. Spengler’s explication of such concepts as the race soul, the spirit of the age, and the metaphysical imprint of the landscape on race-formation, seem absurd to the scientism of the present, which is the legacy of the positivism of prior centuries. However, a new biological science, epigenetics, offers an explanation as to how race-formation can, as Spengler suggested, be shaped by history and culture giving meanings beyond calliper measurements and gene clusters.

Spengler stated that there is no such nebulous entity as ‘mankind’, and ‘no march of history’, understood as some kind of Darwinistic evolution from ‘primitive to modern’, in which every human participates in a market economy and votes for Westminster-style parliaments.

Oswald Spengler as a man of the ‘Right’ is anathema to the whole genre of the Left, as well as the Liberalism of the 19th century ‘Whig’ variety, if for no other reason (although there are a multitude) than that his organic, cyclical interpretation of history rejects the positivist, progressive-lineal history that continues to be the dominant outlook among academia. Spengler stated in his magnum opus The Decline of The West, and elsewhere, that there is no such nebulous entity as ‘mankind’ in historical terms, and ‘no march of history’, understood as some kind of Darwinistic evolution from ‘primitive to modern’, culminating in a global utopia in which every human, from Sweden’s fjords to the Kalahari and Amazon, participates in a market economy and votes for Westminster-style parliaments. This is precisely what one proponent of this positivist approach, Dr. Francis Fukuyama, optimistically predicted would be the ‘end of history’.1 It is the same outlook that possessed the Victorians, who saw the 19th century as the culmination of all anterior human striving, reflected in the Industrial Revolution. This was expressed in a particularly cogent manner by A. R. Wallace, as influential a proponent of biological evolution as Darwin, when in 1898 he ebulliently stated in his cheerfully titled The Wonderful Century:

Not only is our century superior to any that have gone before it but … it may be best compared with the whole preceding historical period. It must therefore be held to constitute the beginning of a new era of human progress. … We men of the 19th Century have not been slow to praise it. The wise and the foolish, the learned and the unlearned, the poet and the pressman, the rich and the poor, alike swell the chorus of admiration for the marvellous inventions and discoveries of our own age, and especially for those innumerable applications of science which now form part of our daily life, and which remind us every hour or our immense superiority over our comparatively ignorant forefathers.2

This utopian optimism, supposedly ‘proven’ by 19th century science and industry, was itself hardly new. Marquis de Condorcet had said much the same in the prior century.3 It seems that every century of the ‘Winter’ epoch of the West throws up a new prophet of ‘progress’ – de Condorcet, A. R. Wallace, Marx, Francis Fukuyama in our time – and in the name of such ‘progress’ wars and revolutions can be fought. The more democratic in name, the bloodier these ideologies seem to become (Jacobinism, Bolshevism). This is not to say that the prophets of a universal ‘march of progress’ went unchallenged. Rather, such types are not the norm, but are aberrations that emerge during what Spengler called the ‘Winter’ epoch of a Civilization, where the spirit has become ossified, and the instinct etiolated. To the contrary, throughout preceding culture epochs, the usual historical outlook is cyclic, and is reflected even in the conceptions of time among cultures in a traditional sense, as examined by Mircea Eliade.4 Spengler provided 20th century scholarship to the traditional cyclical outlook. In the West, Giambattista Vico (1668–1744), considered the father of historical-philosophy, had already stated that civilizations go through epochs similar to those of Spengler: Poetic, Heroic, Reasonable (Rationalism),5 analogous to Spengler’s Spring, Summer, Autumn/Winter.

World War I interrupted the optimism of the 19th century, as the war era brought not only economic distress, but a collapse of the social, moral and spiritual fabric of Western society, albeit a fabric that men such as Spengler could point out had long been in a state of decay. To paraphrase Nietzsche, the Great War gave a push to that which had been falling. There were those who saw the war’s aftermath and its culture-chaos as a victory of what Spengler in the final chapter of The Decline of The West calls the fight between ‘Money and Blood’, in which ‘Money’ won. Poets such as Ezra Pound and W. B. Yeats agreed with Spengler in regarding the democratic era as a façade for plutocracy, and they deplored the commercialization of the arts as a product of the epoch: culture as a commodity like everything else.

