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The Wit and Wisdom of Eric Hoffer 

Self-taught and honestly astute, Hoffer worked as a shoreman for much of his life.  His insight on mass movements and penetration of idealized "progressivism" and such ranks him as one of the most profound thinkers of the last century.  

He died in 1983.

 

read "The Legacy of Eric Hoffer" by Thomas Sowell

 

 

 

 

All mass movements avail themselves of action as a means of unification. The conflicts a mass movement seeks 

and incites serve not only to down its enemies but also to strip its followers of their distinct individuality and render 

them more soluble in the collective medium.

 

 

Even the sober desire for progress is sustained by faith - faith in the intrinsic goodness of human nature 

and in the omnipotence of science.   

 

 

Those who see their lives as spoiled and wasted crave 

equality and fraternity more than they do freedom.

 

 

Absolute power turns its possessors not into a God but an anti-God. 

For God turned clay into men, while the absolute despot turns men into clay.

 

 

A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding.  When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business."

 

 

There is in us a tendency to judge a race, a nation, or an organization by its least worthy members. The tendency is manifestly perverse and unfair; yet it has some justification. For the quality and destiny of a nation is determined to a considerable extent by the nature and potentialities of its inferior elements. The inert mass of a nation is in its middle section. The industrious, decent, well-to-do, and satisfied middle classes - whether in cities or on the land - are worked upon and shaped by minorities at both extremes: the best and the worst.

 

 

The desire for freedom is an attribute of a "have" type of self. It says: leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities. The desire for power is basically an attribute of a "have not" type of self.

 

 

 

 

The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do.

 

 

When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.

 

 

And the quality of a nation - its innermost worth - is made manifest by its dregs as they rise to the top: by how brave they are, how humane, how orderly, how skilled, how generous, how independent or servile; by the bounds they will not transgress in their dealings with man's soul, with truth, and with honor.
 


The average American of today bristles with indignation when he is told that his country was built, largely, by hordes of undesirables from Europe. Yet, far from being derogatory, this statement, if true, should be a cause for rejoicing, should fortify our pride in the stock from which we have sprung.

 

 

People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.

 

 

It is the fate of every great achievement to be pounced upon by pedants and imitators who drain it of life 

and turn it into an orthodoxy which stifles all stirrings of originality.

 

 

A society becomes stagnant when its people are too rational or too serious to be tempted by baubles.

 

 

The Greeks invented logic but were not fooled by it.

 

 

Not all who are poor are frustrated.

 

 

Discontent is likely to be highest when misery is bearable; when conditions have so improved that 

an ideal state seems almost within reach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the above quotations belong to Eric Hoffer.

 

 

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