Creating New Reality Based On "Heroic Past" Strategy


Spengler’s antiliberalism was caused not only by his feeling of intellectual superiority over other Germany’s «prophets», but also by his understanding of the need to rebuild the country, which was impossible under liberal ideology. For Spengler, external and internal enemies were to blame for the collapse of Germany in 1918. Only a strong country may be rebuilt and developed further, so liberalism had to be repudiated. A strong state can be based on «blood and soil», the past, i.e. History. The past, the history were important ontological and ideological elements of the state and culture. Ontologically, culture-bodies grew on a certain soil and had a definite past. Ideologically, there was a necessity of re-creating such past that would make it possible to unify Germany, so he created «unifying» history. This history had to be vivid, endowed with a common moral and political goal. «Beautiful» history was gradually transformed into mythological ideas of great and mighty Germany of the past, with a savior mission not only for itself, but for other European countries as well. «Prussian Socialism» had to become a communicative marker for home consumption, when the stress was on Prussian, and for outside use, where the stress was on Socialism. Strategies to rebuild desolate Germany must rest upon the «sacrosanct past» and built on concepts of race and blood: mythological patterns’ peculiarities may serve as a basis to reshape the past or serve the future. Caesarism of the epoch agrees with the ideals and algorithms of re-creating the Empire.

Keywords: German Reichthe «big myth» communicationscaesarism«Prussian socialism»«popular nationalistic attitude»leader of the nation


Almost all communications, which Spengler built up after publishing the first volume of “The Dawn of Europe”, depend on «listeners». Spengler believed it to be necessary to recreate the German Reich through enhancing the role of the state, first and foremost, in the political sphere and against Liberalism. Spengler’s anti-liberal philosophy sprang from the horror he lived through after the November revolution of «stupidity and infamy», and the German defeat in the Great War. Communication of «the big style» and «the big myth» served as a foundation for restoring Germany. All Spengler’s publicist efforts to restore the country from «blood and soil» through denying liberalism inevitably lead to totalitarianism. Spengler «was also concerned to show that the favourable reception, enjoyed by this ideology, was linked both to the failure of the German liberal movement and also to the rise of Prussian political and cultural hegemony. That means – to the growth of a force that was largely on the fringe of the German cultural tradition right up to the end of the nineteenth century» (Cubeddu, 2005, p.127). Also, «The fact that German universities had been dominated by anti-liberal economic culture was to be a factor of paramount importance. This cultural climate – characterized by a sacrosanct concept of the state and its ends – shaped the world views of the influential class of government officials and intellectuals alike» (Cubeddu, 2005, p.128). Mises connected the proliferation of totalitarian ideology in Germany to the victory of etatism over liberalism, as well as continuity of the early stages of German nationalism development into Nazism. He «felt that the rise of the anti-capitalist and anti-liberal mentality, coupled with the fact that governments have long been in the habit of blaming the market for their failures and for economic and social injustice, were the main underlying causes of the growth of totalitarian ideology» (Cubeddu, 2005, p.129).

Problem Statement

For Spengler, the collapse of the Empire and the Emperor’s abdication meant something even more terrible: «pen-slingers, Jews, gazetteers» and other rabble rising to power, to say nothing about «revolutionary leaders», Egert and others! Nationalism, after the November Revolution, became the anchor of Germany’s salvation and its resurrection. The nation, or, rather, «the race and blood» were to unite the vanquished country. It was necessary to set off primordial native German Prussian Socialism against Liberalism, or even worse, Socialism. The post-November of 1918, the tragedy distorted Spengler’s view of the situation: never again would he wonder about reasons for, or personalities who were guilty of starting the war; he only wanted to know who was to blame for the Germany’s defeat in that war. Germany suffered a humiliating knockout – the pain of military defeat and the horrors of the revolution were muddled together in ONE vast and terrible event – and bad leaders (Führer) were culpable. But Germany had to live on, it had to be restored, it was essential that the country was shown the right path to create the ideology of the postwar Reich, the one that, unfortunately, was lacking an Emperor. The «big style» ideology should be built and structured, and the Germans should be nurtured and molded systematically and purposefully. According to Spengler, the foundation of the German character and the German State rests on the «blood»-based ancient Prussian Socialism, Germanic in nature and opposed to Internationalism, Pacifism and Ultramontanism. Citizens’ education and character-building must rest on the traditional past.

