Review and summary of “The True Believer: thoughts on the nature of mass movements” by Eric Hoffer

It is an easy book to read, with generally simple language, good organization, short chapters, concise insights, clear ideas, thought-provoking insights, good end notes, and it weighs in at only 168 pages. I found that it ties in well with a number of other books I’ve ready that talk history and psychology, including but not limited to Corporate Cancer by Vox Day, The Evolutionary Psychology Behind Politics by Anonymous Conservative, Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, M. Stanton Evan’s Blacklisted by History, and Equality: The Impossible Quest by van Creveld.

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QofD: J. Katzman, the left’s game

For the longest time, I wondered “why can’t they just leave me the heck alone?” I figured a major part of tolerance was the understood reciprocal agreement to not bother one another. I’m OK, you’re OK. Good fences make good neighbors. Live and let live. That sort of thing was frequently said by the left, and it sounds good to me. But time after time, they didn’t. Zoning laws, building restrictions, gun laws, speech laws, ever more and more and more and more laws that were intrusive and the very definition of “not leaving me alone.” Oh, they always had a good excuse, like “protecting people,” or “protecting the environment from big, evil corporations,” or “saving children,” or whatever. Of course they demanded I leave them alone to do their own thing, with I’m happy to do, but they always find a way to try to busybody everyone on the libertarian / conservative side of things. Sometimes the left allied with the libertarian types to push things through that conservatives don’t like. Other times they horse-trade and make deals with conservatives to find a middle ground, but them, magically, then never live up to their end of the bargain, like “spend on our thing today, and we will cut spending on this other thing tomorrow…” but then the cuts never came. And so the ratchet keeps moving only one way.

I’ve read history, and the left keeps doing things that “unexpectedly” has bad side effects, often things that conservatives or historians warned about. Welfare to help people “unexpectedly” locks them into a poverty and unemployment trap. Aid to single mothers “unexpectedly” encourages divorce and single parenthood. Wage and price controls “unexpectedly” cause shortages and misallocation of resources. encouraging divorce with financial (welfare and tax) incentives results in destruction of the nuclear family. Shutting the basic precepts of the Christian faith out of public life resulted in an upswing in self-destructive behavior. Increasing government-funded programs to “aid” people resulted in an increase fraudulent / socially-destructive behavior and tax-dollar waste. “Aid” to Africa effectively props up dictators and genocide. The minimum wage increases unemployment. Public schools and curriculum “improvements” make learning less effective, less fun, and more divisive. At every turn, the side-effects of their actions make things worse in the big picture and long run, while having nice-sounding soundbites and pat (but flawed) reasoning.

It all seemed so insane and obvious, why couldn’t those on the left see what they were doing to our nation, I wondered. Are they insane, stupid, foreign agents, or well-intentioned but clueless fools, I asked myself? I saw hints of the answers to their choices, words, and behavior here and there. Animal Farm held clues, as did The Gulag Archipelago. Some things from the morals of Aesop’s Fables gave some insights, thinking a lot did, too. The Evolutionary Psychology Behind Politics revealed some of the underlying cognitive psychology / brain structure-function / genetic clues. Hoffer’s The True Believer started laying some significant patterns of behavior, with some explanatory / philosophical “why” spelled out. Then I came across this quote by J. Katzman on the Order of St Possenti discussion board.

For Leftism, “the struggle” is how you participate and gain social status. So the only way to play is to identify an enemy. If one doesn’t exist, you must create one.
Grok the core: You can only play by identifying other people to hurt.

Yes. That about sums it up. Commies ratting out someone else to reduce their own prison sentence, and the more absurd the accusation the better. Environmentalist shutting down American businesses and costing people their livelihood, just so those industries can be moved overseas where there are worse worker protections and effectively no environmental laws. Our economy is booming so they push COVID19 FUD and wreck the economy. Socially things are getting better so they push the rabid “all whites are racist” line to sow division, envy, hatred, and distrust. Across the board, it’s about hurting people, dragging them down, adding to the suffering rather that uniting them, but always claiming to be doing the opposite. They are inverters of truth and reality.

That quote was followed up by another forwarded by Katzman, but originating with Ryan Waldron:
False religions assign guilt rather than offering forgiveness,
and seek humiliation rather than humility.

Between those two quotes, I see a simple test to determine if someone is on the side of good or evil, regardless of who they portray or see their faith. Do the full real-world effect of their actions and positions hurt more people than it helps? And, does it weaponize apologies and humility to humiliate and divide, separate people into the clean and unclean, help people to improve or reward the accuser? Do they try to build up the weak, or tear down the strong?

By all those measures, the modern left of all stripes fails miserably.

Quote of the day: Eric Hoffer – Doctrine

(From part 56. page 79) “It [ self sacrifice] cannot be the end product of a process of probing and deliberating. All active mass movements strive, therefore, to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world. The do this by claiming that the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine and there is not truth nor certitude outside it. The facts on which the true believer bases his conclusions must not be derived from his experience or observations but from holy writ…. To rely on the evidence of the senses and reason is heresy and treason….The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude…. It is obvious, therefore, that in order to be effective a doctrine must not be understood, but has rather to be believed in. We can only be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand.”

Yup. I’ve had those conversations, where the other party is completely impervious to observable facts and the reality around them, logical contradictions in their own positions and statements, recognition of obvious consequences, things as basic as understanding cause and effect, and all the normal things that a rational person would be able mentally process without a meltdown.

It might be tempting to call them insane, low IQ, or just plain old shit-for-brains, but recognizing a person as being a True Believe, in the grip of what amounts to a deep religious faith with a mind paralyzed by a set of dogmatic rules may be the first step in figuring out how to actually have a conversation with them, where they are capable of doing more than parroting pre-programmed talking points of doctrine.

