Hatred, Hoffer notes, " He seems to use words as if he were ignorant of their true meaning. Hoffer argues that "the fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure"  and thus uses uncompromising action and personal sacrifice to give meaning to his life.
What could lead them to justify in their own minds committing mass atrocities? The poor, misfits and outcasts, adolescents, the selfish, the bored, those seeking redemption While mass movements are usually some blend of nationalist, political and religious ideas, Hoffer argues there are two important commonalities: But as experience has shown, at great cost in human life, the adherents of mass movements, cloaked though they are in the language of selflessness, are, as Hoffer says, all too eager to trade the burden of freedom for the comfort of equality, however brutally attained and maintained.
It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or by remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves - and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole.
Examples include "chronically bored", the physically disabled or perpetually ill, the talentless, and criminals or "sinners". Persuasion is preferable but practical only with those already sympathetic to the mass movement.
They see in a general downfall an approach to the brotherhood of all. A genuine one emerged at last--with a philosophical cast very different from what a proletarian was supposed to think.
One can tell from reading Hoffer that he has a great deal of respect for the Bible, as nearly every chapter has some type of reference to a chapter or verse. When some part of a doctrine is relatively simple, there is a tendency among the faithful to complicate and obscure it.
Examples include the Japanese holdoutswho refused to believe that the Second World War was over, or the staunch defenders of the Soviet Unionwho rejected overwhelming evidence of Bolshevik atrocities.
The intellectuals and the young, booted and spurred, feel themselves born to ride us. How could the terrorists have sacrificed their own lives, and taken the lives of thousands of others, as well as causing such colossal destruction? A revolutionary movement is a conspicuous instrument of change.
At other times, however, those same elements come together in the service of evil. The book was written inbefore the U. He, however, does tend to focus on classical works that focus on Western movements without much consideration for cross-cultural examples.
The Ayatollah Khomeini, for example, used tape recordings of his sermons to keep his Iranian followers informed of his views during his long exile in France. Instead he sweeps over history, sometimes making unfair generalizations or skipping past obvious counterarguments. For example, proto-Christians were fanatics, predicting the end of the world, condemning idolatry, demanding celibacy and sowing discontent between family members, yet from those roots grew Roman Catholicismwhich mimicked the elaborate bureaucratic structure of the Roman Empirecanonized early Christians as saints, and borrowed pagan holidays and rites.
This has implications for everything: That a particular belief is morally, or even selfishly, good? Had they not joined the Nazi movement in order to be free from responsibility? Mass movements begin with "men of words" or "fault-finding intellectuals" such as clergy, journalists, academics, and students who condemn the established social order such as GandhiTrotskyMohammedand Lenin.
This has implications for everything: Mass movements begin with "men of words" or "fault-finding intellectuals" such as clergy, journalists, academics, and students who condemn the established social order such as GandhiTrotskyMohammedand Lenin. The Khmer Rouge had men of words, in the likes of intellectuals like Khieu Samphan; they had fanatics, like the illiterate, enraged peasants who rose up against Lon Nol.
After the initial horrified reaction I experienced on September 11th, my first question was: The book is a polemic, although he quotes enough history, when convenient, to pretend otherwise.
It is a truism that many who join a rising revolutionary movement are attracted by the prospect of sudden and spectacular change in their conditions of life.
Nor does he offer antidotes or countermeasures, which makes the book feel like a warning bell. President Dwight Eisenhower read The True Believer ingave copies to friends, and recommended it to others. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.
A variety of what Hoffer terms "misfits" are also found in mass movements. United Action and Self-Sacrifice[ edit ] In mass movements, an individual's goals or opinions are unimportant. Their clamor for a millennium is shot through with a hatred for all that exists, and a craving for the end of the world.Summary of Eric Hoffer’s, The True Believer September 4, Book Reviews - Politics, Politics - Tyranny John Messerly “ Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents.
Eric Hoffer was a San Francisco longshoreman who self-educated and left behind "The True Believer," an astonishingly insightful examination of the phenomenon of mass movements. Hoffer wrote the book inwhen two of the most malignant mass movements in human history, those that produced the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, sprung up, and the /5().
Eric’s book is worth all the more reading today – given the state of our world: ideologies in the middle east, republican candidates for president into name just a few.
As I have said for many years, God save us from the “true” believer. Reply. Penn Hackney May 14, at pm.
Permalink. Back inEric Hoffer wrote a brilliant book called The True Believer. From the intro, here’s what it’s designed to explain: “This book deals with some of the peculiarities common to all mass movements, be they religious movements, social revolutions, or national movements. The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements is a social psychology book by American writer Eric Hoffer, in which the author discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism.
A review of Eric Hoffer's book, The True Believer.
Chaos and the Grave. If the only lesson we learn from the Cambodian revolution is that the Khmer Rouge were evil, then we have learned nothing at all.Download