The Revolt of the Masses JOSE ORTEGA Y GASSET THE REVOLT OF THE MASSES AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION FROM THE SPANISH W □ W □ NORTON. José Ortega Y. Gasset The Dissection of the Mass-Man Begins 7. Why the Masses Intervene in Everything, and Why Their Intervention is Solely by Violence . SUMMARY OF THE BOOK THE REVOLT OF THE MASSES BY JOSE ORTEGA Y GASSET CHAPTER 1 THE COMING OF THE MASSES In this chapter, Jose.

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There are dead institutions, valuations and estimates which still survive, though now meaningless, un- necessarily complicated revoly, standards whose lack of substance hasset been proved. It is not something apart from and foreign to our existence, it is its actual periphery. Spontaneous social action will be broken up over and over again by State intervention; no new seed will be able to fructify.

Why should he listen if he has within him all that is necessary? The command ogtega the public life exercised today by the intellectually vulgar is perhaps the factor of the present situation which is most novel, least assimilable to anything in the past. Not one of those principles was invented by the XIXth Century; they proceed from the two previous centuries.

Such was the work of Newton and other men of his time.

José Ortega Y. Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses – PhilPapers

The fool is a fool for life; he is devoid of pores. The Carolingian State was of course much less powerful than the State of Louis XVI, but, on the other hand, the society surrounding it was entirely lacking in strength. In the depths of his soul he is unaware of the artificial, almost incredible, character of civilisation, and does not extend his enthusiasm for the instruments to the principles which make them possible.


Request removal from index. I do not believe in the absolute determinism of history. I have a few problems with this work, though, particularly owing to the author’s oscillation between suggesting that he doesn’t believe in historical determinism and reminding us that we must each fulfill our destiny. But scientific work docs, necessarily, require to be specialised. Their pol- icy was thought out — by the XVIlIth Century — precisely in order to avoid the errors of previous politics, thought out in view of those errors and embraced in its substance the whole extent of experience.

Civilisation is nothing else than the attempt to massses force to being the ultima ratio. There is no culture w here there is no acceptance of certain final intellectual posi- tions to which a dispute may be referred. We feel that we actual rfvolt have suddenly been left alone on revopt earth; that the dead did not die in appearance only but effectively; that they can no tge help us. If that human type continues to be master in Europe, thirty years will suffice to send our continent back to barbarism.

That faith in modern culture was a gloomy one. This is no mere wild statement.

Each portion of the earth is no longer shut up in its own geometrical posi- tion, but for many of the purposes of human life acts upon other portions of the planet. But this vital destiny is not a kind of mechanism.

The Revolt of the Masses

By reason of the removal of all external restraint, all clashing with other things, he comes actually to believe that he is the only one that exists, and gets used to not considering others, especially not considering them as superior to himself. We are in the presence of an optical illusion arising from a multiplicity of causes, I shall consider certain of these some other time; for the moment I wish to advance the most obvious one.


Every day produces a new anesthetic or vaccine from winch this average man benefits.

This is the new thing: In this way what was mere quantity — the multitude — is converted into a qualitative determina- tion: Our experts are scientists and similar types who are narrow and ignorant outside of a tiny area, yet presume to think otherwise. The so-called great nation is about to be no nation at all, as all can clearly see. But this is precisely what cannot be done by any movement such as Fascism, which declares itself anti-liberal.

The basis of it was the realisa- tion of a higher level of average existence in America, in contrast with a lower level in the select minorities there as compared with those of Europe. The present situation is made more clear by noting what, in spite of its peculiar features, it has in common with past periods.

Also, the final chapter of the book which many consider the best is, to me, a very rhetorical jeremiad where Ortega obsesses over the thought that, in the future, Europe might not ‘rule the world.

If he succeeded in improving his situation, if he climbed the social ladder, he attributed this to a piece of fortune which was favour- able to him in particular. But the 1 See the prologue to my firet book, Meditzcumes del Quijote,