- File Size: 550 KB
- Print Length: 243 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (May 10, 2011)
- Publication Date: May 10, 2011
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003TO5838
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,827 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$10.99|
Save $3.50 (32%)
Price set by seller.
The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Perennial Classics) Kindle Edition
Customers reported quality issues in this eBook. This eBook has: Typos.
The publisher has been notified to correct these issues.
Quality issues reported
An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Sweet Sorrow" by David Nicholls
"With fully fleshed-out characters, terrific dialogue, bountiful humor, and genuinely affecting scenes, this is really the full package of a rewarding, romantic read."—Booklist Learn more
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
More items to explore
From the Back Cover
About the Author
Eric Hoffer (1902 -- 1983) was self-educated. He worked in restaurants, as a migrant fieldworker, and as a gold prospector. After Pearl Harbor, he worked as a longshoreman in San Francisco for twenty-five years. The author of more than ten books, including The Passionate State of Mind, The Ordeal of Change, and The Temper of Our Time, Eric Hoffer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
If you’ve ever been part of a mass movement, or ever contemplated participating in one, this book will open your eyes to what you can expect as a mass movement gets underway and develops through its active phase. It’ll provide you with an understanding of the motivations and designs of the movement’s leaders, and insight into your own and your fellow believers’ psychology. If you have the ambition to be the next Christ or Hitler to lead a mass movement, this is your blueprint.
I. THE APPEAL OF MASS MOVEMENTS
The desire for change starts and lives in the hearts of frustrated people. Attached to this frustration these individuals possess a sense of power to accomplish great change. Faith in the future and the ability to project hope makes for receptivity to change. High hopes and dark endings incongruently go together. Belonging to a mass movement substitutes for deficiencies in the individual. Mass Movements compete with one another, and often are interchangeable. No movement is whole of a singular nature.
II. THE POTENTIAL CONVERTS
The best and worst of society often determine the course of history - over the heads of the great middle. A society without the dregs may be peaceful and complacent, but lacking in the seeds for change. Here are the ranks of mass movement fodder:
New Poor: Memory of better times puts fire in their bellies.
Abject Poor: Too occupied with survival to organize. Discontent is high, however, when misery is still bearable.
Free Poor: Freedom creates and alleviates frustration. Fanatics fear freedom more than persecution. Equality and fraternity are preferred over freedom.
Creative Poor: The ability to create mitigates frustration; however, those whose creativity is fading, or those who didn’t quite achieve creative satisfaction, may seek escape in mass movements.
Unified Poor: Compact or tribal groups are relatively free of frustration. Mass movements often try to break down family units to feed the movement. Compact structures, like families in decline are, however, fertile ground for mass movements.
Temporary Misfits: Adolescents, unemployed, veterans, and new immigrants are unreliable supporters of mass movements; their frustrations abate once circumstances improve.
Permanent Misfits: The incurably frustrated can never have enough of what they really do not want anyway. They are likely to become the most violent true believers.
Inordinately Selfish: Those who have lost faith in themselves, look to attach to a holy cause; In compensation, they become champions of selflessness.
Ambitious with Unlimited Opportunity: Current actions are never enough; they possess excessive readiness for self-sacrifice.
Minorities Intent On Preserving Their Identity: These persons act as tribal groups and lack frustration.
Minorities Bent On Assimilation: These frustrated cannot get in the door of the established order.
Bored: These people are required in quantity for a successful mass movement; they’re looking for fulfillment in a meaningless existence.
Sinners: For the irredeemable, salvation can be found in losing oneself in a holy cause; they are willing to go to extremes.
Mass movements attract and hold followers by offering refuge from anxiety. Mass movements aim to infect people with a malady, then offer a cure. Hope comes in two forms: one immediate and one distant.
III. UNITED ACTION AND SELF-SACRIFICE
The chief preoccupation of mass movements is to foster united action and self-sacrifice. For the individual to commit to self-sacrifice he must be stripped of his individual identity, and by ritual be associated with the movement.
To engage in dying or killing, the individual must suffer under the illusion of being a participant in a grand undertaking, or a solemn performance. Glory is theatrical.
