Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘The True Believer’

Weak and Feckless:

The True Believer in American Society 

Their impact on Democratic Institutions

“It is above all in the present democratic age that the true friends of liberty and human grandeur must remain constantly vigilant and ready to prevent the social power from lightly sacrificing the particular rights of a few individuals to the general execution of its designs. In such times there is no citizen so obscure that it is not very dangerous to allow him to be oppressed, and there are no individual rights so unimportant that they can be sacrificed to arbitrariness with impunity.”

― Alexis de Tocqueville (Author, Democracy in America)

    

Introduction

One of the most important sociological facts in the study of society is the existence of “The True Believer.” Who is the true believer? According to the late Eric Hoffer, “He’s a guilt-ridden hitchhiker who thumbs a ride on every cause from Christianity to Communism. He’s a fanatic needing a Stalin (or a Christ) to worship or die for. He’s the mortal enemy of things-as-they-are, and he insists on sacrificing himself for a dream impossible to attain. He is today everywhere on the march.”

Although Eric Hoffer’s seminal sociological work was published in 1951, his book made a crucial impact on sociology and our understanding of fanaticism and deviant behavior. And that understanding applies historically to the most ancient of times as it does in the present day.

Fanaticism as the most ideological deviant of human behaviors continues to plague all of us in democratic societies worldwide. And what do we see today as we look out at the world?

We see ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the malevolent murderous dictators in Saudi Arabia. In addition to this, we have long witnessed entire countries run by dictators who violate human rights every day. This includes such dictators as Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Xi Jinping serving as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un who is a dictator of one of the ugliest regimes of all time.

     Unfortunately, America, a democratic country with democratic institutions, is not immune to fanaticism. And this fanaticism has come from both the left and the right.        

A Short History Lesson

Throughout history in our country the True Believer has existed. In the modern era two prime examples come to mind in the political arena where the True Believer is concerned:  The Era of Eugene Victor Debs and the era of Donald Trump, the former a Socialist and the later a White Nationalist. Let’s begin by exploring these two people.

The Father of American Socialism

One of the most influential people during the early years of the 20th Century was Eugene Victor Debs.  He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1855 to a family of French Alsatian immigrants. Making his way in the railroad industry, Debs formed the American Railway Union in 1892.

Two years later he found himself leading one of the largest strikes in American history — the great Pullman strike. When its workers refused to accept a pay cut, The Pullman Car Company fired 5000 employees.

To show support, Debs called for the members of the American Railway Union to refrain from operating any trains that used Pullman cars. When the strike was declared illegal by a court injunction, chaos erupted.

President Cleveland ordered federal troops to quell the strikers and Debs was arrested. Soon order was restored and the strike failed. Eugene Debs was also one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies), and five times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States. Through his presidential candidacies, as well as his work with labor movements, Debs eventually became one of the best-known socialists living in the United States.

Debs was not originally a socialist, but his experience with the Pullman Strike and his subsequent six-month jail term led him to believe that drastic action was necessary. Debs chose to confine his activity to the political arena. In 1900 he ran for President of the United States as a socialist and garnered some 87,000 votes.

The following year, leading sympathizers joined with him to form the Socialist Party. At its height, the party numbered over 100,000 active members.

In the election of 1912 he received over 900,000 votes. After being arrested for antiwar activities during World War I, he ran for President from his jail cell and polled 919,000 votes. Debs died in 1926 having never won an election, but over one thousand Socialist Party members were elected to state and city governments.

Eugene Victor Debs left an indelible mark among candidates for President of the United States. Eugene Debs ran as a Socialist candidate for President of the United States five times, including 1900 (earning 0.6% of the popular vote), 1904 (3.0%), 1908 (2.8%), 1912 (6.0%), and 1920 (3.4%), the last time from a prison cell. He was also a candidate for United States Congress from his native state of Indiana in 1916.

Why Were Socialists beliefs popular?

Despite the success of the American Federation of Labor, American radicalism was not dead. The number of those who felt the American capitalist system was fundamentally flawed was in fact growing fast.

American socialists based their beliefs on the writings of Karl Marx, the German philosopher. Many asked why so many working Americans should have so little while a few owners grew incredibly wealthy. No wealth could exist without the sweat and blood of its workforce. They suggested that the government should own all industries and divide the profits among those who actually created the products. While the current management class would stand to lose, many more people would gain. These radicals grew in number as industries spread. But their enemies were legion.

While most Americans today would feel sympathy for Eugene Debs and his cause for fairness between management and labor in an era of crass capitalism gone amuck, it is still a fact that there were fanatics among many of his supporters.

There is an uncanny resemblance I can see between Eugene Deb’s fanatical supporters and Donald Trump’s core base of Republicans where violence several times has made its way to attacking reporters. In addition, his white racist lunatic supporters have even attacked Trump’s own African American supporters who show up at Donald Trump rallies. Oops! I digress for a moment. Back to Eugene Debs and the saga of the Wobblies.

The Wobblies

Even more radical than the Socialists were the members of the Industrial Workers of the World. This union believed that compromise with owners was no solution. Founded in 1905 and led by William “Big Bill” Haywood, the “Wobblies,” as they were called, encouraged their members to fight for justice directly against their employers.

Although small in number, they led hundreds of strikes across America, calling for the overthrow of the capitalist system. The I.W.W. won few battles, but their efforts sent a strong message across America that workers were being mistreated.

When the United States entered World War I, the “Wobblies” launched an active antiwar movement. Many were arrested or beaten. One unlucky member in Oregon was tied to the front end of an automobile with his knees touching the ground and driven until his flesh was torn to the bone.

Membership declined after the war, but for two decades the I.W.W. was the anchor of radical American activism. This minority of Wobblers were indeed “true believers” in their cause.

This leads to my example of fanaticism from the right in politics. What makes this relevant is that this new era of political fanaticism is occurring in the here and now.

The Trump Administration and the High Priest of Hate

Donald Trump was elected to the presidency of the United States in 2016. Based on a philosophy of white nationalism, similar in tone to the promoters of Aryan beliefs fostered during the reign of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Brown Shirts (Sturmabteilung a.k.a., Storm Troopers), Donald Trump is be-loved by the Aryans of today as reflected in the violent confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 as well as at his political rallies.

