Sunday, May 8, 2016

Progressivism is a Religious Mass Movement: Eric Hoffer, the American Nostradamus

Book Review | The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Eric Hoffer, 1951, HarperPerrenial 2010 edition)


Would you be interested if I told you there is a book that explains the mechanical phenomena driving the following disruptive modern mass movements and mass sub-movements? 

  • Black Power Matters
  • Occupy Wall Street and the 99%’rs
  • Trumpism
  • The LGBT civil rights movement
  • The campus snowflake movement
  • Social Justice
  • Climate Change
  • Anti-Capitalism
  • Immigration
  • White Guilt
  • Islamism and the Global jihadist Insurgency


Would you be interested in reading it?

What if I told you that this book was published 65 years ago and accurately predicted the forces that would bring down the Soviet Union?

What if I told you this book—despite being so incredibly ancient—contained very few linguistic or historical anachronisms that make books of this age difficult to read?  It literally reads as if it is specifically describing the global chaos in 2016.

Interested yet?

If told you that if you read it, your erectile tissues might swell to be 10 times larger than their normally flaccid state—would you read it then?

DAMMIT!  WOULD YOU READ IT, THEN?!

Good.

I knew you would.

I’m talking about “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements” by Eric Hoffer, the so-called self-educated stevedore-philosopher.  He was the original hyphenated American, and his book is the “Tobin’s Spirit Guide” to Progressivism.

The book is under $9 on Amazon.




There have been lots of books written in the past decade that try to describe the modern Progressive movement.  Some are OK, but they seem to nibble around the edges of a gun-shaped Pop Tart.  Some of the better ones I’ve read are by former Lefties like Andrew Breibart, Evan Sayet, David Horowitz, and David Mamet.  (Jesus! Those are all Joos!  Hoffer probably is, too.  Maybe The Protocols of the Elders of Zion weren’t just a Russian hoax after all).  

The problem is these books, while generally insightful and inspirational (aside from being stealthy vehicles of vile Joo witchcraftery), are too biased by the “self”—too wrapped up in the modern experience and personal anecdotes of the authors.  Hoffer never once talks about himself or his interpersonal discovery, and it’s a refreshing break. 

What we have in The True Believer is an exposition into the darkness of human nature which eternally seeks to destroy and dominate others.  It is a guide to the pathologies of Progressivism, which along with its associated kin (Socialism, Communism, Marxism), is perhaps the most dominant mass movement over the past 130 years or so.  We keep trying to reinvent a wheel that Hoffer invented a really long time ago, and did so very well at that.

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 [152].  None of which helps explain the plot of third Indiana Jones movie, unfortunately.

Mass movements are pioneered by men of words, materialized by fanatics and consolidated by men of action [147].  At the base level, they feed off frustration of the masses, and at the highest levels eventually become a refuge for the ambitious [152].  In 2016 terms, the latter refers to the numerous sub-movements that seem to arise spontaneously, like Black Power Matters and Occupy, which have actually been biding their time quietly organizing in small collective enclaves, including those radical special interests who spent the Bush years formulating policy and drafting the skeletons of Progressive legislation to be pulled from the shelf when the Lightbringer comes, serving as a prefabricated foundation for Obamacare, Common Core curricula, or Executive Amnesty.

Hoffer tells us that mass movements exert an irresistible attraction to those pre-occupied with individual careers (“career men”), who accelerate the transformation of the mass movement into an enterprise, and that’s where are with modern Progressivism in the Obama era.  Numerous franchised sub-movements and efforts have risen since 2008, many organized and led by career men who include loyal field officers like the Van Jones, the Valerie Jarretts, the Lois Learners, the Reverend Jeremiah Wrights, the fabulist Ben Rhodes, and the thousands of others we will never know by name who work tirelessly in the movement. These are the types of fuckers who get Czar positions in the White House, weekly invites to discuss policy on the golf course (away from White House log books and media cameras and microphones) or Plum Book jobs in the National Security Council and State Department and royally sodomize our foreign policy.

