Saturday, March 10, 2018

Book Review: THE TRUE BELIEVER

'THE TRUE BELIEVER: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements' by ERIC HOFFER
 is a book dealing with some peculiarities common to all mass movements. While discussing this, the author comes with a lot of gems about our society in general, and its volatile state, in particular. I give below a few of those as examples to this fertile mind. (I myself have felt like this, though not in so many words)

"Those selfish are particularly susceptible to frustration, since, the more selfish a person, the more poignant his disappointments. It is the inordinately selfish, therefore, who are likely to be the most persuasive champions of selflessness.
 The fiercest fanatics are often such people who were forced, by innate shortcomings or external circumstances, to lose faith in their own  selves. 
Unlimited opportunities can be as potent a cause of frustration as a paucity or lack of opportunities. A feeling, “All that I am doing is chicken feed compared with what is left undone”, results.
One of a minority bent on assimilation, is at a disadvantage. The individual stands alone, pitted against prejudice and discrimination, and deserves greater assistance from the majority.
Mass movements not only need their daily bread, but also their daily illusion.
There is perhaps no surer way of infecting oneself with virulent hatred toward a person than by doing a grave injustice to that one. That will cause the other one to have a just grievance against us, and that is a more potent reason for hating them than that we have a just grievance against them.
Every religion generates a strong feeling of guilt, which promotes hate and brazenness. Thus it seems that the more sublime the faith the more virulent the hatred it breeds.
We tend today to exaggerate the effectiveness of persuasion as a means of inculcating opinion and shaping behavior. Whereas, the fact is, propaganda serves more to justify ourselves than to convince others."

I am sure, one can agree with the way this book portrays the present state of our societies. There cannot be a better assessment of the social fabric of in all countries, and its disarray. Every contentious decision that goes on at various planes of governance of the society, like those of religious matters, or of communication, of social balance between conflicting groups, or of the establishment of defence, can find an easy and logical eplanation here, I am sure. 
(Author, however does not offer an explanation regarding the origins of, say, nonlinearities of our society that should be accounting for the above. I notice that my theory, the unsure male, fits here well, since I offer a valid reason for the perennial and widespread occurrence of frustration, the root cause.)

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