Inside of you, there are Two Faustians: An American Application of Spengler

The struggle for Faustian civilization is a struggle inside each of us. To see our Prussian soldierliness banish our English selfishness is the first step to total American victory.

Inside of you, there are Two Faustians: An American Application of Spengler
American Faustianism circa 1840‘s.

The writings of 20th century social analyst and political prophet Oswald Spengler rank amongst the most impressive and fascinating that have ever been written on the subject. To create a narrative of the history of man and the course of his civilizations was the daunting task that Spengler took on. His most known work, The Decline of the West, became a staple of political discourse in Interwar Europe, particularly Germany. This is not the work which I will be writing about today.

Spengler also published various smaller essays and works, all of which are more digestible and more targeted towards specific themes than Decline of the West. Prussianism and Socialism, published in 1919, elaborates on what the word socialism means in a specifically German context. A major theme of the book is about the various peoples that have taken the lead of Faustian civilization and what their time as reigning European power looks like, and what we can conclude about their people and its unique world-feeling. First off, I wish to clarify some of the language Spengler uses, much of which is foreign to the average reader.

Spengler classifies the various civilizations of world history into their own Cultures and culture groups. Egyptian, Babylonian, Indian, Chinese, Aztec, Apollonian (ancient European), Magian (early Christianity and Islam), Russian and Faustian he categorizes them. Each possesses a unique outlook on the world and their place in it, formed through various historical and racial circumstances. Spengler classifies the European civilization of today as Faustian. The deep-rooted feeling that the entire world must conform to one's own ideas about it is the most central characteristic of a Faustian. A mindset of world domination, to subjugate and integrate all others to ones own beliefs is the ultimate terrestrial goal of Faustian man. What beliefs those are, and how the world system should operate paints a clearer picture of what kind of Faustian spirit one possesses1.

Spengler declares that five peoples have taken the reigns of Faustian civilization, each contributing something of their own to it. He also separates these people in a sort of high Faustianism and low Faustianism. The low Faustians, whom he calls the "anarchic antagonism" to the high Faustians2, the Italians and the French3, were limited in their ambitions, fighting border wars with limited political objectives4. Their elites, social circles, and classes were arbitrary, constantly shifting and altering their state with no definite driving cause. These are the least of the Faustian peoples, whose rule did little to advance the deep feeling of the Faustian European peoples to dominate the globe. Machiavelli typifies these peoples, with his limited and realist political ideas of courts and power dynamics within a state.

The high Faustians embodied the true spirit of the civilization and acted as such. They had a deep desire to expand outwards, conquering, colonizing, and integrating foreign land into their empires. Each had an idea of how the world economy and world system should be structured5, and attempted to impose their view on the world around them. These were the Spanish, English, and Prussian peoples.

The Spanish led Faustian civilization roughly from the time of the storming of Rome to the Peace of the Pyrenees, and it that time spread its rule significantly throughout Europe as well as the New World. The Spanish believed themselves to be the seat of power of Roman Catholicism, and it was given a mission from God to conquer, convert and integrate the non-Christian world. This mission and the Spanish world-feeling was no doubt influenced by the near eight centuries of Reconquista, fighting against heathens6 and for the glory of God. During Spain's time as the leader, it conquered almost all of North and South America, as well as a decent portion of Asia, setting up colonial governments throughout. They also came to dominate other Europeans, and Spengler humorously remarked that Italy, in its low-minded thinking, became a province of the Spanish.

What is equally important to Spengler about the Spanish was their motives for pursuing the goal of world domination and how their nation and people were organized in doing so. The Spanish motive for world conquest was to create a Catholic world7, something which was idealist and immaterial. Its people desired not for money, but for recognition. To be apart of this world historic effort8. First sons sought to become educated nobles, governors, viceroys, competent in their abilities of public administration and contributing themselves to the task faced by their people. Second sons struck out across the Atlantic, discovering new lands and conquering foreign foes in the name of God and Spain. The Spanish Empire was the first of its kind, offering a vision for the future which was growth-oriented, led by idealism, and governed by a strong, martial state.