Mass movements arise to destroy the present.  They are preoccupied with the future (it’s no accident the “Occupy” movement is thusly named), and cannot rise until the prevailing order has been deliberately discredited [130].  Hoffer writes, “the present is driven back as if it were an unclean thing and lumped with the detested past [69].  There is no more clear incarnation of what he describes than the campaign to eliminate modern symbols of the Confederacy.  By deprecating the past and present, mass movement fanatics acquire a vague sense of equality [75]. 

It’s pretty clear to even the casual observer that America is has entered a post-American phase and that American culture has under taken tremendous change.  Our 2016 society is not the stable rock it seemed to be during the 80s and 90s.  I can’t speak to the 1860s—or even the 1960s—because those eras seemed very socially turbulent, but I wasn't witness to them.

The 1950’s though, are romanticized as a period of American harmony and middleclass expansion following the Second World War.  Eric Hoffer wrote this book before any of the civil unrest and social change that defined our current America from the 60s onward, so his experience and philosophy is drawn from a much more objective, “dispassionate” place. 

I say “dispassionate” because this book is far from not being passionate, and yet it mostly objective and free from proselytizing.  Hoffer warns us to be aware of all mass movements.  He lived through World War I, the birth of the Soviet Union, the rise of fascism in German and Italy during the “Hitler Decade”, and then experienced the full fury of the Cold War before passing away in 1983.  

Extremely erudite, he explored long-forgotten, classic literature and compared his research with his own experiences.  He writes assertively, knowing he’s figured out what causes people to become Nazis and Communists, fundamentalist Christians, militant atheists, or jihadists. Interestingly, although he argues in categorical tones, he emphasizes he is writing theory, a “book of thoughts.”
Personally, reading as a scientist who loves nothing more than to discredit standing theory as a tool of scientific advancement, it seems Hoffer’s theories have withstood the test of time.  In many ways, it feels like reading a post-mortem analysis of America. 

Hoffer’s a god-damned Nostradamus!

For example, he examines the traits of the leaders and lieutenants in mobilizing successful mass movements.

Who does this sound like in our modern era?

“[The mass movement leader] articulates and justifies the resentment damned up in the souls of the frustrated.  He has an audacity and joy in defiance, a fanatical conviction that he is in possession of the one and only truth, faith in his destiny and luck, a capacity for passionate hatred, contempt for the present, a delight in symbols, spectacles, and ceremony, unbounded brazenness, disregard for consistency and fairness, a capacity for winning and holding the utmost loyalty of a group of able lieutenants… he does not have exceptional intelligence, noble character, or originality... In him, charlatanism is indispensable, and some deliberate misrepresentation of fact [82-83, 114-116]”.

I see both Obama and Trump in Hoffer’s description of a mass movement leader, which recall, he wrote in 1951.  This book helps explain why there are numerous  anecdotes of former Obama supporters who switched to Trump in 2016.

I had known of this book only recently, when I heard a popular radio host quote Hoffer to describe Trumpism: “It is the true believer’s ability to ‘shut his eyes and stop his ears to facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard… he cannot be baffled by contradictions because he denies their existence [80].

This piqued my interest in the book.

I had written a blog post just before the Iowa caucuses called “Encyclopedia Trump and the Curious Case of the Last Straws” (available now in paperback if you print it from my blog and bind it yourself), explaining how I went from Trump-curious to #NeverTrump, based in part on the type of hardcore followers Trump attracted and who curiously refused to see Trump wasn’t who they thought he was, but was a blank canvas on which to project all of their fantasies.  Obama was exactly same type of candidate in 2007-2008.  Hoffer predicts that Trump and Obama fanatics are “ruthless, self-righteous, credulous, disputatious, petty, and rude… and mentally cocky”, just like their respective leader [153, 156].

Still, I was leery of reading such an “old” book because the grammar and lexicon can be difficult to read and contextualize.  Like poetry, I just don’t have the patience to decipher all that groovy jazz, man.

