Out-of-date ideologies

Daft slogans are, for tourists, the most visible evidence of Barcelona’s role as a Disneyland of absurd and forgotten ideologies. The success of the dominant ultra-nationalist caste in Catalonia in stamping out Spanish and non-standard Catalan from public services is clearly reminiscent of that of Mussolini’s lot in mid-1920s Italy with respect to regional dialects and “foreign” languages like German, yet even by the early 30s José Ortega y Gasset (Artículos 1917-1933) was announcing the expiry of the sell-by-date on such manias:

Communism and fascism … both … arose in 1917. Can there have been, in all of history, a radical stance that has lasted much more than the 15 years corresponding to the predominance of one generation? When I see that today a young person “decides” to become a communist or a fascist, it seems to me as if he were opting for self-improvisation, for auto-anachronism and the renunciation of his own life-mission.

I’m a bit slow today and can’t think of the correct German equivalent for his exceptional use of extemporizarse, but I think “self-improvisation” is close enough, implying a rejection of a thought-through and worthy life.

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Here’s the original:

Comunismo y fascismo son formas de la desesperación, son puras decisiones. Deliberadamente he recordado que nacieron hace quince años. Ambos, en efecto, surgen en 1917. ¿Ha habido en toda la historia alguna actitud de radicalismo que haya perdurado mucho más de los quince años correspondientes al predominio de una generación? Cuando veo que hoy un joven “se decide” a hacerse comunista o fascista, me parece como si decidiera extemporizarse, hacerse anacrónico y renunciar precisamente a su propia misión vital.

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