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La rebelión de las masas

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  3,479 ratings  ·  232 reviews
Rare book
Paperback, 294 pages
Published June 30th 2005 by Alianza (first published 1930)
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Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by: Prof. Michael Weinstein. He assigned it more than recommended it
I first read this for a political theory class as an undergrad; at the time I pestered everyone around me with recitations of Ortegan thought. The more I re-read it, the more I'm convinced that Ortega's ideas are still applicable, even though the book came out in 1930. (If only my roommates had listened, they'd be so much smarter now.)

Basically, Ortega says that the central feature of modernity is an unwillingness by the mass (which included people from all social classes) to pay deference to
Jun 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable extended essay by Ortega, who cast his discerning eye upon Europe in 1930 in an effort to assess a continent that, it was claimed, was transitioning into a decline from its prior global preeminence. Probing this malaise, Ortega proffers in explanation the startling rise of the mass-man, a foreseeable product of the nineteenth century's unprecedented population increase due to its enthusiastic embrace of technicist liberal democracy. This promotion of democracy, capitalism, ...more
Matthew W
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good analysis of the mass-man mind of intellectual barbarism. You know, the kind of people you see everyday, that feel confident in their ignorance and seek to stomp out any viewpoint that diverges from their safe fantasy world. You know, the majority of the American population that can only see the pseudo-dichotomies of "democrat" and "republican" or "liberal" and "conservative." A great example everyday of the typical mass-minded individual are those people that refuse to watch a film with ...more
291115: this is a later addition: after the election of the orange-skinned hair-challenged man in the United States it is perhaps time to reflect on the current of anti-intellectualism which informs this event and Ortega addresses. there is an aspect neglected in my 'pedagogical theory' of politics. that is, irrespective of quality, sincerity, expertise, of the teacher: not everyone wants to learn and may in fact be hostile to any suggestion that they need learn, or that knowledge, thought, ...more
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Plenty to think on here. The central thesis -- the rise and rebellion of the self-satisfied mass-man -- is compelling. Humbling, too, for the dark glimpses of self you see in this angry Spaniard's mirror.

There's a sharp mind behind this essay, and a wise one:

"To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand. This is the sport, the luxury, special to the intellectual man. The gesture characteristic of his tribe consists in looking at the world with eyes wide open in wonder. Everything in
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As one advances in life, one realizes more and more that the majority of men - and of women - are incapable of any other effort than that strictly imposed on them as a reaction to external compulsion. And for that reason, the few individuals we have come across who are capable of a spontaneous and joyous effort stand out isolated, monumentalized, so to speak, in our experience. These are the select men, the nobles, the only ones who are active and not merely reactive, for whom life is a ...more
This was a book that I appreciated quite a lot. In it, Ortega argues that modernity is defined by the rise of the "mass man," who could be from any class and is only defined by its status as not-a-minority. In Ortega's conception, the "working masses" is an entirely different concept from "mass man," although there is some overlap. Ortega finds that the crisis the West is facing (in the 1930s) is the disappearance of morality under the rapid changes of the nineteenth century. He finds that ...more
For the most part this book does not live up to it's reputation. I had much higher hopes for it. The first 70% of the book is rather pallid; unfocused; rambling. Gasset covers a too-diffuse mélange of miscellaneous European historical and social topics.

The edges and handles of Gasset's discussion are all very slippery and rubbery, it's really an old-school set of rather vague aesthetic essays the kind bohemians used to enjoy on the Left Bank of the Seine during the age of the Fin de siècle.

Richard Newton
A classic piece of thinking from 1930. An often prescient portrayal of mass society, it is often surprising to reflect this was written 90 years ago. If you like intelligent writing, well worth reading.

It is not always the easiest of reads - perhaps 1930s Spanish is just hard to translate into modern English. But I found most insightful and enlightening, even if I did not agree with absolutely everything. I have highlighted lots of parts - as there are many wonderful turns of phrase.

The first 13
Simon A.
For me this book will always be called "How I learned to stop worrying and love the Elitists!"

