Why You Must TAKE
Seasons of Civilization and an Ode to Homer
Oswald Spengler’s Great Work is his zoological understanding of cultures as superorganisms that age just as man does. They are born, they experience the fire of youth, mature into middle age, and eventually die. When they age, they turn from a vital culture into a decaying civilization. How do you distinguish between culture and civilization? What’s the difference between the culture man and the civilization man? One way to make it easy to distinguish between the two, to identify where you are in the lifespan of culture is identifying whether or not the men of your age act in the moment, on instinct, versus whether they dwell and yearn for older times.
Herakles didn’t think about the men who came before him. Achilles didn’t care about prior ages. They were men who lived in the now. Who sought what all men seek: war, adventure, and immortal glory. They acted on instinct, on what they knew in the blood to be true. The Grek philosophers emerged when they — as a civilization — realized they weren’t the men of the heroic Stone Age before them. They couldn’t mimic the accomplishments of their ancestors and their time had been marked by decadence. You notice among our side the same sentiment, the yearning to be like the Grek heroes.
Until men act upon this instinct again, we continue to live in the Decline. Can you escape it? Spengler believed it impossible. You could only do your duty. Live as an example of the best of your race and claim your honorable end. There is even more despair today. Cultures seem to last around a thousand years according to Spengler, but mankind marches in progressive fashion, becoming more and more complex with every century.
How can a man achieve ARISTEIA in the modern world where war has made the role of the warrior so small compared to the ancient Grek heroes? Fortuna governs the fates of men on the battlefield, their own skill amounting to little compared to prior times. War has become so immensely complex that it goes beyond the warrior. Back as far as World War I, it took ten men to get one infantryman to the front. Where is that number today? Is to be an Achilles in our time require a man to become a pilot of a fighter jet raining fire down upon his enemies like a God?
Cultures come and go, but war continues to evolve into something so immensely complex that few understand. Roles in war are so specialized and differentiated that it’s beyond any one man to understand it all. We move from admiring great warriors like Achilles to great leaders like Napoleon. The men who can organize the democratic armies in a way that outclasses his opponents. But it was always like this. Achilles was a king and he was at the head of fifty ships that came to Troy. The difference is only that we don’t require our leaders to be warriors anymore. They aren’t expected to fight.
Nobility has been able to separate themselves from the reality of combat. In a way, you couldn’t expect a king to lead from the frontlines as an infantryman in modern war. The chances of your king perishing in some random manner such as a roadside bomb or friendly fire are too much a risk. Where the discontent and disconnect come from is the rising of the leader to glory on the backs of the fighting men who won the war. What heroes of recent times will we remember like we remember Achilles? The work of the fighting man no longer seen as noble, but brutish. Many Americans see men who want to fight as evil savages.
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The despair of modern war is the great demoralizer of men.
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