Book Review | The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Eric Hoffer, 1951, HarperPerrenial 2010 edition)
- Black Power Matters
- Occupy Wall Street and the 99%’rs
- The LGBT civil rights movement
- The campus snowflake movement
- Social Justice
- Climate Change
- White Guilt
- Islamism and the Global jihadist Insurgency
The book is under $9 on Amazon.
As I write, it occurs to me I don’t recall Hoffer ever defining “mass movement,” but some examples he cites should do: The Reformation, The French and American Revolutions, Fascism, Communism, and Socialism, Cromwell’s Puritan Revolution, and Islam and Christianity.
Mass movements, he tells us, are patchworks of other sub-movements and social forces and dynamically change as they mature. Stalinist Russia was a patchwork of bolshevism, czarism, nationalism, pan-Slavism, monopolistic capitalism, and borrowings from Hitler’s National Socialism, while Hitler’s National Socialism borrowed from Prussianism, racialism, fascism, bolshevism, nationalism, Shintoism, Catholicism, and ancient Hebrew . None of which helps explain the plot of third Indiana Jones movie, unfortunately.
The book is amazingly concise. And biting. Hoffer mastered the economy of words, so much so that his sentence structure and grammar are like never-ending jabs that set you up for the cock punch you never see coming. Every time he grabs your junk and twists, you’ll be cheering and screaming for more punching and twisting. You can take it, though, because your erectile tissues are swollen and mighty.
|Vigo the Carpathian failed at leading a mass movement because he could only attract one frustrated follower, Yanosh.|
I assume Hoffer was channeling Hitler’s 1,000 Year Reich here. Think of the way Hitler dissolved borders early through the threat of force and later on by conquest, and of the ill-fated Operation Barbarossa in 1943; Hitler ignored Napoleon’s own Russian winter disaster. One can easily see parallels in Obama’s “wrong side of history” and “the debate is over” memes, his amplification of climate change as a threat over the global Islamic insurgency, and insistence on ignoring America’s sovereignty at our borders.
Hitler had his Joo devils, and a Japanese delegation to Berlin in 1932 studying the National Socialist movement lamented “I wish we had something like [National Socialism] in Japan, only we can’t, because we haven’t got any Jews.” Foreigners make the best enemies, Hoffer says. So in today’s neocommunist movement, you’ve got the process of making Americans foreigners in their own country through fundamental transformation and otherization, demonizing the past and present while making white Americans to be descendants of European colonialists who wrought genocide on the noble inhabitants of the New World.
If this doesn’t at least somewhat explain Trumpism and the modern anti-immigrant zeitgeist… But what caused this backlash? America once embraced the “out of many, one” heritage, but the immigration system has turned many Americans against foreigners, and justly so. It’s a disruptive, irrational, and abused tool political classes use to cement long-term political and economic power. Americans have lost confidence in the American way of life, and it’s happened through a systematic Progressive inculcation of anti-Americanism via the mass media (news, music, movies), in education, and in politics abetted by the watering down of Americanism through mass immigration from the Third World.
“A popular upheaval in Soviet Russia is hardly likely before the people get a real taste of the good life. The most dangerous moment for the regime of the Politburo will be when a considerable improvement in the economic conditions of the Russian masses has been achieved and the iron totalitarian rule somewhat relaxed .”
“The more unworkable communism proves in Russia, and the more its leaders are compelled to compromise and adulterate the original creed, the more brazen and arrogant will be their attack on a non-believing world .”
For you kids under 40, American soft-power (Christianity, Levis and Coke, rock-n-roll music, and our overseas news broadcasts) had a subverting effect of the power of Soviet dogma on the masses, giving them the “taste of the good life” Hoffer mentioned. It’s joked within the circles I travel that if North Korea ever does invade southward, DPRK soldiers will drop their weapons and defect at the first sight of a 7-Eleven.
These wars themselves certainly created increasing levels of frustration in America and ushered in the Obama Transformation, but what negative affect will our veterans themselves play, if any, in our own collapse, or hopefully, our salvation?
What Can We Learn from Hoffer to Help Now?
What Hoffer paints in The True Believer is a dark depiction of where we are headed, yet it’s something he apparently didn’t envision specifically for America. Our world is undergoing the type of mass movements that herald global conflict on the scale of the world wars. We are entering a dangerous place that threatens to sweep us away into a maelstrom of tumult, and there is little we can do—or will do—to prevent it from happening. We will fight until we are tired and millions are dead, and another mass movement comes along to talk the place of the last.
