German Anglophobia and the Great War, 1914—1918
Like many other German intellectuals, Spengler believed that Germany's decision to challenge England for world domination was an epoch-making event, one which necessitated a search for adequate historical analogies rather than (for him) meaningless concepts like 'balance of power'. On 18 December 1914 he wrote to his friend Hans Klores:
I know of only two epochs as important as the present—the history of Europe between the years 1789 and 1815, and classical history from Sulla to the death of Anthony. These epochs left behind them a world changed to its depths. You will observe that the crucial decision in this war lies between Britain and Germany. The other powers are only bottle-holders. The point at issue between Sulla and Marcus, Pompey and Caesar, Octavian and Anthony, was Rome and Alexandria (the Latin and Hellenistic ideas) or—for the pre-formation of culture—the Arabic East and the Germanic West.Germany, he went on, had a mission which was similar to that of Rome in the fight against the Greek and Punic armies of Hellas and Carthage. Only the Roman legions and Napoleon's Grenadiers had something of the same style and appearance of today's German soldiers in their field grey. In the same letter he even speculated on the possibility that the German army might soon appear in London, an event which would be the 'Zama' for England. 'I know that there is a plan to carry this out. If it is now not practicable, a second war against England will bring the victory which history demands.'
Indeed, Spengler's pessimism did not stem from any lack of confidence in the ability of the German army to win great military victories in the struggle against England. Rather, it stemmed from a much more deep-rooted fear that, even if Germany did succeed in making England submit to its will, this would not of itself provide a cure for the enormous crises of national and cultural identity caused by modernity, crises that were threatening to plunge Germany, as well as its western neighbours, ever further into anarchy and chaos. The reality of economic and technological progress meant that the struggle between England and Germany was no more than a struggle between two different sides of the same occidental culture, between what he later referred to as 'English' liberalism, with its emphasis on individual freedom and self-determination, and 'Prussian' socialism, with its emphasis on order and authority. In an earlier letter to Klores, dated 25 October 1914, Spengler again predicted an imminent German invasion of England ('I assume that it will take place at the beginning of November'), but also spoke, in the same paragraph, of his fears for the future:
What lies before us is unfortunately equally unconsoling, if one thinks and feels as a man of culture. The ray of inner culture from the time of Goethe, which had lost its brilliance after Sedan, since when the Berliner has represented the north German type, has been completely extinguished by this war. In the Germany which made its world position secure through technical skill, money and an eye for facts, a completely soulless Americanism will rule, and will dissolve art, the nobility, the Church, and world outlook in a materialism such as only once before has been seen—in Rome at the time of the First Empire.