Timelessness of thought and vision in world politics is a rare mark of grandeur. Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West, written a century ago, deserves this distinction as it reads like it was done yesterday.
The German historian-philosopher wrote in 1922 that the centuries old West-European-American civilization was in permanent and irretrievable decline in all manifestations of life including religion, art, politics, social life, economy and science. For him, the political, social and ideological dimensions of this decline were evident in the failings of the Western political class in both sides of the Atlantic. He saw politicians, mostly based in large cities, consumed by ideology and contempt towards silent majorities and described them as “a new sort of nomad, cohering unstably in fluid masses, the parasitical city dweller, traditionless, utterly matter-of-fact, religionless, clever, unfruitful, and deeply contemptuous of the countryman.” Nowadays the Brussels-based European Union (EU) leadership, through their recurring disdain for nation sovereignty, fully befits this definition.
Spengler believed that decadence in politics means predominance of ideology over action. “Men of theory commit a huge mistake in believing that their place is at the head and not in the train of great events” he wrote, unaware about how true this is today as we just saw the fall of UK Prime Minister Truss who sacrificed economics in the altar of ideology. Dogma destroying social cohesion and prosperity is also present in the wrecking of Europe’s manufacturing competitiveness as their politicians forcibly deny cheap Russian energy or when Lilliputian Lithuania picks a fight with China in defence of Taiwan’s “sovereignty.” On the face of these events the German thinker would have repeated his assertion that “the political doctrinaire … always knows what should be done, and yet his activity, once it ceases to be limited to paper, is the least successful and therefore the least valuable in history.”
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