Oswald Spengler


                                                CHAPTER X

                                           THE STATE




A FATHOMLESS secret of the cosmic flowings that we call Life is their separation
into two sexes.  Already in the earth-bound existence-streams of the plant
world they are trying to part from one another, as the symbol of the flower
tells us -- into a something that is this existence and a something that keeps it
going.  Animals are free, little worlds in a big world -- the cosmic -- closed
off as microcosms and set up against the macrocosm.  And, more and more
decisively as the animal kingdom unfolds its history, the dual direction of dual
being, of the masculine and the feminine, manifests itself.
    The feminine stands closer to the Cosmic.  It is rooted deeper in the earth
and it is immediately involved in the grand cyclic rhythms of Nature.  The
masculine is freer, more animal, more mobile -- as to sensation and understand-
ing as well as otherwise -- more awake and more tense.
    The male livingly experiences Destiny, and he comprehends Causality, the
causal logic of the Become.  The female, on the contrary, is herself  Destiny and
Time and the organic logic of the Becoming, and for that very reason the prin-
ciple of Causality is forever alien to her.  Whenever Man has tried to give
Destiny any tangible form, he has felt it as of feminine form ...
The supreme deity is never itself Destiny, but always either its representative
or its master -- just as man represents or controls woman.  Primevally, too,
woman is the seeress, and not because she knows the future, but because
she is the future.  The priest merely interprets the oracle; the woman is the
oracle itself, and it is Time that speaks through her.
    The man makes History, the woman is History.  Here, strangely clear yet
enigmatic still, we have a dual significance of all living happenings -- on the
one hand we sense cosmic flow as such, and on the other hand the chain and
train of successive individuals brings us back to the microcosms themselves as
the recipients, containers, and preservers of the flowing.  It is this "second"
history that is characteristically masculine -- political, social, more conscious,
freer, and more agitated than the other.  It reaches hack deep into the animal
world, and receives highest symbolic and world-historical expression in the
life-courses of the great Cultures.  Feminine, on the contrary, is the primary                                     p. 327

the eternal, the maternal, the plantlike (for the plant ever has something female
in it), the cultureless history of the generation-sequence , which never alters,
but uniformly and stilly passes through the being of all animal and human
species, through all the short-lived individual Cultures.  In retrospect, it is
synonymous with Life itself.  This history, too, is not without its battles and
its tragedies.  Woman in childbed wins through to her victory.  The Aztecs
-- the Romans of the Mexican Culture -- honoured the woman in labour as a
battling warrior, and if she died, she was interred with the same formula as
the fallen hero.  Policy for Woman is eternally the conquest of the Man,
through whom she can become mother of children, through whom she can
become History and Destiny and Future.  The target of her profound shyness,
her tactical finesse, is ever the father of her son.  The man, on the contrary,
whose centre of gravity lies essentially in the other kind of History, wants
that son as his son, as inheritor and carrier of his blood and historical tradition.
    Here, in man and in woman, the two kinds of History are fighting for power.
Woman is strong and wholly what she is, and she experiences the Man and the
Sons only in relation to herself and her ordained rôle.  In the masculine being,
on the contrary, there is a certain contradiction; he is this man, and he is
something else besides, which woman neither understands nor admits, which
she feels is robbery and violence upon that which to her is holiest.  This
secret and fundamental war of the sexes has gone on ever since there were
sexes, and will continue -- silent, bitter, unforgiving, pitiless -- while they
continue.  In it, too, there are policies, battles, alliances, treaties, treasons.
Race-feeling of love and hate, which originate in depths of world-yearning and
primary instincts of directedness, prevail between the sexes -- and with a still
more uncanny potency than in the other History that takes place between man
and man.  There are love-lyrics and war-lyrics, love-dances and weapon-dances,
there are two kinds of tragedy -- Othello and Macbeth.  But nothing in the
political world even begins to compare with the abysses of a Clytæmnestra's or
a Kriemhild's vengeance.
    And so woman despises that other History -- man's politics -- which
she never comprehends, and of which all that she sees is that it takes her sons
from her.  What for her is a triumphant battle that annihilates the victories
of a thousand childbeds!  Man's history sacrifices woman's history to itself,
and no doubt there is a female heroism too, that proudly brings the sons to the
sacrifice (Catherine Sforza on the walls of Imola), but nevertheless there was
and is and ever will he a secret politic of the woman -- of the female of the
animal world even -- that seeks to draw away her male from his kind of his-
tory and to weave him body and soul into her own plantlike history of generic
succession --  that is, into herself.  And yet all that is accomplished in the man-
history is accomplished under the battle-cries of hearth and home, wives and
children, race and the like, and its very object is the covering and upholding of                                p. 328