The English were another high Faustian people, conquering a quarter of the world and ruling as a global hegemon for two centuries. The English world feeling is heavily influenced by its isolation from conflict and lack of interaction with other states on its home island9, and has developed into an anti-state feeling. The English, guarded by a Navy, could not be touched by other rival powers, and so their people developed "society", a term used by Spengler to denote the lack of state10 and the development of local, private institutions governed by private individuals. British society was heavily influenced by Calvinism, as all actions could be justified in that the will of God had made it so11. Poverty could be justified by the will of God. Riches and success could be justified just the same. Whether men lived or died, succeeded or failed was ultimately the result of divine Providence, and in this way the ends justified the means.

The English expanded as they did to create an economic empire governed by individuals. What motivated the English was the desire for personal profit and success, rather than out of love for God and country. The state, according to Spengler, playing little role in the desire for expansion save for its role in protecting its colonists and safeguarding its commercial concerns. To the English, the exaltation of the individual was the ends, the empire the means. Capitalism, free trade, parliamentary democracy, classical liberalism are creations of this English people. Capitalism ensured that private individuals could rise to economic power and that a class structure could be created around workers and owners, and parliamentary democracy ensured that the interests of these wealthy individuals could be paid for and controlled.

The final high Faustian people are the Prussians, who are the latest and, Spengler believed, the last Faustian people to rule the shared civilization. The Prussians had recently unified the German nation in a display of superior application of military might and exemplary statecraft. The Prussians possessed a world-feeling of togetherness12, unifying as a single people against the threats arrayed on all sides. The march of Brandenburg, young Prussia, was surrounded by enemies in Poland, the Baltics, and various German states to their West, and were yet given a mission by the Holy Roman Emperor to do what the Teutonic order had attempted centuries prior: safeguarding the German people through the conquest and colonization of the East13. Drang Noch Osten, to push to the east was Prussia's first calling, and in this effort it had dissolved a Polish state and integrated much of its territory.

Prussia became a powerful state in its own right, with a militarized society wherein every man knew his place. The guiding value of the Prussian state was Order, and the Prussian people knew two roles: to command and to obey. To the Prussians, money factored little into whether or not their ultimate aims were met, and moreso whether or not one commanded or obeyed. What mattered to a Prussian was his rank, as rank determined the scope of the role one played in the efforts of society1415.

Bismarck, who Spengler believed to be a Prussian, led the effort to unite the German people into one nation, a seemingly impossible task for every other political entity up to that point. By appealing to the growing sentiment of German nationalism, combined with the shared threats these German states faced from states like France and Russia, Bismarck was able to win three successive wars and create a German state. This German state, modeled off of the Prussian one and inheriting the legacy of Prussian spirit, would take on its final task: displace the English dominated money-driven world order with its own. This was the ultimate cause of the First World War16. Break the power of English capital, vanquish English parliamentarianism which had infected Germany and all of continental Europe, push to the East and establish colonies out of the Slavic peoples, become the master of Europe and, later, to establish a world economic system on the principles of nationalism.

Between the high Faustian peoples Spengler divides between those who value work and status as their motive and those who value money and individual progress. Prussia and Spain share a kindred spirit and are found on the side of the former, whilst the English are found on the latter. Spengler believed the struggles between England and Germany to be irreconcilable, and that the world would emerge from their struggle broken and impoverished as a result. England and Germany, Vikings and Teutons, would fight one final struggle. Would the world be governed by the central state or by private interests? Who exactly would be the coming Caesars of Faustian civilization, bankers or statesmen? Is work to be done to enrich oneself or as the purpose of which God placed us on earth, something which we could become professionals at and satisfied with17? The English and the Prussian are the purest distillation of these forms of either side of this conflict, and so the result will be total war until one side has completely triumphed over the other18.

But what of America? you ask. Spengler writes that in every nation now there is an English and a Prussian political party19, that this struggle has played out throughout history, and that in this time it will do so again in the other nations around the globe. Lines will be drawn in the sand, both foreign and domestically. What individuals will champion the Prussian socialism? What nations will champion English liberalism? And vice versa.