The True Believer, though, reads very modern and quick, perhaps because Hoffer wasn’t educated in the universities of the time with their “proper” ways of writing.

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.

“PREACH!” you’ll cry out, desperately plaintive, like Dana’s stalker-boyfriend Yanosh, in Ghostbusters 2, to his boss Vigo the Carpathian.

“COMMAND ME, LORD!’

“YOU WANT ME MAKE BABY WITH DANA, YES?”

Vigo the Carpathian failed at leading a mass movement because he could only attract one frustrated follower, Yanosh.


You might think a book like The True Believer, which describes the nature of mass movements, is about mass psychology.  What is especially illuminating is that it really exposes the individual psychological motivations of someone who joins mass movements, and help show you how to instantly determine whether someone has joined a mass movement.

For example, Hoffer talks of the role of imitation in mass movements.  Think of the conformity in speech, symbolism, and dress you see in feminism, the LGBT, Occupy, and Black Power Matters.  Glitter bombs, rape and hate hoaxes, racial dog whistles, incessant meme-speak and ALL CAPS—these are examples of common, specific actions (often unconsciously performed) taken by individuals that identify them as members of a mass movement, merely imitative and conforming “anonymous particles with no [individual] will. [84]”

He talks of the important role “extravagant hope” plays in mass movements.  “The hopeful can draw strength from the most ridiculous sources of power—a slogan, a word, a button [9].  Don’t forget Obama’s ghost written autobiography.  I’m completely certain that “The Audacity of Hope” author (Bill Ayers) read The True Believer and used it as a manual alongside Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

Hoffer describes the potential converts to mass movements, in great detail and haunting accuracy: The Undesirables, The Poor (in five categories, no less), The Misfits, The Inordinately Selfish, The Ambitious, Minorities, and The Sinners.

You know how women were often credited for helping organize the Tea Party movement? 
Hoffer describes these types as The Bored spinsters and middle-aged housewives.  They existed even in cases of Islam and the Nazis, which are/were movements that frown on female activities outside of the home.  Hitler, for example, was financed in part by industrialist “society ladies thirsting for adventure” while the French Revolution had their equivalent in MILFs of businessmen who “were devastated by boredom,” and restlessly “applauded innovators.”  And for what it’s worth, they had the vapors, too.  I’ll tell you, when the Smoking Hot Asian Wife™ gets the vapors, I’m in for a rough night.

He talks about how the break-down of the family and pre-existing belief systems (like the completely non-existent culture wars on Christianity and the nuclear family) are essential for any mass movement to obtain followers [34, 36-37, 52].

He describes, ironically, how ancient Christianity, as a virulent mass-movement in the day, had the toughest time converting those in rural, backwards areas (those who bitterly clung to pre-existing cults) over those in urban centers [42].  Think back to Obama’s speech to San Francisco Progressive urbanites on the “bitter clingers” (specifically referring to rural Pennsylvania where I myself was raised and live), who clung to ancient texts like the Constitution (2nd Amendment) and cults (Christianity, a competing ideology to neocommunism).

Throughout the book I kept overlaying current events on his prophetic canvas. 

How farsighted do the following examples sound?

1.     “The leader[s] of mass movements have overwhelming contempt for the present—for all the stubborn facts of the present—even those of geography and the weather [89].” 

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.

2.     “Mass movements can rise and spread without a God, but not without a devil [91].” 

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.

3.     “Should Americans begin to hate foreigners whole-heartedly, it will be an indication that they will have lost confidence in their own way of life [96].” 

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.

4.     “Even when men league themselves mightily together to promote tolerance and peace on earth, they are likely to be violently intolerant toward those not of a like mind.” [99].  True Believers will actually see in tolerating opposing, “correct” viewpoints a sign of weakness, frivolity, and ignorance [87].  So we’ve got insta-outrage social media mobs, the Gaystapo, campus safe spaces free of tolerance, mass shootings—and since politics is downstream of culture, free-speech intolerant legislation and anti-First Amendment court decisions are becoming common.

