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Riesman is a scholar, not a prophet. Flaubert Perhaps the only writer who discussed the revolt of the masses in a witty, humorous manner was Flaubert. As Nietzsche put it, modern man can no longer despise himself. Flaubert satirized the bourgeoisie in the person of M.
Homais, a character in Madame Bovary. He also satirized the bourgeoisie in his Dictionary of Platitudes sometimes called Dictionary of Received Ideas. Here are some entries from that dictionary: Antiquity and everything connected with it Dull and boring. Aristocracy Despise and envy it. Art Leads to the workhouse. What use is it since machines can make things better and quicker?
Business The most important thing in life. The be-all and end-all of existence. Learned, The Make fun of it. All it takes to be learned is a good memory and hard work. Original Make fun of everything that is original, hate it, jeer at it, and annihilate it if you can. Philosophy Always snigger at it. Trade Argue which is nobler, trade or industry. Wealth Substitute for everything, even reputation. All great men are overrated. Modern man neither despises himself nor reveres greatness. According to Kundera, sentimental romanticism flourished in Central Europe during the 19th century, and kitsch is the offspring of this sentimental romanticism.
To please, one must confirm what everyone wants to hear, put oneself at the service of received ideas. Kitsch is the translation of the stupidity of received ideas into the language of beauty and feeling. It moves us to tears of compassion for ourselves, for the banality of what we think and feel.
Ibsen In addition to Flaubert and Kundera, there is another imaginative writer who should be mentioned in an essay on the revolt of the masses: Ibsen. Born in , Ibsen grew up under a monarchy, and longed for rebellion and democracy. But once democracy began to take root, Ibsen quickly conceived a strong dislike for the middle-class establishment, the liberal establishment.
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The liberals are the worst enemies of Freedom. Spiritual and intellectual freedom flourish best under absolutism. Ibsen loathed the reformers, and satirized them in the character of Gregers, the idealistic reformer in The Wild Duck.
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I believe that none of us can have any higher aim in life than to realize ourselves in spirit and in truth. That, in my view, is the true meaning of liberalism, and that is why the so-called liberals are in so many ways repugnant to me. They must free themselves. Some critics have argued that Dr. Stockmann is a caricature, a comic character. For example, Dr. It is not they who are most instrumental in poisoning the sources of our moral life The most dangerous enemy of truth and freedom amongst us is the compact majority — yes, the damned compact Liberal majority — that is it!
While Dr. Stockmann has the courage to stand alone, the courage to oppose public opinion, the journalist Hovstad thinks that his job is to go along with public opinion — to simultaneously reflect public opinion and shape public opinion. Stockmann has public opinion against him. Is it not to work in harmony with his readers? Has he not received a sort of tacit mandate to work persistently and assiduously for the welfare of those whose opinions he represents? Never, I say! The majority has might on its side — unfortunately; but right it has not.
I am in the right — I and a few other scattered individuals. The minority is always in the right. Stockmann to be specific, and to name a widely-held belief that is false. The doctrine that the public, the crowd, the masses, are the essential part of the population — that they constitute the People — that the common folk, the ignorant and incomplete element in the community, have the same right to pronounce judgment and to approve, to direct and to govern, as the isolated, intellectually superior personalities in it. After Dr. He is evicted from his lodgings, and fired from his job.
The final act of the play opens in Dr. Ejlif and Morten [his sons] shall look at them every day, and when they are grown up they shall inherit them as heirlooms. Ortega believed that a liberal republic in Spain could moderate and control the violent excesses of the social transition from pre-modern to modern. History proved him wrong. Both Nietzsche and Ortega understood the growth of the modern State as a force originating in the rise of mass political participation. The State was a temple in which the masses worshipped themselves.
In exchange for catering to their needs and flattering their egos, the masses placed their collective will under the auspices of the State where they flourished like never before in history. For both Nietzsche and Ortega, that arrangement was Janus-faced, because although the masses grew in ever-increasing numbers—high art, music, education, and individualism in general suffered.
European culture began to decay. Violence and militarism especially of the uniform variety became the order of the day. For Nietzsche, the Statism of the 19th Century was the fruit of a seed planted in the Roman Empire nearly two millennia before. Unlike Nietzsche, Ortega found some potential in the rise of the masses.
This event, although earth-shattering, was pregnant with possibility and a destiny.
It is an undeniable fact of present times that the State—urban, secular, bureaucratic, industrial, and all-encompassing in its power to tax, wage total wars, police, spy, and organize society in any way it chooses—has become the dominant feature of human life. There are few aspects of human life that the State does not regulate or police to some degree, whether one lives in Beijing, Budapest, or Baltimore.
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Although Nietzsche and Ortega disagreed over when and why the modern State developed, both understood it as one effect of the seizure of political power by a numerical majority that had been previously ruled by hereditary elites. This event was unprecedented in history in its scope and scale. Paradoxically, the same movement that freed the common man from one form of authority enslaved him to another, which both Nietzsche and Ortega believed to be more intrusive, arbitrary, and irrational to one degree or another. He holds a M.
His columns have appeared in a variety of publications and websites, including Strike-the-Root.
Nietzsche and Ortega Juxtaposed | Strike-The-Root: A Journal Of Liberty
Well, if this isn't the most apt description of modern America, I'd like to know what is. I have lately been thinking about what the major influences are for anyone and everyone on this land mass. Two of them are the Industrial Revolution and American Christianity. We all live in a post-industrial society, and like Ortega said about how "we will never return to a time before the advent of the modern State," we will never return to a pre-industrial society, as industrial knowledge is too widespread at this point.
Likewise, American Christianity, whether it is embraced or not, affects every individual living on this land mass, for better or worse. It is a force that must be understood. I hadn't considered the fact that everything we think, say and do, just like the Industrial Revolution, is also tainted and shaped in various ways by the State.
A very provocative idea, and one that needs deeper consideration. Excellent article. And as an aside, I would have to agree that music has suffered as a result of the modern state. The apex of great music in the art-house classical tradition was the first half of the twentieth century, with a handful of pieces hitting the high mark after Very sad.
I think you've made some good observations, Merrick. European philosophers have generally tended to write off America as a wild and uncultured place, however. In a way they could be right, but on the other hand, we have a great tradition of individualism - at least in theory if not in practice Ortega seems to be rather blind to the history of Spain when he talks about America.
T-shirts and bumper stickers. Reprint Rights. Nietzsche and Ortega Juxtaposed. Column by Michael Kleen , posted on August 18, Average: 9. Your rating: None Average: 9.