Zitate von Eric Hoffer

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Eric Hoffer

Geburtstag: 25. Juli 1902
Todesdatum: 21. Mai 1983

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Eric Hoffer war ein sozialkritischer US-amerikanischer Philosoph und Autor. Seine Ideen hat er in zehn Büchern dargestellt, deren erstes, The True Believer, sowohl von ihm selbst als auch von der Kritik als sein bestes und wichtigstes angesehen wird. Im Februar 1983 wurde er von Ronald Reagan mit der Presidential Medal of Freedom ausgezeichnet.

Zitate Eric Hoffer

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„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.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: 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. Section 7

„Charlatanism of some degree is indispensable to effective leadership.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: Charlatanism of some degree is indispensable to effective leadership. There can be no mass movement without some deliberate misrepresentation of facts. [http://books.google.com/books?id=pRxBBnyBvcYC&q=%22Charlatanism+of+some+degree+is+indispensable+to+effective+leadership%22&pg=PA116#v=onepage Section 91]

„The desire for praise is more imperative than the desire for food and shelter.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: This food-and-shelter theory concerning man's efforts is without insight. Our most persistent and spectacular efforts are concerned not with the preservation of what we are but with the building up of an imaginary conception of ourselves in the opinion of others. The desire for praise is more imperative than the desire for food and shelter. Entry (1952)

„It has often been said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: It has often been said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from the sense of inadequacy and impotence. They hate not wickedness but weakness. When it is their power to do so, the weak destroy weakness wherever they see it. Section 42

„Some of the worst tyrannies of our day genuinely are "vowed" to the service of mankind, yet can function only by pitting neighbor against neighbor. The all-seeing eye of a totalitarian regime is usually the watchful eye of the next-door neighbor.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one's neighbor. There may even be a certain antagonism between love of humanity and love of neighbor; a low capacity for getting along with those near us often goes hand in hand with a high receptivity to the idea of the brotherhood of men. About a hundred years ago a Russian landowner by the name of Petrashevsky recorded a remarkable conclusion: "Finding nothing worthy of my attachment either among women or among men, I have vowed myself to the service of mankind." He became a follower of Fourier, and installed a phalanstery on his estate. The end of the experiment was sad, but what one might perhaps have expected: the peasants — Petrashevsky's neighbors-burned the phalanstery. Some of the worst tyrannies of our day genuinely are "vowed" to the service of mankind, yet can function only by pitting neighbor against neighbor. The all-seeing eye of a totalitarian regime is usually the watchful eye of the next-door neighbor. In a Communist state love of neighbor may be classed as counter-revolutionary. Ch. 11: "Brotherhood"

„The urge to escape our real self is also an urge to escape the rational and the obvious.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: The urge to escape our real self is also an urge to escape the rational and the obvious. The refusal to see ourselves as we are develops a distaste for facts and cold logic. There is no hope for the frustrated in the actual and the possible. Salvation can come to them only from the miraculous, which seeps through a crack in the iron wall of inexorable reality. They ask to be deceived. What Stresemann said of the Germans is true of the frustrated in general: "[They] pray not only for [their] daily bread, but also for [their] daily illusion." The rule seems to be that those who find difficulty in deceiving themselves are easily deceived by others. They are easily persuaded and led. Section 59

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„We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand. A doctrine that is understood is shorn of its strength. Section 57

„Freedom gives us a chance to realize our human and individual uniqueness.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: The significant point is that people unfit for freedom — who cannot do much with it — are hungry for power. The desire for freedom is an attribute of a "have" type of self. It says: leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities. The desire for power is basically an attribute of a "have-not" type of self. If Hitler had had the talents and the temperament of a genuine artist, if Stalin had had the capacity to become a first-rate theoretician, if Napoleon had had the makings of a great poet or philosopher they would hardly have developed the all-consuming lust for absolute power. Freedom gives us a chance to realize our human and individual uniqueness. Absolute power can also bestow uniqueness: to have absolute power is to have the power to reduce all the people around us to puppets, robots, toys, or animals, and be the only man in sight. Absolute power achieves uniqueness by dehumanizing others. To sum up: Those who lack the capacity to achieve much in an atmosphere of freedom will clamor for power. Journal entry (28 March 1959)

