View Poll Results: Is the Revolt of the Masses an Accurate Picture of Society

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Thread: Revolt of the Masses

  1. #11
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    Re: Revolt of the Masses

    Quote Originally Posted by Anagram View Post
    I just finished reading Jose Ortega y Gasset's book, The Revolt of the Masses. He basically contends that there are two types of people in the world, the mass and the minority. The minority are the truly talented people who also put great demand on themselves to make advancements in science, philosophy, and politics. The mass are those without the talent or drive to do such. He's quick to point out that this has nothing to do with class, as there is minority and mass in both the upper and lower classes.

    Ortega sees a growing problem among the masses due to the rise of democracy. With the growing belief that everyone is equal comes a belief among the masses that their unexamined opinions are inherently equal in many areas to the minority. Those who have spent little time thinking about or studying politics believe that their political opinions carry as much intellectual weight as those who have been doing so for thirty years. They don't recognize that there are people in some areas who know better than they do. The problem that Ortega sees with this is that because the masses greatly outnumber the minority, politicians wanting power will begin to appeal to these unexamined opinions of the minority, leading to people who don't really know what they're doing to direct the political conversation. Writing in the 1930's Ortega sees this as the reason behind the rise of power of fascism in Italy and Bolshevism in Russia, condemning both movements. He definitely does not reject democracy and is a strong proponent of that political system over all others, but he does see this as a serious problem with it that needs to be addressed.

    Especially a problem for Ortega are those that he calls the specialists. These are the people who are legitimately knowledgeable in one area. They are usually college educated people who really are experts in their narrow field. However, this knowledge generally leads to them believing they are experts in other fields, not usually deferring to those who are actually experts in them. Ortega sees them as often more stubborn and more arrogant than the regular masses in projecting their opinions in fields they are clearly ignorant of. Ortega writes the book specifically to challenge these people to examine their political ideals the same way they examine knowledge in their own narrow field of work.

    So my question is, do you think that Ortega's work is a generally accurate view of society? Is he correct about the categories of mass and minority and the relationship between them? Do most people stubbornly view their opinions as inherently equal to those who know better than them?
    A thought-provoking post, very interesting and I thank you for providing it.

    Having not read the book, I'm basing my thoughts on your summary. Certainly the fear that politicians will direct their appeal to the largest voting block, regardless of whether that position is good for society as a whole, is a relevant concern. I think political pandering cheapens the process, but see no way to stop it at this point. I personally choose candidates based on their positions on issues I believe most important to the country as a whole, and I think most people do this as well. Even those who vote a straight party ticket with unquestioning resolve believe that to be most important to the country as a whole. The biggest problem voters in a democracy have is actually knowing who supports the same issues and values, and who is merely pretending to support those issues and values in order to gain the power of polical office.

    This may have little to do with Ortega's main thrust, and I do understand his concept of a superior minority and a less-knowledgeable majority. However, I see danger between the lines of having contempt for people who dare to believe that their own opinions are equal to the opinions of others. Knowledge is a broad, encompassing word; I, as one of the masses, may have in-depth knowledge of certain areas that the "specialist" minorities do not have. Does that make my knowledge equal to the specialist? No, actually, it makes my knowledge superior to the specialist in certain areas, and his knowledge superior in other areas.

    When we come together as a society, our knowledge in all areas is blended, enhanced, transformed. Dissecting society into "elites" based on specialized knowledge, and "masses" who do not possess that specialized knowledge but many of whom may excel in other areas of knowledge is a dangerous endeavor, because who decides which knowledge is the most worthy, and which is less worthy? The fact is that society needs a broad base of all knowledge to flourish.

    I suspect I have wandered off into territory not covered by your original question, lol, so I shall end my ramble now.

  2. #12
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    Re: Revolt of the Masses

    From what I read, this idea does not confront the idea of lobbying. In my opinion lobbying, or legal bribery, undermines democracy as well as this theory.

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    Re: Revolt of the Masses

    Quote Originally Posted by Anagram View Post
    I just finished reading Jose Ortega y Gasset's book, The Revolt of the Masses. He basically contends that there are two types of people in the world, the mass and the minority. The minority are the truly talented people who also put great demand on themselves to make advancements in science, philosophy, and politics. The mass are those without the talent or drive to do such. He's quick to point out that this has nothing to do with class, as there is minority and mass in both the upper and lower classes.

