Good Company

Good Company
Good Company

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Probably time to re-read his books

In an earlier post, one of the comments prompted me to remember Eric Hoffer author of The True Believer : Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, and a great American thinker, and a self-educated one at that. Here's the exchange:
(Comment by "Corsair"):San Francisco still has Fleet Week thanks to Feinstein. No this isen't the same city that Feinstein knew or I grew up in. This group of supervisors, thanks to district only elections, is about single-interest elections. This town is still supportive of the Navy, especially when the fleet comes in for the above, only this generation of govt. types thinks their ideological opinions can stretch across the city and into its laws, measures and fatwas...err positions. The example of the Midway and its benefits to San Diego should have been obvious.

(My response)
"Fatwah?" LOL

You wouldn't be suggesting a "True Believer" problem with the majority of the Board, would you?

Of course, Eric Hoffer did do his writing in The City... and one of his quotes was "Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power."

Or, maybe the explanation lies in what Thomas Sowell wrote of Mr. Hoffer

Contrary to the prevailing assumptions of his time, Eric Hoffer did not believe that revolutionary movements were based on the sufferings of the downtrodden. "Where people toil from sunrise to sunset for a bare living, they nurse no grievances and dream no dreams," he said. He had spent years living among such people and being one of them.

Hoffer's insights may help explain something that many of us have found very puzzling -- the offspring of wealthy families spending their lives and their inherited money backing radical movements. He said: "Unlimited opportunities can be as potent a cause of frustration as a paucity or lack of opportunities."

What can people with inherited fortunes do that is at all commensurate with their unlimited opportunities, much less what their parents or grandparents did to create the fortune in the first place, starting from far fewer opportunities?

Like the frustrated artists and failed intellectuals who turn to mass movements for fulfillment, rich heirs cannot win the game of comparison of individual achievements. So they must change the game. As zealots for radical movements, they often attack the very things that made their own good fortune possible, as well as undermining the freedom and well-being of other people.
Wow. Time to dig the Hoffer books out and read them again..

UPDATE: Another great quote:
"The monstrous evils of the twentieth century have shown us that the greediest money grubbers are gentle doves compared with money-hating wolves like Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, who in less than three decades killed or maimed nearly a hundred million men, women, and children and brought untold suffering to a large portion of mankind." (quote source)

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