While Spengler emerged as a leading proponent of the so-called ‘Conservative Revolution’ in Weimar Germany, itself a reaction to this chaos, his continuation of the German Idealist legacy that placed spirit above matter in the formation of the Volk put him in opposition to many emerging elements of the ‘Right’ in Germany before the war, and those on much of the ‘Right’ outside of Germany after the war, over the question of ‘race’. Ironically, the Hitlerites owed more to English Darwinian and various Malthusian conceptions than to German Idealism, although the two mixed uneasily in the Third Reich. While the Left regard Spengler as a ‘racist’ philosopher, racial theorists conversely saw his rejection of biological racial taxonomy as having something of the ‘Left’ about it. Indeed, Spengler commits a heresy in citing the work of Franz Boas of Columbia University, who provided statistical analysis for the hypothesis that landscape changes skull shape among first generation immigrant children of Sicilians and Jews, and that the skulls of such children tend towards an ‘American’ skull type.

Yet Spengler did not reject race; rather he affirmed it. However, in his rejection of every facet of the Zeitgeist of 19th century materialism, Spengler affirmed the German Idealist philosophers, Hegel,6 Herder, Fichte, Goethe, and later Nietzsche, who had defined nationality, Volk and nation, as expressions of a ‘spirit’ of the land that impresses on its inhabitants in a metaphysical sense. For today’s materialism, this seems unscientific, whether from a Left-wing total rejection of ‘race’ as an illegitimate concept, or from the viewpoint of those scientists who insist – in the face of much adversity – that race is primarily based on gene clusters.7 Indeed, with respect to this legacy, Goethe was the basis of Spengler’s historical method. He is cited throughout The Decline of The West. Of the method of historical morphology developed from Goethe, Spengler states:

Culture is the prime phenomenon of all past history and future world-history. The deep, and scarcely appreciated, idea of Goethe, which he discovered in his ‘living nature’ and always made the basis of his morphological researches, we shall here apply – in its most precise sense – to all the formation of man’s history, whether fully matured, cut off in the prime, half opened or stifled in the seed. It is the method of living into (erfühlen) the object, as opposed to dissecting it.8

This is what Spengler calls Goethe’s ‘looking into the heart of things’, ‘but the century of Darwin is as remote from such a vision as it is possible to be’. We look in vain for any treatment of history that is ‘entirely free from the methods of Darwinism’.9 Spengler credits Goethe with describing the ‘epochs of the spirit’ of a civilization that agrees with his own, preliminary, early, late, and civilized stages,10 which Goethe called in an 1817 essay, Epochs of the Spirit, the Ages of Poetry, Theology, Philosophy, and the Prosaic. They equate with Spengler’s seasonal metaphors (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter) which he calls ‘spiritual epochs’.

Ironically, and tragically, the predominant outlook adopted by the Hitlerites was not that of German idealist conceptions of the Volk, which implies a cultural-spiritual identity; but that of English biologism, including Darwinism, and hence, materialism, Darwinism itself having been imparted to Germany by Haeckel, and race doctrine by the Englishman Houston Stewart Chamberlain. In particular, Spengler’s Decline of The West stood in contradiction to the race doctrine of Hitler’s chief ideologue, Alfred Rosenberg, whose Myth of the Twentieth Century was intended as a sequel to Chamberlain’s Foundations of the Nineteenth Century. When Spengler refused to be appropriated by the Third Reich, despite Goebbels’ efforts,11 he became persona non grata, and his final book, The Hour of Decision, was proscribed, albeit widely read.12

Epigenetics implies that common experiences, or ‘history’, can shape the collective psyche of a group and can be passed along.

Spengler seemed to have been refuted as much as Lamarck and Lysenko, from every vantage point of science. The primary mystery, like the mechanism by which Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious can be somehow inherited, was how landscape can seemingly magically impress itself on clusters of individuals to form them into a ‘race’? The very idea seems to lie more in the realm of the supernatural than of science. However, there is presently a scientific revolution taking place that is altering many perceptions and giving possible answers to perplexing questions on the now-reconsidered ‘inheritance of acquired characteristics’. Although this is often confused in the popular press with the debunked theories of Lamarck and the USSR’s Lysenko, this branch of biology called ‘epigenetics’ does not replace the laws of Mendelian genetics, but shows that genetics is not the only mechanism by which characteristics can be passed along. Indeed, the original exponent of epigenetics, who coined the word in 1942, was the eminent British geneticist C. H. Waddington.13 What epigenetics seems to indicate is that the experiences of one generation can affect the character of subsequent generations. If this is correct, then it implies that these common experiences, or ‘history’, can shape the collective psyche of a group and be passed along. Such traits are also reinforced through generations by being maintained as collective memories in myths, legends, religions and customs.

