Tag Archives: Eric Hoffer

From Eric Hoffer, an Insight Into Tea Partying

From the seminal “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements“:

They who clamor loudest for freedom are often the ones least likely to be happy in a free society. The frustrated, oppressed by their shortcomings, blame their failure on existing restraints. Actually their innermost desire is for an end to the “free for all”. They want to eliminate free competition and the ruthless testing to which the individual is continually subjected to in a free society.

I find in this insight a clue to the nature of the Tea Party movement and the Republican fringe (which is now the Republican mainstream). Tea Partiers, by and large, are angry white people intimidated by the prospect of a post-racial, multi-cultural America where Christianity is no longer a dominant part of the American narrative. This is why you don’t find black, hispanic, American Indian, or any other non-white group represented in the Tea Party movement. Nor do you find people who practice a non-Christian religion. This part of the conservative movement has become a group of people who virulently condemn intellectualism and do not grant that intellectual or ideological competition in the public discourse is good or desirable.

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Thought of the Day, Fight Club Edition

Actually, I have a few thoughts. About Fight Club. And they aren’t about the book (which I have yet to read)

1. If you think that the lessons from Fight Club are in the vein of Marx and anti-capitalism, sure, there are some lessons there. But the really interesting connections are to the psychology of mass movements, a topic that invokes Eric Hoffer’s seminal work The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.

2. Viewing Fight Club through a Dostoyevskian lens also yields many insights. Indeed, the main character’s psychological fragmentation is a core theme of the narrative through which the narrative itself is possible. Here is a brief summary of Dostoyevsky that those not familiar might find useful.

3. Heidegger’s insights on what he calls ‘techne‘ also have much to offer, though I find Heidegger only worth mentioning for his exposition on a few concepts and find other thinkers provide much more fruitful avenues for development.

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