    Ortega sees a growing problem among the masses due to the rise of democracy. With the growing belief that everyone is equal comes a belief among the masses that their unexamined opinions are inherently equal in many areas to the minority. Those who have spent little time thinking about or studying politics believe that their political opinions carry as much intellectual weight as those who have been doing so for thirty years. They don't recognize that there are people in some areas who know better than they do. The problem that Ortega sees with this is that because the masses greatly outnumber the minority, politicians wanting power will begin to appeal to these unexamined opinions of the minority, leading to people who don't really know what they're doing to direct the political conversation. Writing in the 1930's Ortega sees this as the reason behind the rise of power of fascism in Italy and Bolshevism in Russia, condemning both movements. He definitely does not reject democracy and is a strong proponent of that political system over all others, but he does see this as a serious problem with it that needs to be addressed.

    Especially a problem for Ortega are those that he calls the specialists. These are the people who are legitimately knowledgeable in one area. They are usually college educated people who really are experts in their narrow field. However, this knowledge generally leads to them believing they are experts in other fields, not usually deferring to those who are actually experts in them. Ortega sees them as often more stubborn and more arrogant than the regular masses in projecting their opinions in fields they are clearly ignorant of. Ortega writes the book specifically to challenge these people to examine their political ideals the same way they examine knowledge in their own narrow field of work.

    So my question is, do you think that Ortega's work is a generally accurate view of society? Is he correct about the categories of mass and minority and the relationship between them? Do most people stubbornly view their opinions as inherently equal to those who know better than them?
    No. Ortega is mistaking the general lack of expertise on a narrow issue for its' inverse - that the expert must therefore be capable of making better decisions for the group. Everyone is an expert (relatively) in their own circumstances, and the diversity and peculiarity of those circumstances makes central control incapable of making net productive decisions.

    The solution is to decrease the sphere of activity in which expert decision-making is required. Decentralization (as much as possible) of decision-making authority places the effects of each actors decisions more in-line with their level of expertise.

  4. #14
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    Re: Revolt of the Masses

    Quote Originally Posted by Redress View Post
    At least in the modern world, that is how it is, but not how it is represented. Some like to spout the meme that liberals want a utopian equity of outcome, when all we really want is equity opportunity in terms of government policy.
    That is precisely how liberals are viewed, and a lot of why I disagree with them. Frankly I think it's mostly true by the Left's support for income redistribution and the movement in schools to play to self-esteem instead of achievement. If you really support equal opportunity, then you have to put an end to the notion that everyone must have the same. Equal opportunity is not about having the same, but earning it. There's a big difference in my book.
    "He who does not think himself worth saving from poverty and ignorance by his own efforts, will hardly be thought worth the efforts of anybody else." -- Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men (1872)
    "Fly-over" country voted, and The Donald is now POTUS.

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    Re: Revolt of the Masses

    Ortega y Gasset is correct in some general sense, but the remedies are well-known (although in his days it was not clear that they are potent enough): the constitutional and structural restraints on the power of both masses and elites, like we have here in the States. And liberalism, of course (not the American "liberalism", but the real one, "classical").

    Also, I think he makes a misdiagnosis of the totalitarian regimes' origin, at least in the case of Russia. As ignorant and as disoriented by the Great War as they were, the Russians never had chosen the Bolshevik rule. It was imposed by brute force, in direct defiance of the "will of masses": the Bolsheviks had lost the elections for the Russian Constituent Assembly of 1917 by a huge margin, even after waging an aggressive campaign of intimidation and fraud. So they did the "next logical thing": exterminated the winners.

    From the beginning, their rule was a rule of a tiny group of intellectuals who took it upon themselves to speak for the masses, and later orchestrated "outpourings of public support" with considerable skill, but never had any legitimacy or "mandate".

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    Re: Revolt of the Masses

    Quote Originally Posted by Anagram View Post
    I just finished reading Jose Ortega y Gasset's book, The Revolt of the Masses. He basically contends that there are two types of people in the world, the mass and the minority. The minority are the truly talented people who also put great demand on themselves to make advancements in science, philosophy, and politics. The mass are those without the talent or drive to do such. He's quick to point out that this has nothing to do with class, as there is minority and mass in both the upper and lower classes.