Hence in hypothesizing that history shapes and forms ‘race’, epigenetics could be at least one of the factors that enables this process to occur. It means that rather than ‘race’ being the creator of history, as per the race theories that dominated the Third Reich,14 Spengler’s contention – and that of other conservative philosophers in the German Idealist tradition such as Eric Voegelin,15 namely,that history forms ‘race’ – becomes scientifically plausible, as does Jung’s theory of the inherited collective unconscious, archetypes, the ‘national spirit,’ and the spiritus loci.16

Rootedness of families in landscape produces what Spengler called ‘race’, defined as ‘a character of duration’.17 This ‘conception of a morphology of world history’, ‘of the world-as-history in contrast to the morphology of the world-as-nature’,18 is important in considering the decline and fall of civilizations as an organic process of life cycles, which genetic interpretations overlook or discount.

2. Spengler on ‘Race’

Spengler, in rejecting a zoological interpretation of history as well as a zoological categorization of ‘race’, stated that ‘what I for the first time have pointed out is that “nation”, like state, art, mathematics, is only a term, that race-forms like art-forms are determined by the style of a culture and cannot as stationery substances be made the foundation of history.’19 Spengler stated that ‘races’ have a ‘plant-like’ quality, insofar as ‘a race has roots.’ ‘Race and landscape belong together. Where a plant takes root, there it dies also.’ A race is permanently fixed in ‘its most essential characters of body and soul’ to its home. If the race can no longer be found in its home, it has ceased to exist.20

A race does not migrate. Men migrate, and their successive generations are born in ever-changing landscapes; but the landscape exercises a secret force upon the plant-nature in them, and eventually the race-expression is completely transformed by the extinction of the old and the appearance of a new one. Englishmen and Germans did not migrate to America, but human beings migrated thither as Englishmen and Germans, and their descendants are there as Americans.21

In The Hour of Decision, he wrote of this conception in contrast to a materialistic conception of race:

But in speaking of race, it is not intended in the same sense in which it is the fashion among anti-Semites in Europe and America to use it today: Darwinistically, materialistically. Race purity is a grotesque word in view of the fact that for centuries all stocks and species have been mixed, and that warlike – that is, healthy – generations with a future before them have from time immemorial always welcomed a stranger into the family if he had ‘race’, to whatever race it was he belonged. Those who talk too much about race no longer have it in them. What is needed is not a pure race, but a strong one, which has a nation within it.22

Spengler accepted the race-forming force of the landscape in changing the physiology and soul. Carl Jung said much the same.23 Spengler referred to studies that had shown that ‘Whites of all races, Indians and Negros have come to the same average in size of body and time of maturity’, referring to the research of American anthropologist Franz Boas that indicated the impact of environment on the change in skull shape of American-born children of Sicilian and German-Jewish migrants.24 Spengler stated that assumptions should not be made about race based on ancient skulls, such as those of the Etruscans, Dorians and others.25 He wrote that ‘of all expressions of race, the purest is the House’, expressing the ‘prime feeling of growth’ of a race.26 Hence, he studied the meaning of Doric columns, the domed mosque, and Gothic spires, each expressing the soul of a civilization much better than cranial angles. To Spengler one could tell more of the élan of a race or an individual representative of the leadership stratum of a race by a portrait painting than by an examination of the skull. A portrait captures a certain look of character and bearing, of the noble or of the craven, which skeletal indices do not indicate.

To Spengler one could tell more of the élan of a race or an individual representative of the leadership stratum of a race by a portrait painting than by an examination of the skull.

Clearly, Spengler’s views on ‘race’ were antithetical to the National Socialists, and continue to be so by those of the ‘Right’ who are inspired by a genetic determinism. Nonetheless, Spengler remains intrinsically heretical to liberalism. His conception of ‘race’ is as objectionable as any other at a time when it is academically fashionable to deny that any such a concept exists. Spengler rejected every notion as ‘mankind’ as a historical and cultural unit. Each civilization is self-contained and follows its own life-course, to the extent that Spengler even rejects the notion of a continuity between the Classical and Western Civilizations which have long been assumed, by contending that there is a gulf that divides spiritual outlooks between peoples, reflected in the arts, architecture and even the sciences, including mathematics. Between the Doric Column and the Gothic Spire there was no kinship of Volk spirit. Hence, there is no ‘world history’, ‘history of mankind’, ‘world civilization’, etc. Such a rejection of any form of universalism or positivism forever makes Spengler anathema to large sections of the still-dominant liberal paradigm across academe. Nonetheless, given the times, or the Zeitgeist, in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in Spengler, perhaps motivated by a broad unease at the direction of society under the impress of what is called ‘globalization’. The symposium entitled ‘Between Adoration and Contempt – the Transfer of the Cultural Morphology of Oswald Spengler into the Europe of the Interwar Period (1919–1939)’ held at the Leibniz Institute for European History (IEG) in Mainz in June 2012 is an example of the interest, as are the activities of The Oswald Spengler Society. Many academic studies are now forthcoming, such as the volume, Oswald Spenglers Kulturmorphologie,27 Michael Thöndl’s Rassebegriff, and Demandt’s Untergänge des Abendlandes.28