„It is easier to hate an enemy with much good in him than one who is all bad. We cannot hate those we despise.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: It is easier to hate an enemy with much good in him than one who is all bad. We cannot hate those we despise. The Japanese had an advantage over us in that they admired us more than we admired them. They could hate us more fervently than we could hate them. The Americans are poor haters in international affairs because of their innate feeling of superiority over all foreigners. An American's hatred for a fellow American (for Hoover or Roosevelt) is far more virulent than any antipathy he can work up against foreigners. It is of interest that the backward South shows more xenophobia than the rest of the country. Should Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life. <!-- p. 96

„Originality is not something continuous but something intermittent — a flash of the briefest duration. One must have the time and be watchful (be attuned) to catch the flash and fix it.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: Originality is not something continuous but something intermittent — a flash of the briefest duration. One must have the time and be watchful (be attuned) to catch the flash and fix it. One must know how to catch and preserve these scant flakes of gold sluiced out of the sand and rocks of everyday life. Originality does not come nugget-size. Entry (1961)

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„There is hardly a single instance of cultural vigor marked by moderation in expression.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: It is the Frenchman's readiness to exaggerate that is at the root of his intellectual lucidity and also of his capacity for acknowledging merit. The English were not afraid to exaggerate in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and they were then not far behind the French in the lucidity of their thinking.... There is hardly a single instance of cultural vigor marked by moderation in expression. Entry (1954)

„The corruption inherent in absolute power derives from the fact that such power is never free from the tendency to turn man into a thing, and press him back into the matrix of nature from which he has risen. For the impulse of power is to turn every variable into a constant, and give to commands the inexorableness and relentlessness of laws of nature. Hence 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. The taint inherent in absolute power is not its inhumanity but its anti-humanity.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: One should see the dominant role of the weak in shaping man's fate not as a perversion of natural instincts and vital impulses, but as the starting point of the deviation which led man to break away from, and rise above, nature — not as degeneration but as the generation of a new order of creation. The corruption inherent in absolute power derives from the fact that such power is never free from the tendency to turn man into a thing, and press him back into the matrix of nature from which he has risen. For the impulse of power is to turn every variable into a constant, and give to commands the inexorableness and relentlessness of laws of nature. Hence 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. The taint inherent in absolute power is not its inhumanity but its anti-humanity. Ch. 15: "The Unnaturalness Of Human Nature"

„The Savior who wants to turn men into angels is as much a hater of human nature as the totalitarian despot who wants to turn them into puppets.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: The Savior who wants to turn men into angels is as much a hater of human nature as the totalitarian despot who wants to turn them into puppets. There are similarities between absolute power and absolute faith: a demand for absolute obedience; a readiness to attempt the impossible; a bias for simple solutions — to cut the knot rather than unravel it; the viewing of compromise as surrender; the tendency to manipulate people and "experiment with blood." Both absolute power and absolute faith are instruments of dehumanization. Hence absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power. Section 13; often the final portion of this is quoted alone as: "Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power."

„When, for whatever reason, self-esteem is unattainable, the autonomous individual becomes a highly explosive entity. He turns away from an unpromising self and plunges into the pursuit of pride — the explosive substitute for self-esteem. All social disturbances and upheavals have their roots in crises of individual self-esteem, and the great endeavor in which the masses most readily unite is basically a search for pride.“

— Eric Hoffer
Context: A fateful process is set in motion when the individual is released "to the freedom of his own impotence" and left to justify his existence by his own efforts. The autonomous individual, striving to realize himself and prove his worth, has created all that is great in literature, art, music, science and technology. The autonomous individual, also, when he can neither realize himself nor justify his existence by his own efforts, is a breeding call of frustration, and the seed of the convulsions which shake our world to its foundations. The individual on his own is stable only so long as he is possessed of self-esteem. The maintenance of self-esteem is a continuous task which taxes all of the individual's powers and inner resources. We have to prove our worth and justify our existence anew each day. When, for whatever reason, self-esteem is unattainable, the autonomous individual becomes a highly explosive entity. He turns away from an unpromising self and plunges into the pursuit of pride — the explosive substitute for self-esteem. All social disturbances and upheavals have their roots in crises of individual self-esteem, and the great endeavor in which the masses most readily unite is basically a search for pride. Section 29

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