After the 2016 presidential election, it became crystal clear that the American voter had made an egregious mistake in judgment when picking a person to be the Commander in Chief and President of the United States. Immediately, women and independent voters who had got him elected pulled away their support when their error in judgment came home to roost.

Now following the 2016 election, research has shown that Trump voters were lacking education, lacking intelligent insight, devoid of basic humanitarian values, overly naïve in their beliefs, and simply lacked adroitness to the maximum degree. In my opinion all of these things may have been present in the Trump voter in 2016.

Russian collusion and interference, un-democratic gerrymandering, voter suppression and the unnecessary (and undemocratic) Electoral College system conspired to give the presidency to Donald Trump. Scandal after scandal has plagued his presidency both before and after his becoming president.

He has committed both impeachable offenses (including treason) as well as engaged in criminal behavior. Donald is an infantile mental case and has delusions of grandeur about his self-worth. He is a wanna-be mafia don. I can understand Donald Trump’s infatuation with the concept of “fake news.” After all, since January 20, 2017 the United States of America has had a fake president.

At no previous time in the history of the United States has a president or his administration brought such dishonor and disrespect. As a result the United States has lost status as a protector of human rights in the eyes of the world.

Given the bomb threats that have been made against liberal democratic politicians including the attempted murder of two prior American presidents, the FBI need to investigate these incredibly serious criminal acts leaving no stone unturned.

And, the racist connections to Donald Trump continue to shed a light and give direction to such an investigation. The motivation of the bomber(s) is very clear. Just how deep racism runs rampant through Donald Trump and his supporters is reflected in an article written back in 2016.

In May, 2016 Robert L. Tsai wrote an article for Slate Magazine, titled: “What Aryans See in Donald Trump—He is the Aryan warrior, come to save whiteness itself.

By Robert L. Tsai

May 26, 2016•3:49 PM

“In recent years, white supremacists have tended to avoid taking part in national politics in the belief that both parties have been conquered by nonwhites who pursue their own racial interests over others. This year represents a sea change. Rarely have so many open racists flocked to a presidential candidate’s banner as they have done for Donald Trump. They have shown up at rallies to do gleeful battle with Black Lives Matter protesters and jumped at the opportunity to serve as Trump delegates to the Republican National Convention.

The reasons for white nationalists’ renewed hope in mainstream politics are more complicated than the caricature of jackbooted youths saluting one of their own. Trump has disavowed the endorsement of overt racists such as David Duke, but somehow white nationalists have “never been more optimistic.” Despite Trump’s profession, “I don’t have a racist bone in my body,” his brand of race-fueled populism promises to reforge broken psychological ties among large swaths of demoralized white voters, whether or not they self-identify as white nationalists or belong to extremist organizations. Trump seeks to recreate a coalition that includes dislocated rural workers and dissatisfied denizens of urban democracy, the relatively prosperous and the hardly working, weary defenders of the Old South and armed isolationists in the Pacific Northwest. Through a mix of policy and symbolism, Trump unites them all with a sneering form of nationalism that, more than ever, helps rekindle the racial consciousness of mainstream white voters.

A key to Trump’s appeal is that his agenda to “Make America Great Again” revolves around an iron-fisted leadership style for which many disaffected white voters have been searching. The fractured elements of white nationalist America, meanwhile, perceive Trump to be the embodiment of the Aryan warrior, a mythic figure who will liberate white people from their current state of malaise, infighting, and almost certain extinction. White nationalists trace their lineage through Northern Europe (some claim to descend from the Lost Tribes of Israel) and find their role models in the various soldiers and statesmen who supposedly defended the purity of the white civilization. Today, any person of Western European stock can theoretically become an Aryan warrior by swearing to preserve the white race, but some white supremacist groups believe a single figure will be called from among the people to fulfill a more unifying role. Trump, who is of German and Scottish ancestry, fits the ethnic profile of this savior to a T. But it’s Trump’s political self-presentation that is truly arousing.

Unhappy white Americans are not monolithic; Trump’s appeal goes beyond his potential Aryan saviorhood. In a Republican Party that has tilted decidedly rightward, he outflanked Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz—figures who are more faithful conservatives than Trump—by shrewdly appealing to a complex belief system shared by many disgruntled white voters.

But for the most extreme of these resentment-oriented citizens, Trump’s appeal is manifold. These citizens believe that the founding generation established the United States as a republic for the pursuit of liberty and happiness as white people alone define those ideals. Members of this alt-community despise pluralism, bristling at any emphasis of race, sex, or gender differences.

Many distrust liberal education, which is blamed for fostering white guilt and destroying a sense of racial identity among whites. A number of them fear the global economy. Sensing their influence greatly diminished, such individuals have opted out of electoral politics. They have felt abandoned by the old Democratic Party after it became the party of black civil rights and betrayed by the modern Republican Party, which has cynically used dog-whistle politics to gain their votes without, in their view, doing enough to safeguard their interests. Some of the discontented have become radicalized, joining patriot groups, separatist strongholds, or white supremacist organizations.

Anxiety about biological and cultural extinction is pervasive among these disaffected whites. Before his downfall and death, Richard Girnt Butler gathered self-identified Aryans to his compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho. On social media today, racially conscious whites assemble around the hashtag #WhiteGenocide or lodge their grievances at Stormfront.org. (Trump once actually retweeted a user named “White Genocide.”) The late David Lane, an influential Aryan thinker and member of a violent organization called the Order, helped popularize the view that the white race was “now a small minority in the world,” beset by forced integration, intermarriage, and “inter-species compassion.” According to this worldview, only those who aspire to the ideal of the Aryan warrior can restore the civic republicanism of America’s forefathers and save the white race. Enter Trump.

The cultural image of the Aryan warrior combines romantic masculinity, chest-beating race pride, and a relish for legal violence. Lane’s writings put the Aryan warrior in explicitly political terms. His tract 88 Precepts prophesies the coming of the “strongman,” who will emerge in the late stages of a dying democracy. That figure will display a keen ability to see that “political, economic, and religious systems may be destroyed and resurrected” in ways to prevent the eternal destruction of the white race. Some will call the strongman “a dictator,” but Lane insists that a ruthless leadership style “is the only way to restore order out of the chaos caused by a democracy.”