    Ortega sees a growing problem among the masses due to the rise of democracy. With the growing belief that everyone is equal comes a belief among the masses that their unexamined opinions are inherently equal in many areas to the minority. Those who have spent little time thinking about or studying politics believe that their political opinions carry as much intellectual weight as those who have been doing so for thirty years. They don't recognize that there are people in some areas who know better than they do. The problem that Ortega sees with this is that because the masses greatly outnumber the minority, politicians wanting power will begin to appeal to these unexamined opinions of the minority, leading to people who don't really know what they're doing to direct the political conversation. Writing in the 1930's Ortega sees this as the reason behind the rise of power of fascism in Italy and Bolshevism in Russia, condemning both movements. He definitely does not reject democracy and is a strong proponent of that political system over all others, but he does see this as a serious problem with it that needs to be addressed.

    Especially a problem for Ortega are those that he calls the specialists. These are the people who are legitimately knowledgeable in one area. They are usually college educated people who really are experts in their narrow field. However, this knowledge generally leads to them believing they are experts in other fields, not usually deferring to those who are actually experts in them. Ortega sees them as often more stubborn and more arrogant than the regular masses in projecting their opinions in fields they are clearly ignorant of. Ortega writes the book specifically to challenge these people to examine their political ideals the same way they examine knowledge in their own narrow field of work.

    So my question is, do you think that Ortega's work is a generally accurate view of society? Is he correct about the categories of mass and minority and the relationship between them? Do most people stubbornly view their opinions as inherently equal to those who know better than them?
    I think this is already happening.

  7. #17
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    Revolt of the Masses

    Isnt Athenian democracy a ready made example of the failure of elitist democracy he's arguing for?

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    Re: Revolt of the Masses

    Quote Originally Posted by Anagram View Post
    I just finished reading Jose Ortega y Gasset's book, The Revolt of the Masses. He basically contends that there are two types of people in the world, the mass and the minority. The minority are the truly talented people who also put great demand on themselves to make advancements in science, philosophy, and politics. The mass are those without the talent or drive to do such. He's quick to point out that this has nothing to do with class, as there is minority and mass in both the upper and lower classes.

    Ortega sees a growing problem among the masses due to the rise of democracy. With the growing belief that everyone is equal comes a belief among the masses that their unexamined opinions are inherently equal in many areas to the minority. Those who have spent little time thinking about or studying politics believe that their political opinions carry as much intellectual weight as those who have been doing so for thirty years. They don't recognize that there are people in some areas who know better than they do. The problem that Ortega sees with this is that because the masses greatly outnumber the minority, politicians wanting power will begin to appeal to these unexamined opinions of the minority, leading to people who don't really know what they're doing to direct the political conversation. Writing in the 1930's Ortega sees this as the reason behind the rise of power of fascism in Italy and Bolshevism in Russia, condemning both movements. He definitely does not reject democracy and is a strong proponent of that political system over all others, but he does see this as a serious problem with it that needs to be addressed.

    Especially a problem for Ortega are those that he calls the specialists. These are the people who are legitimately knowledgeable in one area. They are usually college educated people who really are experts in their narrow field. However, this knowledge generally leads to them believing they are experts in other fields, not usually deferring to those who are actually experts in them. Ortega sees them as often more stubborn and more arrogant than the regular masses in projecting their opinions in fields they are clearly ignorant of. Ortega writes the book specifically to challenge these people to examine their political ideals the same way they examine knowledge in their own narrow field of work.

    So my question is, do you think that Ortega's work is a generally accurate view of society? Is he correct about the categories of mass and minority and the relationship between them? Do most people stubbornly view their opinions as inherently equal to those who know better than them?
    This is very interesting. I'm going to have to check this book out now. Thanks!

    I think it seems he was right on with a lot of points. Of course, any "system" is going to have its problem. I don't think there could ever be perfection, but democracy seems the best way to go. Actually, leaving the power to the people (even if some are ignorant) is the only way to go IMO.

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    Re: Revolt of the Masses

    I fear those who believe that they and the rest of the minority should have more input into government than the masses.

  10. #20
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    Re: Revolt of the Masses

    Quote Originally Posted by avatar View Post
    I fear those who believe that they and the rest of the minority should have more input into government than the masses.
    Ortega wasn't arguing for that. He was a firm believer that liberal democracy was the best political system.
    There should be Instant Runoff Voting

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