Thursday, May 9

In The Revolt of the Masses (1930), Jose Ortega y Gasset warned that the ordinary, badly-educated people of any democracy would forget that civilization was not a natural state of affairs, and would destroy it in their search for pleasure (via The Writer's Almanac):

... They are only concerned with their well-being, and at the same time they remain alien to the cause of that well-being. As they do not see, behind the benefits of civilization, marvels of invention and construction which can only be maintained by great effort and foresight, they imagine that their role is limited to demanding these benefits peremptorily, as if they were natural rights. ...

... The type of man dominant today is a primitive one... he does not see the civilization of the world around him, but he uses it as if it were a natural force. The new man wants his motor-car, and enjoys it, but he believes that it is the spontaneous fruit of an Edenic tree. In the depths of his soul he is unaware of the artificial, almost incredible, character of civilization, and does not extend his enthusiasm for the instruments to the principles which make them possible. ...

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