That tact, taste, and respect for tradition should belong to cultured people by inheritance, that there are circles in which the sense of duty and of renunciation are not considered ridiculous but give distinction—all this provokes the nihilist to dull fury. In earlier times the nihilist stole away into a corner and foamed at the mouth like Thersites. But this nihilist mentality has now infected the world outlook of all the white nations, for it is the age which has become vulgar, and few people realise the degree to which they are tainted. The bad manners of all Parliaments, the general tendency to condone shady business if it promises money without work, jazz and negro dances as the spiritual expression of all classes, women who paint themselves like prostitutes, the attempts of writers and dramatists to win popularity by holding up to contempt the correctness of well-bred people, and the bad taste displayed even by royalty and the high aristocracy in discarding social restraints and time-honoured custom—all this goes to prove that today it is the mob which is imposing its standards. . . .
Not only tradition and manners but culture, beauty, grace, taste in dress, confident good manners, self-control, and self-discipline exasperate the vulgar soul till its blood boils. An aristocratic face, the dainty tread of a slim foot on the pavement are contradictions of democracy. . . .
Culture, because of its superiority, is the real enemy. Such are the tendencies of nihilism. Nobody attempts to raise the masses to the level of true culture—that would be too troublesome, and perhaps the conditions of such levelling up are lacking. On the contrary, the structure of society has to be levelled down to the standard of the mob. Universal equality is to reign. Everything is to be equally vulgar.
Oswald Spengler (from The Hour of Decision, 1933)
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