You’re not going to believe this, but Hoffer credited the “lack of handicrafts in modern times” and a fading of the individual’s creative powers as a cause of individual frustration and rise of mass movements .
The frustration of the modern elite in education and media (the future leaders, lieutenants, recruiters, and communicators of mass movements) stems from an inability to act, juxtaposed with the great ability to talk a good game. “How else explain the surprising fact that the Lenins, Trotskys, Mussolinis, Hitlers, [and Obamas] spent the best part of their lives talking their heads off in cafes and meetings reveal themselves suddenly as the most able and tireless men of action of their time ?”
Nay, Hoffer tells us. The True Believer’s sense of security is not tied to the excellence of his cause, but only from his passion for the cause . Success becomes an end, and with successful resolution the frustrated would gain self-confidence—the opposite of diminution of self, which is a necessary part of the psychological process required to lose oneself to the collective .
Perhaps successful action is partly how some—like the idealistic young and self-made blacks—are able to break free from the Progressive Plantation as they become more accomplished, and why the least accomplished may not.
He tells us immigration itself is a type of mass movement . When you overlay the massive global immigration which has been occurring over the past 30 years with political mass movements simultaneously occurring, there is going to be a synergy of effect which can only be dangerously disruptive for us all.
Where has the modern Progressive movement risen? Europe and America.
Where will the next World War breakout? No one knows, but there is going to be a hell of a lot more violence and terrorism in both Europe and America going forward.
Hoffer presciently warns us that those who come to America to seek out an idealized version of America (i.e., having unrealistic notions of freedom, justice, or equality) will find reality lacking and consequently insulate themselves against Americanism in a sense of superiority (e.g., La Raza and Muslims), and we certainly see that this happened in Europe .
|Ivied maidens heralding the Apocalype during a Slut Walk, which is ironic, because lesbians aren't really sluts no matter how much carpet they eat nor how long are their daisy chains. Slut Walks, by the way, are really just speed dating events.|
3. Call Out and "Shame" Progressive Mass Movements For What They Are: Religions
“For though ours is a godless age, it is the very opposite of irreligious [xiii, 86]”, and it’s nothing new, but seems to be something re simply have to continually rediscover due to our naturally limited life spans. Hoffer cites the 19th Century-era historian-philosopher Ernest Renen (d.1892) who warned that Socialism was “the coming religion” and that being secular, it would lead to a religiofication of politics and economics .
As followers of the one true religion, it follows that The True Believer see infidels who follow “an autonomous, self-sufficient existence (i.e., freedom) not only as barren and meaningless, but also as depraved and evil”, and therefore worthy of justified hatred and elimination. The same is true for those who follow competing belief systems like Christianity or objectivism or Constitutionalism. Any other path or belief system is vile and dangerous.
Accordingly, we need to continually refer to mass movements as militantly religious, identifying and calling out specifics. The True Believer “is one of the chosen, bolstered and protected by invincible powers, and destined to inherit the earth [126.]” Militant atheists wage jihad with as much fervor as any radicalized Muslim.
We have also got to embrace the truth that appeals based on logic and logical reasoning do not affect The True Believer, who is immune to logic and reason and other sources of morality . Avoid the frustration upfront. I don’t mean we stop finding and highlighting illogical contradictions in their ideologies and constant hypocrisies and projections, however. In fact, we need to explain the roots of these contradictions and hypocrisies are actually pathologies.
And we also need to ramp up other attacks, like rhetorical argumentation, outright mocking, and pure (but true) ad hominem. For example, calling someone who is a member of a mass movement a “True Believer” or “pathologically insane” may not be attacking their argument, but fuck it—logical reasoning doesn’t work, so feel free to attack the messenger directly.
Do what you can to support and respect Christianity and its role in a stable America, despite your personal religious or irreligious beliefs. This will sound strange to evangelicals, but Christianity in America is “much more” than “just” about the eternal salvation of souls.
It seems to the cynic in me we are globally at a place of no return, even if America is salvageable. We’ve reached the tipping point and will have to prepare to fight for our own freedom and experience epic suffering in our lifetimes, on a global scale.
The depressed optimist in me, however, hopes that we can have a new, healthy American Nationalist movement led by a successful Conservative messenger (I’m looking at you, Ted Cruz) and bolstered by economic growth to syphon the frustrated off in a constructive direction and lead the world to safety. Hoffer agrees, “Any marked improvement in economic conditions would almost certainly activate the tradition of freedom which is a tradition of revolt .