5.     “There is a deep reassurance for the frustrated in witnessing the downfall of the fortunate and the disgrace of the righteous [98].” This is the bedrock of Bernie Sander’s campaign and the Occupy movement.

6.     On what will cause the Soviet downfall:

“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 [29].”

“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 [111].”

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.

Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1979, staying through 1989.  This period is recognized as a time when Russia attempted to moderate through glasnost and perestroika, right before collapsing in 1992.  Interestingly, Hoffer also speaks of the disruptive force returning war veterans can be to society, an under-researched variable related to the Soviet collapse, in my opinion.  Armies, he argues, are a type of mass movement. Since members of mass movements are nearly interchangeable, this may present a problem. I suspect less so, though, for the modern American veteran, who took on a profession versus a conscription.

But what impact do our own veterans, returning home from 15 years of war, bring to our mass movements at home?  I warned a liberal friend in March 2003 that there will be far-reaching, unpredictable effects on American society from our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as I myself was mobilizing to begin over ten years of on-and-off cycles of domestic-based and over-seas warfighting.  Personally, though, I was secretly thinking of the Duncan Hunters, Tom Cottons, Alan Wests, Joni Ernst, Ryan Zinke, and even relatively moderate liberals like Hawaii’s Tulsi Gabbard and Tammy Duckworth, who would, shaped by their war-time experiences, run for and rise into positions of leadership in the US Congress.

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?

(Side note: I write about how when Reagan defeated The Soviet Union, he set up America for it's ultimate defeat by Communism in You've Defeated America For Good, #NeoComs. Well Played.)


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.
Or, will we? Are there any practical lessons we can gather from Hoffer and prevent or delay what looks inevitable to me? 

1. Frustration is the Cause of All Mass Movements, and the One Counter We Had is Dying

Frustration is at the heart of all mass movements.  The frustrated are ailed by the consciousness of an “irremediably blemished self”, and their main desire is to escape that self.  Freedom and opportunity create frustration and the inordinately selfish are particularly susceptible to frustration [48-49, 59].  There are numerous other paths to frustration, but the counter to frustration is self-reliance, individualism, and an industrious, creative spirit.  You can see all three character traits lacking among those who adopt Progressive ideology.

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 [34].

In 1951!  In 2016, our throw-away culture is inundated by cheap over-seas goods, an omnipresent service industry, and instantly ephemeral—yet eternally stored—social media.

The lack of handicraft?!  No one makes anything substantive anymore for survival, nor needs to be particularly well educated or industrious to provide for themselves.  As a result, we are awash in mediocrity in all levels of society and professions.

Hoffer explains the interference of a mass movement with the creative process is deep-reaching because literature, art, and science must be propagandized and “practical” [155].  We see this today in the terrible state of 21st century science, with falsified experimental results and rampant bias in all scientific fields.

Oh, you don’t science, bro?  Well let’s catch Fast & Furious 8.  I hear Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson are in it.  Propaganda, by the way, Hoffer says is likewise deeply repetitious and “unabashedly imitative,” and it is.

Alternatively, perhaps the ability to post your tits to Twitter, making a Vine of yourself lighting farts, knocking out the entire season 5 of Game of Thrones in one sitting, or finding and blogging all the cheats to South Park’s Stick of Truth is all the handicraft we need to stave off frustration.  Or, perhaps we still need more substantive handicraft in life and these easy, fleeting accomplishments take time away from mastering an instrument or another language, completing a tradecraft course, or completing martial arts training.

Maybe Hoffer was onto something, as the society I described has only come about in the past 30 years or so, apparently coinciding with the main-streaming of Progressivism.  Someone who is still creative in the movie industry should make a documentary about this phenomenon and call it, oh… I don’t know… “Idiot Democracy” or something. 

Hey, I got it!  How about “Idiocracy?”

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 [122]?” 

Successful action is actually undesirable in either the movement or in the frustrated follower, according to Hoffer.  It’s one reason why Progressives attempt impossible tasks like fighting poverty, climate change, and controlling human nature [76].  You might joke that this theory doesn’t explain why they become psychology, journalism, or education majors and avoid science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).  The answer, by the way, is pussy.  Hot chicks don’t do STEM.

