Considered in iteself, the Roman world-dominion was a negative phenomenon, being the result not of a surplus of energy on the one side–that the Romans had never had since Zama–but of a defciency of resistance on the other…

Here then, I lay it down that Imperialism, of which petrifacts such as the Egyptian empire, the Roman, the Chinese, the Indian, may continue to exist for hundreds or thousands of years … is to be taken as the typical symbol of the end. Imperialism is Civilization unadulterated. In this phenomenal form the destiny of the West is now irrevocably set. The energy of culture-man is directed inwards, that of civilizaton- manoutwards….

Alexander and Napoleon were romantics; though they stood on the threshold of Civilization and in its cold clear air, the one fancied himself an Achilles and the other read Werther. …

Let it be realized, then: That the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, hitherto looked on as the highest point of an ascending straight line of world-history are in reality a stage of life which may be observed in every Culture that has ripened to its limit–a stage of life characterized not by Socialists, Impressionists, electric railways, torpedoes and differential equations (for these are only body-consituents of the time), but by a civilized spirituality [p 30] which possesses not only these but also quite other creative ossibilities. That, as our town time represents a transitional phase which occurs with certainty under particular conditions, there are perfectly well-defined states (such as have occurred more than once in the history of the past) later than the present-day state of West Europe, and therefore that the future of the West is not a limitless tending upwards and onwards for all time towards our present ideals, but a single phenomenon of history, strictly limited and efined as to form and duration, which covers a few centuries and can be viewed and, in essentials, calculated from available precedents.

Oswald Spengler. The Decline of the West. An abridged edition by Helmut Werner. English abridged edition prepared by Arthur Helps from the translation by Charles Francis Atkinson. New York: oxford University Press c199


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