Spengler dismisses America as a discharge of English-Viking ancestry, spilling out across the Great Plains of North America. If it were the outgrowth of England like he suggests, evidenced by the parallel growth to England in the way of the private sector and the core American ideals of individualism, limited government, and civil society.

On some level, Spengler is unfortunately right. The vast majority of Americans are English in spirit. They do believe in, or feel the pull towards free trade. Look no further than collapse of the Federalist party or the popularity of Andrew Jackson. American nationalism was in these cases instituted from the top down, something imposed on the American nation by a leadership which understood the interests of the nation. Hamilton, Lincoln, and McKinley were all slain before their nationalist visions for America could take off. The people, time and time again, have opposed nationalism.

Spengler sees that this is the natural course of action. The siren song of free trade, individual liberty, the exaltation of the individual and the diminution of the state in one's life are attractive to the masses. It is the few, the minority, who are the nationalists. These few nationalists understand that these allures of liberalism are lies. The state, power, nations will always exist. If it is not your own nation, your own kin, it is a foreign one which will fill the void. During the Revolution, the few nationalists imposed their vision on the American people. Washington, Adams, Hamilton and others were able to occupy key positions of power in the young state and wield it towards national independence. A generation later the nation’s independence was almost extinguished at the hands of Jefferson and the Anti-Federalists. John Quincy Adams and the "Adam's Men" established what American interests abroad were and relit the fire of American nationalism after Jefferson. Jackson and his program of democratic populism defeated them soon after, inviting in a host of interlopers and their subversive interests. The story repeats itself time and time again.

And so, the struggle in America and the struggle in Germany are one in the same. They both face, or faced, the same common enemies in the English and the interloping interest their Empire invites with it. The Federalists, the Whigs, the Republicans, the America Firsters embody the Prussian spirit that Spengler describes. Our enemy is a global liberalism, a revolutionary spirit which wanders the world in sheep's clothing, seeking prey to devour. What, then, must we do for our nation?

We must fight this war for America's soul. Ironically enough, the struggle for collective national unity and obedience to the state starts with personal decisions. Just like with our founders and the keepers of the American nationalist tradition, the duty lies with us to live as authentic Americans. Inside of us are two Faustian men - the Englishman and the Prussian. We must see the Prussian banish the Englishman. To reject our sinful and dangerous desires of greed, gluttony, slothfulness, and ultimately our pride, is the first step to regaining control of our nation. These are the chief sins of an individualist, someone who places himself over the whole. We must destroy these tendencies in ourselves to more perfectly serve our God and our country. We must order our lives in such a way that we live with and embody Prussian discipline, Spanish piety, and ultimately American resolve.

The two sides of eternal struggle, private and public, capital and administration, production and exploitation, Teuton and Viking, freedom and order20, nationalist and internationalist, have been arrayed against each other in our nation since its inception. Our side has no presence must less control of the state, little to no institutional support, and very few public defenders. We must develop a will to power within ourselves to seize the state in our nation's most crucial moment. After destruction is staved off, we, the nationalists, must foster within ourselves a Faustian spirit much like the Spanish conquistadors, the German officers, and the American revolutionaries did in their times. Our ambitions cannot be limited like those of the French or Italians. Only through an ambitious, idealistic vision for global dominance combining Spanish Evangelism and Prussian nationalist global finance can the people of the United States become the final act in the play of Faustian civilization. The last great people, the only one to complete the righteous mission where all others failed.

  1. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg21-22
  2. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg24
  3. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg25
  4. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg26
  5. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg53
  6. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg32
  7. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg26
  8. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg25
  9. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg36
  10. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg33
  11. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg40-41
  12. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg14
  13. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg49
  14. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg37
  15. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg47
  16. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg13
  17. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg52
  18. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg54
  19. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg54
  20. Spengler, Oswald. Prussianism and Socialism. 1919. pg54