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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 real "haves" are they who can acquire freedom, self-confidence, and even riches without depriving others of them. They acquire all of these by developing and applying their potentialities. On the other hand, the real "have nots" are they who cannot have aught except by depriving others of it. They can feel free only by diminishing the freedom of others, self-confident by spreading fear and dependence among others, and rich by making others poor.

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Freedom means freedom from forces and circumstances which would turn man into a thing, which would impose on man the passivity and predictability of matter. By this test, absolute power is the manifestation most inimical to human uniqueness. Absolute power wants to turn people into malleable clay.

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The only index by which to judge a government or a way of life is by the quality of the people it acts upon. No matter how noble the objectives of a government, if it blurs decency and kindness, cheapens human life, and breeds ill will and suspicion- it is an evil government.

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Fair play with others is primarily the practice of not blaming them for anything that is wrong with us. We tend to rub our guilty conscience against others the way we wipe dirty fingers on a rag. This is as evil a misuse of others as the practice of exploitation.

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The frustrated follow a leader less because of their faith that he is leading them to a promised land than because of their immediate feeling that he is leading them away from their unwanted selves. Surrender to a leader is not a means to an end but a fulfillment. Whither they are led is of secondary importance.

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All leaders strive to turn their followers into children.

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The ability to get along without an exceptional leader is the mark of social vigor.

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The better part of statesmanship might be to know clearly and precisely what not to do.

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Where things have not changed at all, there is the least likelihood of revolution.

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Despair and misery are static factors. The dynamism of an uprising flows from hope and pride. Not actual suffering but the hope of better things incites people to revolt.

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Discontent does not invariably create a desire for change. Other factors have to be present before discontent turns into disaffection. One of these is a sense of power.

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Discontent is likely to be highest when misery is bearable; when conditions have so improved that an ideal state seems almost within reach. A grievance is most poignant when almost redressed. De Tocqueville in his researches into the state of society in France before the revolution was struck by the discovery that "in no one of the periods which have followed the Revolution of 1789 has the national prosperity of France augmented more rapidly than it did in the twenty years preceding that event." He is forced to conclude that "the French found their position the more intolerable the better it became.

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It is not actual suffering but a taste of better things which excites people to revolt.

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When people revolt in a totalitarian society, they rise not against the wickedness of the regime but its weakness.

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There is perhaps no better way of measuring the natural endowment of a soul than by its ability to transmute dissatisfaction into a creative impulse. The genuine artist is as much a dissatisfied person as the revolutionary, yet how diametrically opposed are the products each distills from his dissatisfaction.

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Both the revolutionary and the creative individual are perpetual juveniles. The revolutionary does not grow up because he cannot grow, while the creative individual cannot grow up because he keeps growing.

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No one has a right to happiness.

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The danger inherent in reform is that the cure may be worse than the disease. Reform is an operation on the social body; but unlike medical surgeons, reformers are not on guard against unpredictable side effects which may divert the course of reform toward unwanted results. Moreover, quite often the social doctors become part of the disease.

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Absolute power corrupts even when exercised for humane purposes. The benevolent despot who sees himself as a shepherd of the people still demands from others the submissiveness of sheep.

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Absolute power turns its possessors not into a God but an anti-God. For God turned clay into men, while the absolute despot turns men into clay.

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Where freedom is real, equality is the passion of the masses. Where equality is real, freedom is the passion of a small minority.

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Those who see their lives as spoiled and wasted crave equality and fraternity more than they do freedom. If they clamor for freedom, it is but freedom to establish equality and uniformity. The passion for equality is partly a passion for anonymity: to be one thread of the many which make up a tunic; one thread not distinguishable from the others. No one can then point us out, measure us against others and expose our inferiority.

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The aspiration toward freedom is the most essentially human of all human manifestations.

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The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do.

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Freedom released the energies of the masses not by exhilarating but by unbalancing, irritating, and goading.

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