Volkmar Weiss and the Spenglerian Cycle of History

Dr. Volkmar Weiss

With the on-going publication by The Brussels Journal of Steve Kogan's overview of Oswald Spengler, it may be relevant to mention the work of a present-day social scientist who has attempted to explain Western civilizational decline from a quasi-Spenglerian perspective. In The Population Cycle Drives Human History—from a Eugenic Phase into a Dysgenc Phase and Collapse (Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies, Vol. 32, No. 3, Fall 2007) Dr. Volkmar Weiss of the German Central Office for Genealogy in Leipzig writes: “In his book The Decline of the West [Spengler] comprehended the essential elements of the downward spiral in a typological way, without proving his conclusions statistically.” However, “ In order to interpret this behavior and to predict its outcome, we need more insights than the analogies by Spengler of the growth and final decay of all cultures.” Accordingly, Weiss approaches the subject of decline from a bio-genetic perspective using population genetics, IQ, and demographic shifts as explanations.

Weiss begins discussing the Aristotelian “Cycle of Constitutions.” Offering an anecdote from his school days he writes:

“About 50 years ago, in the former Communist East Germany, I asked my schoolteacher what would happen after Communism? He answered: Nothing else, because Communism is the final stage of human history.”

Now, after the fall of the Soviet empire, his teacher’s faith in Communism strikes us as naïve. Yet Weiss contrasts the teacher's faith with that of current Western notions of the democratic ideal offered as a universal replacement for all peoples, regardless of their cultural or biological history. We observe concrete instances in NATO excursions into Afghanistan, the previous Balkan campaigns, and the United States invasion of Iraq. Nevertheless, the regime of Western democracies cannot be arbitrarily transferred, and in any case, permanence is never guaranteed. Weiss remarks on the Aristotelian conception of a hierarchy of governmental forms where the good or ordered constitution is followed by its opposite. Thus the progression from monarchy to aristocracy, and oligarchy to democracy inevitably leads to more degenerate forms. However, for reasons to be discussed, Western-style democracy cannot sustain itself and the cycle starts anew:

“Democracy inevitably degenerates into a corrupt government of the plebs and mobocracy. A dictatorship of the proletariat, which in the name of democracy redistributes without any constraints from poor to rich, from the brave and diligent to the paupers, destroys the economic power of the society in its roots. Finally, the people will hail an autocrat as savior, and after a complete breakdown the cycle starts again.”

For Weiss, examples are commonplace, but some, while known, are not intuitively obvious in their manifestation. For instance, he explains the history of Russia as being in abject decline from at least the late 19th century, wherein the era of Soviet Communism was just another step on the road to final decay inasmuch as the tyranny of Stalin was replaced by the “oligarchy of the Politburo.” Underlying the current political-social-cultural climate, one discovers the presence of a transforming demographic shift resulting in a definite qualitative decline within the population genotype. Associated with demographic shifting is the inexplicable lowering of birth rates to sub-replacement levels among the indigenous group . Weiss views the group as an organic entity, and as such the survival of any organism is primarily dependent upon its ability to reproduce. As Aristotle remarked in De Anima, only through reproduction can the individual participate in immortality. So too the civilization.

The political cycle is different for those groups not possessing the necessary intellectual capital to sustain the high level historically demonstrated within Western social political order, although the end is the same:

“States with only short phases of upswing and a low average IQ have no chance to reach the stage of fully developed democracy at all, but oscillate between oligarchy and tyranny, before they are drawn into the abyss.”

Hence the wrongheadedness of Western elite's attempts to impose the democratic ideal on peoples whose natures could never be accepting of the gift.

Weiss documents how Western economic practices inhibit the organic demands for population maintenance. For instance, the introduction of women into the workplace, and the general level of consumerism that allows people to “forget” their biological duty to the species as they work for “things” (consumables external to their biological nature), exacerbates decline. In a contradictory manner, the equalitarian ideology coupled with Third World immigration in effect lowers the “civilizational IQ” necessary for the maintenance of a preexisting technological base—the ordered ground of our externally oriented consumer society. This has the effect of taxing both the social and technological infrastructure to the point where it cannot be sufficiently maintained.

With regard to declining population Weiss writes:

“It is crucial to understand that...regulation of population density and behavioral changes being in a feedback loop, a full cycle requires the complete destruction of social hierarchy and a total disorientation of the female individuals— i.e., their diversion away from the successful reproduction and rearing of offspring. Today’s humans call such behavior 'emancipation' and 'feminism'."

For Weiss, it is the general introduction of universal political suffrage and the idea of equality against hierarchy that indicates the beginning of the point of no return. There does not appear to be any hope for the West, as we are, in this respect, very late into the game.