Research Questions

Mythologizing the past and archaizing the present by Spengler.

The «big style» ideology is followed by the «big myth». Either wittingly or unwittingly Spengler displays the frame that may help to piece together the shattered Teutonic macrocosm: mythological images (Friedriech the Great of Prussia), stereotypes and patterns of the Reich past history (the officers, chivalry, honour, «both a worker and the Emperor serve»), permanent references to history, the «glorious past», peculiar speech architecture and lexis (there is a great difference in both vocabulary and syntax of «The Decline of the West» and his publicist works), permanent mention of «commonly popular» leaders and events, involving the «educated» into the in-crowd for whom half a word is enough.

Spengler’s anti-bourgeois nature and anti-liberalism, «tempered» by his nationalism and idealization of conservatism were to lure the readers (better still, listeners) into the illusion that not only everybody agrees with the ideas on offer, but also that they have known them all their lives. Anastylosis of coherent holistic content from his separate political oeuvres of the period demonstrates to the addressee the myths about Germany, created by a philosopher who has fitted in the profane times (after 1918) and made them into the continuation of the sacrosanct epoch of the Great Prussia, its honour, chivalry, dedication and duty. This sacrosanct epoch and its important developments are the primal cause of the birth, prosperity and success of Deutschland in the past that has become the archetype for the present and the future: «Mythological times and mythological heroes create role models and paradigms, and at the same time they emanate magic spiritual forces that continue to keep things in good order both in the nature and in the society» (Meletinsky, 1991, р. 653). It was the sacrosanct times, the profane times; it was the age of heroes, scoundrels (revolutionaries, socialists, journalists); it was the epoch of miracles, heroism, passing from darkness to light.

Purpose of the Study

Displaying the founding principles of molding Teutons while building the «Prussian Socialism», Spengler could not help portraying the leader of the nation’s image. Sacralizing the State, where the head knows better what is good for his subjects, as he is their real leader and cares for them, Spengler proceeds from «historicity of relationship Father of the Nation – the Nation». The search for a leader and the problem of molding one are linked to educating young people growing up in the chaos of defeat and revolution whose leaders betrayed Germany and the Prussian Socialism (Spengler, 1967). The programme for «Re-creating the German Reich» is presented through the publicist oeuvres and the audiences Spengler addresses: «Political Duties of the German Youth», «New Forms of Global Politics», «Tasks of the Nobility», «The Relationship of Economy and Tax Policy since 1750», «The Contemporary Relationship between World Economics and World Politics», «Toward a Developmental History of the German Press», «On the German National Character». It includes molding the young people, restoring and developing the economy, securing nonhostile political surroundings, finding and cultivating the leader (Spengler was on friendly terms with German big brass and their organizations in Prussia).

Research Methods

The author used comparative methods of understanding the features of the modern myth, set out upon a series of contributions dedicated to mythologizing history by Cubeddu R. (2005). Svasyan K.A. (1987). Averintsev (1968). Meletinsky E.M. (1991).


Negative prospects for united Germany.

It must be kept in mind that Spengler (1963) was the historian of the future: «I am writing for the future» (in «The Hour of Decision») and after 1918, he is building the future of Germany. He needs the past as a template; it seems to him that the best idea is to look back at the glorious heroic past and «restore it». Besides, according to Spengler, Germany’s power is achieved through the national idea with unifying power, not through the false idea of class division. The «popular nationalistic attitude», Spengler had spoken about, evolved into the ideas of the Reich, though he has his own opinion about the real leaders who appeared in the 1920s; «the so-called national-socialist ‘ideas’ carry a lot of truth as long as they do not rely on their vainglorious advocates. Some of them belong to me («Prussianism and Socialism»), some originate from the earlier periods, the Bismarck times, Friedriech Wilhelm’s I times. But if you put a monkey at the piano to play Beethoven, it will only break the keys and tear the sheet music. They could not understand the ideas; for that, one needs brains to do that… They crushed those ideas, abused them, besmirched, belittled, turned into punk slogans» (Svasyan, 1987, р. 132). Spengler despised NSDAP leaders, but he was horrified by the reminiscences of German revolution. He supposed that the conservative revolution is built into the world history, and if the age of culture was over, one has to accept it. Caesarism as a civilizing influence had replaced the culture, and «we…shall sooner or later again be subjects and not mere objects of history» (Spengler, 1963, p.[ix])Spengler on caesarism and liberalism as an alternative choice for Germany

