Monday, April 10, 2017

Jose Ortega Y Gasset's "Rebellion Of The Masses" And The Ascendancy Of Donald Trump

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Alan: The transition from widespread admiration-for-education to the angry, arrogant, avaricious, lustful vulgarianism of Donald J. Trump, has been described luminously in a book I consider the most overlooked tome of the 20th century, Jose Ortega y Gassett's "The Rebellion of The Masses." 

In some ways "The Rebellion of The Masses" is a subtle work wherein liberals and conservatives both find what they want.

But the conclusion is clear: once industrialism put an end to the patronage system, "workers" no longer needed apatron/overlord to provide "protection" in exchange for the labor they could sell nowhere else. 

And so, the masses were liberated economically as a side effect of large-scale, capital-driven industry. 

Once liberated, uneducated workers turned their backs (unwittingly) on the hierarchical social system that had always guaranteed a stable social order. 

In this Boisterous New World any uneducated worker confronting an abusive patron-employer (or simply a patron-employer s/he did not like) could tell patron-boss to "take his job and shove it." 

It must also be pointed out that this unprecedented liberation of "the masses" also liberated women... and for the first time.

(By way of disclaimer I should add that while the central meaning of "The Revolution Of The Masses" is evident to me, I have also considered Chesterton a left-leaning revolutionary whereas most people consider him an exemplary conservative.

Once freed from the socio-economic bonds of a hierarchical patronage system, workers no longer paid respect -- nor did they feign respect -- for their "betters." (While acknowledging that there will always be disparity in workplace recompense, throughout my life I have believed that tradesmen should be paid as much as professional people. In general I have higher regard for plumbers than I do for most professionals although I still have high regard for the latter.)

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The crux of Ortega y Gasset's "Rebellion Of The Masses" is this...

As long as un-formed - and largely uninformed - workers admired and honored education,  the social order was safe.

And time-out-of-mind most "poor" workers have honored the uplifting qualities of education. 

However, over the course of a century in which American industrial workers did not need to educate themselves in order to earn a good middle-class wage, they degenerated into couch-potato, beer-swilling vidiots who (at least implicitly) held the "educated" social order in contempt. 

Suddenly, yahoo ignorance was just as good as educated people's knowledge. By God, the yahoos would "go it alone" denying any need for taxation or other contribution to a system that kept "elites" in power.

Lacking education themselves, the working class began to revere greedy self-aggrandizement whose "fruits" would enable them to purchase ceaseless pleasure while ignoring the essential social virtues of The Common Good. In the process, "workers" replaced social value with "everything money can buy," including "the government."

The transition from democracy-to-plutocracy is now baked in the cake and, in a twinkle, Trump has morphed from a vile human being to the savior of White Christianity.

Although there have always been wealthy people, it has also been true that, until recently (when "The Wolves of Wall Street" replaced traditionally wealthy people), a "critical mass" of rich folk was imbued with noblesse oblige which prevented the exhaustion of "social capital" and the dependable social order that has always been grounded in "social capital."  

"Back in the day," the wealthiest man on earth, Andrew Carnegie, said:

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