The image of the “world city” and province in Oswald Spengler’s philosophical work “The Decline of the Western World”

The image of the “world city” and province in Oswald Spengler’s philosophical work “The Decline of the Western World”

The topic of confrontation between city and countryside has been raised by many philosophers at different times. For the first time, the opposition between urban (polis) and rural (natural, natural) life is found in Plato’s “Republic”. Often in such works, urban civilization, with the dominant mythology of the human mind, is contrasted with the natural beginning of rural life, the idea of ​​​​harmony with nature.

The emergence and development of cities is an essential sign of civilization. Cities appeared as a result of the deepening of the social division of labor, during the period of separation of crafts from agriculture, the emergence of regular commodity exchange, and private property. The main criterion for the development of a city is its position in social space, its role in relationships with other cities and rural areas. The following stages of development of the relationship between the city and the province can be distinguished: city and province, capital and province, world city and province [2].

The German philosopher Oswald Spengler made a new turn in world urbanism, proposing to consider the city as historical and cultural phenomenon. If for a person of an early chthonic culture the most important form of his existence was the house, then for a historical person of a developed and complex culture the city becomes such. According to the philosopher, in the early stages of human culture, cities arise spontaneously, like a plant, rooted in the soil. As humanity grows up, a gigantic city emerges - the world capital, a city “like the world”, which itself determines the course and meaning of history [3].

The capital is not just the main city, center, seat of power, it is also the engine and the highest manifestation of local civilization. The degree of civilization of a nation is judged, among other things, by its capital, which contains the most significant values ​​of the national culture. With the advent of the capital, city life was divided into metropolitan and provincial, which were significantly different from each other.

Spengler noted that the emergence of civilization is inevitably accompanied by the emergence of such phenomena as the “world city” and “province”. However, his attitude towards the “world city” was negative. The philosopher noted that a world city is a point at which the life of vast countries is concentrated, while at the same time everything else withers, withers and is devastated. Spengler’s ideas about the “world city” and the province will be considered in this material.

“A world city means cosmopolitanism”

Oswald Spengler believed that civilization is the inevitable fate of any culture and its completion. One of the main signs of civilization is over-urbanization, that is, the emergence of large (“world”) cities opposing the provinces.

According to the German thinker, the city and the village differ from each other not in size, but in the presence of soul. Not all large settlements claiming to be cities actually are - the "world cities" or world capitals that have emerged are gigantic cities of very limited numbers that despise the mother landscape of their culture, relegating it to the concept of a "province". Everything is now a province - a village, a small town, and a big city, with the exception of two or three points.

“The world city and province—these basic concepts of any civilization put forward a completely new problem of historical forms, which we, people of our time, experience without completely understanding all its enormous importance. Instead of a world, there is a city, a separate point in which all the life of vast areas is concentrated, while everything else dries up; Instead of a people rich in forms, fused with the earth, there is a new nomad, a parasite, an inhabitant of big cities, a true man of facts, devoid of traditions, appearing as a shapeless fluid mass [1].”

In The Decline of the Western World, Spengler notes that the city is a spirit. A big city is a “free spirit”. The bourgeoisie begins to realize its isolated existence with a protest against “feudalism,” that is, the dominance of blood and tradition. It overthrows thrones and restricts old rights in the name of the “people,” which now means exclusively the people of the cities.

Democracy is a political form in which the peasant is required to have the worldview of a city dweller. The city, thus, takes upon itself the leadership of economic history, putting in the place of land, a primary value that cannot in any way be separated from peasant life and thinking, the concept of money abstracted from goods [4].

An era begins when the city has developed so much that it no longer needs to assert itself in relation to the village, in relation to the peasantry and knighthood, and now the village with its ancestral classes is waging a hopeless defense against the sole domination of the city. At this time, cities that can be considered leading in history become very few. First of all, a deep spiritual difference arises between a large and a small city [4].

Then, Spengler notes, a world capital arises, a center in which the course of world history is concentrated. World capitals are gigantic cities of all mature civilizations, very limited in number. The German philosopher has a negative attitude towards “world cities”.

