Finally there is a perfunctory discussion alluding to Oswald Spengler, whose influential Decline of the West (1918), although favored by Germany’s tiny political fringe of “revolutionary conservatives” and familiar to many Americans, is regarded from the National-Socialist perspective as a step backward. For further elaboration of that perspective, see Alfred Rosenberg’s 1925 essay, “Oswald Spengler.”
The text below is based on a booklet originally published with official approval of the NSDAP in 1935. Translation by Hadding Scott, 2014.
Every epoch has, born of its spirit, its own interpretation of history. In the Middle Ages reigned the universalist interpretation of history that judged all events according to their part in the preparation of the “Dominion of God on Earth.” In this dominion all differences due to natural law among persons, peoples, and cultures would become irrelevant before the one all-embracing doctrine whereby life has its ultimate meaning in the soul cleansed of all earthly contents. By this conception, body and flesh are regarded as originating from this world, and are accordingly sinful and must be chastened in consistently pious exercise for the salvation of the soul.
To the question about the up and down in the life of peoples, about the rise and collapse of cultures, the age before us knew only one weary and hopeless response. It saw the historical life of peoples embedded into the destiny between life and death that repeats itself everywhere in nature, from which there was said to be no escape also in the life of a people. By analogy to the life of the individual person, the historians of the Enlightenment believed that the life of peoples played out in the same way. After brash youth supposedly followed the more mature age and finally the collapse into nothing. Gray prehistory, gloomy mediaeval period, enlightened and advanced modernity. Thus ran the schedule of history. One rejoiced to live in the modern age and to have a part in the progress of humanity. One interpreted the course of history as a line of ascending development that freed itself more and more from the primitive circumstances of nature and hastened toward that dominion in which no longer dark destiny but reason and clarity of knowledge were supposed to rule.
The Racial Question is the Key to World-History
Our own prehistory has been compared with the condition of certain primitive peoples still living today at the level of the Stone-Age. Without concern for the different racial substance and how this determines a people’s destiny, comparisons were drawn. Hereditary tendencies, the inner potential of a race, were still locked secrets. And it is these that enable one people to produce cultural achievements of eternal value, but cause a different people to remain at a standstill, permanently unproductive at a primitive level.
Today we have behind us decades of an exact science, especially the studies of race and heredity, the results of which form the basis of our knowledge about the hereditary quality of our people. They have shown us that people and spirit, body and soul, are inseparable, that the two form a unity of life.
The idea and concept of race today stand at the center of intellectual, ideological, and educational disputes, and have also fundamentally altered our picture of the course of history. The introduction of thought about racial policy means for us a break with all those notions that believed that human history and culture were understandable from the perspective of spirit alone. In the future the natural history of peoples also will be part of the picture of the world and the understanding of it.
For the racial interpretation of history, world-history can only be a history of racially determinate ethnicities. The premise underlying this view is that tendencies not only of the body, but also of the mind and soul, are passed on from generation to generation, and only through them are cultures created and maintained. Race, the organic unity of body, mind, and soul, is the bearer and creator of all manifestations of the life of a people, as these in turn are only an expression of the people’s race.
Decline of the West?
Although cultural peoples may have perished and been extinguished forever from history, this is still not a process of natural law, but ascribable instead to other causes. A people can be immortal if it is itself healthy and strong and has the will to life and immortality. Then however the process and meaning of history in its substance is to be placed in the race of the peoples themselves, and only biological decay is to be regarded as a cause of the death of a people. The destiny of peoples is accordingly bound to the destiny of its racial carriers; only when these die out does the people too perish with them, and another people perhaps still bearing the old name replaces them, but it never represents the people as it had been, in the proper form given to it by the creator.