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 [85].  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 [123]. 

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.

The Protestant Work Ethic helped create true penchant for action in America which almost certainly stymied the types of mass movements infecting other parts of the world throughout our two American centuries.  Do the math, however.  The Protestant Work Ethic and the Judeo-Christian underpinnings of America are terminally ill.  Waves upon waves of legal and illegal Third World immigration and easy government assistance to Romney’s 47%’rs have infected us like the worst virus. Our noble work ethic will not come back once it’s in the grave, and America will lose its inoculation from the disease of frustration.

From vast personal experience, whenever a previously forested watershed reaches about 15% impermeable surface (rooves, roads, parking lots), the stream draining the watershed really begins to appear damaged in relation its formerly high quality.  The stream banks suffer from greater erosion because water runs-off faster with greater force.  The water chemistry becomes impaired for a whole host of reasons, including contact with new pollutants and increased sediment loads, poorer bioassimilative capacity, and less infiltration and contact of precipitation run-off with the subsurface geochemistry.  The stream also becomes warmer and therefore holds less dissolved oxygen.  The community of aquatic insects and fish that inhabit the water changes drastically, replaced by a more pollution tolerant biocommunity not capable of normal energy cycling (the community becomes ghettoized.  Rack, rack city, bitch!  -h/t Tyga).   

Once you reach 15% imperviousness, the watershed is basically irreversibly fucked.  Oh, it might be nice to look at in some places, and on the surface seem like a nice, cute little stream to the casual observer, but it is no longer a stable ecosystem.  Rack, rack city, bitch.

So what percentage does degradation look like in America? 

17% of American jobs are held by immigrants. 
Over 47% of Americans are on some form of public assistance.
About 30% of Americans are not in the workforce.
Around 10% of the population are illegal immigrants.

I guess the lesson learned is that we’re fucked and our natural defenses have never been weaker against the frustration that gives energy to the mass movements which plague us currently.  Strap in, America.  It’s going to a rough ride and we may not make it out alive.  At least we have guns and shelf-stable food.  Enjoy what you have today as much as you can.

2. Immigration is a Mass Movement, Literally and, Well, Literally.

If there is any place where Hoffer somewhat mis-prognosticated, it’s on immigration.  He was over-confident in America’s capacity to assimilate immigrants, but he never could have known we would allow as many as 30 million illegal Third World migrants and tens of millions of legals over the past 30 years alone.  I surmise he based his confidence on our success at integrating Western European immigrants like the Germans, Italians, Irish, and Polish, because when he wrote The True Believer, America was well over 90% white.

He tells us immigration itself is a type of mass movement [20].  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 have the migrants gone?  Europe and America.

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 [120]. 

He eerily writes, “There is perhaps some hope to be derived from the… successful programs of socialization in the small Scandinavian states [which] indicate perhaps that when the attempt to realize an ideal society is undertaken by a small [homogeneous] population it can proceed and succeed in an atmosphere which is neither hectic nor coercive [159].  Sweden and Denmark were nice socialist exemplars while they lasted.  Long live Swedenmarkistan!

Hoffer specifically mentions the difficulty the Third World would have assimilating in America due to their susceptibility to frustration borne of freedom and from the crumbling of their traditional communal and tribal solidarities they left behind [38], or perhaps cling to in ghettos that slowly become no-go zones.  Durka, durka Mohammed, Bitch!

3.     It sounds crazy, but individuals don’t naturally crave freedom and American-style democracy—even as strong as we imagine post-WW II patriotism was when Hoffer wrote The True Believer 65 years ago.  American democracy failed to draw converts, he argued back then.  We re-learned that lesson painfully in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Arab Spring—and Russia never developed into a democracy after its collapse.  How, today, after decades of anti-American indoctrination in our education systems, in the mass media can we offer a constructive alternative mass movement?