In his opinion, the urbanization of megacities leads to the fact that the “world city,” as Spengler says, concentrates the life of an entire country. Spiritual, political, and economic decisions are made not by the whole country, but by several “world cities” that absorb the best human material of the country, and it descends to the position of a province.

“The world city means cosmopolitanism instead of homeland; cold admiration for facts instead of reverence for tradition and the primordial; a kind of fossil in place of the previous religion of the heart; "society" instead of the state; “natural rights” instead of acquired ones. Money is a dead abstract factor, divorced from any connection with the productive forces of the earth, with the values ​​necessary for a simple, unartificial life... The world city is inhabited not by people, but by the masses. Her misunderstanding of tradition and her struggle with tradition, which is, in essence, a struggle with culture (with the nobility, the church, privileges, dynasty, conventions in art, the boundaries of knowledge in science), her sharp and cold rationality, her naturalism - all this, in the opposite of the finally completed culture of the province is the expression of a completely new, late and devoid of future, but inevitable form of human existence [1].”

The man of the “world city” is thus freed from the power of tradition, for the population of such cities overwhelmingly consists of a formless mass. His sense of the need to procreate also fades away.

“Existence is becoming more and more rootless, waking life is becoming increasingly tense, and thus the end of the performance is gradually being prepared; and now everything is suddenly bathed in the bright light of history: we are faced with the fact of the sterility of civilized man. We are not talking about something that can be understood by means of everyday causality, for example physiologically, as, of course, modern science has tried to do. No, here we have an entirely metaphysical turn towards death. The last man of the city no longer wants to live, not as an individual, but as a type, as a multitude: in this collective being the fear of death fades away. The thought of the extinction of the family and clan, which fills the true peasant with deep and inexplicable horror, now loses all meaning... The point is not that children are not born, but, first of all, that the intelligentsia, which has risen to the extreme, no longer sees the need for their appearance [4 ]."

As a result, highly developed civilizations are entering a stage of monstrous depopulation, stretching over several centuries.

Megacity as a global financial center

Megacities (“world cities”) differ from capitals (although in most cases they themselves are also capitals) primarily in that if the capital is a manifestation of local civilization, national culture, then the metropolis is a manifestation of “world civilization” and cosmopolitan culture. The emergence of megacities occurs in different ways: some were formed on the basis of capitals (Paris, London, Tokyo, Moscow), others arise in the most developed areas of the country [2].

All megacities are united by the fact that they are also centers of world trade and the movement of global financial capital. In essence, it is a global financial center. Oswald Spengler also drew attention to this.

He noted that it is the “world capital” that produces the world economy - a civilized one, emanating from a very limited circle of centers and subordinating everything else as a provincial economy. With the growth of cities, their life support becomes more and more sophisticated, sophisticated, and intricate [4].

“The great centers of the world's capitals will dispose at their own will of the smaller states, their regions, their economies and people: all this is now only a province, an object, a means to an end, whose fate has no significance for the great course of events. In a few years we have learned not to pay attention to such things that would numb the whole world [4],”

— writes Spengler.

Money, elevated to the rank of the main value and meaning of life in an urban environment, neutralizes all other values, including those that determine the quality of a natural person.

The egoistic aspirations of the metropolis turn it into a powerful centrifugal force (the desire to become a “state within a state”) and at the same time a centripetal force (to transform its social body into a gigantic organism by absorbing the world space, which is poorly developed financially and informationally). Therefore, megacities begin to grow uncontrollably [2].

“The peasantry once gave birth to the market, the zemstvo city, and fed it with their best blood. Now the giant city is greedily sucking out the countryside, demanding and absorbing ever new streams of people, until it finally becomes weak and dies in the middle of a barely inhabitable desert. Anyone who once succumbed to the charm of the sinful beauty of this last miracle of all history will never be freed from it again [4].”


The emergence of a “world city” for Oswald Spengler was a sign of the aging and death of culture. He saw in giant cities (metropolises) a symptom and expression of the withering away of the cultural world in its integrity as an organism.

“This stone colossus, the “world city,” rises at the end of the life course of every great culture. A cultural man, mentally formed by the earth, turns out to be captivated by his own creation, the city, he becomes obsessed with it, becomes its creation, its executive body and, finally, its victim [4].”

