The first part of this reflection on Ortega y Gasset’s Revolt of the Masses is available here.

Americanisation & the European Masses.

The twenty-first century has seen the corruption of national life as a direct consequence of the continued influence of the masses as both an easily manageable and apathetic political force. The phenomenon of the commodification of culture, particularly in the culturally standardised nations of the Anglosphere and the homogenisation of Western popular culture brought about by American influence, now plays a significant part in influencing the dispositions of the general public, and subsequently complicates Ortega’s analysis.

For such a commodification to be successful there must first exist a feeling of unease or longing within the population, and in that sense the culture-seeking masses of the Anglosphere, Ireland included, have developed a desire, not to develop the traits of their own culture, but to witness and experience those of others.

It is this foolish blindness to the importance of one’s own culture and the sycophantic worship of foreign identities that has culminated throughout the Anglosphere and, particularly in Ireland, in subsequent generations gradually culturally deracinated to the stage at which the masses have become in essence, tourists in their own nation. The masses have developed a longing for a culturally rich society, but are foolishly duped into an artificially fabricated multiculturalism.

In a cultural sense, continental Europeans are radically distinct from the Anglosphere given the retention of ancestral customs and even cuisine engendered by the safeguard of a language barrier.  As the normative culture and lifestyle of the Anglosphere is difficult to entrench within continental European nations, some degree of obligation is placed upon the inhabitant to respect or understand their native culture.

Whereas the Anglosphere is unified in a range of manners, between popular culture, language, politics and cuisine, the cultural distinctions between English speaking nations have eroded under the influence of Americanisation. In that sense Western culture may then be divided into two entities descriptive of differing political aims—an American sphere of English speaking influence and the European continent. Though clearly in Americas political orbit, continental politics exist in a distinct bubble, with the tenable eurofederalist goal of expanding and consolidating it.

The Americanisation of the twenty-first century as an external projection of American ideals onto European society is to be contrasted with the Americanisation of twentieth century Europe, which is argued, by Ortega y Gasset, to be an internal process derived from the commonly held idea of Technicism. The idea of Technicism describes the trend of utilising technological improvement and industrialisation to improve the wellbeing of the masses, which, though born in Europe, would become an integral component of American society.

For Europeans, technicism was designed to improve the wellbeing of a society for Americans the ideal in of itself, technological development solely for its namesake, became a component of American identity. It is by this natural convergence that Ortega y Gasset diagnoses the perceived “Americanisation” of twentieth century Europe to be an internal phenomenon induced by the degradation of European nations by way of the masses. Throughout the process of European industrialisation, Technicism was limited by the interests and capabilities of various nations, but in America, given the potential economic success facilitated by its large domestic market, Technicism would become a natural component of American identity.

Ortega characterises the origins of the revolt of the masses to be, partly, a product of Technicism gone awry, in which the substantial middle class European population in adopting positions as engineers, teachers and other forms of skilled work, became “famously capable of creation, but [do] not know what to create.” Amidst a pervasive lack of purpose in society and a dearth of motivating ideals, man is “lost amidst his own abundance.” What Technicism provided to twentieth century European society has been supplanted by a new cult of Scientism, by which the appeal to a regime sanctioned “scientific study” or “data set” has become the primary instrument by which the politically conscious masses are controlled.

“One of the things that most delight travellers in Spain is that if they ask someone in the street where such a building or square is, the man asked will often turn aside from his own path and generously sacrifice himself to the stranger, conducting him to the point he is interested in… I have never, when hearing of this, been able to repress a suspicion: “Was my countryman, when thus questioned, really going anywhere?” Because it might very well be, in many cases, that the Spaniard is going nowhere, has no purpose or mission, but rather goes out into life to see if others’ lives can fill his own a little.”

— José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses.

 The general public may be seen as a wandering crowd, in which the unifying factor amongst a variety of individuals is a profound sense of uncertainty in regards to the future.

The Future & Global Realities

“It would not matter if Europe ceased to command, provided there were someone able to take her place. But there is not the faintest sign of one. New York and Moscow represent nothing new, relatively to Europe. They are both of them two sections of the European order of things, which by dissociating from the rest, have lost their meaning.”

— José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses.

Ortega critiques the aspirations of Russian Bolshevism and American Technicism to define the political vista of the twentieth century on the basis that, both ideologies are derived from European discourse, and that by detaching themselves from Europe, they offer but a shallow alternative to the theme of the epoch. With the benefit of hindsight, Ortega’s criticism can be demonstrated to have been validated by the post-Cold War Western world, in which American Consumerism triumphed over Russian Bolshevism. To compare the early twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the mentality of the European masses has not changed, it is indeed far worse as a consequence of the rapid development of technology and its use as a tool for social control.

Ortega emphasises the seniority of civilisations as a judgement standard for its ability to produce sound political ideas and cultural products. Which, as a derivative of the Classical world, the West is partly defined by its distinctions from and transformations of Classical concepts; naturally, the maturity of Western literary traditions exhibit an appealing source of inspiration to motivate a civilisation.

Ortega argues, however, that this European civilisational seniority and its technological advancements whilst occupying the position of world leader has, naturally, created an aspect of globalism in the average human life. As the individual has a far wider range of thought and experience in his understanding of the world through the recognition of foreign peoples, the avenues for greater cultural interactions are opened.

This phenomenon, whilst an unavoidable reality, is both a boon and a hindrance to the new European right. It is a particularly useful fact within a regional and diplomatic context for fostering friendly relations with neighbouring nation-states, but these benefits are limited. The creation of supranational structures such as the United Nations and its various agencies has spurred the development of “global values” and “global goals” for human societies, that not only undermine the principles of national sovereignty, but corrode the strength of the nation by way of a globalist humanitarian policy.

