Sunday 8 May 2016

Can Spengler Explain the Islamic State?

At university, I was sometimes jokingly accused of a tendency that, no matter what the actual topic was, the title of my writing assignments always began with “Spengler and the ...” If you take a look at my list of publications or even the posts of this blog, you will be able to establish that this was nothing more than a malicious falsehood. Still, Oswald Spengler remains a central point of reference to me and yes, sometimes I publish essays under a title featuring his name.

This and all other illustrations of this post are taken from
"Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", a
filmstrip drawn by Sándor Lengyel, 1963.
All the more so as the range of nouns that can appear in such a title together with Spengler's name is virtually endless. Relying on his encyclopedic knowledge, Spengler wrote about almost everything. First and foremost, however, he was a civilization theorist. A recourse to his thoughts therefore commends itself most clearly when a phenomenon is examined in the context of the civilization that produced it. This is the case with the problem of how the Islamic State is rooted in Middle Eastern culture.