If we talk about the “face of the city,” then the world capital is characterized by a desire to lay out streets according to the chessboard principle and increase the number of storeys. Deeply experiencing the idea of ​​the inevitable death of “Faustian” culture, O. Spengler predicts:

“I see - much after 2000 - urban areas of ten to twenty million people, occupying vast landscapes, with buildings next to which the greatest of modern times would seem dwarfed, where such ideas in the field of communications will be realized that we today are nothing but would not be called insane [4].”

This forecast of the German thinker, in general, turned out to be correct. The level of urbanization over the past two centuries has led to the fact that the urban population of the planet has grown 70 times. At the same time, mega-urbanization—the growth in the population of super-large cities in the total number of citizens—is acquiring fundamental importance. In developed countries, it takes on the character of processes of formation of megacities, agglomerations and conurbations. It is obvious that modern urban trends in a globalizing world require scientific understanding [5].

Использованная литература:
[1]. O. Spengler. Sunset of Europe / Transl. with him. edited by A. A. Frankovsky, 1922.
[2]. S. N. Bledny. City and province in the sociocultural dimension. Bulletin of MGUKI. year 2012.
[3]. Shishkina L.I. The city as a cultural and historical phenomenon in the works of O. Spengler and N. Antsiferov // Management consulting. – 2015. – No. 8 (80) – pp. 158-166.
[4]. Oswald Spengler. The decline of Europe. Essays on the morphology of world history Volume 2 World historical perspectives. – M, “Academic Project”, 2022.
[5]. Knyazeva E. D. World capital in the theory of cyclical development of culture by O. Spengler // Universum: social sciences. 2017. No. 4 (34).
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  1. +6
    9 January 2024 04: 41
    Civilization is a relationship conditioned by the management of the economy. Rural, industrial. Contrasted with wildness due to hunting and gathering.

    The city was initially a center of industry and science, then, due to the concentration of capital, it turns into a modern city center parasitizing the provinces. This center itself is no longer related to Civilization.

    Just like the huge palaces of former feudal rulers. Only on a larger scale.

    If in the 40s and 50s Moscow, with a population of 1% of the country, produced more than 5% of industrial products, then today it is not very clear what people in Moscow do in general?

    A.P. Chekhov also wrote: “Russia, the Motherland, are two cities: Moscow and St. Petersburg. The rest is a colony.
    1. +5
      9 January 2024 05: 08
      Very sensible, dear Ivan!
      I just want to add one thing:
      such as Moscow, megalopolises appear in the world of capitalism, where a small part of society receives the right to manage the resources, economy and finances of the country. They stand at the top of the pyramid that is formed in a society of exploitation of man by man.
      In the USSR, the expansion of such cities was limited by registration, housing construction and other conditions. Today, the insane desire for profit forces us to use the space of the metropolis, filling it with a mass of service personnel. This is exactly what is happening in our country - today's Russia.
      Parasitizing the provinces, Moscow has turned into a cancerous tumor with its own metastases.
      There is such a film:  “The Death of the Empire. Byzantine lesson"

      Here's just one quote from the film:
      The big problem was the gradual loss of real control over remote areas and provinces. Especially sharply felt the contradiction between the provinces and the well-fed, wealthy capital - Constantinople, which largely lived off the impoverished outskirts. At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, the Byzantine writer Mikhail Khoniat wrote with bitter reproach, addressing the inhabitants of the capital: “Do not rivers of all wealth flow into the capital, as if in a single sea? But you do not want to look out from behind your walls and gates, you do not want to look at the cities surrounding you, waiting for justice from you; you send tax officials one after another, with their bestial teeth, to devour the last remains. But you yourself remain at home, indulging in peace, and extracting wealth. ”
      1. +10
        9 January 2024 06: 00
        You know what's interesting. In 1985, in our regional newspaper, the prospects for the development of our district town and region were announced; in connection with the expansion of industrial development, it was assumed that our city would merge with two nearby villages, it was assumed that they would become districts of the city. But the plans were not destined to come true, in As a result, the townspeople and villagers dispersed to the big cities to look for treasures. smile
        1. +9
          9 January 2024 09: 27
          Quote: parusnik
          In 1985, in our regional newspaper, the prospects for the development of our county town and region were announced; in connection with the expansion of industrial development, it was assumed that our city would merge with two nearby villages; it was assumed that they would become districts of the city