The upshot of his ecological-genetic analysis is simply that the lowered global IQ (really, the dilution of the Western genotype) must result in a commensurate inability to maintain a Western derived technological infrastructure. In turn, this inability will usher in an emerging “Dark Age.” He is not optimistic:

“A population with a destroyed hierarchy as a whole is becoming more and more incompetent and unable to act, and the individuals are fighting each other. In an overcrowded cage with rhesus monkeys we see murder and homicide, and with rodents apathy, sterility and cannibalism.”

In conclusion Weiss understands the historical cycle as a Spenglerian organic process that must play itself out. If this is so, then our best days are behind us, at least until the beginnings of the inevitable cyclic upswing.


Dr. Weiss' original journal article may be accessed at http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/6557/1/MPRA_paper_6557.pdf

Thanks, Mr. Presley

for this interesting article and link to the Weiss article, which have stimulated good comments.  I hope to read the Weiss piece before long; I would hate to see conservatism reduced to demographic engineering, and non-material relaities to be reduced to "culture." 

Skinning the Cat

Moving from this article to the GoV blog, I was struck by the resonance of yesterday's Sarah Maid of Albion piece.

So where is the way out? II

Reconciler identifies precisely the problem: Modern Society's embrace of Abortion.

The IQ issue is a distracter. The correct answer is a civilization in a deep spiritual malaise. The decline of 'Civilizational IQ' is simply a sympton of the disease.

Grab a Rosary folks and start fighting back. Afterall, if a young Jewish girl from a simple background, could figure it all out a couple thousand years ago, why can't we?

So where is the way out?

Should we all lean back and enjoy the ride? Or should we take measures to come out ahead of the crowd, when the pendulum swings back?

A logical conclusion of Weiss' findings seems to be reversing emancipation, by which one can only mean allowing the natural sense of and desire for motherhood to be infused back into our society. Outlawing abortion as murder would be a good start as well. Germany flushes 100.000 unborn down the drain of vanity, irresponsibility and amorality each year.

But where would we get the support? The churches seem to be a lost case. The conservative movements haven't yet picked up abortion (let alone counter-emancipation) as a major issue. The most conservative champions will hardly take up those matters, as they are like ember for todays politicians to handle.

Everybody seems to have rationalized how their own hand ended up on that big collective saw, that is rasping away at the branch of civilization.

Sufficient proof for Western society's superiority will be its survival.

Responding to Michael Presley on Volkmar Weiss

The “Weiss Hypothesis” has a number of precedents beyond Oswald Spengler, whom Weiss, as Presley indicates, explicitly acknowledges.  In an American context, one thinks immediately of Madison Grant and T. Lothrop Stoddard, who were perhaps in turn taking a cue from The Decline of the West.  Another anticipatory expression of the “Weiss Hypothesis” may be found in Cyril M. Kornbluth’s 1951 short story forGalaxy magazine, “The Marching Morons,” said plausibly to have been the basis for Mike Judge’s recent movie Idiocracy (2006).  But “The Marching Morons” is not a comedy.  Kornbluth’s point-of-view character John Barlow is a cynical, dishonest, and philistine real estate salesman who, through a fantastic accident involving dental anesthesia, goes into hibernation in 1988 and wakes up hundreds of years in the future. Through Barlow’s calculating eyes Kornbluth reveals a world in which the high-I.Q. and middle-I.Q. population long ago restricted their rates of reproduction while the low-I.Q. population exercised prodigious fertility.  The result is a world of “marching morons” who are utterly dependent on a tiny self-concealing minority of intellectually competent elites, who see to it that the global infrastructure continues to function so that the masses firstly do not starve or die off from unchecked disease and secondly so as to keep them transfixed and docile through continuous distraction by mindless entertainment. 

 Idiocracy represents this aspect of Kornbluth’s story fairly well although the story naturally does it better.  Idiocracy elides the tragic aspect of “The Marching Morons,” which concerns the attempt by the future elite – who are, in effect, the slaves of the teeming billions – to exploit Barlow’s cynicism in devising a way to rid themselves of their problem.  At one point, Barlow asks his hosts why they do not simply let the works go to Hell.  They tried it once, one of them says, but the calamity was swiftly so great that it threatened everyone.  So they had to intervene again.  Barlow’s solution is morally horrendous – and I will not spoil the story.  Kornbluth sees the same phenomena about which Spengler and Weiss, and Grant and Stoddard, comment, and he sees the trends that they see as culminating by their insidious logic in global moral catastrophe, as well as in a more easily imaginable breakdown of the infrastructure and coarsening of the culture.  H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine is not dissimilar in its long-term outlook, nor should one overlook the 1972 John Boorman film Zardoz, which is close to Kornbluth in its tragic view of the likely future and close to Spengler in its intuition of cycles of civilization.