newly minted hopelessness

Eric Hoffer’s classic study of mass movements, The True Believer, 1951.

Eric Hoffer's classic study of mass movements, The True BelieverThere is a tendency to judge a race, a nation or any distinct group by its least worthy members. Though manifestly unfair, this tendency has some justification. For the character and destiny of a group are often determined by its inferior elements.

The inert mass of a nation, for instance, is in its middle section. The decent, average people who do the nation’s work in cities and on the land are worked upon and shaped by minorities at both ends — the best and the worst.

The superior individual, whether in politics, literature, science, commerce, or industry, plays a large role in shaping a nation, but so do individuals at the other extreme — the failures, misfits, outcasts, criminals, and all those who have lost their footing, or never had one, in the ranks of respectable humanity. The game of history is usually played by the best and the worst over the heads of of the majority in the middle.

The reason that the inferior elements of a nation can exert a marked influence on its course is that they are wholly without reverence toward the present.

Stuart Staniford at Early Warning:

It appears to me that the Tea Party movement places us on notice that conditions in the United States now support mass movements of the kind Hoffer is talking about.

Such movements are not known for having good ideas for how to run society.

They don’t need to have ideas that make sense to the elite, such as abolishing the Federal Reserve. They just need to have ideas good enough to appeal to the unbearably disappointed and frustrated, the failed and the failing…