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The Revolt of the Masses Paperback – 11 May 1994

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New Ed edition (11 May 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393310957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393310955
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 216,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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THERE is one fact which, whether for good or ill, is of utmost importance in the public life of Europe at the present moment. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By B. Alcat on 31 July 2004
Format: Paperback
Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) was a well-known Spanish philosopher, and this is one of his best books. He wrote "The revolt of the masses" in 1930, but that book is still very useful to analyze reality in many countries, despite the fact that the author intended to study only the situation in Europe...
What is the subject of this book?. Well, the subject is the advent to power in Europe of what he calls the mass-men, who, according to him, are characterized by being just like everybody else. The mass-men have always existed, but whereas in the past they allowed the men of excellence to direct society, now they claim all the power. Ortega y Gasset says that what is new is that "the commonplace mind, knowing itself to be commonplace, has the assurance to proclaim the rights of the commonplace and to impose them wherever it will". Thus, the mass-men claim that everything that is different needs to be crushed: uniformity is good, all else should be suppressed.
But are the mass-men capable of leading society?. According to the author, they are not. He displays an enormous amount of elitism when he affirms that the culture of the mass-man isn't true culture, because there isn't culture where there are no standards to which anybody can make an appeal. He gives an example of the modern mass-man when he points out what was happening then under Fascism, due to the fact that "there appears for the first time in Europe a type of man who does not want to give reasons or to be right, but simply shows himself resolved to impose his opinions".
Ortega says that the way the mass-man behaves in public life arises from his psychological structure. Each mass-man considers "his moral and intellectual endowment as excellent, complete".
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
Ortega y Gasset had an uncanny understanding of the origins and dangers of modern mass movements. As some other reviewers have noted, this book was written in the early 30's in response to the fascist movements in Europe at the time. What is truly chilling is that, beyond predicting the unfortunate results of those fascist movements, the picture Ortega y Gasset paints of the "mass man" and how he is manipulated is still applicable to modern American marketing of both politicians and products. Like I said, one of the best books I've ever read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 April 1998
Format: Paperback
Of any of the political texts that I have read, none comes closer to predicting what the future would be. Written in the early part of the century, Ortega presents what are (will be) the failings of mass government. From the coming of war to the prevalence of the "self-satisfied" man, the author tells of a grim future for mankind.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
Clearly a work destined to resound through many generations, it is altogether too easy for us in our hindsight to nod and say "Yep, he sure had it pegged" regarding Gasset's analysis of fascist and nationalist movements. Yet we should really marvel at the audicity and strength of intellect it takes to make such bold arguments at a time of colossal upheaval in Europe. He writes in a seductive style fusing metaphysics and social commentary that is a joy to read. Still, it is dangerous to suspend our critical faculties in the presence of any writer, though he be (or maybe just because he is) a master of language. Gasset's values are clearly those of the educated elite of his time, and in my humble opinion many of these are self-contradictory, if not hypocritical: While decrying the "mass-man" born into the priviledges and luxuries wrought by the pioneers of liberal democracy in the 18th and 19th century, he waxes nostalgic in an almost romantic way for the soveignity of a long-gone nobility similar to Plato's concept of the Philosopher King. He also takes as a given the cultural superiority of Europe in general, making a strong argument for it as the apex of civilization. Albiet he does take great pains to dispel the modern notion of the nation-state based on language, history or natural boundaries. While I don't intend to open up that Pandora's box here, readers should keep in mind how such ideas and statements regarding Europes' (and her particular peoples) golden age have been (past and present) misused and distorted into racial theories with dire consequences. Gasset frequently makes reference to Spengler, a historical theorist who's vast scope and poetic breadth is not quite matched by his grasp of historical detail.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 April 2002
Format: Paperback
Spain has had few modern philosophers, but Ortega is one of these few. And this book sustains almost one theory highly controversial: the more obvious is the apparition of the human crowds as the substitute of individual behaviour and thinking, as a novelty by the times of 1930, when in Spain this phenomenon was still little known because the country was mainly rural. But the most singular idea is the partial rejecting of the scientific activities. Curiously about this late theme, Ortega agrees with Unamuno, another Spanish thinker, because they said that scientific labour had something of degrading or a second hand labour, as the work of slaves in antiquity, following the opinions of old Greek philosophers. They maintained this opinions against the reformist people fighting on behalf the science and industrialization of poor and delayed Spain, but Ortega insisted science and machines weren't so important for mankind and that these work was overvalued and could be achieved mostly by mediocre, narrow minded men. For that, Azaña, the president of the Spanish republic said Ortega was only a witty man, but not a serious philosopher, as he admired German philosophers, much more academic and formal, but as it were it's true that the surprising ideas of Ortega have endured the time and today seems to have a reborn.
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