September 08, 2011
So what is the solution? According to the great Greek economist, a financial dictatorship of sorts, but no one in Europe or North America is willing to risk it. When last in London, during a Spectator business dinner and in the presence of both our executive editor as well as the sainted one, I dared to mention that as the Portuguese and Spanish benevolent dictatorships came to an end during the mid-1970s, their currencies and balances of payments were among Europe’s best. Ditto the Greek junta, which collapsed in 1974. (There are Greeks today clamoring for the military to return, but that’s a bad joke. The army now is as bureaucratic as any institution in that unfortunate land, and they’d make an even bigger mess.) One female correspondent was shocked, whispering under her breath about fascists in our midst.
Which brings me back to history. The first volume of Spengler’s The Decline of the West appeared in 1918, just as Big Bertha was raining shells on Paris and while German armies were poised for success. Soon after everything collapsed for Germany. Cultural pessimism reigned supreme, with figures such as Spengler leading it. Thomas Mann called The Decline the era’s most important book. He compared its emotional effect on him to that of reading Schopenhauer, the pessimist par excellence. Ludwig Wittgenstein was thunderstruck, as were most serious thinkers of the time except for Max Weber—who, according to Taki, is a clown for having invented sociology. Not everyone accepted gloom and doom as a way of thinking, and Spengler himself defended his work as one of German nationalist resurgence—and with it the extermination of the corrupt West and the Weimar Republic itself.
We all know how that one ended. The old conservatism of Bismarck and Wilhelmine Germany did not return; rather, a new radical right galvanized by the disasters of 1918-1919 and inspired by Nietzsche and Spengler’s cultural pessimism came slowly into fashion. This fashion became unfashionable during the first week of May 1945. Today’s politicians could do worse than to read up on Spengler instead of their silly red boxes. But most of them were born without the gene of shame. Just look at the lies Sarkozy and the rest of the gang of EU believers have told us this last decade alone. Observe the corruption of Brussels, the greed and dishonesty of American banks and corporations, and the Augean stables which Washington and the lobbies have become. There is, it seems to me, no way out. The EU’s structural issues make it impossible. The markets act accordingly. Fiscal deficits should have brought down the EU long ago, yet the con men who lead us insist on pressing onward. No one will go to jail for this gigantic fraud, just as no one from Goldman Sachs went to jail for betting against the positions that they had pushed on their customers.
There is no shame except the one I feel with my hangover.