The present must be deprecated, pushed off the stage, depicted as mean and miserable and held in utter contempt. In replacement, hope is assured for a better future. The frustrated individual is ready to die for what he wishes to have and wishes to be.
Mass movements strive to interpose a fact-proof screen between the movement’s faithful and the realities of the world, in a word: doctrine. The effectiveness of a doctrine is judged not on its validity or profundity, but on how well it insulates the individual from his self and the world.
The individual’s estrangement proceeds with intense passion and fanaticism. Mass movements prevent the achievement of internal balance for the fanatic individual, but perpetuate insecurity and incompleteness.
Unified individuals in a compact collective of a mass movement body are no longer frustrated. Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents. Mass movements can rise without a belief in God, but never without a belief in evil.
Unreasonable hatreds emerge as an expression of the frustrated individual’s effort to suppress his own shortcomings and self-contempt. Self hate emanates from feelings of helplessness, inadequacy, and cowardice, rather than justified grievances. The object of hate is often those other than the ones who committed the perceived wrongs. Committing grave injustices upon the object of hate re-enforces and fuels hate. A guilty conscience lies behind such acts, which demands even greater effort to demonize the hated to suppress this guilty conscience.
Estrangement of the self is required for selflessness and assimilation into the whole of a compact group. The True Believer sees himself as one of ‘the chosen.’ Self-denial and group membership confers the right on them to be harsh upon others, and by which to be rid of personal responsibility. Violence is not the product of leadership, but of a unification of the whole.
Propaganda succeeds not with unwilling minds, but with frustrated individuals. Propaganda operates most effectively in conjunction with coercion. The mass movement requires the ability to make people believe, and by force as a last resort.
Leadership cannot create a mass movement out of thin air. There has to be grievances with intense dissatisfactions and an eagerness of the True Believers to follow and obey. Once the stage is set, however, an outstanding leader is indispensable. The leader personifies the certitude of the movement, as well as defiance and power. He must be able to steer the faithful and maintain its cohesion. To a large degree, charlatanism is required for effective leadership.
Action is a unifier of mass movements. Marching, for instance, kills thought and hastens the end of individuality. An inability to act breeds frustration with the movement, while successful action drains energy and commitment from the movement.
The mass movement must perpetuate the individual’s incompleteness and insecurity.
IV. BEGINNING AND END
Men of Words: Mass movements usually rise when a prevailing order has been discredited. This is the work of men of words with a grievance. They set the groundwork for the movement by undermining existing institutions, promoting the idea of change, and creating a new faith. Men of words may champion the downtrodden, but the grievance that animates them is personal. Their vanity is greater than their ambitions; recognition and the appearance of power is preferred over power itself. Often it’s the men of words who are the tragic figures of the mass movement, as at a certain point, the movement is hijacked by a power hungry clique which usually cheats the masses of the freedoms they seek.
Fanatics: A genuine mass movement is hatched by the fanatic. Men of words shrink before the outbreak of anarchy, they forget the troubled masses they set out to help, and run to the protection of strong ‘men of action.’ For the fanatic, chaos is his element. Fanatics come from the ranks of the non-creative men of words; unfulfilled, they can never be reconciled with their self, and they desire not a finality or a fixed order of things. Hatred becomes a habit, and when the outsiders are vanquished, the fanatics then turn on themselves and threaten to destroy what they have achieved.
Man of Action: The movement begins with men of words, materializes by fanatics, and consolidated by men of action. With a balanced faith in humanity, men of action save the movement from the fanatics, marking the end of the dynamic phase of the movement. Men of action fix and perpetuate the movement’s unity and readiness for self-sacrifice. The new order is founded on the ‘necks of the people, rather than in their hearts.’ The man of action is a man of the law. The movement now becomes a means of self-realization for the ambitious. Concern for the frustrated is still there, not to harness their discontent, but to reconcile them with it; to turn them meek and patient with visions of distance hopes and dreams.
Good and Bad Mass Movements: No matter what good intentions a mass movement starts off with, or what benefit may result, it is hard not to see the active phase as unpleasant, if not outright evil. On the other hand, mass movements are a miraculous instrument for raising societies and nations from the dead.
