|Excerpts: 6/24/2017 05:25:33
∞ Western Imperialist ∞
Considered in itself, the Roman world-dominion was a negative phenomenon,
being the result not of a surplus of energy on the one side - that the
Romans had never had since Zama - but of a deficiency of resistance on the
other. That the Romans did not conquer the world is certain; they merely
took possession of a booty that lay open to everyone. The Imperium Romanum .
came into existence not as the result of such an extremity of military and
financial effort as had characterized the Punic Wars, but because the old East
forwent all external self-determinations. We must not be deluded by the appearance
of brilliant military successes. With a few ill-trained, ill-led, and
sullen legions, Lucullus and Pompey conquered whole realms - a phenomenon
that in the period of the battle of Ipsus would have been unthinkable. The
Mithradatic danger, serious enough for a system of material force which had
never been put to any real test, would have been nothing to the conquerors of
Hannibal. After Zama, the Romans never again either waged or were capable
of waging a war against a great military Power. Their classic wars were those
against the Samnites, Pyrrhus and Carthage. Their grand hour was Cannae.
To maintain the heroic posture for centuries· on end is beyond the power of any
people. The Prussian-German people have had three great moments (1813, 1870
and 1914), and that is more than others have had.
Here, then, I lay it down that Imperialism, of which petrifacts such as the
Egyptian empire, the Roman, the Chinese, the Indian may continue to exist
for hundreds or thousands of years - dead bodies, amorphous and dispirited
masses of men, scrap-material from a great· history - is to be taken as the
typical symbol of the passing away. Imperialism is Civilization unadulterated.
Edited 6/24/2017 05:27:48
|Excerpts: 6/24/2017 05:35:20
∞ Western Imperialist ∞
In this phenomenal form the destiny of the West is now irrevocably set. The
energy of culture-man is directed inwards, that of civilization-man outwards.
And thus I see in Cecil Rhodes the first man of a new age. He stands for the
political style of a far-ranging, Western, Teutonic and especially German future,
and his phrase "expansion is everything" is the Napoleonic reassertion of the
indwelling tendency of every Civilization that has fully ripened - Roman, Arab
or Chinese. It is not a matter of choice - it is not the conscious will of individuals,
or even that of whole classes or peoples that decides. The expansive
tendency is a doom, something daemonic and immense, which grips, forces into
service, and uses up the late mankind of the world-city stage, willy-nilly, aware
or unaware. Life is the process of effecting possibilities, and for the brainman
there are only extensive possibilities. Hard as the half-developed Socialism
of to-day is fighting against expansion, one day it will become arch-expansionist
with all the vehemence of destiny. Here the form-language of politics, as the
direct intellectual expression of a certain type of humanity, touches on a deep
metaphysical problem - on the fact, affirmed in the grant of unconditional
validity to the causality-principle, that the soul is the complement of its extension.
When, between 480 and 2.30,3 the Chinese group of states was tending
towards imperialism, it was entirely futile to combat the principle·of Imperialism
(Lien-heng), practised in particular by the "Roman" state of Tsin and
theoretically represented by the philosopher Dschang Yi, by ideas of a League
of Nations (Hoh-tsung) largely derived from Wang Hu, a profound skeptic who
had no illusions as to the men or the political possibilities of this "late"
period. Both sides opposed the anti-political idealism of Lao-tse, but as between
themselves it was Lien-heng and not Hoh-tsung which swam with the
natural current of expansive Civilization.
Rhodes is to be regarded as the first precursor of a Western type of Caesars,
whose day is to come though yet distant. He stands midway between Napoleon
and the force-men of the next centuries, just as Flaminius, who from 232 B.C.
onward pressed the Romans to undertake the subjugation of Cisalpine Gaul
and so initiated the policy of colonial expansion, stands between Alexander and
Caesar. Strictly speaking, Flaminius was a private person - for his real power
was of a kind not embodied in any constitutional office - who exercised a
dominant influence in the state at a time when the state-idea was giving way to
the pressure of economic factors. So far as Rome is concerned, he was the arche-type of opposition caesarism;with him there came to an end the idea of stateservice
and there began the ''will to power" which ignored traditions and
reckoned only with forces. Alexander and Napoleon were romantics; though
they stood on the threshold of Civilization and in its cold clear air, the one
fancied himself an Achilles and the other read Werther. Caesar, on the contrary,
was a pure man of fact gifted with immense understanding.
|Excerpts: 6/24/2017 05:42:32
∞ Western Imperialist ∞
But even for Rhodes political success means territorial and financial success,
and only that. Of this Roman-ness within himself he was fully aware. But
Western Civilization has not yet taken shape in such strength and purity as
this. It was only before his maps that he could fall into a sort of poetic trance,
this son of the parsonage who, sent out to South Africa without means, made a
gigantic fortune and employed it as the engine of political aims. His idea of
a trans-African railway from the Cape to Cairo, his project of a South African
empire, his intellectual hold on the hard metal souls of the mining magnates
whose wealth he forced into the service of his schemes, his capital Bulawayo,
royally planned as a future Residence by a statesman who was all-powerful yet
stood in no definite relation to the State, his wars, his diplomatic deals, his
road-systems, his syndicates, his armies, his conception of the" great duty to
civilization" of the man of brain - all this, broad and imposing, is the prelude
of a future which is still in store for us and with which the history of
West-European mankind will be definitely closed.
He who does not understand that this outcome is obligatory and insusceptible
of modification, that our choice is between willing this and willing nothing
at all, between cleaving to this destiny or despairing of the future and of life
itself; he who cannot feel that there is grandeur also in the realizations of
powerful intelligences, in the energy and discipline of metal-hard natures, in
battles fought with the coldest and most abstract means; he who is obsessed
with the idealism of a provincial and would pursue the ways of life of past
ages - must forgo all desire to comprehend history, to live through history or
to make history.
Thus regarded, the Imperium Romanum appears no longer as an isolated
phenomenon, but as the normal product of a strict and energetic, megalopolitan,
predominantly practical spirituality, as typical of a final and irreversible condition
which has occurred often enough though it has only been identified
as such in this instance.
Let it be realized, then:
That the secret of historical form does not lie on the surface, that it cannot
be grasped by means of similarities of costume and setting, and that in the
history of men as in that of animals and plants there occur phenomena showing
deceptive similarity but inwardly without any connexion - e.g., Charlemagne
and Haroun-al-Raschid, Alexander and Caesar, the German wars upon Rome
and the Mongol onslaugghts upon West Europe - and other phenomena of extreme outward dissimilarity but of identical import - e.g., Trajan and
Rameses II, the Bourbons and the Attic Demos, Mohammed and Pythagoras.
That the 19th and 20th centuries, hitherto looked on as the highest point
of an ascending straight line of world-history, are in reality a stage of life
which may be observed in every Culture that has ripened to its limit - a stage
of life characterized not by Socialists, Impressionists, electric railways, torpedoes and differential equations (for these are only body-constituents of the
time), but by a civilized spirituality which possesses not only these but also
quite other creative possibilities.
That, as our own time represents a transitional phase which occurs with
certainty under particular conditions, there are perfectly well-defined states
(such as have occurred more than once in the history of the past) later than the
present-day state of West Europe, and therefore that
The future of the West is not a limitless tending upwards and onwards for
all time towards our present ideals, but a single phenomenon of history, strictly
limited and defined as to form and duration, which covers a few centuries and
can be viewed and, in essentials, calculated from available precedents.