Trump’s style of governance seems to fulfill this prophesy: His entire self-presentation is a rebuke to liberalism and gradual legal change. Instead, he promises political revolution through charismatic leadership. Trump’s vulgar, unvarnished manner of speaking and his penchant for favoring extreme measures—the very characteristics deemed un-presidential and dangerous by his critics—are seen as not only refreshing but also as essential for the rebirth of the Aryan nation-state.

When Trump calls Hispanic immigrants “criminals, drug dealers, rapists,” and vows to “take our country back” from those “taking our jobs” and “taking our money,” white nationalists hear Trump telling the same uncomfortable truths about the sorry state of white society they have voiced for decades. Every time he eggs followers on to forcefully confront detractors or swears to “take out the families” of terrorists, he projects a muscular approach to protecting the white republic.

His calling card is a plan to build a massive wall between the United States and Mexico to stem illegal immigration and somehow force Mexico to pay for it. Policy analysts have scoffed at this proposal, but its real power lies not in policy but in metaphor, one that taps into a hardened, survivalist mindset. It is an image that resonates with a community that already believes it is losing the war against nonwhite civilizations. When Trump ritually invokes the wall or recommends the creation of a national deportation force, he signals to this constituency that he agrees the future of the white race is at stake.

To Aryans, a resurgence of public masculinity is central to sovereignty. They believe that the power to command others, and then to spark a revolution, emanates from one’s power to control the traditional family. This is why Trump’s crude comments about female appearances and the proper role of women excite rather than repulse these core supporters. It is also why, in trading on fears of white male helplessness, his claims that “Mexico sends its people” to rape and pillage and that China is “raping our country” through unfair trade practices appeal so powerfully to the racist mind. For Trump, as for the white nationalist community, sovereignty and maleness are forever interlinked.

Additionally, the scorn heaped upon Trump simply confirms for these racially motivated white voters that they have discovered the right leader, one who might defeat the forces of liberalism and multiculturalism that have corrupted American law. Lane urged white people to select a strongman “wisely.” “Choose one who has sacrificed all in the face of tyranny; choose one who has endured and persevered,” he writes. “This is the only reliable evidence of his worthiness and motives.” On this front, Trump has more than proved his mettle by drawing the arrows of his enemies in the Republican primary and emerging more powerful for it, while the battlefield is littered with opponents who underestimated him.

How far can he go? Trump has actively courted fringe parts of the electorate by assenting to their racially inflected diagnosis of what ails America and has thrown his support behind whites-first prescriptions. From this point on, Trump’s ceiling as a vehicle for white nationalism will depend on the willingness of mainstream voters to take responsibility for his promise to restore white self-governance and his systematic scapegoating of nonwhites.

By casting himself as a virtuous guardian of white people’s welfare and claiming a “mandate” to be provocative, Trump has gotten further than any similar politician in recent years. Win or lose, as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, he is already more successful than Pat Buchanan or David Duke, which makes him the most prominent Aryan warrior of the modern age.”

The Commonality of Unifying Agents among Differing Fanatical Groups

According to Eric Hoffer true believers for any cause have certain things in common. They include: Hatred, Imitation, Persuasion and Coercion, Leadership, Action, Suspicion, and The Effects of Unification. Given the limitations of this Blog I will only discuss the unifying factor of hatred.

 Hatred

According to Eric Hoffer, “Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents…Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.” He also reported that, “The theoreticians of the Kremlin hardly waited for the guns of Second World War to cool before they picked the democratic West, and particularly America, as the chosen enemy.”

For Donald Trump the devil is liberals, democrats, the free press and anyone else who criticizes him. By his stoking the fires of hatred, it has led to the discovery of several bombs reported on Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 whereby democrats, liberals and the free press were targeted for murder and assassination.

Donald Trump, as an advocate of violence at his rallies, no matter how surreptitiously displayed, bears great similarity to Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin. These latter historical figures of World War II along with Eugene Debs and the Wobblies share an important characteristic with the fatuous oaf in the White House—They were all ‘True Believers.’”

Final Comments

The evidence shows that fanaticism and the “true believer” has been around for thousands of years. As long as mankind exists and, in the absence of a world-wide nuclear catastrophe, people of extreme views and mindsets will likely continue to exist in the future.

Groups like the Ku Klux Klan, the American mafia, including different ethnic versions of it, were filled with members who might have manifested the characteristics of a “True Believer.” And, there may have been some who had additional motives like avarice and greed.

The real test of the degree of being a “True Believer” is whether or not (as Eric Hoffer pointed out) one is willing to sacrifice oneself for a dream impossible to attain. We know that some people cave-in to pressure while others do not. This applies to anyone in any group. Measuring this attribute of people in fanatical groups of “True Believers” is probably impossible to do.

I could have chosen to write about other groups as evidence of the “True Believer,” but I chose instead to write about Eugene Debs of the 20th Century and Donald Trump in the 21st Century. I think I have shown that “True Believers” runs the full political landscape or gamut from left to right, However, I want to zero-in now on Donald Trump.

I do this because the effects, and soon-to-be after effects, are happening now in this day and age. Critical to all of this is motivation of people, particularly those who supported and those who continue to support Donald Trump. And it pertains to comments made by author, Robert L Tsai.  I may too have some insight to contribute in this regard.

      In 1900 there was no television, cell phones or the Internet. In today’s world we get pummeled every day with a barrage of “breaking news” on a nearly 24 hour basis. In a few prior blogs I pointed out the sociological concept of “White Fright—White Flight.” This concept has generated intense psychological fear among a sizeable portion of white voters.

The underlying reason many whites are terrified is not economic; rather, it is an irrational fear of losing one’s social status in society. This is sad, but true. The insecurity of losing one’s status seems to reinforce the idea that constitutional principles of freedom and justice for all people under the United States Constitution, must somehow take a back seat to one’s loss of social status.

No one knows what American will be like in 30 years when there is no majority, only minorities of different population sizes. As a social scientist there is one question that begs to be answered. As a result of population changes favoring no one and favoring everyone at the time, will there be less stress and strife among groups in society as a result of this?