          It seemed like this was happening everywhere. Expansion/development plans. I remember how, in what had just received the title of “urban-type village,” construction began on two large schools, a hospital, and a wide bridge across the local river. It seems redundant, but then everything worked for the future...
          1. +4
            9 January 2024 17: 53
            For us, everything was curtailed by the end of 1987... everything that started is no longer visible, overgrown with grass and bushes. The site for the trolleybus park was turned into shopping centers. The market, everything was decided, came and decided.
            1. 0
              10 January 2024 23: 43
              But ours was gradually winding down year after year. The tram service was being curtailed and shortened. And by the 90s it turned out that the tram, shortened and curtailed over 20 years, was unprofitable, inconvenient and not needed by the majority. Or they curtailed their own engine production and started using Ukrainian engines. And then the engines stopped coming from Ukraine and the plant was closed.
              But it all didn’t happen on its own, but with intent, because I don’t believe in universal stupidity.
    2. +6
      9 January 2024 06: 43
      Quote: ivan2022
      The city was originally a center of industry and science

      Initially, the city was still a center of trade
      1. +2
        9 January 2024 09: 56
        Not always. In Russia, the city was initially often a fortress at a crossroads, like my Voronezh, for example.
        1. +4
          9 January 2024 10: 35
          Quote: S.Z.
          In Russia, the city was initially often a fortress at a crossroads

          Yes. To control trade routes Yes
          1. +2
            9 January 2024 12: 48
            So that the nomads don’t come and take it full.
        2. +5
          9 January 2024 11: 24
          Quote: S.Z.
          In Russia, the city was initially often a fortress at a crossroads

          Well, it's always like that! The fortress needs to do something, and since it is at a crossroads, trade is the first thing that has to be done. Medieval burgs in Europe, the same
          1. +3
            9 January 2024 12: 54
            And then the differences began. In Europe, cities often opposed their lords and had greater independence until the era of absolutism. In our country, except, perhaps, Novgorod and Pskov, the cities did not have independence and self-government.
            1. +4
              9 January 2024 13: 21
              Quote: S.Z.
              So that the nomads don’t come and take it full.

              Still, Voronezh is not the most representative city for Rus'. Moreover, it was founded quite late.
              And everyone is quite old, right on the trade routes
              Quote: S.Z.
              In our country, except, perhaps, Novgorod and Pskov, the cities did not have independence and self-government.

              There were princely cities, and there were veche cities. To the latter we can add Kyiv, Polotsk, Galich, Rostov the Great and several more. The boyars there knew how to expel princes no worse than the Novgorodians.
              1. 0
                9 January 2024 17: 30
                Well, the veche is one thing, but the rights of this veche are another.
                I need to refresh my memory, I’m not sure about Kyiv, it has been a princely city since the time of Rurik. And other cities in the center and south were princely. But maybe I forgot something.
    3. +4
      9 January 2024 10: 32
      Mao said it simpler - “human society should be structured following the example of an anthill - an ideal social-organizational system suggested by nature itself...” Uncle Xi develops this idea, predicting the construction of a caste society with open castes, and access to the opportunities and resources of society, based on the accumulated number of social rating points, with the subsequent replacement of monetary relations with these points, which, in his opinion, will become “communism”... Gref and other globalists are rushing around with the idea of ​​​​building a “15-minute city”...
    4. +1
      9 January 2024 13: 24
      January 1959 - the population of the USSR is about 209 million people. The population of Moscow at that time was 5 million people. This is clearly not one and a half percent. By the way, both then and now the actual borders of Moscow did not coincide with the administrative ones, and then and now the Moscow agglomeration existed and still exists. In the 30s and in the 50s-80s, Moscow was repeatedly expanded to include the territory of the Moscow region.
  2. +3
    9 January 2024 05: 03
    It is obvious that modern urban trends in a globalizing world require scientific understanding
    Obviously, yes it does. We are waiting, sir, for comprehension from the author.
    1. +5
      9 January 2024 10: 30
      In my opinion, on the contrary, the author has laid out a set of maxims, and is waiting for meaningful conclusions from the local public of a philosophical mindset. Then it will be possible to compile the next Work.
  3. +3
    9 January 2024 06: 08
    As one would expect, only the “philosopher” Mr. Biryukov could write a review of the philosopher’s work. It’s good that I haven’t cried out yet, - I read the philosopher Spengler and recognize “brother” Oswald!
    Did you read it, or did you just collect notes from general phrases in articles on the Internet and offer us a digest of other people’s philosophical thoughts? Whoever the author of the article had no doubt after reading its first lines...
    1. +4
      9 January 2024 06: 25
      The author should have titled his article as follows: “Thus Spengler Spoke” smile
  4. +7
    9 January 2024 06: 26
    The city is development. This is civilization.
    The village is about tradition.
    But in the times of the Internet, traditions can only be preserved by Agafya Lykova.
  5. +5
    9 January 2024 09: 02
    The point is not that children are not born, but first of all that the intelligentsia, which has risen to the extreme, no longer sees the need for their appearance
    A terrible phrase.
    1. +2
      9 January 2024 13: 59
      I would say it's a strange phrase. The intelligentsia is a layer of society that lives by selling the product of mental labor. Books, works of art, inventions. Unlike the brethren of journalists who, like day laborers, sell the ABILITY to make paper dirty. They are proletarians of mental labor.

