By José Enrique Rodó
Trans., ed. Margaret Sayers Peden
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Some of the boldest strokes in the panorama of this century, deeds that will be recorded through all time, are theirs. T h e i r s , too, the glory of having fully established—by amplifying the strongest note of moral beauty in our civilization—the grandeur and power of work, that sacred power that antiquity d e g r a d e d to the abjectness of slave labor, and that today we identify with the highest expression of human dignity, founded on the awareness of its intrinsic worth. Strong, tenacious, believing that inactivity is ignominious, they have placed in the hands of the mechanic in his shop and the farmer in his field the mythic club of Hercules and have given human nature a new and unexpected beauty by girding onto it the blacksmith's leather apron.
As for mc, you have already seen that, although I do not love them, I admire them. I admire them, first of all, for their formidable strength of volition and, as Philarete Chasles said of their English forebears, I bow before the "school of will and work" they have instituted. In the beginning was Action. A future historian of that powerful republic could begin the still-to-be-concluded Genesis of their national existence with these famous words from Faust. Their genius, like the universe of the Dynamists, could be defined as force in motion.
This monstrous concept is, certainly, no model to oppose to the false egalitarianism that aspires to bring everyone down to a common level of vulgarity. Fortunately, as long as there exists in the world the possibility of placing together two pieces of wood in the form of a cross— that is, always—humanity will continue to believe that love is the basis of every stable order and that hierarchical superiority in that order can derive only from a superior capacity to love. As a source of inexhaustible moral inspirations the new science demonstrates to us, in clarifying the old physical laws, how the democratic principle can be reconciled in the social structure with an "aristarchy" of morality and culture.