Steiner Rudolf - On Spengler's Decline of the West

Author : Steiner Rudolf
Title : On Spengler's Decline of the West
Year : 1920

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Dornach, July 2, 1920. Translated by Norman Macbeth. One who looks around a little in Germany today, and not at externals but with the eye of the soul; one who sees not only what offers itself to the casual visitor, who seldom learns the true conditions during his visit; one who does not cling to the fact that a few chimneys are smoking again and the trains are running on time; one who can to some degree see into the spiritual situation; such a person sees a picture which is symptomatic not only for this territory but for the whole decay of our world-culture in the present cycle. I would like today to point out to you, in an introductory way, a psycho-spiritual symptom which is far more significant than many sleeping souls even in Germany allow themselves to dream. In old Germany decay and decline rule today, and the external things which I have mentioned cannot deceive us about this. But this is not what I want to point to now, for in the course of world-history we often see decay set in and then out of the decay there again spring upward impulses. But if we judge externally, basing our opinion on mere custom and routine and saying that here again everything will be just as it has been before, then we do not see certain deeper-lying symptoms. One such symptom (but only one of many), a psycho-spiritual symptom which I want to bring before you, is the remarkable impression made by Oswald Spengler's book The Decline of the West, which is already symptomatic in having been able to appear in our time. It is a thick book and widely read, a book which has made an extraordinarily deep impression on the younger generation in Germany today. And the remarkable thing is that the author expressly states that he conceived the basic idea of this book, not during the war or after the war, but already some years before the catastrophe of 1914. As I have said, this book makes a particularly strong impression on the younger generation. And if you try to sense the imponderables of life, the things which are between the lines, then you will be particularly struck by such a thing. In Stuttgart I recently had to give a lecture to the students of the technical college, and I went to this lecture entirely under the impression made by Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West. It is a thick book. Thick books are very costly now in Germany, yet it is much read. You will realize their costliness when I tell you that a pamphlet which cost five cents in 1914 now costs thirty-five cents. Of course, books have not risen in the same proportion as beer, which now costs ten times as much as in 1914. Books must always be handled more modestly, even under the present impossible economic conditions. Still the price increase on books shows what has happened to the economic system in the last few years. ...

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