Intuitively, I think the United States Constitution will still be the law of the land. Hopefully people will strive for the good life as individuals no longer burdened by some arbitrarily defined social group label or status. If we see everyone as individuals, not members of some group, I think this would be a very good thing. However, I don’t know definitively if this will be the case. I can only speculate and say I am a very optimistic person and hope for the best all the time.

On the negative side today, I make this pronouncement:

If these attempted assassinations are connected to Trump himself or his voters and core supporters, drastic steps may need to be taken when the House and the Senate are changed by the mid-term elections.

It may very well be that such individuals responsible will need to be incarcerated for life if they are proven guilty of attempted murder and assassination.  Given the more civilized nature of the Democratic Party, I doubt children of the Trump supporter will be locked in cages, permanently separated from their parents or forcibly sent to Mexico or Guatemala.

If Donald Trump is behind the plot to assassinate two prior American presidents he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. In spirit his cell mate just might be Eugene Victor Debs or “Big Bill Haywood.” A more likely scenario is that Donald Trump will die in prison then spend eternity being guided by Virgil through Dante’s 9 circles of hell for Trump’s deadly sins of Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery.

Coming back to today’s reality Donald Trump is simply a racist, weak, feckless, and immoral human being. He is also the worst politician in American History.

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

Sociological Context of Values
Social values form an important part of culture in society. The broadest conduit through which values are formed includes folk ways, mores, and codified rules known as laws.
It is a sociological observation that values influence every aspect of human behavior and belief in every society. It is “a person’s principles or standards of behavior, one’s judgment of what is important in life.”
Some values are relatively unimportant while the principled “inner-core values” of an individual are ingrained from childhood and are considered of great importance. Why are ingrained values so important? It is because principled core values form the basis of one’s own identity.
So what are Values?
Values are defined as, “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.” Besides beliefs about the value of something, at a higher level of abstraction, values are tied, not just to objects or minor preferences, but to human conduct with a moral assessment (or belief) about what is considered “right” and “wrong.”
Donald Trump’s Values
Much of human behavior in this and every other society is the result of values people hold. In America today, under the Trump administration, there are hidden values that belie and confute as a smokescreen for white nationalism. White nationalism is itself the antithesis of long-standing American values that are embodied in both the people of this country and documented through the United States Constitution.
What motivates most White nationalists is a fear of losing power and privilege in what sociologists so accurately describe as “white fright/white flight.” The nexus of this social phenomenon of “white fright/white flight” is its unadulterated circumlocution to racism.
Live and let live is a concept that is absolutely foreign to the White nationalist in America. And, it is important to point out to my reader that any world view is also influenced by one’s core and collective values. Never are these values more socially destructive as when prejudice translates into behavior known as discrimination.
Donald Trump’s World View
Donald Trump’s world view of white nationalism is reflected in his disguised view of his own racially motivated behavior. This includes: (1) his racial discrimination in preventing African Americans from renting Trump properties in the 1970s (2) his ruthless morally critical and cruel castigation of the Central Park Five (five African American young men that were falsely incarcerated in the Central Park jogger case). This case concerned the assault, rape, and sodomy of Trisha Meili, a female jogger. That crime occurred on April 19, 1989), (3) his repudiation of a Hispanic judge over a legal case involving Trump himself, (4) his total disrespect of the Muslim Kahn family, a gold star military family, that had lost their son in Iraq, and (5) more recently, his incompetent offensive mishandling of a condolence call to the widow of La David Johnson, an African Staff Sergeant who was killed in Niger. These racially biased views of Donald Trump and his White nationalism protecting whites and their historical position of dominance and privilege, reflect his values.
Values can either bring people together or split people apart. Values are just values until one gets to the notion of “value judgments” made collectively or by individuals. Donald Trump’s base reflects the values of racism and White nationalism as a collectivity, In Washington D.C. today the mouthpiece for these White nationalist values falls primarily on just one individual—Donald Trump.

Nationalism as a World View
Nationalism is the belief that your country is superior, without question or doubt. In some cases, nationalism can inspire people to break free of a foreign oppressor, as in the American Revolution, but nationalism can also lead a country to cut itself off from the rest of the world. American isolationism prior to the onset of World War II was a self-protection world view.
“From a political or sociological outlook, there are three main paradigms for understanding the origins and basis of nationalism. The first, known as primordialism or perennialism, sees nationalism as a natural phenomenon. It holds that, although the concept of nationhood may be recent, nations have always existed.
The second paradigm is ethno symbolism, which is a complex perspective seeking to explain nationalism by contextualizing it throughout history as a dynamic, evolutionary phenomenon and by further examining the strength of nationalism as a result of the nation’s subjective ties to national symbols imbued with historical meaning.
The third and most dominant paradigm is modernism, which sees nationalism as a recent phenomenon that needs the structural conditions of modern society to exist.” Also, “National symbols and flags, national anthems, national languages, national myths and other symbols of national identity are highly important in nationalism.” Does this ring a bell anyone?
Trump’s appreciation and fondness of world dictators is a very troubling insight into his character. Trump’s general manifestation of paranoia is tied to his psychological suspicions of the American values of inclusiveness, an open society, and a country stepped in the values of the Bill of Rights. Donald Trump, the wannabe dictator bears an uncanny similarity to a very vicious nationalist of the 1930s—Germany’s Adolf Hitler, who kept his secret agenda away from the German people until he had seized total control and power.
In order to better clarify this often perplexing phenomena of differing values one must glean at least some semblance of insight from the field of sociology. The emotional life of the individual is best understood by studying psychology. But our emotional life is definitely intertwined with our identity, reflected in the many beliefs and values one holds.
To understand any group is to look at their professed and sometimes hidden values. To understand the individual is to focus on the mental or emotional state of the individual and its interplay with the values one holds. This type of scientific study or analysis is a very complex undertaking when it seeks to test hypotheses across academic disciplines. One very influential book written tying individual needs or characteristics to sociological constructs of beliefs and values was the seminal work of Eric Hoffer’s 1951 book, The True Believer.” I recommend this book to everyone. Despite the fact this book was published more than 66 years ago, it is of great relevance today. It will provide great insight into the bizarre, confusing and strange government we have now led by Republicans.
Final Comments
Collectively, values can either pull people together in a common cause and direction (e.g., during a hurricane or during a terrorist attack like September 11th), or split people apart along the lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion (or no religion), education, age, or social class.
The values of Donald Trump, his supporters and white nationalists, favor the politics of division. They are the dividers in our society with hidden motives related to the sociological concept of “white fright//white flight.”
Currently political values are playing a major role in dividing people like never before. My sense is that hatred between the political right and political left is at an all-time high. Ideologues and intransigent demagogues on both the far right and the far left care little about democracy. And there unfortunately has been a decline in those of the political center. These are people and voters I would characterize as rational centrists.
Rational centrists tend to see the world through the prism of data and logic, not exclusively by dogma or bias. They value the principles this country was founded on—equality, justice and freedom for all.
I would be remiss if I did not point out that there is an inescapable “truth. And that “truth” is that bias and prejudice exist in all of us, yet, it is also true that we possess a living document more sacred than the Bible, Torah, or the Koran put together. And for Americans that document is the Constitution of the United States and its most honored principles—The first 10 amendments to the Constitution known as the Bill of Rights.
Right now our country has a colossal failure in the White House. He is a miserable, insecure, mentally unbalanced buffoon. Nevertheless, the predominantly Republican Congress can’t seem to differentiate between real moral conviction in protecting democracy, and their own self-serving, self-aggrandizing motives.
As French sociologist and political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) said in the 18th Century, “everybody feels the evil, but no one has courage or energy enough to seek the cure.” What is the cure to all this widespread American misery? It’s called impeachment.

