Readability

Hoffer's Prophecy

by baldilocks

Self-​education has its ben­e­fits; it’s gen­er­ated by true desire for knowl­edge, unclouded by the bureau­cracy of for­mal edu­ca­tion and uses straight-​forward lan­guage as its vehi­cle. For­mal edu­ca­tion has some good points as well: that degree looks good on your wall. (Calm down, all you PhDs, JDs, MDs, etc.; just yank­ing your chain. You know that it’s envy. Really.)

As it hap­pens, I found out about one of the best prod­ucts of self-​education, Eric Hof­fer, from one of the best that for­mal edu­ca­tion has to offer, Thomas Sowell.

Hoffer

While read­ing The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Move­ments , I was struck by sev­eral of Hoffer’s obser­va­tions. The nar­ra­tive lays out all the ingre­di­ents nec­es­sary for the suc­cess of Mass Move­ments: the peo­ple, the pre-​conditions, the atti­tudes and the actions/​reactions. He makes no moral judg­ments on the phe­nom­e­non, but merely lists the pre-​cursors for the main event —like list­ing the ingre­di­ents for a main course. Would that I could do bet­ter than Hof­fer in explain­ing the mass move­ment phe­nom­e­non, but I can’t. So here are a few of the state­ments that had mean­ing for me.

A mass move­ment attracts and holds a fol­low­ing not because it can sat­isfy the desire for self-​advancement [like many prac­ti­cal orga­ni­za­tions], but because it can sat­isfy the pas­sion for self-​renunciation.

Poten­tial converts:

  • The newly poor: “This class has a vivid mem­ory of afflu­ence and domin­ion and is not likely to rec­on­cile itself to strait­ened con­di­tions and polit­i­cal impotence.”

  • The bored: “Where peo­ple live autonomous lives and are not badly off, yet are with­out abil­i­ties or oppor­tu­ni­ties for cre­ative work or use­ful action, there is no telling to what des­per­ate and fan­tas­tic shifts they might resort in order to give mean­ing and pur­pose to their lives.”

  • The inor­di­nately self­ish: “The more self­ish a per­son, the more poignant his dis­ap­point­ments. It is the inor­di­nately self­ish, there­fore, who are likely to be the most per­sua­sive cham­pi­ons of selflessness.”

Self-​sacrifice [lead­ing to] united action are the pri­mary engines of a mass move­ment and must be incul­cated into its pro­po­nents,” says Hof­fer. Sounds like basic train­ing, yes, fel­low mil­i­tary per­sons? A dis­tinc­tion is drawn, how­ever, between armies and mass move­ments: one promises “sal­va­tion;” the other is mainly used to “pre­serve or expand an estab­lished order.”

On self-​sacrifice:

  • To ripen a per­son for self-​sacrifice he must stripped of his indi­vid­ual iden­tity and distinctness.

  • The fully assim­i­lated indi­vid­ual does not see him­self and oth­ers as human beings.

Some of Star Trek’s writ­ers must have been read­ing Hof­fer before cre­at­ing the Borg.

  • Peo­ple who live full, worth­while lives are not usu­ally ready to die for their own inter­ests nor for their coun­try nor for a holy cause.

Here, Hof­fer is right, but incom­pletely so. Such peo­ple are often ready to die rather than live in a world in which oth­ers are ready to take their full, worth­while lives and turn those lives into those of enslavement.

On hatred, the great uni­fy­ing agent:

  • Hatred is the most acces­si­ble and com­pre­hen­sive of all uni­fy­ing agents.

  • Mass move­ments can rise and spread with­out belief in a God, but never with­out belief in a devil.

  • Often, when we are wronged by one per­son, we turn our hatred on a wholly unre­lated per­son or group.

Great and Lesser Satans every­where, now you know what the jihad thing is about.

The book is fas­ci­nat­ing. Read about lead­er­ship as a uni­fy­ing agent in mass move­ments. It’s not what you might expect.

