Spengler Oswald - Prussianism and Socialism


Author : Spengler Oswald
Title : Prussianism and Socialism
Year : 1920

Link download : Spengler_Oswald_-_Prussianism_and_Socialism.zip

This essay is based on notes intended for the second volume of The Decline of the West. The notes comprise, at least in part, the germinal stage in the development of the entire thesis presented in that work. The word "socialism" designates the noisiest, if not the most profound, topic of current debate. Everyone is using it. Everyone thinks it means something different. Into this universal catchword everyone injects whatever he loves or hates, fears or desires. Yet no one is aware of the scope and limitations of the word’s historical function. Is socialism an instinct, or a planned system? Is it a goal of mankind, or just a temporary condition? Or does the word perhaps refer simply to the demands made by a certain class of society? Is it the same thing as Marxism? People who aim to change the word continually fall into the error of confusing what ought to be with what shall be. Rare indeed is the vision that can penetrate beyond the tangle and flux of contemporary events. I have yet to find someone who has really understood this German Revolution, who has fathomed its meaning or foreseen its duration. Moments are being mistaken for epochs, next year for the next century, whims for ideas, books for human beings. Our Marxists show strength only when they are tearing down; when it comes to thinking or acting positively they are helpless. By their actions they are confirming at last that their patriarch was not a creator, but a critic only. His heritage amounts to a collection of abstract ideas, meaningful only to a world of bookworms. His "proletariat" is a purely literary concept, formed and sustained by the written word. It was real only so long as it denied, and did not embody, the actual state of things at any given time. Today we are beginning to realize that Marx was only the stepfather of socialism. Socialism contains elements that are older, stronger, and more fundamental than his critique of society. Such elements existed without him and continued to develop without him, in fact contrary to him. They are not to be found on paper; they are in the blood. And only the blood can decide the future. But if socialism is not Marxism, then what is it? The answer will be found in these pages. Some people already have an idea of what it is, but they are so diligently involved with political "standpoints," aims, and blueprints that no one has dared to be sure. When faced with decisions, we have abandoned our former position of firmness and adopted milder, less radical, outmoded attitudes, appealing for support to Rousseau, Adam Smith, and the like. We take steps against Marx, and yet at every step we invoke his name. Meanwhile the time for fashioning ideologies has passed. We latecomers of Western civilization have become skeptics. We refuse to be further misled by ideological systems. Ideologies are a thing of the previous century. We no longer want ideas and principles, we want ourselves. Hence we now face the task of liberating German socialism from Marx. I say German socialism, for there is no other. This, too, is one of the truths that no longer lie hidden. Perhaps no one has mentioned it before, but we Germans are socialists. The others cannot possibly be socialists. What I am describing here is not just another conciliatory move, not a retreat or an evasion, but a Destiny. It cannot be escaped by closing one’s eyes, denying it, fighting it, or fleeing from it; such actions would merely be various ways of fulfilling it. Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt. The spirit of Old Prussia and the socialist attitude, at present driven by brotherly hatred to combat each other, are in fact one and the same. This is an incontrovertible fact of history, not just a literary figment. The elements that make up history are blood, race—which is created by ideas that are never expressed—and the kind of thought which coordinates the energies of body and mind. History transcends all mere ideals, doctrines, and logical formulations. For the work of liberating German socialism from Marx I am counting on those of our young people who are sound enough to ignore worthless political verbiage and scheming, who are capable of grasping what is potent and invincible in our nature, and who are prepared to go forward, come what may. I address myself to the German youth in whom the spirit of the fathers has taken on vital forms, enabling them to fulfill a Destiny which they feel within themselves, a Destiny which they themselves are. They must be willing to accept obligations despite hardship and poverty; they must possess a Roman pride of service, modesty in the exercise of authority, and the willingness to take on duties readily and without exception rather than demand rights from others. These conditions once met, a silent sense of awareness will unite the individual with the totality. Such potential awareness is our greatest and most sacred asset. It is the heritage of anguished centuries, and it distinguishes us from all other people—us, the youngest and last people of our culture. It is to these representatives of German youth that I turn. May they understand what the future expects of them. May they be proud to accept the challenge. ...

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