      And I very much doubt that in Russia the intelligentsia is exalted. It's funny, not scary.

      It's all about the psychology of the dense descendants of serfs. For whom troubles come from doctors, intellectuals, Karl Marx, from collective farms and the State Planning Committee, but not from fools, not from thieves and not from traitors.
  6. -1
    9 January 2024 15: 49
    Oh, what an article! You can comment endlessly... But, unfortunately (and for some - fortunately), it became quiet in the Moscow region, the atmospheric pressure dropped sharply, and here it is - hello, sleepless night! And with it comes a decline in physical strength, regardless of where you live - in the world center or in the provinces.
    The man of the “world city” is thus freed from the power of tradition, for the population of such cities overwhelmingly consists of a formless mass.

    Oh, how wrong it is!
    The "world city" gives birth to its own traditions!
    Imagine, about three months ago, while surfing YouTube, I came across a massive shuffle dance and couldn’t stop - I watched it 10 times! It turns out that I was not the only one who was impressed - millions of views, thousands of reviews. And the dance is simple, just a few simple movements in place, the main thing is the general rhythm.
    I thought and defined this dance as a reflection of the street of a metropolis (I didn’t even remember Spengler). Hundreds of people lined up. Dressed in a city style - suits, ties, vests, overalls, sneakers, expensive and cheap shoes, men and women - every person can be found on the streets of a big city. Dancing to the incendiary, heart-tugging "Touch in the Night", the artists portray passers-by - idle, leisurely revelers, anxious food delivery workers, repairmen, numerous office plankton who poured out onto the street during lunch break, and even big bosses. And the inexpressible beauty of this harmonious urban rhythm, its mesmerizing attractiveness, its powerful musical and kinetic image, the dependence of everyone on everyone, true brotherhood, expressed by the coherence of movements and reactions to some urban collisions, is the greatest triumph of urbanism, giving birth to its own traditions and customs contrary to Spengler.
    1. +2
      9 January 2024 18: 20

      There Audrey Da Sois lights up wassat
    2. +1
      9 January 2024 18: 47

      I imagined the action you described, and it turned out to be the spitting image of Maidan. Herd.
      1. +3
        9 January 2024 20: 17
        Come on, you can rock out to this without the Maidans
        On the Internet it is called “Accounting closed the year.” Very realistic laughing
  7. 0
    10 January 2024 03: 13
    Here! I knew! Knew! There are cultural authors! Eat! And links! And a list of references!
    True, there is no content and no experimental part... Well, the author has something to work on, yes...
    Nothing! What years he is!
    1. 0
      10 January 2024 15: 09
      Quote: acetophenon
      Here! I knew! Knew! There are cultural authors! Eat! And links! And a list of references!
      True, there is no content and no experimental part... Well, the author has something to work on, yes...
      Nothing! What years he is!

