Documentation. Witnesses. Facts. Truth. That's what they're afraid of.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Prescience Coupled With Coincidence

In 1951, a philosopher named Eric Hoffer published a book on extremism entitled The True Believer. I'd never heard of it until recently, but somehow had made a close personal connection to this particular title (I can't go into it, but it's weird). I'd been given a copy of the book a couple of months back. I finally got around to reading it this weekend on an airplane. The True Believer was written in the wake of the Holocaust and during some of the worst of Stalin's atrocities, and Hoffer wrote it with that in mind. But of course history repeats itself, or rhymes, or whatever, and I was going to share a couple of quotes I thought were apropos yesterday, but didn't get around to it. Anyway, here's one:

The traitor is usually a fanatic -- radical or reactionary -- who goes over to the enemy in order to hasten the downfall of a world he loathes. Most of the traitors in the Second World War came from the extreme right. "There seems to be a thin line between violent, extreme nationalism and treason."

Sounds about right.

Here's where this gets freaky. Yesterday, I picked up the book I really wanted to read (though I of course wish it didn't have to exist), What Happened -- Hillary Clinton's post-mortem on the election (and a lot more). I began reading it tonight, and found that I wasn't the only one that found the book relevant. From page 10, where Hillary gives some context to the America in which she campaigned in 2016:

I hadn't been blind to the power of this anger. During the campaign, Bill and I both went back and reread The True Believer, Eric Hoffer's 1951 exploration of the psychology behind fanaticism and mass movements, and I shared it with my senior staff. On the campaign trail, I offered ideas that I believed would address many of the underlying causes of discontent and help make life better for all Americans, But I couldn't -- and wouldn't -- compete to stoke people's rage and resentment. I think that's dangerous. It helps leaders who want to take advantage of that rage to hurt people rather than help them. Besides, it's just not how I'm wired.
Maybe that's why Trump was now delivering the inaugural address and I was sitting in the crowd.

She understood the ugliness she was up against. It took the aforementioned right-wing treason to put it over the top.

Back to Hoffer:

The fanatic who personifies this phase is usually an unattractive human type. He is ruthless, self-righteous, credulous, disputatious, petty, and rude."

Remind you of anyone?