Breaking News
And, as I write this Blog putting the finishing touches to it, there is great news. On Friday October 27th Special Counsel and Investigator Robert Mueller announced that a grand jury he had convened has brought the very first charges into the Russian probe of the 2016 election.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “At least one person was charged Friday in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the matter. That person could be taken into custody as soon as Monday, these people said. The number and identity of the defendants, and the charges, couldn’t be determined.
A spokesman for Mr. Mueller, Peter Carr, declined to comment. The news of the charges, marking the first in Mr. Mueller’s investigation, was reported by CNN on Friday.”

Read Full Post »

Psychology and Sociology of Religious Fanaticism

A Five Part Series

Part V

 

Understanding the Context of Religious Terrorism and Fanaticism

One of the greatest influences in my life as a young college student back in the 1960s was the written works of sociologist, longshoreman, philosopher and columnist—Eric Hoffer.

It is with the context of Eric Hoffer’s seminal 1951 book, The True Believer that I offer an explanation for groups as diverse as ISIS, The Ku Klux Klan, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, or other international, national or locally grown fanaticism groups.

Such diverse groups really have much in common as far as their psychology and sociology are concerned.

 

The True Believer

 

     The True Believer: Thoughts On the Nature of Mass Movements is a 1951 social psychology book by American writer Eric Hoffer that discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism.

The book analyzes and attempts to explain the motives of the various types of personalities that give rise to mass movements, why and how mass movements start, progress and end, and the similarities between them whether religious, political, radical or reactionary.

Hoffer argues that even when their stated goals or values differ, mass movements are interchangeable, that adherents will often flip from one movement to another, and that the motivations for mass movements are interchangeable. Thus, religious, nationalist and social movements, whether radical or reactionary, tend to attract the same type of followers, behave in the same way and use the same tactics and rhetorical tools. As examples, the book often refers to Communism, Fascism, National Socialism, Christianity, Protestantism, and Islam.

The first and best-known of Hoffer’s books, The True Believer has been published in 23 editions between 1951 and 2002.

 

Summary

 

Part 1. The Appeal of Mass Movements

Hoffer argues that mass movements begin with a widespread “desire for change” from discontented people who place their locus of control outside their power and who also have no confidence in existing culture or traditions.

Feeling their lives are “irredeemably spoiled” and believing there is no hope for advancement or satisfaction as an individual, true believers seek “self-renunciation.” Thus, such people are ripe to participate in a movement that offers the option of subsuming their individual lives in a larger collective.       Leaders are vital in the growth of a mass movement, as outlined below, but for the leader to find any success the seeds of the mass movement must already exist in people’s hearts.

While mass movements are usually some blend of nationalist, political and religious ideas Hoffer argues there are two important commonalities: “All mass movements are competitive” and perceive the supply of converts as zero-sum; and “all mass movements are interchangeable.”

As examples of the interchangeable nature of mass movements, Hoffer cites how almost 2000 years ago Saul, a fanatical opponent of Christianity, became Paul, a fanatical apologist and promoter of Christianity. Another example occurred in Germany during the 1920s and ’30s, when Communists and Fascists were ostensibly bitter enemies but in fact competed for the same type of angry, marginalized people; Nazis Adolf Hitler and Ernst Rohm, and Communist Karl Radek, all boasted of their prowess in converting their rivals.

Part 2. The Potential Converts

    

     The “New Poor” are the most likely source of converts for mass movements, for they recall their former wealth with resentment and blame others for their current misfortune. Examples include the mass evictions of relatively prosperous tenants during the English Civil War of the 1600s; or the middle- and working-classes in Germany who passionately supported Hitler in the 1930s after suffering years of economic hardship. In contrast, the “abjectly poor” on the verge of starvation make unlikely true believers as their daily struggle for existence takes preeminence over any other concern.

Racial and religious minorities, particularly those only partly assimilated into mainstream culture, are also found in mass movements. Those who live traditionalist lifestyles tend to be content, but the partially assimilated feel alienated from both their forbearers and the mainstream culture. (e.g., “The orthodox Jew is less frustrated than the emancipated Jew.”)

A variety of what Hoffer terms “misfits” are also found in mass movements. Examples include “chronically bored,” the physically disabled or perpetually ill, the talentless, and criminals or “sinners.” In all cases, Hoffer argues, these people feel as if their individual lives are meaningless and worthless.

Hoffer argues that the relatively low number of mass movements in America is attributable to a culture that blurred traditionally rigid boundaries between nationalist, racial and religious groups, and which allowed greater opportunities for individual accomplishment.