However, as one should expect, a more positive reconsideration of Spengler is also going to create a reaction. Some reaction has been prompted by the assumption to the U.S. presidency of Donald Trump. In this context the spectre of Spengler as a ‘pessimistic’29 ‘fascist’ arises. One present commentator, in describing Trump as a ‘fascist,’ using the straw-man argument that defines ‘fascism’30 to suit the writer’s intent, introduced Spengler to American readers by stating that The Decline of the West ‘may be considered one of the most extreme and comprehensive formulations of historical pessimism and cultural pessimism in recent centuries. It reeks of Trumpism.’ The writer, Dr. Tarpley, then attempts to summarize the outlook of Spengler:

Here Spengler is speaking as a historian or a would-be a philosopher of history. For him, the historical process is simply an unending chaos. History has no program, no goal, no reason – nothing but the most brutal caprice. No time and place is better than any other time and place – here Spengler takes over the famous slogan of the reactionary romantic Leopold von Ranke that all historical epochs are at the same distance from heaven, meaning that they are all from equal value. There is no lawfulness. There is no such thing as cause and effect – at one point Spengler argues that the very notion of causality is a provincial belief held in the Western world, or more precisely, a Baroque phenomenon (referring to the bombastic and highly ornamented style of the 1600s in Europe). In Spengler’s concept of history, there is no progress, and no development to be seen.31

While Dr. Tarpley fails to provide any connection between Spengler and ‘Trumpism’, he describes Spengler as the ‘race theorist’ who was influential in the assumption to government of National Socialism, captioning a picture of Spengler:

German ‘race scientist’ Oswald Spengler, who shares much responsibility for the coming of the National Socialist regime. Trump’s followers are students of Spengler’s book, The Decline of the West. Has Trump been reading this book as a manual for seizing power as a Caesarist?32

Dr. Tarpley does not present any example of a ‘Trump follower’ having read Spengler, for his allegation that Trump followers are ‘students’ of The Decline of The West. However Dr. Tarpley does provide a summary of why Spengler remains abhorrent to those who adhere to 19th century positivism, as defined by Dr. Tarpley:

We must therefore turn away from the artificial national identity demanded by Trump and reaffirm the democratic universalism of American ideas and the American mission. There is no ethnocultural basis for an American nation in Philly cheese steaks or the National Football League, as demagogues like Trump and Michael Savage seem to believe. Rather, the nation needs a mission. This can only be to lead the world into an era of economic recovery and unprecedented material and cultural prosperity. And this must be supplemented by assuming a role second to none in the permanent colonization of nearby space objects as an imperative of economic and cultural development – in the service of optimism. With that, the pessimistic mysticism and solipsism of Gumplowicz,33 Spengler, and Trump will be finished once and for all.34

The irony should be evident that Dr. Tarpley’s sense of the USA’s global ‘mission’, culminating in the colonisation of space, is Faustian.