      But why scientific apparatus in a popular article on an online site. My experience of 8 years shows that no one reads the links, and no one really needs them, well, maybe 1-2 readers will be interested. And start for them? And all this scientific nonsense is taking up space. At first I gave links, then I was convinced that they were not needed here.
  8. 0
    10 January 2024 23: 58
    This is all fantasy, not supported by factual material and research.
    The main problem in rural areas in the 80-90s was the lack of school buses, as well as the inability to operate buses and create routes. The reluctance to address the school bus problem may be due to misunderstanding or malice. Malicious intent is more believable.
    So in everything, the problems are not abstract, they are concrete.
    The reformers wanted to bleed off agriculture and they arranged a price rise in the winter from 91 to 92, zeroing out the villagers’ savings for the harvest sold in the fall and saying goodbye to agriculture for ten years in advance.
    The process is not natural, it is controlled by the will of specific individuals and nations.
  9. 0
    11 January 2024 19: 21
    It is obvious that modern urban trends in a globalizing world require scientific understanding [5]

    Brilliant conclusion.
    My conclusion: “Judge Dredd was copied and pasted from Spengler.”
    Ceterum censeo Washingtonum delendam esse
  10. +1
    12 January 2024 12: 40
    I will be subjective, but I think that the further development of the productive forces and, as a consequence, revolutions in them, will lead to the formation of flexible automated production and the corresponding support and service infrastructure throughout the country, without reference to the time of the scientific and technological revolution, when large cities , and ESPECIALLY THE CAPITAL, were formed as centers of fundamental and applied science, education, advanced industrial production and bourgeois, that is, “urban” culture. Moreover, during the reign of private property, capitals turn into oligarchic financial-usurious and trade-speculative colonial metropolises, cruelly and cynically plundering and stealing from regional colony provinces IN THEIR COUNTRY, and preventing them from developing, which forces them to corporatize unite, and politically and economically destroy the dominance of the colonial metropolis. Or die. And it will always be so, because the capitals, developing into megacities, in the absence of National control of society, first turn into a callous and selfish “thing in itself”, and then, due to the establishment of their financial, economic, administrative and power domination, turn into a cruel and a cynical “thing for oneself.” Therefore, in order for the country to live and develop, it is necessary to systematically destroy oligarchic domination and replace it with responsible management, that is, a social state. In a word, if you want to develop and live a decent life, you need a mechanism for constant control of the Nation over the capital, triggering, if necessary, lustration and proscription regimes for capitals. Or they'll eat us (

    P.S. Either self-government or mafia domination!
    1. 0
      12 January 2024 21: 16
      All right.
      A SOCIETY that was prevented from running its economy by the State Planning Committee, and political problems were created by the party of workers and peasants - an excellent illustration of the proverb about a dancer who is hindered by his balls. If someone “snacks” it, it means it’s correct.
      1. 0
        13 January 2024 12: 20
        The State Planning Committee, unfortunately, from the 70-80s could no longer correspond to the complex knowledge-intensive and high-tech economy that was being formed in the country. Listen to at least the lectures of Elena Veduta, an economist who was involved in the automation of cybernetic management of planning inter-industry balances in the economy. And numerous “economists”, instead of developing this direction of economic science, which is urgently needed for the country, wrote their dissertations... On liberal economics! And the party, economic and Komsomol nomenklatura, yes, that same party of “workers and peasants”, already from the 70s, were preparing processes for the privatization of state property, and then cruelly and cynically robbed THEIR OWN POPULATION and allowed us all to rob " alien" predators from all over the world, stealing our property, means of production, mineral resources, infrastructure facilities, etc. and so on. And then, having privatized the “state”, everything that was left was passed on “inheritedly” to their “children”. And the people? What about the people? The people, like “little children,” looked at all this with crazy eyes and did not understand anything. Because I’m used to trusting OWN power! (And I should have fought with it, and not looked at all this nomenklatura “break dancing” and changing shoes into “market people” on the fly. But in the 80s there were no alternative socio-political organizations, which could unite the population in this struggle, neither modern industrial petty-bourgeois social ideology, nor the elementary experience of owning market-profitable production, engineering and infrastructure property, for which the population would fight with these ghouls! That’s why we have what we have. That is, a hole from bagel!(

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