Recommended complementary reading: ‘The Anatomy of Revolution’ by Crane Brinton; compares the four greatest revolutions, providing much historical background that Hoffer refers to in ‘The True Believer.’
Hoffer observes that the type of person inclined to join a mass movement values equality and fraternity more than freedom, quoting one Nazi in Germany who stated that he "wanted to be free from freedom." Those who join mass movements respond to the promise of hope and belonging that such movements provide, and Hoffer notes the essentially religious nature of the Communist and Nazi movements, calling Stalinism another opiate of the people.
The author discusses how susceptible certain personality types are to joining mass movements and contrasts practical organizations (collections of individuals with healthy self-esteem) versus mass movements (agglomerations of those with low self-esteem who tend up end up behaving like mobs).
Hoffer asserts that there are conditions in societies that are favorable for the formation of mass movements, and talks of how movements arise, develop, and progress in stages. Men of words and men of action play distinct roles in the formation of mass movements, and the author describes types and roles of leaders in mass movements, who employ persuasion, coercion, and propaganda to psychologically bully those who cannot endure an autonomous existence into choosing self-immolation over healthy individuality.
Other topics touched on include the interchangeability of mass movements, antidotes to mass movements, attitudes of mass movements toward families, and why mass movements tend to lead to unrestrained violence. There are dozens of stunning insights into the human condition in this classic which is just as timely and important today as it was nearly seventy years ago.
Top international reviews
Hoffer is very even-handed in his discussion, drawing examples from the Nazi party, the French Revolution, postwar Palestine, Stalinist Russia, the Crusades and Imperial Japan. No period or aspect of life is left unexamined as he walks through the rise of the mass movement, who is motivated to join them and why, and how each religious, political and revolutionary current transitions through various stages, changing its rhetoric, members and even its aims in the pursuit of-what? Something which they all have in common but claim is unique only to their own race of believers.
You could page through it and find multiple parallels with his time and our own, from Nazi Germany to North Korea, and radical Islam to the radical right. Like any good work of history, this shows the reader how parts of the modern world came about and persist today, and how we might be ( or how we have been) led to follow a strange banner and become a True Believer ourselves.
For Hoffer, there are two kinds of people - those who stand on their own two feet and those who want to distance themselves from themselves and their feeling of inadequacy or lack of meaning and attach themselves to movements - religion, ideology, or any group where they can derive meaning.
But worthwhile and enlightening. Reccomended as a read by Martin Wolfe-the F T columnist.A good reccomendation.
On pourra trouver une certaine filiation, tant sur la méthode, l'objet d'étude ou le goût pour l'aphorisme, avec notre Gustave Le Bon national.
L'auteur valide son style d'écriture en citant Walter Bagehot "Pour expliquer un principe vous devez exagérer beaucoup et omettre beaucoup".
Éléments de vocabulaire :
Mass movements : sont de trois types : religieux, sociaux ou nationalistes. Peuvent aussi être mixtes. Initiés par des "frustrated" lorsqu'ils ont le sentiment de posséder une puissance irrésistible.
Ex. Révolution française : omnipotence de la raison.
Bolchéviques : omnipotence de la doctrine marxiste.
Nazis : un leader infaillible et une nouvelle technique (Blitzkrieg).
Les caractéristiques d'un "mass movement" sont le niveau de cohésion de ses membres ainsi que leur degré d'aptitude au sacrifice personnel (self-sacrifice).
Self : l'auteur utilise abondamment ce terme dans un sens assez général recouvrant le moi en tant que moi individuel historique dont le "frustrated" veut se débarrasser par une sorte de renaissance dans la fusion avec le moi collectif d'un " mass movement", se déchargeant ainsi du poids d'une liberté personnelle encombrante et anxiogène, d'une existence antérieure vide et dénuée de sens, d'une vie bridée, empêchée, gâchée. (Voir pour exemple : Edgar Snow - Red Star Over China - p. 129 de l'édition de 1968).