One ‘race scientist’ (to use Dr. Tarpley’s term) who does provide a cogent description of Spengler’s actual views in a chapter dedicated to race theorists, is Oxford University biologist Dr. John R. Baker. Dr. Baker adhered to a genetic view of race that was at odds with Spengler’s but his description of Spengler’s views is objective and insightful, and not prejudiced by assumptions. In the chapter ‘From Kossinna to Hitler’, Baker dismisses the contention that the German philologist and archaeologist Gustaf Kossinna (1858–1931) was a significant influence on National Socialist race theory, before proceeding to Spengler.35 Of Spengler, Baker states that he was ‘in intellect and erudition … greatly superior to most of those who have been regarded – rightly or wrongly – as the precursors of Nazism.’36 Baker outlines Spengler’s morphology of cultures, and does so with admirable cogency. He states that while critics were quick to point out inaccuracies in Spengler’s lengthy tome, ‘it was not found so easy to challenge the main conceptions’ of this ‘absorbing book’, ‘which retains much of its interest and value today.’ For Baker, the most important question is what Spengler meant by Volk. Baker retains the use of Volk, regarding English terms such as ‘nation,’ ‘people,’ ‘folk’ and ‘race’ as inadequate. He cites Spengler that Völker ‘are neither linguistic nor political nor zoological, but on the contrary spiritual units.’ Quoting Spengler, Volk is defined as ‘a society of men that feels itself to be a unit.’ As a biologist possessing what Spengler might describe as an ‘English’ outlook, Baker quotes what he regards as a ‘remarkable statement’ for Spengler’s claim that it is, in Baker’s words, ‘the action of a group of men that turns into a Volk.’ Of this, Baker quotes Spengler as stating that ‘[t]he great events of history were in fact not carried out by Völkern; on the contrary, the great events first produced the Völker.’ Quoting from The Decline of The West, ‘to make Spengler’s outlook on the ethnic problem perfectly clear’, 37 Baker cites Spengler’s rejection of ‘bodily inheritance.’ Volk is not held together by bodily inheritance, which might change. The decisive factor is that ‘their soul lasts.’ ‘It cannot be often enough repeated that this physiological origin exists only for science and never for Volk consciousness, and that no Volk has advanced itself for this ideal of ‘pure blood.’ Belonging to a race is nothing material, but something cosmic and ordained. The felt harmony of a destiny.’38

References

1Francis Fukuyama, ‘The End of History?’, The National Interest, Summer 1989, http://www.wesjones.com/eoh.htm.

2Quoted in Asa Briggs (ed.), The Nineteenth Century: The Contradictions of Progress (New York: Bonanza Books, 1985), p. 29.

3Marquis de Condorcet, Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind (1794), ‘Introduction’.

4Eliade, M. The Sacred and the Profane (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1959).

5G. Vico, The New Science of Giambattista Vico ([1730] Cornell University Press, 1948).

6G. W. F. Hegel, The Philosophy of History (Ontario: Batoche Biiks, 2001), pp. 96-97.

7Adversity in the sense of being treated literally as heretics. As this is written, for example, psychologist Richard Lynn has had his status as emeritus professor revoked by the University of Dublin, on the vote of its student association, because his views are considered ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’.

8Spengler, The Decline of the West (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1971), Vol. I, p. 105.

9Ibid.

10Ibid., Vol. II, p. 37.

11Goebbels to Spengler, 20 October 1933, in Spengler Letters 1913-1936 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1966), p. 289.

12Henry Stuart Hughes, Oswald Spengler: A Critical Estimate (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1992), p. 131.

13C. H. Waddington, ‘Genetic assimilation of an acquired character’, Evolution, Vol. 7, No. 2, June 1953, http://www.chd.ucsd.edu/_files/winter2009/waddington-assimilation.pdf.

14The ‘one blood drop’ anti-miscegenation laws which made the Nuremberg Laws seem comparatively moderate, and which was the dictum to inspire the ‘blood drop’ symbol of the Ku Klux Klan.

15 E. Voegelin, ‘Race and State’, (1933) in The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999).

16C. G. Jung, The Complications of American Psychology (1930).

17Spengler, (1971), op. cit., Vol. II, Chapter V, ‘Cities and Peoples: (B) People, Races, Tongues’, p. 113.

18Ibid., Vol. I, ‘Introduction’, p. 5.

19Oswald Spengler to Hans Klöres, 1 September 1918; Oswald Spengler, Spengler Letters 1913-1936 , p. 67.

20Spengler (1971), op. cit. Vol. II, p. 119, ‘Peoples, Races, Tongues’.

21Ibid.

22Spengler, The Hour of Decision (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962), p. 219.

23C. G. Jung, The Complications of American Psychology (1930); ‘Mind and Earth’, (1931).

24Franz Boas, ‘Changes in Bodily Form of Descendants of Immigrants’, American Anthropologist, Vol. 14, No., 3, 1912, pp. 530–562. Boas was criticized both at the time and subsequently for his data. Recently the statistics have been re-evaluated, with methods not available in Boas’s time, and it is contended that Boas was correct. See: C. C. Gravlee, and Bernard Leonard. ‘Boas’s Changes in Bodily Form: The Immigrant Study, Cranial Plasticity, and Boas’s Physical Anthropology’, American Anthropologist, Vol. 105, No. 2, 4 June 2003, http://nersp.osg.ufl.edu/~ufruss/documents/boas.paperII.pdf. C. C. Gravlee, H. Russell Bernard, William R. Leonard. ‘Heredity, Environment, and Cranial Form: A Re-Analysis of Boas’ Immigrant Data’, American Anthropologist Vol. 10, No. 1, 2003.

