Spengler Oswald - The Hour of Decision

Author : Spengler Oswald
Title : The Hour of Decision Germany and World Historical Evolution
Year : 1933

Link download : Spengler_Oswald_-_The_Hour_of_Decision.zip

No one can have looked forward to the national revolution of this year with greater longing than myself. The sordid Revolution of 1918 I detested from its first day, for it was the betrayal by the inferior part of our people of that strong, live part which had risen up in 1914 in the belief that it could and would have a future. Everything of a political nature that I have written since then has been directed against the forces which had entrenched themselves, with our enemies' help, on the mountain of our misery and misfortune in order to render this future impossible. Every line that I wrote was meant to contribute to their overthrow, and I hope that it has done so. Something had to come in one form or another to release the deepest instincts in our blood from that load, if we were, like others, to have a voice and to act in the coming world-crises and not merely be their victim. The great game of world politics is not over. Only now are the highest stakes being played for. Every living nation must rise to greatness or go under. But the events of this year allow us to hope that the decision in our case has not yet been made - that we, as in Bismarck's day, shall sooner or later again be subjects and not mere objects of history. The decades in which we live are stupendous - and accordingly terrifying and void of happiness. Greatness and happiness are incompatible and we are given no choice. No one living in any part of the world of today will be happy, but many will be able to control by the exercise of their own will the greatness or insignificance of their life-course. As for those who seek comfort merely, they do not deserve to exist. The man of action is often limited in his vision. He is driven without knowing the real aim. He might possibly offer resistance if he did see it, for the logic of destiny has never taken human wishes into account. But much more often he goes astray because he has conjured up a false picture of things around and within him. It is the great task of the historical expert (in the true sense) to understand the facts of his time and through them to envisage, interpret, and delineate the future - which will come whether we will or no. An epoch so conscious of itself as the present is impossible of comprehension without creative, anticipating, warning, leading criticism. I shall neither scold nor flatter. I refrain from forming any estimate of those things which are only just coming into being. True valuation of an event is only possible when it has become the remote past, and the definitive good or bad results have long been facts: which is to say, when some decades have passed. No ripe understanding of Napoleon was possible before the end of last century, and even we can as yet have no final opinion about Bismarck. Facts alone stand firm, judgments waver and change. In sum, a great event has no need of a contemporary estimate. History itself will judge it when its contemporaries are no longer living. So much, however, can be said already: the national revolution of 1933 was a mighty phenomenon and will remain such in the eyes of the future by reason of the elemental, super-personal force with which it came and the spiritual discipline with which it was carried through. Here was something Prussian through and through, just as was the uprising of 1914, which transformed souls in one moment. The German "dreamers" stood up with a calm imposing naturalness to open a way into the future. But all the more must those who took part realize that this was no victory, for opponents were lacking. The force of the rising was such that everything that had been or was still active was swept away in it. It was a promise of future victories that have yet to be won by hard fighting, and merely cleared the ground for these. The leaders bear the full responsibility therefor, and it is for them to know, or to learn, the significance of it all. The task is fraught with immense dangers, and its sphere lies not within the boundaries of Germany but beyond, in the realm of wars and catastrophes where world politics alone speak. Germany is, more than any other country, bound up with the fate of all the others. Less than any can it be directed as though it were a thing unto itself. And, moreover, it is not the first national revolution that has taken place here - there have been Cromwell and Mirabeau - but it is the first to occur in a politically helpless and very dangerously situated land, and this fact enhances incalculably the difficulty of its tasks. These tasks are, one and all, only just emerging, are barely grasped and not solved. It is no time or occasion for transports of triumph. Woe betide those who mistake mobilization for victory! A movement has just begun; it has not reached its goal, and the great problems of our time have been in no wise altered by it. They concern not Germany alone, but the whole world, and are problems not of a few years, but of a century. The danger with enthusiasts is that they envisage the situation as too simple. Enthusiasm is out of keeping with goals that lie generations ahead. And yet it is with these that the actual decisions of history begin. The seizure of power took place in a confused whirl of strength and weakness. I see with misgiving that it continues to be noisily celebrated from day to day. It were better to save our enthusiasm for a day of real and definitive results - that is to say, of successes in foreign politics, which alone matter. When these have been achieved the men of the moment, who took the first step, may all be dead - or even forgotten and scorned, until at some point posterity recalls their significance. History is not sentimental, and it will go ill with any man who takes himself sentimentally! In any movement with such a beginning there are many possible developments