Part 3. United Action and Self-Sacrifice

In mass movements, an individual’s goals or opinions are unimportant. Rather, the mass movement’s “chief preoccupation is to foster, perfect and perpetuate a facility for united action and self-sacrifice.” To this end, mass movements have several means.

Mass movements demand a “total surrender of a distinct self.” One identifies first and foremost as “a member of a certain tribe or family,” be it religious, political, revolutionary, or nationalist.

Every important part of the true believer’s persona and life must ultimately come from his/her identification with the larger community; even when alone he/she must never feel isolated and unwatched.

Hoffer identifies this communal sensibility as the reappearance of a “primitive state of being” common among pre-modern cultures. Mass movements also use play-acting and spectacle designed to make the individual feel overwhelmed and awed by their membership in the tribe, as with the massive ceremonial parades and speeches of the Nazis.

While mass movements idealize the past and glorify the future, the present-day world is denigrated.  “The radical and the reactionary loath the present.” Thus, by regarding the modern world as vile and worthless, mass movements inspire a perpetual battle against the present.

Mass movements aggressively promote the use of Doctrines that elevate faith over reason [sound familiar] and serve as “fact-proof screens between the faithful and the realities of the world.”

The Doctrine of the mass movement must not be questioned under any circumstances. Examples include the Japanese holdouts who refused to believe that WWII was over, or the staunch defenders of the Soviet Union who rejected overwhelming evidence of Bolshevik atrocities.

To spread and re-enforce their doctrine, mass movements use persuasion, coercion, and proselytization. Persuasion is preferable, but practical only with those already sympathetic to the mass movement. Moreover, persuasion must be thrilling enough to excite the listener yet vague enough to allow “the frustrated to […] hear the echo of their own musings in the impassioned double talk.” And, as Hoffer quotes Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, “a sharp sword must always stand behind propaganda if it is to be really effective.”

 The urge to proselytize comes not from a deeply held belief in the truth of Doctrine but from an urge of the fanatic to “strengthen his own faith by converting others.”

Successful mass movements need not believe in a god, but they must believe in a devil. Hatred unifies the true believers, and “the ideal devil is a foreigner” attributed with nearly supernatural powers of evil. For example, Hitler described Jews as foreign interlopers and, moreover an ephemeral Jewishness alleged to taint the German soul was as vehemently condemned as were flesh-and-blood Jews.

The hatred of a true believer is actually a disguised self-loathing, as with the condemnation of capitalism by socialists while Russia under the Bolsheviks saw more intensive monopolization of the economy than any other nation in history. Without a devil to hate, mass movements often falter (e.g., Chiang Kai-shek effectively led millions of Chinese during the Japanese occupation of the 1930s and ’40s, but quickly fell out of favor once the Japanese were defeated).

Fanaticism is encouraged in mass movements. Hoffer argues that “the fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure” and thus uses uncompromising action and personal sacrifice to give meaning to his life.

Part 4. Beginning and End

Hoffer identifies three main personality types as the leaders of mass movements, “men of words, “fanatics”, and “practical men of action.” No person falls exclusively into one category, and their predominant quality may shift over time.

Mass movements begin with “men of words” or “fault-finding intellectuals” such as clergy, journalists, academics, and students who condemn the established social order (e.g., Gandhi, Trotsky, Mohammad, and Lenin). These men of words feel unjustly excluded from, or mocked and oppressed by, the existing powers in society, and relentlessly criticize or denigrate present-day institutions.

While invariably speaking out in the name of disadvantaged commoners, the man of words is actually motivated by a deep personal grievance. The man of words relentlessly attempts to “discredit the prevailing creeds” and creates a “hunger for faith” which is then fed by “doctrines and slogans of the new faith.” A cadre of devotees gradually develops around the man of words, leading to the next stage in a mass movement.

Eventually, the fanatic takes over leadership of the mass movement from the man of words. While the “creative man of words” finds satisfaction in his literature, philosophy or art, the “noncreative man of words” feels unrecognized or stifled, and thus veers into extremism against the social order.

Though both the man of words and the fanatic share a discontent with the world, the fanatic is distinguished by his viciousness and urges to destroy. The fanatic feels fulfilled only in a perpetual struggle for power and change. Examples include Jean-Paul Marat, Maximillian de Robespierre, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler.

The book also explores the behavior of mass movements once they become established as social institutions (or leave the “active phase”). With their collapse of a communal framework, people can no longer defeat their abiding feelings of insecurity and uncertainty by belonging to a compact whole.

If the isolated individual lacks 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.

The “practical men of action” take over leadership from the fanatics, marking the end of the “dynamic phase” and steering the mass movement away from the fanatic’s self-destructiveness. “Hitler, who had a clear vision of the whole course of a movement even while he was nursing his infant National Socialism, warned that a movement retains its vigor only so long as it can offer nothing in the present […]

The movement at this stage still concerns itself with the frustrated–not to harness their discontent in a deadly struggle with the present, but to reconcile them with it, to make them patient and meek.”

The focus shifts from immediate demands for revolution to establishing the mass movement as a social institution where the ambitious can find influence and fame. Leadership uses an eclectic bricolage of ideological scraps to reinforce the Doctrine, borrowing from whatever source is successful in holding the attention of true believers.

For example, proto-Christians were fanatics, predicting the end of the world, condemning idolatry, demanding celibacy and sowing discontent between family members; yet from these roots grew Roman Catholicism which mimicked the elaborate bureaucratic structure of the Roman Empire, canonized early Christians as saints, and borrowed pagan holidays and rites. In the absence of a practical man of action, the mass movement often withers and dies with the fanatic (e.g., Nazism died as a viable mass movement with Hitler’s death).

Mass movements that succeed in causing radical change often, but not always, exceed in brutality the former regime that the mass movement opposed. The Bolsheviks in Russia and the Jacobins in France ostensibly formed in reaction to the oppression of their respective monarchies but proved themselves far more vicious and brutal in oppressing their opponents.

Hoffer does not take an exclusively negative view of “true believers” and the mass movements they originate. He gives examples of how the same forces that give rise to True Believer mass movements can be channeled in more positive ways.