Seriously, this book goes a long way in describing the chasm between intellectuals and the masses and why, despite the fact that the masses are an overpowering steam roller, it is admirable to deny the urge to follow.
Aug 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people willing to reread the same sentence over and over and over......
If you think we live in a world of "us and thems" and enjoy spitting in the air and letting the spit land in your own face, then this book is for you.
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful, just wonderful. I appreciate any writer who attempts to take great strides away from present thinking and culture in order to turn around, look things over, and ponder, "Why are things this way?" Many of the Ortega y Gasset's insights are salient today, and that fact gives me the specific thrill that one gets from connecting to a past person.

I folded the corner of many pages in this book and I look forward to thumbing through it and reviewing Ortega y Gasset's observations and
Not sure what to say about Ortega y Gasset other than that he's a conspicuous elitist, without necessarily being aristocratic or absolutely class-conscious in his elitism; the mass-man is the self-satisfied man, the man who doesn't look beyond himself for meaning or challenge (shades of Lukacs' "transcendental homelessness") -- which is a state of affairs that comes about through the brute fact of plenitude: more people enjoying more goods as their rights (rather than as fruits of their own ...more
May 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful social critique by Gasset. With chapter titles such as "the barbarism of 'specialization'" and "the greatest danger, the state" you know your in conservative country. But the chapter called "the self-satisfied age" is wonderful. It warns what happens to the middle classes when they become spoiled and entitled. In short, they become barbarians. A prophetic book. Let's hope our country isn't too far gone!!
Colm Gillis
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly and unashamedly elitist. Y Gasset defines the dichotomy between the mass-man & the man of culture but within the context of the modern world. In doing so he throws up some strange paradoxes; the mass-man may be educated, a lowly person may have the character of a noble. Plenty of citable material & lots of insights. The flow may not be the best & some of his theories are questionable. The strength of the book is in how he comes to grips with many puzzling phenomena.
Charles J
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, but this is a fascinating book. Written in 1930 by the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, it is one of those books that is occasionally mentioned, especially recently, but rarely actually read. 1930, in Spain, was the hinge of fate, and it has been nearly a hundred years since Ortega wrote. That means we can see where he was wrong, and where he was right, and what he wrote says to us today.

First, though, we have to hack our way through two misconceptions that both seem to attend any
A book that it's prone to misunderstandings (especially with Americans, which is further proof that the USA is a paradise for the masses), yet incredibly relevant to the current age - a historical period not separate from the one Ortega y Gasset originally talked about, in which the same phenomenon thrives. Worth reading not just for the main thesis, but for all of the philosophical underpinnings.

This is a summary that does not in no way do justice to the depth of the book but nevertheless: The
Brian Frank
Took me a few years to get around to reading this -- odd because it's the best-known book by one of my very favourite philosophers. But I've got a lot more affinity for Ortega's more rigorous philosophical ideas than his political and cultural criticism, which has a shorter shelf life.

It's interesting to see him apply his ideas to real issues, but it's also discouraging to see some of his positions become either dated (it was published in 1930) or fairly common opinions.

We've now got a ton of
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Ortega's talking within the context of the decadence of Europe in the early 20th century but a lot of his points of view still say a lot about today's world. While he does come off as what would be considered an intellectual elitist (e.g. touting organized sports as representative of the mass man with heavily negative connotations) I still enjoyed his analyses of the problems plaguing the mass man today. When I read the first few chapters I thought I was exempt to having the mass man mindset, ...more
If Ortega y Gasset was the principled elitist he saw himself as, we would have less of a problem. After all, I'm the sort of bastard who appreciates a certain kind of tirade against the world of mass culture and the stupidity that accompanies a supposedly enlightened era. But, despite his protestations to the contrary, he winds up edifying the pre-democratic past, delivered through a set of proclamations without any accompanying qualifications. For a more vigorous opposition to mass culture ...more
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
There it is, colossal, astride our times like a giant, a cosmic note of interrogation, always of uncertain shape, with something in it of the guillotine or the gallows, but also with something that strives to round itself into a triumphal arch.

A powerfully interesting and challenging book. Gasset's essential thesis is that the mass man, the man whose intellectual life ends in the solipsistic horizon of his own manufactured self, has taken over the direction of (European) society. His self is
Dec 20, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Started this book with high expectation considering that it is repeatedly called one of the best works of non-fiction in 19th century but was totally disappointed with the book.

