10/04/05 - mass movements

In today's excerpt -  Eric Hoffer's classic 1951 book on the nature of mass movements The True Believer , which was first brought to national attention when it was cited by President Dwight Eisenhower:

"Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.  Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find new content, not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance.  A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.

"There is a deep reassurance for the frustrated in witnessing the downfall of the fortunate and the disgrace of the righteous.  They see in general downfall an approach to the brotherhood of all.  Chaos, like the grave, is a haven of equality.  Their burning conviction that there must be a new life and a new order is fueled by the realization that the old will have to be razed to the ground before the new can be built. ...

"A sublime religion inevitably generates a strong feeling of guilt.  There is an unavoidable contrast between loftiness of profession and imperfection of practice.  And, as one would expect, the feeling of guilt promotes hate and brazenness.  Thus it seems that the more sublime the faith the more virulent the hatred it breeds."


Eric Hoffer


The True Believer: Thoughts On the Nature of Mass Movements


Harper Collins Publishers


Copyright 1951 by Eric Hoffer


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