Eurasian Geographies and Economics. Book review.
Oswald Spengler’s Der Untergang des Abendlandes (The Decline of the West), despite much scholarly criticism, was popular in the two decades following publication in 1918. It is now a book that many people know about, but that few have read. Perhaps it was always so. This is not the place to reconsider in detail Spengler’s massive work and its influence, but it did identify a challenging theme and concepts that are seen again in our contemporary geopolitics. The first is that of a cohesive West, described by Spengler, acknowledging Goethe and Nietzsche, as a Faustian civilization, with its cultural, economic, and political dominance in steady decline. It is the central argument of Spengler’s concept of civilization and civilization-states; how decline and change to new world order are managed; and the emergence of Caesarism or autocracy. Weberian and Marxist accounts should also be noted. These also consider the transition from traditional authority systems such as feudalism, aristocracy, and kingship to the rational-legal authority of modern capitalist democracies. There are also failed challenges from fascist, national-socialist, and soviet-communist versions of Caesarism.