Monday, December 14, 2015

The True Believer

Someone pointed me to a book called The True Believer just today. I haven't read it yet but I decided to look it up and see what I could find out about it. Here's part of what Wikipedia has to say:

"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.[5]

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".[6])

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.[7]

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."

Interesting, isn't it? Especially that last paragraph. Now keep in mind when reading that last paragraph that Eric Hoffer wrote The True Believer in 1951 when America's post war economy was looking up.

Then think about living in Greensboro with the highest unemployment in North Carolina and being a part of the #1 hungriest Metropolitan Statistical Area in the United States. Then you'll understand how plausible a story like the Gate City Bomber might really be.

I think it's time our City Council acted before some true believers come along.