From Becoming to Become

creating culture as the first order of events

“A Culture is born in the moment when a great soul awakens out of proto-spirituality of ever-childish humanity, and detaches itself. a form from the formless, a bounded and mortal thing from the boundless and enduring.” — Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West


Spengler talks about the “becoming” and the “become.” The becoming is presented as Culture, the become as Civilization. The first begats the other, and while I think people instinctively know this, they largely don’t act as if they know it.

America is in a weird time right now. It seems as if folks are increasingly coming to the conclusion that we might be in some form of empire collapse, with the fallout of the Afghanistan War being the latest example. Most who don’t subscribe to this theory don’t want to believe that the country they love is collapsing, which is understandable, however, I would posit that it isn’t the country that’s collapsing. It’s the empire.

America as we know it will cease to exist, perhaps in our lifetime, perhaps not. But the land will remain. And what we build on this land — building that needs to start now, whether you believe in collapse or not — will takeover when the “as we know it” ceases to exist. The building is Spengler’s becoming, and you must first create before you have.

It’s simple, yet it still seems hard for some to grasp. Instead of building, folks are complaining about the current culture (me included). Or, worse, they’re claiming that culture doesn’t matter, and that a proper order of events is one in which a society (Civilization) is built that’ll allow various cultures to exist. That’s not how it works. You don’t theorize into existence said society and sit back and watch as various cultures are built within it.

Instead the proper order to build a society is in the persistent emergence of cultures; and yes, various ones will be built within such a large landmass. Once society results from these various cultures, hopefully we’ll have learned our lesson about the bad of forced cultural assimilation and the good of voluntary assimilation.

So then how does one build a culture?

It goes back to Spengler’s becoming, to building. If you’re unhappy with today’s music, stories, architecture, art, etc., this unhappiness is simply the pain point. The solution is to create new ones. And if there are elements of today’s or of the past’s cultural artifacts that you do like, include them, but don’t adhere to them.

It’s a long road ahead, sure. But if today’s society has got you down, the foundation for a new one must actively be laid now —a foundational culture upon which your new society will come to rest.