excerpts from
THE TRUE BELIEVER: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements
by Eric Hoffer

(from a review by Dr. Mark Skousen at MSkousen.com ):

   “All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and singlehearted allegiance.” (Preface)

   Hoffer defines a “true believer” as “the man of fanatical faith who is ready to sacrifice his life for a holy cause.” Leaders of the mass movement “must know how to kindle and fan an extravagant hope”—for Islamic fanatics, death is the key to instant heaven. “If they join the movement as full converts they are reborn to a new life in its close-knit collective body, or if attracted as sympathizers they find elements of pride, confidence and purpose….” (p. 13)

   The true believer is “without wonder and hesitation.” “An active mass movement rejects the present and centers its interest on the future.” (p. 82) The mass movement hates independence and individualism. The focus is on “obedience” and “one mindedness.” “Uniformity” must be developed. (p. 101) Members must be “deindividualized” and “incorporated” into the mass movement. “When we lose our individual independence in the incorporateness of a mass movement, we find a new freedom—freedom to hate, bully, lie, torture, murder and betray without shame and remorse.” (p. 100)

   Violence is essential to fanatical mass movements. “Violence breeds fanaticism….and fanaticism begets violence.” Regarding Islam: “Islam imposed its faith by force, yet the coerced Muslims displayed a devotion to the new faith more ardent than that of the first Arabs engaged in the movement.” (p. 107)

   Members of the fanatic group are taught to have a common hatred, a single foe, a devil. “The ideal devil is a foreigner….Hitler—the foremost authority on devils—found it easy to brand the German Jews as foreigners.” (pp. 92-93) Hatred becomes a habit. (p. 146) Interestingly, Hoffer points out that “The Americans are poor haters in international affairs because of their innate feeling of superiority over all foreigners….Should Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life.” (p. 96)


Also see:
The Age of Envy
Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World
"Allah attacks Aristotle: The philosophical roots of September 11"
That "Gap Between Rich and Poor"
Eternal Vigilance
     "It strikes me that people with a secure sense of their own faith are often the least liable to get upset by parodies or comedies about it.  Religions may deal in divine truths, but they are run by human beings. And the combination is often funny.  True believers know that; and don't care when they're made fun of.  Insecure believers - and they often need fundamentalism to keep their own souls untroubled by doubt -- are the touchiest." -- Andrew Sullivan

Only basically uncertain, inarticulate, uncivilized people could be 
so afraid of what others think that they would respond to words and 
pictures with violence or, as Ralph Peters called it, "psychotic behavior."
"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."
-- Blaise Pascal 
"I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue. The scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did." -- Benjamin Franklin (letter to his father, 1738)
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." 
-- Manuel II Paleologus
"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." 
-- Voltaire, rationalist & satirist (16694 - 1778) 
"If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences." -- H. P. Lovecraft 
Quotations selected from  THE GAP BETWEEN RICH & POOR:

  "The 'progressive' Left, even while wailing about international poverty, has long decried the Westernization of the 'developing world', the polite term for societies kept poor by socialist governments." -- from The Free Market Means Civilizationby Lew Rockwell, President of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, originally published in Spintechmag.com,12-22-2000.

  "Capitalism is not an "ism." It is closer to being the opposite of an "ism," because it is simply the freedom of ordinary people to make whatever economic transactions they can mutually agree to." -- Dr. Thomas Sowell

  "The market is not an invention of capitalism.  It has existed for centuries.  It is an invention of civilization." -- Mikhail Gorbachev, June 8, 1990

  "Fortunately, political freedom and economic progress are natural partners.  Despite capitalism's lingering reputation as the source of all the world's evils, the fact remains that every single democracy is a capitalist country.  Half a century of economic experimentation proved beyond doubt that tyranny cannot yield prosperity. ... Socialism collapsed because it is a policy of unrestrained intervention.  It tries to fix what is 'wrong' with the spontaneous, self-organizing phenomenon called capitalism.  But, of course, a natural process cannot be 'fixed.' ... Socialism is an ideology. Capitalism is a natural phenomenon." -- Michael Rothschild in BIONOMICS: Economy as Ecosystem

   "How a conflict-ridden, grossly over-populated place with no resources whatsoever gets rich is simple. The British colonial government turned Hong Kong into an economic miracle by doing nothing." -- P.J. O'Rourke in Eat the Rich

  "Another current catch-phrase is the complaint that the nations of the world are divided into 'haves' and the 'have-nots.'  Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." -- Ayn Rand 


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