The True Believer

The True Believer

. Part of Hoffer's thesis is that movements are interchangeable and that fanatics will often flip from one movement to another. Furthermore, Hoffer argues the motivations for mass movements are interchangeable: religious, nationalist and class-based movements tend to behave in the same way and use the same tactics, even when their stated goals or values are diametrically opposed.

There have been twenty-three editions of "The True Believer" published between 1951 and 2002.


Hoffer argues that mass movements such as Fascism and Communism spread by promising a glorious future. To be successful, these mass movements need the adherents to be willing to sacrifice themselves and others for the future goals. To do so, mass movements need to devalue both the past and the present. Mass movements appeal to frustrated people who are dissatisfied with their current state, but are capable of a strong belief in the future. As well, mass movements appeal to people who want to escape a flawed self by creating an imaginary self and joining a collective whole. Some categories of people who may be attracted to mass movements include poor people, misfits, and people who feel thwarted in their endeavors. Hoffer quotes extensively from leaders of the Nazi and Communist parties in the early part of the 20th Century, to demonstrate, among other things, that they were competing for adherents from the same pool of people predisposed to support mass movements. Despitethe two parties' fierce antagonism, they were more likely to gain recruits from their opposing party than from moderates with no affiliation to either.

The book also explores the behavior of mass movements once they become established (or leave the "active phase"). With their collapse of a communal framework people can no longer defeat the feelings of insecurity and uncertainty by belonging to a compact whole. If the isolated individual lacks vast opportunities for personal advancement, development of talents, and action (such as those found on a frontier), he will seek substitutes. These substitutes would be pride instead of self-confidence, memberships in a collective whole like a mass movement, absolute certainty instead of understanding.

Hoffer does not take an exclusively negative view of "true believers" and the mass movements they begin. Examples he gives of positive true believers are Abraham Lincoln and Gandhi.

ee also

*True-believer syndrome - related, but not identical to Hoffer's concepts

External links

*cite journal|author=Tim Madigan|title=The True Believer Revisited|journal=Philosophy Now|issue=34|url=|accessdate=2008-01-07 [ Issue 34]
*ISBN 0-06-050591-5


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • True-believer syndrome — Infobox Paranormalterms Image Caption = Usage = Terminology Name = True believer syndrome Origin = M. Lamar Keene (1976) Short = Additional Names = Definition = The condition of continuing to believe a paranormal event/phenomenon after it has… …   Wikipedia

  • True believer — can refer to* , a 1951 book by Eric Hoffer * True believer syndrome , a term used by skeptics to describe an irrational, persistent belief in the paranormal * True Believer (1989 film), a 1989 movie starring James Woods, Robert Downey Jr and… …   Wikipedia

  • True Believer. (1989) — A lawyer who has shed his radical ideals for a high paying career takes on the appeal of a convict at the urging of a young law clerk. James Woods, Robert Downey, Jr., Yuji Okumoto, Margaret Colin. Nolo’s Plain English Law Dictionary. Gerald N.… …   Law dictionary

  • True Believer (Troy Cassar-Daley album) — Infobox Album Name = True Believer Type = album Artist = Troy Cassar Daley Released = 1997 Recorded = Genre = Country Length = Label = Producer = Reviews = Last album = Beyond the Dancing (1995) This album = True Believer (1997) Next album = Big… …   Wikipedia

  • True Believer (1989 film) — Infobox Film | name = True Believer caption = director = Joseph Ruben producer = Lawrence Lasker Walter F. Parkes writer = Wesley Strick starring = James Woods Robert Downey Jr. Margaret Colin Yuji Okumoto Kurtwood Smith Tom Bower music = Brad… …   Wikipedia

  • True Believer (Sawyer Brown album) — Infobox Album Name = True Believer Type = compilation Artist = Sawyer Brown Released = Start date|2003|04|08 Recorded = Genre = Country Length = Label = Curb Producer = various Reviews = *Allmusic – rating|3|5… …   Wikipedia

  • True Believer — In diesem Artikel oder Abschnitt fehlen folgende wichtige Informationen: Vollständige Handlung Du kannst Wikipedia helfen, indem du sie recherchierst und einfügst …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • True Believer (Keaggy album) — Infobox Album | Name = True Believer Type = studio album Artist = Phil Keaggy Released = May 1995 Recorded = Length = Label = Producer = Reviews = *Allmusic Rating|3|5 [ sql=10:gcfixqrhldse link] Last album …   Wikipedia

  • true believer — noun Usage: sometimes capitalized T&B 1. : one who professes absolute belief in something 2. : a zealous supporter of a particular cause * * * 1. a person who has been thoroughly convinced of something. 2. a fanatic, esp. a religious or political …   Useful english dictionary

  • true believer — noun a) A strict follower of a religious doctrine. b) One who sticks to ones dogma or beliefs irrespective of the facts (see true believer syndrome) …   Wiktionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”