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Partly for this reason, I find the story of Adam and Eve more fitting as a metaphor for the predicament of Western civilisation than the Faust legend. In Genesis, when Eve is tempted to eat the fruit by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, she does not knowingly compromise with evil incarnate. She is persuaded by a combination of rational and sensual motives that God cannot have intended to deny them knowledge of good and evil. Adam is more culpable than Eve, for he is not beguiled by the serpent, he too knows that the fruit is forbidden and he nevertheless decides to eat. Both, perhaps, are tempted by Satan’s promise that if they eat they shall “be as Gods” — a promise which God himself later seems to confirm when he says, “Behold, the man is become one of us, to know good and evil.” Both decide to ignore the threat of death — perhaps because they cannot understand what death is, nor indeed what fear is, until they have eaten of the fruit. But what Milton called “man’s first disobedience” is prompted by pride and curiosity, not by anything diabolical. Adam and Eve are flesh of our flesh, sinful yet also repentant, with their desire to possess knowledge even at the price of mortality, learning by bitter experience to distinguish good and evil, suffering in childbirth and earning their bread by the sweat of their brow. The loss of primeval innocence, bringing banishment from Paradise and death into the world, is also the beginning of history, the opening of a horizon that makes civilisation both possible and necessary.

Compare this with the Faustian soul whom Spengler holds up to us as the paradigm of Western civilisation from Dante to Goethe, from Rembrandt to Beethoven. Its external symbol is infinite space, its internal one boundless loneliness. God is no longer a person, with whom the soul conducts an endless dialogue, but an absence, Deus absconditus, the hidden face of an empty universe. Even the Devil has ultimately no place in this Nietzschean vision of man beyond good and evil: just endless longing, energy that ends in entropy. Spengler’s Faustian soul is amoral, even inhuman, in exactly the way that Adam and Eve are all too human. In short: dictators may be Faustian, but democrats are Biblical. Just as Mann made Faust into an apposite metaphor for the Third Reich, so the story of Adam and Eve makes much better sense as a guide to the fate of the West and the survival of the liberal order.

After considering one of the most ancient of all writings, the Biblical account of Creation, I should like to introduce two living writers into the discussion: David Goodhart and Douglas Murray. Both are among the liveliest, sharpest and most intelligent observers of the international scene; both have important new books out this year; and both are, of course, regular contributors to Standpoint. Goodhart hails from the Left, Murray from the Right, but both agree that the status quo is unsustainable if liberal democracy is to survive. From very different standpoints, they point to the failure of political establishments across the Western world to listen to the voices of large sections of society and to make necessary adjustments in response.

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Eliahu Nov PhD
October 13th, 2017
5:10 AM
Ihave just finished your breath taking article 'The Fate of the West' (Hebrew version, Keren Tiqwa's 'Hashiloach' periodical). Actually, during the years (I am 74) I thought and talked along the same patterns that your article outlined. Your article only enabled me to formulate my beliefs more clearly ond orderly. However, in the present ultimate worldwide havoc situation we now need it is NOT suffice to only publish paperes and essays but to take ACTIVE steps to outline VALID PRACTICAL strategies to turn the clumsy ship to a better direction ie establishing/ organising an INTERNATIONL 'new masons'movementto fight, reveal and conquer the strongholds of both distructive powers in both extremes you elaborated in your article. Real measures must be taken to save the planet . ALL aspects (philosophical, communication, hard & soft scientific , networks, literate etc etc tools) must be discussed and published . Prominent Politicians and proffessionals must be reqruited to lift the flag of 'Re-enlightment' .

August 6th, 2017
11:08 AM
Articulate and compelling. Guarantees to Israel from Europe won't suffice. For every John 23 there is a Pius 12, even today. The ability to be an Anti-smite while occupying the moral high ground is just too attractive to many of today's Christian Europeans. Though they endanger themselves, theirs is the cry of Samson "let me die along with the Philistines". My hope is that reasonable views, such as yours, will prevail in the never ending struggle.

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