Name Semester Instructor August 7, 2011 View of Human Nature in “The True Believer” What are the driving forces of fanatic mass movements? Eric Hoffer examines the nature of mass movements in his book, “The True Believer.” His arguments are not value-neutral, because his viewpoints on mass movements depict his beliefs about the nature of humanity, which directly impact the nature of mass movements…
Human nature is naturally attracted to fanaticism, because people are empty inside. Hoffer (1959) says: “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” (14). Since people find meaninglessness in their existence, they need something larger than themselves to continue “wanting” to exist. This belief is value-rich, because Hoffer is saying that people need meaning in life, in order to “live.” Mass movements, furthermore, make them believe that they can do something valuable, which can help them reap benefits in the future. Hoffer stresses that fanaticism is the rejection of the present and the preference for the future, because the “future” (1959, 182) can given them vital rewards, such as 100% certainty to heaven, as some religious zealots believe. This is the great paradox of mass movements. It might seem that fanatics are doing something for their organizations, or even their gods, but in reality, when they sacrifice themselves and other people, they are seeking for ultimate selfish gains. Humans are inherently violent, and they do so because they have self-interests. ...
feeds something empty inside people, and it helps give an ironic sense of peace to fanatics, because they can express themselves through violent means. The more they can hurt others or themselves or both, the more they feel alive. Mass movements embrace uniformity, because this responds to the need for new meanings. People attracted to mass movements find no meaning inside themselves, and so they have to search for it in external mass movements. Hoffer argues: “When we lose our individual independence in the incorporateness of a mass movement, we find a new freedom—freedom to hate, bully, lie, torture, murder and betray without shame and remorse” (1959, 100). These newfound freedoms give a sense of meaning, a way to fill the internal void. These meanings make life worth living for in drastically new ways with others who believe in it too. Hoffer offers fine, chilling points on what constitute mass movements. His viewpoints on mass movements underlie his beliefs in human nature. Human beings are selfish, and selfishness and meaninglessness are important ingredients to mass movements. When people are both selfish and find no meaning in their lives, they are moths to the fires of fanaticism, violence, and uniformity. They will brazenly fly to these fires, because by “dying,” they are “living.” Self-Interest in “Why Not Socialism?” G.A. Cohen (2009) believes that people should consider the merits of socialism, because it is morally superior to capitalism. In his book, “Why Not Socialism?” Cohen examines and defends the advantages of socialism compared to capitalism. His measuring stick is the value and meaning he places on the notion of “community.” He defines a “community” as that phenomenon, where “people care about, and, where necessary ...
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