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Ortega y Gasset

     WAISer John Gehl posts NewsScan (, an excellent online summary of computer developments, with at the end of each issue a fascinating "Honorary Subscriber" essay about a significant person. The last issue carried one about Josť Ortega y Gasset which shocked me. I knew him first in Madrid and then in Lisbon when he was in exile during the Franco regime. A philosopher and a journalist, he was a towering figure among the motley crowd of people who promoted the republic. His theory that a country must have an educated elite to run it made sense to me, and the lack of it was a prime cause of the collapse of the republic.
     No one is interested in Spain today, but in those days it was very much in the news, and Ortega was internationally famous. Why was I shocked when I read the passage by him? It was because of his utter scorn for the common people. I still hate mobs (this is Big Game day), but I do not scorn the common people. I came from the Spain where the label "intellectual" was a badge of honor to the United States where anyone calling himself an intellectual would be viewed as a nut and where all day long the mantra of the common man (for whom I have no special admiration) is chanted. It has influenced me so much that my view of humanity has changed.
     This brings up a fundamental WAIS problem. A basic WAIS concern is that the world outlook of people differs from country to country and from time to time. A special case is presented by the millions who migrate from one country to another. The United States is a land of immigrants, and the drama of an evolving viewpoint is going on in each of them. What a kaleidoscope!
     A footnote: The same issue of NewsScan has a quotation "He was a very valiant man who first adventured on eating of oysters" by King James I, who deserves special commendation for having sponsored the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible. Especially pertinent today is a book he wrote denouncing the evils of tobacco. The anti-smoking lobby should pay homage to him, and John Gehl could make him an Honorary Subscriber.

Ronald Hilton - 11/20/99