Destroying Western Civilization’s History, one guilt trip on sin at a time.

Genghis Khan is a name most people in the world easily recognize. Most also know of Attila the Hun (a.k.k “Scourge of God”), who famously invaded the Roman empire from the eastern steppes and turned back at the gates of Rome, and Alexander the Great. If you are well-read, you might recognize Tamerlane “Prince of Destruction,” founder of the Timurid Empire, or King Xerxes, son of Darius the Great. Perhaps Moctezuma, or Atahualpa, or Shaka Zulu rings a bell. Maybe Suleiman the Magnificent is more your style, or perhaps Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Mao, Idi Amin or Isoroku Yamamoto are more your genre. If you read American / New World history, you might know Andrew Jackson, General Sherman, Hernan Cortes, Francisco Pizarro, Col Custer, Jubal Early, Robert E. Lee, “Stonewall” Jackson, and Captain John Smith (of Jamestown fame). All were responsible for significant death and destruction, some more than others, some more personally involved than others.

But something curious is happening in our history books. Among the great butchers of history, it’s only the western ones who are being written out of history, or pained in a uniformly bad light. All the others are being given “context” and “empathy” and understanding that they were a product of their time and culture. But white, western man, is being reviled across the board in supposedly western school systems.

I had an epiphany the other day about the similarities between medieval indulgences for the forgiveness of sin, the selling of carbon offsets for the forgiveness of “environmental sins,” and now the pushing to “white guilt” for the inherent racism of our being, demanding reparations and all.

Today I am reading Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. In Part 2, “The Potential Converts,” section XI “The Sinners,” I came across the passage: “An effective mass movement cultivates the idea of sin. It depicts the autonomous self as not only barren and helpless but also as vile.  To confess and repent is to slough off one’s individual distinctness and separateness, and salvation is found by losing oneself in the holy oneness of the congregation.”
BINGO! That explains the zealotry and reasons for the methods the SJWs and cultural Marxists use the term racist and the rest. They are pointing at you, screaming “repent, sinner (racist)!” and demand your abject submission and compliance. They have lost an actual religion, but are lost and alone, and find welcoming in the crucifixion and humiliation of others to assuage their own emptiness. When you are talking to them, talk as if you are talking to a religious fanatic, because you are.

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Education when school closes

So. School – and just about everything else – is shut down. Everything but vaguely defined “essential services” are told to have their employees stay home and chill, unless they can work from home remotely. Teachers are getting an unexpected pause, or break, as are the kids, while the ossified bureaucracies across the globe try to figure out how to teach when nobody is allowed to come to the school… or at least how to go through the motions well enough that they can keep drawing a paycheck. Most of the teachers really do want a solution, a way to effectively teach their far-flung classes. But they are often hamstrung by broken and inappropriate paradigms, insufficient tech, poor curricula, and stifling regulations.

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What if Zinn was right?

I just put together a short video speculating on what the logical consequences of Howard Zinn’s depiction of the Native Americans and colonists was right are.

I can’t possibly be the first to think of this, but it makes sense to me. Certainly it wasn’t mentioned by my kid’s AP US History teacher after they were required to read the first chapter. Obviously, critical thinking is missing from our schools. We need to change that.

Zinn and the Rhetorical Question

One of the problems with Howard Zinn’s People’s History is his insidious use of rhetorical questions. He is a very good writer, and makes excellent use of the his rhetorical skills to hide his poor scholarship in order to push his hard-left views. Most students reading this book (or excerpts from it) are going to be pretty average, meaning relatively ignorant of the topic at hand, unsophisticated in the identifying and use of manipulative rhetoric, not particularly critical thinkers, and are trusting that their teachers would not deliberately mislead them. They want to know what’s on the test, and assume that anything they are presented with is a valid and factual, if “alternative” account. It isn’t. It’s an anti-America polemic.

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Podcast test

Checking out the viability of sound files for podcast thoughts while I learn video editing for posting things to youtube. How’s this one work?

Learning Threads

The learning curve for picking up totally new things is brutal. I’m an experienced speaker, but learning to figure out what video and audio tools to use to do basic capture and editing is steep. even with all the resources available, or perhaps because of, the first steps are hard. I’m thinking more about ed program and making progress, but learning to present it smoothly is another thing. Learning these tools and their limits, realizing I really need a better new machine to do even basic video editing (VERY CPU and graphics card intensive), finding ways to make recordings that are reasonably sized, etc., all while continuing to work, and edit, write, etc., takes more time than I thought.

The Problem

School ≠ Education ≠ Learning.

The problems with our current school system are many, too many to list in detail. Expensive, poorly matched to the needs of today’s work force, overtly political and hostile to the more traditional half of the population, inefficient, ineffective, horrible for boys, philosophically incoherent, and generally an illustrated example on how Rome fell. They are even demanding to open the gates to the barbarian hoards. The system has been hijacked by people who are either insane, evil, morons, or those who do not understand but still hate America. It’s no longer serving the American people as individuals or families, workers or small corporations, voters, or the world at large by being strong and prosperous. It serves the self-styled elites, transnational mega-corporations, the gliteratti of the media and Hollywood, the bankers, the corrupt, and various puppet-masters around the world. That must change.


Welcome to the Howling Puffin, an internet mental watering hole that aims to to find solutions. It was named for the fictional pub/tavern that was the birth-place of the order of St Possenti.
The current goal is to find the people who have the rest of the pieces of the solution to how to reform our entire modern education system. Not just replace the K-12 government-school establishment with a new one that has the same structural problems and bloat, but a different paradigm of learning, connecting with community, jobs, knowledge, and health, and making it better for the 75% of the population that it currently serves badly. It won’t happen over night, it won’t take the track most people expect, but education is the ultimate platform. And, as Vox keeps saying – build your own!