Excerpts from: Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West, 1914
“Western mankind, without exception, is under the influence of an immense optical illusion.”
Aspergers: pay attention! Spengler got it right.
Everyone demands something of the rest. We say “you will do it” in the conviction that the person in fact will, can, and must be changed or fashioned or arranged conformably to the social order, and our belief both in the efficacy of, and in our entitlement to give such orders, is un-shakable. That, and nothing short of it, for us, morality. In the ethics of the West everything is direction, claim to power, will to affect the distant. The beginning of morality is a claim to general and permanent validity. It is a necessity of the Faustian (Western) soul that this should be so. He who thinks or teaches “otherwise” is sinful, a backslider, a foe, and he is fought down without mercy.
You “shall,” the state “shall,” society “shall” – this form of morality is to us self-evident; it represents the only real meaning that we can attach to the word. But it was not so either in the Classical world or in India, or China. Buddha, for instance, gives a pattern one may take or leave; Epicurus offered counsel. Both undeniably are forms of high morality, and neither contains the will-element. The West is concerned exclusively with the conscious, religio-philosophical morality that can be taught and followed, and not with the unconscious rhythm of life and habit. The morality with which we are dealing turns upon intellectual concepts of virtue and vice, good and bad.
What we have entirely failed to observe is the peculiarity of moral dynamic. If we allow that Socialism in the ethical sense (not the economic) is that world-feeling which seeks to carry out its own views on behalf of all, then we are all (westerners) without exception, willingly or not, wittingly or not, socialists. Even Nietzsche, that most passionate opponent of “herd morale,” was perfectly incapable of limiting his zeal to himself in the Classical way. He thought only of “mankind,” and he attacked everyone who differed from himself.
Epicurus, on the contrary, was heartily indifferent to both other’s opinions and acts, and never wasted one thought on the “transformation” of mankind. He and his friends were content that they were as they were and not otherwise. The ideal Classical behavior was indifference to the course of the world, which is the very thing that the The West desires to control.
An important element both of Stoic and of Epicurean philosophy was the recognition of a category of things neither preferred nor rejected. (The scientific “zero point” that modern psychology refuses to accept; it’s the Asperger default reaction.) In Ancient Greece there was a pantheon of moralities just as there was a pantheon of deities, as the peaceful coexistence of Epicureans, Cynics and Stoics shows, but the Nietzschean Zara-thustra, although professedly standing beyond good and evil, breathes from end to end the pain of seeing men to be other than as he would have them be, and the deep and utterly un-Classical desire to devote a life to their reformation. It is just this that makes ethical monotheism, in a deep sense, socialism. All world-improvers are Socialists. Consequently there were no Classical world-improvers.
“The moral imperative to reform humanity is the sole form of Western morality and it is solely Western.”