“There are, of course, rare leaders such as Lincoln, Gandhi, even F.D.R., Churchill, and Nehru. They do not hesitate to harness man’s hungers and fears to weld a following and make it zealous unto death in service of a holy cause; but unlike a Hitler, a Stalin, or even a Luther and a Calvin, they are not tempted to use the slime of frustrated souls as mortar in the building of a new world …. They know that no one can be honorable unless he honors mankind.”

— p.147

Hoffer argues that the length of the “active phase” of a mass movement — the most energetic phase when fanatics are in control — can be predicted with some accuracy. Mass movements with a specific goal tend to be shorter-lived and feature less terror and bloodshed (e.g., the American Revolution). In contrast, an amorphous goal tends to result in a longer active phase of decades rather than months or years and also include substantially more bloodshed (e.g., the Bolsheviks in Russia, National Socialism in Germany).

In either case, Hoffer suggests that mass movements are accompanied by a dearth of creative innovation because so much energy is devoted to the mass movement. For example, in England John Milton began a draft of his epic poem Paradise Lost in the 1640s before turning his literary talents to pamphleteering for the Commonwealth of England, only to finish the poem and his other major works after a change in government in 1660.

Reception

     U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower read The True Believer in 1952, gave copies to friends, and recommended it to others. In 1956, Look Magazine ran an article calling Hoffer “Ike’s Favorite Author.”

Allen Scarborough chose The True Believer as one of 25 books that “you need to read to know just about everything.”

     The True Believer earned renewed attention after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and, also after the Tea Party Protests and Occupy Wall Street protests a decade later.

 

Bibliography

 

The True Believer Quotes

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer

Preview — The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

“It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible.”
“People with a sense of fulfillment think it is a good world and would like to conserve it as it is, while the frustrated favor radical change.”
“The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the singlehanded defiance of the world.”
“Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.”
“There is no doubt that in exchanging a self-centered for a selfless life we gain enormously in self-esteem. The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless.”
“The permanent misfits can find salvation only in a complete separation from the self; and they usually find it by losing themselves in the compact collectivity of a mass movement.”
“The enemy—the indispensable devil of every mass movement—is omnipresent. He plots both outside and inside the ranks of the faithful. It is his voice that speaks through the mouth of the dissenter, and the deviationists are his stooges. If anything goes wrong within the movement, it is his doing. It is the sacred duty of the true believer to be suspicious. He must be constantly on the lookout for saboteurs, spies and traitors.”
“Propaganda … serves more to justify ourselves than to convince others; and the more reason we have to feel guilty, the more fervent our propaganda.”
“A movement is pioneered by men of words, materialized by fanatics and consolidated by men of action.”
“Glory is largely a theatrical concept. There is no striving for glory without a vivid awareness of an audience… The desire to escape or camouflage their unsatisfactory selves develops in the frustrated a facility for pretending — for making a show — and also a readiness to identify themselves wholly with an imposing spectacle.”
“The conservatism of a religion – its orthodoxy – is the inert coagulum of a once highly reactive sap.”
“Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.”
“The act of self-denial seems to confer on us the right to be harsh and merciless toward others.”
“Jesus was not a Christian, nor was Marx a Marxist.”
Final Comments

     The purpose of this five part series has been to describe the characteristics of religious fanaticism in the world today. It is clear that there are definite behavioral characteristics of individuals who choose to start, or be part of, radical or extreme groups. Eric Hoffer has definitely captured in his Theory of Mass Movements the psychological appeal such movements have.

     The sociological side to religious fanaticism or global movements reflects the facts that, particularly in the Muslim world, three strikes against them give rise to extremism—low literacy rates, low educational levels, and high unemployment.

     There needs to be a renaissance in learning throughout the Muslim world if they are ever going to escape their vulnerability to extremist mass movements and the appeal of radical Jihadists.

     Ever since the Ottoman Empire down-played the importance of education and learning for their people, millions upon millions of Muslims over the millennial have suffered the consequences.    

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Why California Will be a Significant State in Banning Sharia Law

 

Background

California’s significance lies in its size of its population (38.8 million as of 2014). California is the largest state in the union as to its population. Otherwise, Alaska claims the trophy for land mass, with California in third place.).

California is the most populous sub-national entity in North America. If it were an independent country, California would rank 34th in population in the world. It has a larger population than all of Canada and Australia. Its population is one third larger than that of the next largest state, Texas. California surpassed New York to become the most populous state in 1962.

No single racial or ethnic group forms a majority of California’s population, making the state a minority-majority state. Non-Hispanic whites make up 40.1% of the population. Spanish is the state’s second most spoken language. Areas with especially large Spanish speaking populations include Los Angeles metropolitan area, the California-Mexico border counties of San Diego and Imperial, and the San Joaquin Valley.  Nearly 43% of California residents speak a language other than English, a proportion far higher than any other state.

 

Muslim Population in the United States and California

     There are an estimated 5 million Muslims in the United States. Twenty percent or 1,000,000 Muslims live in California.

 

     Geographical Distribution:  The table below represents a breakdown by states of the largest Muslim communities in the United States. It shows that there are an estimated 3.3.  Million Muslims in these states. The figure represents 62 percent of the estimated 5 million Muslims living in the United States. 

Muslim State Population Table 

  Muslim Population   (1,000)  Percentage Total Muslim Population  Percent of Total State Population 
California 1,000 20.0 3.4
New York 800 16.0 4.7
Illinois 420 8.4 3.6
New Jersey 200 4.0 2.5
Indiana 180 3.6 3.2
Michigan 170 3.4 1.8
Virginia 150 3.0 2.4
Texas 140 2.8 0.7
Ohio 130 2.6 1.2
Maryland 70 1.4 1.4

* Estimates under column 2 have been rounded to the nearest even number.

The list below shows the number of facilities used by Muslims for religious activities and community affairs:

Mosques/Islamic Centers 843
Islamic Schools 165
Associations 426
Publications   89

There are 165 Islamic Schools in the United States, of which 92 are full time. Figures here for Masjids/Islamic Centers are based on directory listings.

Note: The exact number of businesses owned and operated by Muslims is unavailable, but they are estimated in the thousands. These preliminary findings represent data collected during 1986-1992.

