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 Eric Hoffer Quotes
268 Famous Quotes by Eric Hoffer
7/25/1902 - 5/21/1983
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About Eric Hoffer

The fanatic is not really a stickler to principle. He embraces a cause not primarily because of its justness or holiness but because of his desperate need for something to hold onto.

Society Quotes, by Eric Hoffer

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Though they seem at opposite poles, fanatics of all kinds are actually crowded together at one end. It is the fanatic and the moderate who are poles apart and never meet.

Society Quotes, by Eric Hoffer

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A doctrine insulates the devout not only against the realities around them but also against their own selves. The fanatical believer is not conscious of his envy, malice, pettiness and dishonesty. There is a wall of words between his consciousness and his real self.

Society Quotes, by Eric Hoffer

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It is a perplexing and unpleasant truth that when men already have "something worth fighting for," they do not feel like fighting.

Society Quotes, by Eric Hoffer

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Man is a luxury loving animal. Take away play, fancies, and luxuries, and you will turn man into a dull, sluggish creature, barely energetic enough to obtain a bare subsistence. A society becomes stagnant when its people are too rational or too serious to be tempted by baubles.

Society Quotes, by Eric Hoffer

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The unpredictability inherent in human affairs is due largely to the fact that the by-products of a human process are more fateful than the product.

Society Quotes, by Eric Hoffer

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The ideal of self-advancement which the civilizing west offers to backward populations brings with it the plague of individual frustration. All the advantages brought by the West are ineffectual substitutes for the sheltering and soothing anonymity of communal existence.

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What the intellectual craves above all else is to be taken seriously, to be treated as a decisive force in shaping history. He is far more at home in a society that weighs his every word and keeps close watch on his attitudes then in a society that cares not what he says or does. He would rather be persecuted than ignored.

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We know that words cannot move mountains, but they can move the multitude; and men are more ready to fight and die for a word than for anything else. Words shape thought, stir feeling, and beget action; they kill and revive, corrupt and cure. The "men-of-words"- priests, prophets, intellectuals- have played a more decisive role in history than military leaders, statesmen, and businessmen.

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The nineteenth century planted the words which the twentieth century ripened into the atrocities of Stalin and Hitler. There is hardly an atrocity committed in the twentieth century that was not foreshadowed or even advocated by some noble man of words in the nineteenth.

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One of the surprising privileges of intellectuals is that they are free to be scandalously asinine without harming their reputations.

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All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and singlehearted allegiance.

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However different the holy causes people die for, they perhaps die basically for the same thing.

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There is a fundamental difference between the appeal of a mass movement and the appeal of a practical organization. The practical organization offers opportunities for self-advancement, and its appeal is mainly to self-interest. On the other hand, a mass movement, particularly in its active, revivalist phase, appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self. A mass movement attracts and holds a following not because it can satisfy the desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation.

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A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness and meaningless of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring upon them an absolute truth or by remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves- and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole.

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The vigor of a mass movement stems from the propensity of its followers for united action and self-sacrifice. When we ascribe the success of a movement to its faith, doctrine, propaganda, leadership, ruthlessness and so on, we are but referring to instruments of unification and to means used to inculcate a readiness for self-sacrifice. It is perhaps impossible to understand the nature of a mass movement unless it is recognized that their chief preoccupation is to foster, perfect and perpetuate a facility for united action and self-sacrifice.

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The rule seems to be that those who find no difficulty in deceiving themselves are easily deceived by others. They are easily persuaded and led.

Society Quotes, by Eric Hoffer

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We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.

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There is apparently no surer way of turning a thing into its opposite than by exaggerating it.

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In human affairs, the best stimulus for running ahead is to have something we must run from.

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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.This minding of other people's business expresses itself in gossip, snooping and meddling, and also in feverish interest in communal, national and racial affairs. In running away from ourselves we either fall on our neighbor's shoulder or fly at his throat.

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When our individual interests and prospects do not seem worth living for, we are in desperate need for something apart from us to live for. All forms of dedication, devotion, loyalty and self-surrender are in essence a desperate clinging to something which might give worth and meaning to our futile, spoiled lives.

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We run fastest and farthest when we run from ourselves.

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The revulsion from an unwanted self, and the impulse to forget it, mask it, slough it off and lose it, produce both a readiness to sacrifice the self and a willingness to dissolve it by losing one's individual distinctness in a compact collective whole.

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To our real, naked selves there is not a thing on earth or in heaven worth dying for. It is only when we see ourselves as actors in a staged (and therefore unreal) performance that death loses its frightfulness and finality and becomes an act of make-believe and a theatrical gesture. It is one of the main tasks of a real leader to mask the grim reality of dying and killing by evoking in his followers the illusion that they are participating in a grandiose spectacle, a solemn or lighthearted dramatic performance.

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