this history of birth and death.  The conflict of man and man is ever on account of
the blood, of woman.  Woman, as Time, is that for which there is history at all.
    The woman with race in her feels this even when she does nor know it.
She is Destiny, she plays Destiny.  The play begins with the fight of men for
the possession of her -- Helen, and the tragedy of Carmen, and Catherine II,
and the story of Napoleon and Désirée Clary, who in the end took Bernadotte
over to the side of his enemies -- and it is not a human play only, for this fight
begins down in the animal world and fills the history of whole species.  And it
culminates in her swaying, as mother or wife or mistress, the Destiny of em-
pires -- Hallgerd in the Njal saga, the Frankish queen Brunhilde, Marozia
who gave the Holy See to men of her choice.  The man climbs up in his history
until he has the future of a country in his hands -- and then woman comes
and forces him to his knees.  Peoples and states may go down in ruin over it,
but she in her history has conquered.  This, in the last analysis, is always the
aim of political ambition in a woman of race.1
     Thus history has two meanings, neither to he blasphemed.  It is cosmic or
politic, it is being or it preserves being.  There are two sorts of Destiny, two
sorts of war, two sorts of tragedy -- public and private.  Nothing can eliminate
this duality from the world.  It is radical, founded in the essence of the animal
that is both microcosm and participant in the cosmic.  It appears at all sig-
nificant conjunctures in the form of a conflict of duties, which exists only for
the man, not for the woman, and in the course of a higher Culture it is never
overcome, but only deepened.  There are public life and private life, public
law and private law, communal cults and domestic cults.  As Estate, Being
is "in form" for the one history;  as race, breed, it is in flow as itself the other
history.  This is the old German distinction between the "sword side" and the
"spindle ride" of blood-relationships.  The double significance of directional
Time finds its highest expression in the ideas of the State and the Family....

     1 And not until women cease to have race enough to have or to want children, not until they
cease to be history, does it become possible for them to make or to copy the history of men.  Con-
versely, it is deeply significant that we are in the habit of calling thinkers, doctrinaires, and humanity-
 enthusiasts of anti-political tendency "old women."   They wish to imitate the other history, the
history of woman, although they -- cannot.                                                                                                                            p. 329

... women, as more instinctive and nearer to cosmic rhythms, adapt themselves
more readily than men to the forms of a new milieu. Women from the bottom strata
move in elegant society with entire certainty after a few years -- and sink again as
quickly.  But men alter slowly, because they are more awake and aware....                                      p. 331

...  Man as peasant or noble turns towards, man as priest turns away from,
woman....  The true priest .. refuses in principle to recognize private life, sex,
family ..  He does not entirely die who lives on in sons and nephews.  But for
the true priest media vita in morte sumus; what he shall bequeath is intellectual,
and rejected woman bears no part in it....                                                                                        p. 337


The above text was taken from "The Decline of the West", translated by Charles Francis Atkinson and
COPYRIGHTED by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1928.  The use of this material is being done in accordance
with the "Fair use" statement in United States copyright law.

This page prepared by Thomas Pollock, aka Spartacus, Editor of  The Men's Tribune .