Imperium excerpts, chapter 1

A book dedicated “To the hero of the Second World War”

The 20th Century Historical Outlook


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Far out in exterior darkness where no breath stirs, no light shines, and no sound is heard, one can glance toward this spinning earth-ball. In the astral regions, illumination is of the soul, hence all is dark but this certain star, and only a part of it is aglow. From such a distance, one can obtain an utterly untrammeled view of what is transpiring on this earth-ball. Drawing somewhat closer, continents are visible; closer yet, population-streams. One focal point exists whence the light goes forth in all directions. It is the crooked peninsula of Europe. On this tiny pendant of the great land-mass of the earth-ball, the greatest intensity of movement exists. One can see—for out here the soul and its emanations are visible—a concentration of ideas, energy, ambition, purpose, expansiveness, will-to-form. Hovering above Europe we can see what never before was so clearly visible—the presence of a purely spiritual organism.

The primitive cultures are the sole thing existing above the plane of economics, in that they attribute symbolic significance to natural occurrences and human conduct. But there is nothing in these movements resembling the High Cultures which transformed the entire appearance of the Egyptian and Babylonian landscapes for almost forty generations from their first beginning until the last sinking.

Physical time flows on and centuries pass in darkness. Then, precisely as in Egypt and Babylonia, but again of a different hue, and to different music, a light appears over the Punjab. It becomes bright and firm. The same wealth of forms and significant happenings work themselves out as in the earlier two organisms. Its creations are all in the highest degree individual, as different from its two predecessors as they were vis-à-vis one another, but they follow the same grand rhythms. The same multi-colored pageant of nobles and priests, temples and schools, nations and cities, arts and philosophies, armies and sciences, letters and wars, passes before the eye.


Before this high culture was well on its way, another had started to actualize itself in the Hwang-Ho valley in China. And then a few centuries later, about 1100 B.C in our way of reckoning, the Classical Culture begins on the shores of the Aegean. Both of these cultures have the stamp of individuality, their own way of coloring and influencing their terrestrial creations, but both are subject to the same morphology as the others observed.

As this Classical Culture draws to its close, around the time of Christ, another one appears in a landscape subjugated by the Classical in its last expansive phase—Arabia.

In its later, expansive phase, this culture embraced European Spain as the Western Caliphate. Its life span, its end form, its last great crisis—all followed the same organic regularity as the others. Some five centuries later the now familiar manifestations of another High Culture begin in the remote landscapes of Mexico and Peru. It is to have the most tragic destiny of any we have yet seen. Around 1000 A.D. the European Culture is meanwhile born, and at its very birth shows itself to be distinguished from the others by the extraordinary intensity of its self-expression, by its pushing into every distance both in the spiritual realm, and in the physical.

Within the [Western] Culture arose Gothic Christianity, the transcendent symbols of Empire and Papacy, the Gothic cathedrals, the unlocking of the secrets of the world of the soul and the world of nature in monastery cells. The Culture-soul shaped for its own expression the nations of the West.

Life slowly externalizes: political problems move into the center; new economic resources are developed to support the political contests; the old agricultural economy metamorphoses into an industrial economy. At the end of this path stands a ghostly and terrifying Idea: Money. Other Cultures also had seen this phenomenon appear at the same stage and grow to similar dimensions. Its slow growth in importance proceeds pari passe with the gradual self-assertion of Reason against Faith. It reaches its highest point with the Age of Nationalism, when the parts of the Culture tear one another to bits, even as outer dangers loom threateningly. At its highest point, Money, allied with Rationalism, contests for the supremacy over the life of the Culture with the forces of State and Tradition, Society and Religion. In our brief visit to interstellar space, we found the position of detachment whence we could see this grand life-drama unfold itself seven times in seven High Cultures, and we saw each of the seven surmount the last great crisis of two centuries’ duration.

The great crisis of the West set in forcefully with the French Revolution and its consequent phenomena. Napoleon was the symbol of the transition of Culture into Civilization—Civilization, the life of the material, the external, of power, giant economies, armies, and fleets, of great numbers and colossal technics, over Culture, the inner life of religion, philosophy, arts, domination of the external life of politics and economics by strict form and symbolism, strict restraint of the beast-of-prey in man, feeling of cultural unity. It is the victory of Rationalism, Money and the great city over the traditions of religion and authority, of Intellect over Instinct.

We had seen all this in the previous high cultures as they approached their final life-phase. In each case the crisis had been resolved by the resurgence of the old forces of Religion and Authority, their victory over Rationalism and Money, and the final union of the nations into an Imperium. The two-century-long crisis in the life of the great organism expressed itself in gigantic wars and revolutions. All the Cultural energy that had previously gone into inner creations of thought, religion, philosophy, science, art-forms, great literature, now goes into the outer life of economics, war, technics, politics. The symbolism of power succeeds to the highest place in this last phase.


Since a Culture is organic, it has an individuality, and a soul. Thus it cannot be influenced in its depths from any outside force whatever. It has a destiny, like all organisms. Because it has a soul, all of its manifestations will be impressed by the same spiritual stamp, just as each man’s life is the creation of his own individuality. Because it has a soul, this particular culture can never come again after it has passed. Like the nations it creates to express phases of its own life, it exists only once. There will never be another Indian culture, Aztec-Mayan Culture, Classical Culture, or Western Culture, any more than there will be a second Spartan nation, Roman nation, French or English nation. Since a Culture is organic, it has a life-span. We observed this life span: it is about thirty-five generations at highest potential, or about forty-five generations from its first stirrings in the landscape until its final subsiding.

Like each man, a Culture has ages, which succeed one another with rhythmic inevitability. They are laid down for it by its own organic law, just as the senility of a man is laid down at his conception.

Scientific thinking is at the height of its power in the realm of matter, that which possesses extension, but no direction. Material happenings can be controlled, are reversible, produce identical results under identical conditions, are recurrent, can be classified, can be successfully comprehended as though they are subject to an a priori, mechanical, necessity, in other words, to Causality. Scientific thinking is powerless in the domain of Life, for its happenings are uncontrollable, irreversible, never-recurring, unique, cannot be classified, are unamenable to rational treatment, and possessed of no external, mechanical necessity. Every organism is something never seen before, that follows an inner necessity, that passes away, never to reappear.

Fate is not synonymous with destiny, but the opposite to it. Fate attributes necessity to the incidents of a life, but Destiny is the inner necessity of the organism. An incident can wipe out a life, and thus terminate its destiny, but this event came from outside the organism, and was thus apart from its destiny. Even the most inorganic thinker or scientifico, the crassest materialist or mechanist, is subject to his own destiny, his own soul, his own character, his own life span, and outside this framework of destiny his free, unbound flight of causal fancy cannot deliver him.

Published in: on December 7, 2011 at 5:49 pm  Comments (3)  

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