Skip to comments.The legacy of Eric Hoffer
Posted on 08/06/2013 10:16:58 AM PDT by Eleutheria5
The twentieth anniversary of the death of Eric Hoffer, in May 1983, passed with very little notice of one of the most incisive thinkers of his time -- a man whose writings continue to have great relevance to our times.
How many people today even know of this remarkable man with no formal schooling, who spent his life in manual labor -- most of it as a longshoreman -- and who wrote some of the most insightful commentary on our society and trends in the world?
You need only read one of his classics like The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements to realize that you are seeing the work of an intellectual giant.
Having spent several years in blindness when most other children were in school, Hoffer could only do manual labor after he recovered his sight, but was determined to educate himself. He began by looking for a big book with small print to take with him as he set out on a job as a migratory farm worker.
The book that turned out to fill this bill -- based on size and words -- was the essays of Montaigne. Over the years, he read many landmark books, including Hitler's Mein Kampf, even though Hoffer was Jewish. If ever there was a walking advertisement for the Great Books approach to education, it was Eric Hoffer.
Among Hoffer's insights about mass movements was that they are an outlet for people whose individual significance is meager in the eyes of the world and -- more important -- in their own eyes. He pointed out that the leaders of the Nazi movement were men whose artistic and intellectual aspirations were wholly frustrated.
(Excerpt) Read more at townhall.com ...
I love Hoffer and I have read him for years.
Hoffer missed out on formal schooling. No wonder he turned out to be so well-educated and wise.
Truly, for those who have never read his books, Hoffer is a great treasure who should be discovered. His books are short and accessible and filled with great insight.
He ranks up there with Lin Yu Tang among the great neglected thinkers of the 20th Century. Can’t wait to read more of him.
Perhaps now more than ever Hoffers books should be compulsory reading.... in non government schools
I cat find it presently but I loved his presentation of the young nazi’s statement about why he had joined the nazi party.....to BE somebody...
Perhaps this thread, should it continue on long enough will end up as a big fat google reference to Hoffer...and a few not utterly commited obama zombies may be HELPED!
Introduced to him by my 10th. grade Civics and Social Studies teacher. A very conservative fellow who no doubt would be drummed out of the school system today.
“Mass movements do not usually rise until the prevailing order has been discredited.”
Only the shell of our thoroughly discredited republic remains. It is time.
I read the headline as “The Legacy of Eric Holder” and kept waiting for him to make it in. Great article though. We’re incorporating “The Great Books” style into our kids’ education.
“How many people today even know of this remarkable man with no formal schooling, who spent his life in manual labor.”
I was on my way to Vietnam and mentioned how much I respected Eric Hoffer to my dad. The next thing I know all of his books arrived in the mail in Vietnam. Dad had found his phone number and called him to share my admiration and find out where he could buy the books for me. This brings tears to my eyes because my dad worked so hard all his life as a Signal Maintainer for the SP but was a voracious reader.
His works are a standard in my hard copy library.
“Only the shell of our thoroughly discredited republic remains. It is time.”
But the possible mass movements that continuously recruit the misfits and losers of society are Islam, OWS, and angry black people. We on the right are too happy with our respective lots to join a mass movement, so we are prime candidates to become their victims.
"It has often been said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from their sense of inadequacy and impotence. We cannot win the weak by sharing our wealth with them. They feel our generosity as oppression."
Our ruling class are all enablers of the tyranny of the weak; they use it to their advantage.
It’s why they dig Islam. That and oil.
But who are you referring to as our "ruling class." The political "leadership" is riddled with people described in the quotation--as are many in the upper echelons of Corporate management--not, all, to be sure, but certainly those who pose as great public benefactors by uncritically going along with the agenda of those who propose more centralized power as the answer to all human problems.
Being managed by demagogues, not reasoned analysis, is a characteristic not only of the "true believer," but those who do not need a cause, but are afraid to stand up to those who do. (Consider, for example, Corporate leaders from whom Jesse Jackson has successfully extorted large sums. Or consider those wealthy people who "enthusiastically" have funded Obama's attack on American tradition!)
I really have no idea what Hoffer thought of Ayn Rand, and I don't know what Ayn Rand thought of Hoffer -- but this concept is basically what Rand's "sanction of the victim" amounts to.
I have never liked her choice of words or her expanation of the concept. I think I get her concept, but her explanation of it never pleased me. Your extract from Hoffer is much cleaner and more direct. The ruling class uses weak people are a lever through which power can be exerted against people who are not weak.
One of my favorite liberals.
Eric Holder’s legacy will one day be to sing the Fulsom Prison Blues while being made a fellow inmate’s bitch.
That was Marlon in On the Waterfront.