The book is nothing but the expression of anxiety of the Europeans (which the elitist author himself defines as Britain, France and Germany) in the post world war I period. The author it seems is heartbroken to see European countries fighting each other when they should be united in their natural and noble quest of
Jan 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ortega y Gasset is popular again in some circles--it makes sense that he, and "The Revolt of the Masses" in particular, is since his analysis of the social and political order in 1930 seems so incisive today. For example he could be describing the clown show in Washington over the past couple of years, particularly in the Congress when he wrote in "Revolt": "And yet public authority the Government exists from hand to mouth, it does not offer itself as a frank solution for the future, it ...more
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about the past and the future. Lessons of the past as well as "prophecies" are presented. Ortega y Gasset precisely predicts many events and changes that happened throught the XX century.

The book is divided in two main subjects, the "mass-man" and the European so called decadence towards the rest of the world, and according to him this things are intertwined. The first part is a detailed dissertation about the origins and the characteristics of this incautios man that does not
Jan 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I first encountered this thought-provoking work in an intellectual history class I took as an undergraduate. Published in 1932, the author (1885-1955), a Spanish philosopher and intellectual leader of the Spanish Republican government, charts a dismal picture of Western civilization in the 20th century. Following is a review I posted on Amazon in 1997.

This book ... is a work of extraordinary prescience, the full import of which will continue to be measured well into future ages. Against the
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Verbose, deep, political, existential, and more. I found it a bit difficult to follow at times, but that never made me want to stop reading it, as once you get what Gasset's saying, you're compelled to read on and see what he'll talk about next and how everything will tie together. While I loved the book, I'm not sure I can give a very good summary, and since the book isn't very long anyways, I'd recommend hitting your local used book store and giving it a read. Gasset mainly deals with the ...more
Mark Valentine
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely essential reading for anyone concerned about mass-produced revolutions, mass-produced protests, mass-produced buying blocs, mass-produced education, mass-produced business, mass-produced religion, and mass-produced politics. One-size-fits-all is the cliche that we use today to describe a cultural-social phenomenon of mass-produced, factory-style production of ideas and Ortega y Gasset debunks this as dilatory to a rich cultural expression that could be the alternative if only ...more
Nov 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I ever thought a book was good, this book is in another stratosphere. I want to say it is genius. However, it could be that I happened upon a writer I agree with at a margin of 99.999%. So in other words, it could be that it is not the book that is good, it's just that I like it.

By the way, the revolt is due to self-satisfaction and taking things for granted, the urge to tear down rather than build up. As well, being born into a comfortable society, while having no effort toward its
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A riveting and trenchant analysis of how the erosion of Europe's moral and visionary foundation has resulted in the ascendency of a majority (the masses of the title) who consider themselves entitled to the benefits of the advanced civilization they've been born into without realizing the moral and political underpinnings which make it possible. They are, to be flagrantly topical, Mitt Romney's 47%!

Unfortunately, Ortega y Gasset leaves for another book details about the "doctrine of human
Reginaldo Almeida
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in 1929, this book seems to have been written yesterday, so accurate it is regarding our social decay. It depicts very clearly the 90% of the masses who hang on Facebook. Everybody nowadays has an opinion about everything, every subject, and most of the time a wrong opinion, consequence of shallow knowledge and understanding, and perhaps the data deluge and the easiness of information propagation. This book depicts 21th century median man.
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José Ortega y Gasset was a Spanish liberal philosopher and essayist working during the first half of the 20th century while Spain oscillated between monarchy, republicanism and dictatorship. He was, along with Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, a proponent of the idea of perspectivism.

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43 likes · 8 comments
“To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand. This is the sport, the luxury, special to the intellectual man. The gesture characteristic of his tribe consists in looking at the world with eyes wide open in wonder. Everything in the world is strange and marvelous to well-open eyes.” 33 likes
“For there is no doubt that the most radical division that it is possible to make of humanity is that which splits it into two classes of creatures: those who make great demands on themselves, piling up difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing on themselves any effort towards perfection; mere buoys that float on the waves.” 24 likes
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