Unclut­tered by high-​sounding con­cepts using high-​sounding words, the anatomy and func­tion of mass move­ments are made plain. You know the types of peo­ple that Hof­fer observed; at least you do if you’ve been pay­ing attention.

baldilocksJuli­ette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was pub­lished in 2009; the sec­ond edi­tion in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

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by baldilocks

Self-education has its benefits; it’s generated by true desire for knowledge, unclouded by the bureaucracy of formal education and uses straight-forward language as its vehicle. Formal education has some good points as well: that degree looks good on your wall. (Calm down, all you PhDs, JDs, MDs, etc.; just yanking your chain. You know that it’s envy. Really.)

As it happens, I found out about one of the best products of self-education, Eric Hoffer, from one of the best that formal education has to offer, Thomas Sowell.

Hoffer

While reading The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements , I was struck by several of Hoffer’s observations. The narrative lays out all the ingredients necessary for the success of Mass Movements: the people, the pre-conditions, the attitudes and the actions/reactions. He makes no moral judgments on the phenomenon, but merely lists the pre-cursors for the main event —like listing the ingredients for a main course. Would that I could do better than Hoffer in explaining the mass movement phenomenon, but I can’t. So here are a few of the statements that had meaning for me.

A mass movement attracts and holds a following not because it can satisfy the desire for self-advancement [like many practical organizations], but because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation.

Potential converts:

  • The newly poor: “This class has a vivid memory of affluence and dominion and is not likely to reconcile itself to straitened conditions and political impotence.”

  • The bored: “Where people live autonomous lives and are not badly off, yet are without abilities or opportunities for creative work or useful action, there is no telling to what desperate and fantastic shifts they might resort in order to give meaning and purpose to their lives.”

  • The inordinately selfish: “The more selfish a person, the more poignant his disappointments. It is the inordinately selfish, therefore, who are likely to be the most persuasive champions of selflessness.”

“Self-sacrifice [leading to] united action are the primary engines of a mass movement and must be inculcated into its proponents,” says Hoffer. Sounds like basic training, yes, fellow military persons? A distinction is drawn, however, between armies and mass movements: one promises “salvation;” the other is mainly used to “preserve or expand an established order.”

On self-sacrifice:

  • To ripen a person for self-sacrifice he must stripped of his individual identity and distinctness.

  • The fully assimilated individual does not see himself and others as human beings.

Some of Star Trek’s writers must have been reading Hoffer before creating the Borg.

  • People who live full, worthwhile lives are not usually ready to die for their own interests nor for their country nor for a holy cause.

Here, Hoffer is right, but incompletely so.  Such people are often ready to die rather than live in a world in which others are ready to take their full, worthwhile lives and turn those lives into those of enslavement.

On hatred, the great unifying agent:

  • Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents.

  • Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.

  • Often, when we are wronged by one person, we turn our hatred on a wholly unrelated person or group.

Great and Lesser Satans everywhere, now you know what the jihad thing is about.

The book is fascinating. Read about leadership as a unifying agent in mass movements. It’s not what you might expect.

Uncluttered by high-sounding concepts using high-sounding words, the anatomy and function of mass movements are made plain. You know the types of people that Hoffer observed; at least you do if you’ve been paying attention.

baldilocksJuliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

*******************************************

Olimometer 2.52

It’s Saturday and we’ve still 11 $25 tip jar hits from this weeks goal.

All we have his good writers daily, original reporting and a mortgage that needs paying.

If you think the writing and reporting and the time and effort it takes to produce it is worthwhile please hit DaTipJar below so it can continue.

  Of course if you want to give a gift that will pay all year long consider subscribing.  If 61 of you hit Subscribe at $20 a month subscribers this site will be able to cover its bills for a full year. For that you not only get my work seven days a week but consider the lineup you get for that price, including John Ruberry (Marathon Pundit) and Pat Austin (And so it goes in Shreveport)  on Sunday  Linda Szugyi (No one of any import) on Monday  Tim Imholt on Tuesday,  AP Dillon (Lady Liberty1885) Thursdays, Pastor George Kelly fridays,   Steve Eggleston on Saturdays with  Baldilocks (Tue & Sat)  and   Fausta  (Wed & Fri) of (Fausta Blog) twice a week.

Beanie : $2.00USD – weeklyCap : $10.00USD – monthlyHat : $20.00USD – monthlyFedora : $25.00USD – monthlyGrand Fedora : $100.00USD – monthly