Spengler Man and Technics

Here is an interesting excerpt from the great (but depressing) Oswald Spengler, from his Man & Technics esssay:

In reality, however, it is out of the power either of heads or of hands to alter in any way the destiny of machine-technics, for this has developed out of inward spiritual necessities and is now correspondingly maturing towards its fulfilment and end. Today we stand on the summit, at the point when the fifth act is beginning. The last decisions are taking place, the tragedy is closing.

Every high Culture is a tragedy. The history of mankind as a whole is tragic. But the sacrilege and the catastrophe of the Faustian are greater than all others, greater than anything Æschylus or Shakespeare ever imagined. The creature is rising up against its creator. As once the microcosm Man against Nature, so now the microcosm Machine is revolting against Nordic Man. The lord of the World is becoming the slave of the Machine, which is forcing him — forcing us all, whether we are aware of it or not — to follow its course. The victor, crashed, is dragged to death by the team.

At the commencement of the twentieth century the aspect of the “world” on this small planet is somewhat of this sort. A group of nations of Nordic blood under the leadership of British, Germans, French, and Americans commands the situation. Their political power depends on their wealth, and their wealth consists in their industrial strength. But this in turn is bound up with the existence of coal. The Germanic peoples, in particular, are secured by what is almost a monopoly of the known coal-fields, and this has led them to a multiplication of their populations that is without parallel in all history. On the ridges of the coal, and at the focal points of the lines of communication radiating therefrom, is collected a human mass of monstrous size, bred by machine-technics, working for it, and living on it. To the other peoples whether in the form of colonies or of nominally independent states — is assigned the role of providing the raw material and receiving the products. This division of function is secured by armies and navies, the upkeep of which presupposes industrial wealth, and which have been fashioned by so thorough a technique that they, too, work by the pressing of a button. Once again the deep relationship, almost identity, of politics, war, and economics discloses itself. The degree of military power is dependent on the intensity of industry. Countries industrially poor are poor all round; they, therefore, cannot support an army or wage a war; therefore they are politically impotent; and, therefore, the workers in them, leaders and led alike, are pawns in the economic policy of their opponents.