Caesarism is opposed to «Byzantine blather»: the language of the epoch either reflects or is ahead of the epoch. It is not quite clear whether communicative strategies influence the society, or the society generates communicative strategies that later form the society. Spengler supposed that for that time, caesarism (Spengler, 1963) was preferable to liberalism, as Germany had already lived through the «downfall of the state», «replacement of the state by the oligarchy of second-rate party leaders» who were apt to amass personal wealth and dissipate. Spengler preferred ideas of caesarism; although he already understood what German leaders were like. “The lack of attention to detail» of goings-on in Germany at the end of the 20s - beginning of the 30s did not give an accurate account of the “caesarism”, offered by Spengler, and its transformation in certain conditions, and the leader were no conducive to it.

By the beginning of the 1930s, Spengler already managed to understand the political processes in Germany, which brought about Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche’s question: «To my great grief I hear that you are parting from the Nietzsche Archive? And do not with it. I regret this extremely and cannot imagine the reason. I have been informed that you are taking an attitude of strong opposition to the Third Reich and its Fȕhrer? And that your departure from the Nietzsche Archive, which sincerely reveres the Fȕhrer, connected with this. Now I have myself experienced your speaking great energy against our highly honoured new ideal. But that exactly what I do not understand. Does not our sincerely honoured Fȕhrer have the same ideals and values for the Third Reich? As you have expressed in Prussianism and Socialism? How has your strong opposition arisen? But perhaps I am mistaken and there are other reasons than our connection with the ideals of National Socialism which are separating you from us; do write me a word of explanation and comfort. It was suggested to me as a guess that your renunciation was due to a book» (Spengler, 1966, р.304-305). Developing an idea, separating the idea and the author, misappropriating it and using it for alien purposes should become the problem of communicative strategies.

The author has shown how and why Spengler turns Myth into History, and why Myth gets out of its «creator’s» control. The problem of creating the «big myth» instead of wished-for past is typical for the countries at the point of traditional ideology breakup with unstable national unity, as Spengler himself shows.


In the process of creating communicative strategies for restoration of Germany, Spengler worked out a splendid system of building a «national idea» by creating both informed and auxiliary strategies of demonstrating the image of the future Germany (Reich), founded on the sacrosanct past, where there is no distinction between real and wished-for events: Friedriech the Great of Prussia, mighty and radiant Germany, spiritual unity of the German people, Prussian Socialism and others are rather images, myths and archetypes than real events (Spengler, 1967).

Rebuilding Germany using, among others, Spengler’s methods and political recommendations helped to realize that caesarism, Spangler (Spengler, 1963) writes about, inevitably evolves into totalitarianism. Spengler formulates his goal like this: try to start «from the facts of actual life and from the historical practice that higher mankind seeks to obtain a quintessence of historical experience that we can set to work upon the formation of our own future» (Spengler, 1961. p.40)


The author thanks R. Cubeddu and K.A. Svasyan, whose publications served as a basis for mythologizing history study. The author is grateful to Dianne Rhee (Libraries.MIT) for her assistance in finding rare historical documentation.


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19 February 2018

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Karulina, T. B. (2018). Creating New Reality Based On "Heroic Past" Strategy. In I. B. Ardashkin, N. V. Martyushev, S. V. Klyagin, E. V. Barkova, A. R. Massalimova, & V. N. Syrov (Eds.), Research Paradigms Transformation in Social Sciences, vol 35. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 536-541). Future Academy.