Freedom and opportunity, like peace, sells.  But who’s buying?  Hoffer tells us freedom equally aggravates frustration as much as it alleviates it.  “Unless a man has the talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden… we join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or in the words of the ardent young Nazi, “to be free from freedom [31].”

Unlimited opportunity breeds frustration just as badly as a lack of opportunity, because there is so much to be done or that could be done, the present can seem overwhelming and frustration with the present increases.  Frustration leads to fear, fear to anger, anger to hate, and hate to the dark side… and the next thing you know you’re high on Molly and pulling a train at the after-party for a successful LGBT glitter-bombing of your hated CPAC anti-hero, ultra-MILF Michelle Malkin.  You won’t remember a damn thing about the bukkake dénouement, but it’ll all be on your Go-Pro, so relax.

Hoffer explains the modern snowflake movement long before it ever happened, as a rejection of freedom.  “Those who see their lives as spoiled and wasted crave equality and fraternity more than they do freedom… the passion for equality is partly a passion for anonymity: to be one thread of the many making a tunic… they want to eliminate free competition and the ruthless testing to which the individual is continually subjected in a free society [33].

We see in our snowflakes a “denunciation of the present, a facility for make-believe, a proneness to hate, a readiness to imitate, [unquestioning] credulity, a readiness to attempt the impossible, and many others… [60]. 

I see in our snowflakes the following warning, “When hopes and dreams are loose in the streets, it is well for the timid to lock doors, shutter windows, and lie low until the wrath has passed… there is often a monstrous incongruity between the hopes, however noble and tender, and the action which follows them.  It is as if ivied maidens and garland youths were to herald the four horsemen of the apocalypse [11].

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 

Mass movements can be identified and named by their religious symbolism.  They share installation of religious themes into practical matters, or in Hoffer’s words, “religiofication.”  Hoffer declares atheism is a religion—something we’ve independently re-discovered, and have lumped worshippers of other mass movements into the devoutly pious, such as climate change cultists.  

“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 [158]. 

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 [86].  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. 

We have got to constantly, and loudly, align the modern Progressive mass movements with other violent and destructive mass movements like National Socialism, neocommunism, and violent Islamism.  Hoffer recognized that followers of mass movements—even those apparently at opposite ideological poles—are in fact, at the same pole.  They belong to the same family and share the same type of hatred brothers have and contempt that familiarity breeds.  Hitler, for example, looked at German Communists as welcome, potential National Socialists, and Karl Radek looked on Nazis as future communist recruits [17, 86, 163].  Mock Progressives as clinically Nazi-esque, using factual argumentation, while avoiding Godwin’s Law violations.

Hoffer argues fanatics be convinced; they can only be converted to another mass movement [86], hopefully one which is positive, like Christianity.  I say this as a 99% atheist: we need a lot more Christians and a lot less of the other destructive mass movements of our day which are actively supplanting Christianity as a mass movement.  Unfortunately, a Christian revival is unlikely to occur without a corresponding human extinction event. 

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.


The Merciful End (Of This Book Review, and Eventually America)

Ultimately, mass movements are defeated through overwhelming violence, a suitable replacement, or the decapitation (literal or figuratively through marginalization) of leaders and lieutenants.

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 [160].


Since the leading GOP candidate Trump is almost certainly going to be schlonged in a general election, get ready to grab the South Park Stick of Truth sequel and blog those cheats for me to follow.  It’s going to be awesome, and if you get a chance, #WakeMeUpWhenTheCountryEnds.

2 comments:

  1. Whoa! I remember reading Hoffer in college, but I don't think that was the book, nor do I remember which one it was. That said, I think I'll have to read it before 7/2/2016.

    The red head in the slut walk looks cute. I doubt, tho, that any of them are 'maidens'. At least, that's the way I'm betting.

    Oh. I got wood.

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  2. As a boy, I used to chuckle at Hoffer (whom I knew as a newspaper columnist)being described as a "longshoreman-philosopher." As a man, I realized how wise he was. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. A local library has a copy that I'll check out.

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