Since Spengler seems to be taking a French vacation, here is something from his archives:
America is the object of the world’s fascination, but America itself suffers from amnesia brought on by the traumatic shock of its Civil War. American conservatives blatulate about the virtues of Western Civilization, but cannot quote a line of Homer or Dante in translation, let alone in the original. They feel a vague sense of responsibility to tradition and authority, but would not recognize WC if it crawled up their pants-leg. “Western Civilization” is dying, as it eventually must. Western Civilization to begin with was an unstable amalgam of mutually irreconcilable elements drawn from Greek and Hebrew traditions. America itself is not a product of Western Civilization, but the result of extremist rejection of Western Civilization by English Puritan separatists, who chose the Hebrew over the Greek aspect.
For Asians who wish to learn what America might teach them, today’s Americans are a poor source of information. Last week I provided one example (Mel Gibson’s Lethal Religion, March 9, 2004). America’s founders as well as the instigators of all of America’s major Protestant denominations forbade making images of Jesus, for identification of Jesus with a specific ethnic group undermined Christianity’s aspirations to be a universal religion (and by implication, America’s aspirations to be the home of the New Israel). A few serious Calvinists know this quite well, and still preach against idolatry in general and Mel Gibson’s awful film in particular. For the most part, leaders of America’s religious denominations have lost interest in the intellectual foundations of their religion. Getting the believers in the door and keeping off the chill wind of secularism are the extent of their concerns. For them, Gibson’s application of Hollywood techniques to religion is a gift horse into whose mouth they do not look too deeply.
Some day Chinese universities will hire Western cultural historians and Chinese graduate students will attempt to make sense of what all of this was about. Until then these issues will remain murky.