Letter: Spengler described our world
Sunday 15 February 1998
ation - unwittingly corroborates Spengler's picture of our worldwide civilisation towards its close (Letters, 8 February).
Spengler wrote Untergang des Abendlandes during the First World War and died 18 years afterwards. Therefore he could not have foreseen precisely every feature of life a century later. But he did identify the Faustian essence of Western civilisation, where "dynamic technics" would expand and accelerate without moral or ecological restraint, toconquer external and internal space, spreading its skyscrapers while slowly being "eaten up from within" partly through demographic exhaustion.
Atom-splitting and gene-splicing fit perfectly into his characterisation of our scientific destiny. Also, rather like Mr Noble, he described electronic mass-media bombarding "the waking-consciousness of whole peoples and continents" with "catchwords, standpoints, scenes, feelings, so that every ego becomes a mere function of a monstrous intellectual Something".
Even his chapter on the nature of finance anticipated a penultimate shift from the mechanical and modern to the intangible and postmodern penultimate because he warned that when the usurers and speculators of the "world city" are snugly celebrating their last victories, powerful forces will re-emerge unexpectedly to subdue "the dictature of money".
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