The frustrated : un terme généralement peu étudié et peu utilisé, ne pas confondre avec l'envieux, diffère aussi de la 'Frustration-Aggression Theory' initiée par John Dollard and Colleagues en 1939. Le "frustrated" souffre. C'est la conscience d'un "self" gâché. Son principal désir est alors de le dissoudre dans une entité sociale soudée. Cette fusion lui ouvre une nouvelle liberté, celle de haïr, terroriser, mentir, torturer, tuer ou trahir sans honte et sans remords. Le rejet du moi, le manque de confiance en soi, le rendent particulièrement apte à l'imitation et réceptif à la propagande. D'une obeissance sans limite au leader, il est ainsi prêt à sacrifier sa vie si besoin (self-sacrifice). Voir aussi par exemple : Talleyrand de René Laforgue, pages 108 et suivantes. ( L'assistanat tel que pratiqué par nos états 'providence' est une fabrique à "frustated"). Rentre dans le champ de la PRT de Jack Brehm. Le très pauvre n'appartient généralement pas à cette catégorie, exemple : Rachel Mwanza - Survivre pour voir ce jour - p. 37 "Dans la rue, on passe tellement de temps à combattre cette douleur (la faim) que l'on a presque plus d'énergie pour penser à autre chose".
Make-believe : L'instinct de conservation prévient généralement de toute velléité de mourir. Mourir ou tuer volontairement demandent à se situer sur une scène extérieure, de jouer le rôle assigné par le "mass movement", en s'inscrivant dans une dynamique historique, après dépréciation du présent et la mise à l'écart de son moi (self). (Cette nécessaire théatralisation de l'action a été amplifiée à notre époque).
Unifying Agents :
- La haine
- La persuasion et la contrainte
- Un leader
- La suspicion.
Men of words : Sous forme écrite ou orale, les 'men of words' carburent au prestige ou peut-être, plus bourgeoisement, à la considération, ainsi peuvent-ils discréditer l'ordre existant lorsqu'ils estiment ne pas être suffisamment reconnus et considérés par celui-ci et créer les conditions favorables à l'émergence d'un "mass movement".
"Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.”
"If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable.”
"Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves".
"Scratch an intellectual, and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the sound and the smell of common folk.”
"Propaganda serves more to justify ourselves than to convince others; and the more reason we have to feel guilty, the more fervent our
Eric Hoffer é o verdadeiro intelectual proletário: nasceu pobre, ficou cego após sua mãe cair de uma escada com ele no colo, recuperando miraculosamente sua visão alguns anos depois (sua mãe morreria das consequências dessa queda), quando passou a ler livros como se não houvesse amanhã, mesmo trabalhando como estivador por mais de 20 anos. Ainda não li "A Rebelião das Massas" de José Ortega y Gasset (disponível gratuitamente via Kindle), mas já li "Psicologia das Multidões" de Gustave Le Bon (leitura obrigatória) e a obra de Hoffer se destaca por fazer uma análise mais apropriada sobre quem são e como entram as pessoas nesses movimentos de massa. Segue a lista:
1) os pobres que não estão permanentemente ocupados em garantir sua sobrevivência. Hoffer faz ainda uma sub-divisão:
1.1) Os Novos Pobres
1.2) Os Abjetamente Pobres
1.3) Os Pobres Livres
1.4) Os Pobres Criativos
1.5) Os Pobres Unidos
2) Os Desajustados
3) Os Excessivamente Egoístas
4) Os Ambiciosos em Face a Oportunidades Ilimitadas
5) As Minorias
6) Os Entediados
7) Os Pecadores
Por que ele não ganha 5 estrelas? Porque não achei satisfatória a maneira com que ele classificou o catolicismo como um movimento de massa "ruim" e o protestantismo como sendo um movimento de massa "bom". Achei que houve uma falha em um distanciamento pessoal neste caso, mas é um pormenor que não diminui a pungência do livro.
Hoffer's writing style is easy to understand. In an interview he once described how much care he put into finding the best way toget his ideas across to the readers. That shows. The True Believer is very enjoyable yet disturbing reading.
You want to understand why people became willing, yes, enthusiastic Nazi, Soviet, Maoist mass murderers? You can't imagine why a highly intelligent honors graduate in electronic engineering prepared for months so he could fly an airplane into the World Trade Center and kill thousands of innocent men, women and children? You wonder about ISIS?
Eric Hoffer has the answers. While he passed away many years ago, his analysis is more timely today than it ever was.