However, the world and nations therein should not be treated as entirely foreign entities, it is more accurate that the so-called “global community” be classified as peripheral to one’s own nation and the civilisation to which it belongs. It is from this perspective that Ortega further argues the need for a unifying movement throughout Europe, that may provide her with a virile new future, independent from the disadvantages or limitations of the nation. For Ortega, this is a necessary development for European civilisation, by which, the virtues of one nation may compensate for the vices of another in a kind of European Union.

“For the first time, the European, checked in his projects, economic, political, intellectual, by the limits of his own country, feels that those projects—that is to say, his vital possibilities—are out of proportion to the size of the collective body in which he is enclosed. And so he has discovered that to be English, German, or French is to be provincial. He has found out that he is “less” than he was before, for previously the Englishman, the Frenchman, and the German believed, each for himself, that he was the universe. This is, to my mind, the true source of that feeling of decadence which to-day afflicts the European. It is therefore a source which is purely spiritual, and is also paradoxical, inasmuch as the presumption of decadence springs precisely from the fact that his capacities have increased and find themselves limited by an old organisation, within which there is no room for them.”

— José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses.

Conclusion

Rightist European political movements today have much to learn from Ortega’s philosophy of history, as we live in an age in which the advanced technological capabilities of social media networks and the Internet as a whole, have substituted a role as the guiding force of the masses, ripe for whichever political cause may mobilise them. Through the modern manifestation of the “NPC”, the masses have altered in character from the time Ortega’s book was written. The usage of mass-media entertainment has transfigured Ortega’s Revolt of the Masses into a kind of controlled rebellion, with the implication that even political dissidents may be subject to influence.

“Variations of the vital sensibilities that are decisive in history are presented in the form of a generation. A generation is not a handful of egregious men, nor simply a mass: it is like an entirely new social body, with its select minority and its masses, which have been launched into the sphere of existence with a determined life trajectory. The generation, a dynamic compromise between the mass and the individual, is the most important concept in history, and, so to speak, the hinge on which it executes its movements. A generation is a human variety, in the strict sense that is given to this term by naturalists. Its members come into the world endowed with certain typical natures, which lends to them a common physiognomy, differentiating them from the previous generation.”

— José Ortega y Gasset, The Theme of Our Time.

Ortega’s definition of decadence is when a society comes to view prior ages as unattainable and vastly superior to its current reality or attainable possibilities. This sentiment is especially inculcated amongst those of a specific generation, whose characteristics and mentalities are, by way of their elite, embodied by the epoch. Following the increasingly hedonistic attitude of recent generations, what will be the trajectories of the youthful generations which have yet to cut their teeth?

The self-satisfied age in which men arrogantly feel that nothing valuable may be brought about from the past, and subsequently feel themselves to be the apex of human civilisation, is a trend that has extended well into the twenty-first century. To Ortega, this mentality amongst the masses was the true “invasion of barbarism”, which Europe faced, and which he dedicated his writings to critiquing.

But, just as the “mass-man” exists amongst freakish leftists, boomers and millennials, we must not neglect that this phenomenon exists in all groups, regardless of generational distinction or political affiliations. An stagnant focus upon a restricted list of authors is an equally present limitation amongst the right-wing masses, and in this sense, Ortega’s characterisation of the masses may even be applied to political dissidents, though they may be in opposition to the current political paradigm, they equally demonstrate a commitment to the principles of the masses; though this mentality arises in a peculiar manner, it is fundamentally a matter of one’s outlook on life.

For a political movement to be perplexed with the same static authors and pessimistic ideals is to prevent its development. A different type of self-satisfaction, or rather, self-pity, is present in those who choose the needless pessimism of Spengler over a more balanced analytical approach. For any political movement which seeks the rejuvenation of the nation and its culture: for what reason does pessimism persist as an intellectual attraction other than to prepare oneself for defeat?

“The form most contradictory to human life that can appear among the human species is the “self- satisfied man.””

— José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses.

Posted by Ryan Kiersey

2 Comments

  1. Ryan, it appears you have never been to America. Otherwise, you would know how much American culture has successfully penetrated continental Europe. I speak French and Spanish and have been visiting both countries (and others on the Continent) since the 1970s. I took my son to Paris several years ago. Walking around the Premiere Arondissement in the heart of Paris, I thought I was in Brooklyn or Chicago. Kids my son’s age, dressed just like their American peers (baseball caps, sweatshirts and tennis shoes) and listening to the same music. And they were locals for certain because I spoke French with them. I can attest to similar about Spain as I’ve been traveling there for the same period and saw similar when my daughter went to school there as well. Now these were in fact urban visits (and I went to school in France in a much smaller city back in the stone ages LOL). Come over for a visit sometime, eh? The world has gotten very small with the internet and all.

    Reply

  2. Ivaus@thetricolour 29/08/2022 at 12:22 am

    The Anglo/American Post Western Democratic Influence is self imploding but has put its former Empirical/Imperial backing to the so called great global reset,WEF Agenda 201,Global Depopulation 2030/40.

    And little sucker NGO-Ireland is one of its first basket cases,not long to
    go now folks as you will witness the destruction of humanity in all it’s
    forms. Considering the billions of people worldwide that will be killed by
    Eugenicists,globalists,puppets of Dictatorships and Governmental Organizations and Agencies…a handful of rotten traitorous treasonous tyrannical TOP DOGS…and dogs they are, bastards of humanity.

    Reply

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