of which the participants are not often fully aware. The movement may become rigid from excess of principles and theories; it may go under in political, social, or economic anarchy, or it may double back upon itself in futility. In Paris in 1793 it was definitely felt "que ça changerait." The intoxication of the moment, which often ruins coming possibilities at the outset, is usually followed by disillusionment and uncertainty as to the next step. Elements come into power which regard the enjoyment of that power as an event in itself and would fain perpetuate a state of things which is tenable for moments only. Sound ideas are exaggerated into self-glorification by fanatics, and that which held promise of greatness in the beginning ends in tragedy or comedy. Let us face these dangers in good time, and soberly, so that we may be wiser than many a generation in the past. But if a stable foundation is to be laid for a great future, one on which coming generations may build, ancient tradition must continue effective. That which we have in our blood by inheritance - namely, wordless ideas - is the only thing which gives permanence to our future. "Prussianism" (Preußentum), as I called it years ago, is important - it is this, precisely, that has just been tested - but "Socialism," of whatever description, is not. We need educating up to the Prussian standard, which manifested itself in 1870 and 1914 and still sleeps in the depths of our soul as a permanent potentiality. It is to be reached only through the living example and moral self-discipline of a ruling class, not by a flow of words or by force. The service of an idea demands mastery of ourselves and readiness for inward sacrifices to conviction. To confuse this with the intellectual compulsion of a program is to be ignorant of the whole issue. And this brings me back to the book: Prussianism and Socialism, 1 in which, in 1919, I began to point out this moral necessity without which there can be no permanent building. All other nations of the world have inherited a character from their past. We had no educative past and have therefore still to awaken, develop, and train the character which lies dormant in our blood. (1. Oswald Spengler, Preußentum und Sozialismus, Munich: C. H. Beck.) The work of which this volume is the first part is written with the same object. I do as I have always done. That is, I offer no wish-picture of the future, still less a program for its realization - as is the fashion amongst us Germans - but a clear picture of the facts as they are and will be. I see further than others. I see not only great possibilities but also great dangers, their origin and perhaps the way to avoid them. And if no one else has the courage to see and to tell what it is he sees, I mean to do so. I have a right to criticism since by means of it I have repeatedly demonstrated that which must happen because it will happen. A decisive series of facts has been set in train. Nothing that has once become a fact can be withdrawn - we are all thereafter obliged to walk in the particular direction, whether we will or not. It would be short-sighted and cowardly to say no. What the individual will not do, that History will do with him. But to say yes presupposes comprehension, and this book is here to help in comprehension. It is a danger-signal. Dangers are always there. Everyone who acts is in danger. Danger is life itself. But those who link the fate of States and nations with their own must meet these dangers seeingly - and to see requires possibly the most courage of all. The present book arose out of a lecture: Germany in Danger, 2 which I delivered at Hamburg in 1929, without meeting with much comprehension. In November 1932 I began to develop the theme, still in terms of the existing situation in Germany. By the 30th January 1933 it was printed up to page 106. I have altered nothing in it, for I write not for a few months ahead or for next year, but for the future. What is true cannot be made null by an event. The title alone I have changed, so as to avoid misunderstandings. It is not the national seizure of power which is a danger; the dangers were there - some of them dating from 1918, others from much further back - and they still persist, since they cannot be got rid of by an isolated event which before taking effect against them must undergo a long development in the right direction. Germany is in danger. My fear for Germany has not grown less. The March victory was too easy to open the eyes of the victors to the extent of the danger, its origin, and its duration. (2. Deutschland in Gefahr, Munich: C. H. Beck.) No one can know what forms, situations, and personalities will arise out of this upheaval, or the reactions which may result from outside. Every revolution makes the external situation of a country worse, and that fact alone requires statesmen of Bismarck's order to deal with it. We stand, it may be, close before a second world war, unable to gauge the distribution of forces or to foresee its means or aims - military, economic, revolutionary. We have no time to limit ourselves to home politics; we have to be "in form" to deal with any conceivable occurrence. Germany is not an island. If we fail to see our relation to the world as - for us in particular - the important problem, fate - and what a fate! - will submerge us without mercy. Germany is the key country of the world, not only on account of her geographical situation on the borders of Asia (which is today the most important continent in world policy), but also because Germans are still young enough to experience world-historical problems, to form them and solve them, inwardly, while other nations have become too old and rigid to do more than raise defences. But in tackling great problems, as in other matters, it is the attack that holds the greater promise of victory. It is of this that I have written. Will it have the effect I hope for? Munich, July 1933. ...

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