25Spengler, op. cit.

26Ibid., p. 120.

27Sebastian Fink, Robert Rollinger (ed.) Oswald Spenglers Kulturmorphologie, Studies in Universal and Cultural History (Springer VS, 2018), https://www.uibk.ac.at/zivilrecht/team/barta/buch-oswald-spengler-barta.pdf.

28A. Demandt, Decline of the Occident, Studies on Oswald Spengler (Cologne / Weimar / Vienna, 2017). For a reference list on the large corpus of Spengler studies see: The Oswald Spengler Society, ‘Sources;’ https://www.oswaldspenglersociety.com/sources.

29The bugbear of Spengler’s ‘pessimism’ was addressed by Spengler himself in an essay, ‘Pessimism,’ (Preußische Jahrbücher, No. 184, 1921).

30Spengler had some impact on Fascism, and in Britain Sir Oswald Mosley referred to the influence of Spengler, the challenge of Fascism being to overcome Spengler’s ‘fatalism’ in rejuvenating a civilization. Mosley (1968), pp. 321, 323–325, 328–331. The leading ideologue of British Fascism, Alexander Raven Thomson, is often referred to as Spengler’s British interpreter, but his own magnum opus, Civilisation as Divine Superman, is quite original and suggests that Spengler’s ‘fatalism’ can be overcome be reconstituting society as an organic state. Spengler himself, while remaining sceptical of National Socialism, frankly stated in the concluding passages of The Hour of Decision that the Fascist legions of Italy might be provisional forms of the new Caesarism that overthrows democratic plutocracy. In the last several decades there has finally been some actual scholarship on Fascism, among the best being that of Zeev Sternhell, who controversially writes that ‘Fascism can in no way be identified with Nazism’, Fascism, in Sternhell’s view, not being predicated on racial notions based on ‘biological determinism’ (Sternhell, The Birth of Fascist Ideology, Princeton University Press, 1994, pp. 4–5).

31Webster G. Tarpley, ‘Oswald Spengler: Race theorist of the Trump Regime?,’ http://tarpley.net/oswald-spengler-race-theorist-of-the-trump-regime/.

32Ibid.

33Ludwig Gumplowicz, was a founder of modern sociology. He considered ‘race’ to be a cultural and historical unit, not a biological entity. This was in line with the German school of idealism, and the concept of the Volk, which Spengler, and others such as Voegelin, continued; distinct from biological theories of race often transplanted into Germany from elsewhere, such as Arthur de Gobineau’s Inequality of the Races (France), Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (Britain), and Maddison Grant’s Passing of the Great Race, all of which had an influence on National Socialist race theory, while Spengler remained in conflict with it. Interestingly, despite his wide influence, Gumplowicz does not seem to have influenced Spengler. At least no mention of him is found in The Decline of The West, The Hour of Decision, Man and Technics (Arktos, 2015), Prussianism and Socialism, or the numerous articles and lectures, such as ‘Political Duties of German Youth,’ (1924), given by Spengler, as far as I can ascertain. In particular one could reasonably expect his name to occur, if he were an influence, in Spengler’s correspondence, but no such entry is to be found in Spengler Letters 19131936 (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1966).

34Tarpley, op. cit.

35John R. Baker, Race (Oxford University Press, 1974), pp. 51–52.

36Ibid., pp. 52.

37Ibid., p. 54.

38Ibid., pp. 54–55. Baker does not cite the page numbers for his quotes from Spengler.

Leave a Reply

The comment section of Arktos Journal will be regulated by standards consonant to the principles of the project itself. Our general rules are as follows:

  • Comments will not be moderated on the basis of the opinions expressed (controversy is welcome), but rather on their quality.
  • Contributors are requested to obey the rules of civility, without which all discourse is null, and to avoid crude personal attacks. Wit is welcome, but argument, and not insult, will be the expected means of refutation.
  • Obscenities, vulgarity and slurs will not be tolerated.
  • Contributors are invited to check their contributions for general grammatical correctness (allowances will obviously be made for second-language speakers) and logical cohesiveness.

As a general guideline, all contributors should imagine that they are speaking their minds aloud in a public space, unhindered by political correctness but bound to the older standards of honour and decency in speech.

All decisions of the moderators are final.

Back To Top