Spengler on the Sterility of the Great City


Oswald Spengler died in 1936. He wasn't a Nazi, and the Nazis disliked him, but he did have an influence on their movement through his best-known work, The Decline of the West, which was published in 1918. I don't pretend to have read it, but I stumbled across an excerpt from it that seemed rather prescient:

"And then …there suddenly emerges into the bright light of history a phenomenon that has long been preparing itself underground… — the sterility of civilized man… That which strikes the true peasant with a deep and inexplicable fear, the notion that the family and the name may be extinguished, has now lost its meaning.…

"Children do not happen, not because children have become impossible, but principally because intelligence at the peak of intensity can no longer find any reason for their existence… When the ordinary thought of a highly cultivated people begins to regard “having children” as a question of pro’s and con’s, the great turning point has come. For Nature knows nothing of pro and con…. When reasons have to be put forward at all in a question of life, life itself has become questionable. At that point begins prudent limitation of the number of births… The father of many children is for the great city a subject for caricature….

"At this level all Civilizations enter upon a stage, which lasts for centuries, of appalling depopulation. The whole pyramid of cultural man vanishes. It crumbles from the summit, first the world-cities, then the provincial forms, and finally the land itself, whose best blood has incontinently poured into the towns, merely to bolster them up for a while."

It is very interesting to contemplate these words, written over 100 years ago, and yet now so apropos. Demographics winter has settled over the most advanced countries, and even some that are not so advanced. I suppose whole tomes may be written about the various causes of the West's depopulation. But Spengler seems to put his finger on a central issue: "Children do not happen, not because children have become impossible, but principally because intelligence at the peak of intensity can no longer find any reason for their existence." It's not so much that people don't want to have children--though I have certainly met some people who feel that way. It seems more that they cannot come up with any good reason to have children.

What's the point of children? Only someone who ascribes a transcendent meaning to life can answer that question in a satisfying way. It makes sense that the West, that has long ago left transcendence behind on the dustheap of history, suffers from the most acute depopulation. Without a sense of the transcendent, having a child entails a tangible loss of what life in the Great Cities of the West could give you.

But there is more to this story. We have treated human life as if it were not precious--and there is a karmic force that will not allow such societies to persist. Take a look at the photo below, from this article. Do you have any idea what it is a photo of?

















The scalps of aborted second trimester fetuses were sold to researchers who grafted the scalps onto the backs of mice. Yes, this is the beautiful hair these babies would have had if they had been born. That there is any scientist alive who could do this--completely legally, no less--condemns our civilization in the strongest terms. I am ashamed that this is the culture I live in. My culture deserves to die; it deserves not to have children sent to it.

All anyone in my culture can do is to reject its death wish. In my family, we reject our culture by believing in God, believing in the Great Plan of Happiness and the transcendent meaning of our lives, believing in the great blessing of children and by welcoming as many as possible into our home. A large family is a constant feast of life and love, and is deeply satisying to the soul. We are so very out of step with our culture, and we are so very happy to be so. L'Chaim--to life!