Controversy

Some Muslim Americans have been criticized because of perceived conflicts between their religious beliefs and mainstream American value systems. Muslim cab drivers in Minneapolis, Minnesota have been criticized for refusing passengers for carrying alcoholic beverages or dogs. The Minneapolis –Saint Paul International Airport authority has threatened to revoke the operating authority of any driver caught discriminating in this manner. There are reported incidents in which Muslim cashiers have refused to sell pork products to their clientele.

Based on data from a 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center, their graph records the distribution of feelings of U.S. Muslims on the topic of suicide bombings, separated by age group.

Terrorism that involved Muslim perpetrators began in the United States with the 1993 shootings at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, followed by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. The latest was the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings in Massachusetts. After the September 11 attacks and the start of the Afghanistan war in 2001, there was concern about the potential radicalization of American Muslims. A 2007 Pew poll reported that 15% of American Muslims under the age of 30 supported suicide bombings against civilian targets in at least some circumstances, on the other hand 11% said it could be “rarely justified.”

Among those over the age of 30, just 6% expressed their support for the same. (9% of Muslims over 30 and 5% under 30 chose not to answer). A March 2010 Bipartisan Policy Center paper points out an increasing number of American Muslims are playing high-level operational roles in al-Qaeda and aligned groups, as well as a larger numbers of American Muslims who are attaching themselves to these groups.

Between 2001 and the end of 2009, there were 46 publicly reported incidents of “domestic radicalization and recruitment to jihadist terrorism” that involved at least 125 people between 2001 and the end of 2009. There had been an average of six cases per year since 2001, but that rose to 13 in 2009.

While the seeming increase in cases may be alarming, half “involve single individuals, while the rest represent ‘tiny conspiracies,’ ” according to Congressional testimony.

Furthermore, a 2012 study by the University of North Carolina indicated that the yearly number of cases of alleged plots by Muslim-Americans appears to be declining. The total of 20 indictments for terrorism in 2011 is down from 26 in 2010 and 47 in 2009 (the total since 9/11 is 193). The number of Muslim-Americans indicted for support of terrorism also fell, from 27 individuals in 2010 to just eight in 2011 (the total since 9/11 stands at 462). Also in apparent decline is the number of actual attacks: Of the 20 suspects indicted for terrorism, only one was charged with carrying out a terrorist act. This number is down from the six individuals charged with attacks in 2010. The study’s author concludes that the “limited scale of Muslim-American terrorism in 2011 runs counter to the fears that many Americans shared in the days and months after 9/11, that domestic Muslim-American terrorism would escalate.”

Muslim Americans are significantly represented among those who tip authorities off to alleged plots having given 52 of the 140 documented tips regarding individuals involved in violent terrorist plots since 9/11.

Extremism in the United States

At least one American not of recent immigrant background, John Walker Lindh, has been imprisoned, convicted on charges of working with the Taliban and carrying weapons against American soldiers. He had converted to Islam while in the United States, moved to Yemen to study Arabic, and then went to Pakistan, where he was recruited by the Taliban.

Another American that was not of recent immigrant background, Jose Padilla (prisoner), of Puerto Rican decent and the first Hispanic-American to be imprisoned and convicted on suspicion of plotting a radiological bomb (“dirty bomb”) attack.

He was detained as a material witness until June 9, 2002, when President George W. Bush designated him an enemy combatant and, arguing that he was not entitled to trial in civilian courts, had him transferred to a military prison. He had converted to Islam while serving his last jail sentence in prison, and went to Pakistan where he was recruited into Al-Qaeda.

Islamophobia

     A 2011 Gallup poll report has stated that there has been an increase in Islamophobia over the past decade and defined it as “An exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life.” A 2014 Pew poll found that Muslims were the most disliked religious group in the United States with an average 40% cold rating, which is lower than the 41% cold rating received by atheists.

Public institutions in the U.S. have also drawn fire for accommodating Islam at the expense of taxpayers. The University of Michigan-Dearborn and a public college in Minnesota have been criticized for accommodating Islamic prayer rituals by constructing footbaths for Muslim students using tax-payers’ money.

Critics claim this special accommodation, which is made only to satisfy Muslims’ needs, is a violation of Constitutional provisions separating church and state. Along the same constitutional lines, a San Diego public elementary school is being criticized for making special accommodations specifically for American Muslims by adding Arabic to its curriculum and giving breaks for Muslim prayers. Since these exceptions have not been made for any religious group in the past, some critics see this as an endorsement of Islam.

The first American Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, created controversy when he compared President George W. Bush’s actions after the September 11, 2001 attacks to Adolf Hitler’s actions after the Nazi-sparked Reichstag fire, saying that Bush was exploiting the aftermath of 9/11 for political gain, as Hitler had exploited the Reichstag fire to suspend constitutional liberties.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Anti-Defamation League condemned Ellison’s remarks. The congressman later retracted the statement, saying that it was “inappropriate” for him to have made the comparison.

At Columbus Manor School, a suburban Chicago elementary school with a student body nearly half Muslim Arab Americans, school board officials have considered eliminating holiday celebrations after Muslim parents complained that their culture’s holidays were not included.

Local parent Elizabeth Zahedan said broader inclusion, not elimination, was the group’s goal.” I only wanted them modified to represent everyone,” the Chicago Sun-Times quoted her as saying. “Now the kids are not being educated about other people.” However, the district’s superintendent, Tom Smyth, said too much school time was being taken to celebrate holidays already, and he sent a directive to his principals requesting that they “tone down” activities unrelated to the curriculum, such as holiday parties.

Comments

     Totalitarian regimes based on a religion carry no more weight than totalitarian regimes whose primary motives are based on greed for resources such as land, oil, or raw power and control over others. Sometimes such regimes are one and the same.

In a civilized world people’s individuality is put first in harmony with the community in which they live. People are free to pursue their own individual dreams and live out their lives to the best of their ability according to common sense and the rule of law, and supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights espoused in 1948 by the United Nations.

In the weeks and months ahead, a five-part series will be posted that delves into the psychology and sociology of Religious Fanaticism. In part five of the series I will present the seminal work of the late sociologist/philosopher/longshoreman, Eric Hoffer.

I leave you now with one of his many quotes about—The True Believer.

“Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.” ― Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

Read Full Post »