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Some insights into the right-wing mindset, written in 1956 and very relevant today.

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Lautremont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-12-08 11:34 AM
Original message
Some insights into the right-wing mindset, written in 1956 and very relevant today.
Edited on Thu Jun-12-08 12:01 PM by Lautremont
This is from Edward Shils' "The Torment of Secrecy":

"An extremist group is an alienated group... It cannot share that sense of affinity to persons or attachment to the institutions which confine political conflicts to peaceful solutions... Because of their isolation from the world, they feel menaced by unknown dangers. The paranoiac tendencies which are closely associated with their apocalyptic and aggressive outlook make them think that the ordinary world, from which their devotion to the ideal cuts them off, is not normal at all; they think it is a realm of secret machinations. What goes on in the world of pluralistic politics, in civil society, is a secret to them. It is a secret which they must unmask by vigorous publicity. Their image of the "world" as the realm of evil, against which they must defend themselves and which they must ultimately conquer, forces them to think of their enemies' knowledge as secret knowledge."

All of this certainly applies to the Freeper-types I've come across.
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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-12-08 12:41 PM
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1. Some Eric Hoffer quotes. His first book, The True Believer, published in 1951
What I think he, too, might say about the "freedom" of thought in the Freeper cult.

"There is apparently some connection between dissatisfaction with oneself and proneness to credulity. The urge to escape our real self is also an urge to escape the rational and the obvious. The refusal to see ourselves as we are develops a distaste for facts and cold logic. There is no hope for the frustrated in the actual and the possible. Salvation can come to them only from the miraculous, which seeps through a crack in the iron wall of inexorable reality. They asked to be deceived. "


"Unless a man has talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden.
Of what avail is freedom to choose if the self be ineffectual?
We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or,
in the words of the ardent young Nazi, 'to be free from freedom.'"


"To the frustrated, freedom from responsibility is more attractive than freedom from restraint. They are eager to barter their independence for relief from the burdens of willing, deciding and being responsible for inevitable failure. They willingly abdicate the directing of their lives to those who want to plan, command and shoulder all responsibility."

"I doubt if the oppressed ever fight for freedom. They fight for pride and for power power to oppress others. The oppressed want above all to imitate their oppressors; they want to retaliate."

"It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable."

"Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true."

"There can be no freedom without freedom to fail."


"Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both. "


http://www.erichoffer.net /
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Hoffer

"Eric Hoffer was a self-educated longshoreman who came to fame in the 1950's with the publication of his first book, The True Believer. A caustic analysis of the nature of mass movements and those who are driven to join them, The True Believer did what few other books of the mid-twentieth century could: it helped expose the hidden causes of the tumultuous events that nearly destroyed our world at that time. Hoffer said of the 1930's, "It colors my thinking and shapes my attitude toward events. I can never forget that one of the most gifted, best educated nations in the world, of its own free will, surrendered its fate into the hands of a maniac."

The True Believer, though, is not solely concerned with the rise of Nazi Germany, but with the origination of all mass movements, destructive or creative. And more importantly, it is concerned with the main ingredient of such movements, the frustrated individual. The book probes into the psychology of the frustrated and dissatisfied, those who would eagerly sacrifice themselves for any cause that might give their meaningless lives some sense of significance. The alienated seek to lose themselves in these movements by adopting those fanatical attitudes that are, according to Hoffer, fundamentally "a flight from the self."


http://www.erichoffer.net /

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Hoffer

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Lautremont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-12-08 12:51 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Thanks for that - some excellent points!
Freedom being a burden for the dull-witted, ineffectual or untalented: true enough, and says much about our freeper friends. I'm going to look for that Hoffer book.


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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-12-08 02:17 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. He wrote 10, but many were unavailable in the U.S. for the longest time.
Edited on Thu Jun-12-08 02:22 PM by chill_wind
If your country's public libraries don't have any free copies, I see Amazon has new and used in stock, and some of his other ones, too:

http://www.amazon.com/True-Believer-Thoughts-Movements-...

More about his other books:

http://www.erichoffer.net/books.html

I have by chance a copy of The True Believer, which my parents had in their book collection, and which I tried to read when I was much younger, (my early teens). It seemed so dry and beyond me then. 60+ years after his first writings, here we are though, still, and so many of his quotes seem as prescient as ever. They prove the enduring nature and the danger of authoritarian worship and fanatacism, despite our founding fathers.

John Dean has called it proto-fascism in his past writings. I think that's so apt. Though it is a critical victory, the narrow SCOTUS split in today's headlines on Guantanamo and habeus tell us just how much serious trouble we are still in going forward, despite the actual ruling.


The RW fanatics will always be with us. Obama won't change that, but maybe we will finally be able to make a meaningful dent in their power. The last eight years have been an absolute nightmare for us- and for the world.
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Viva_Daddy Donating Member (142 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-12-08 01:27 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. I love Hoffer's "True Believer"
I've made it a point to reread Erik Hoffer's "The True Believer" again and again every couple of years. Somehow reminding myself of those facts helps me stay sane in an increasingly insane world. Great stuff!!!
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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-12-08 02:26 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Welcome aboard DU. :-) n/t
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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-12-08 03:01 PM
Response to Original message
6. A lot has been written on authoritarianism in recent yrs - for obvious reasons
Official Culture in America:
A Natural State of Psychopathy?
Laura Knight-Jadczyk

http://www.cassiopaea.org/cass/official_culture.htm

http://www.gossamer-wings.com/soc/Notes/race/tsld007.ht...

John Dean: Authoritarianism Rules Republicans:
http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2006/0...
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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-12-08 03:42 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Dean hasn't updated his blog since April 18. It's been a couple historic months
in the U.S. His next couple articles should make for some very intense reading. I've been checking almost daily in anticipation..
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