Thursday, 22 August 2013

Fanaticism and the fact-proof screen - and Eric Hoffer

Via Atheist Revolution, a quote from one of the greatest political philosophers most people have never heard of, and a rather disturbing reminder that Atheism can be just as fanatical as religion. And indeed, when a fanatic uses a dogma - any old dogma - to shield themselves from the rest of the world, all reason and thought go out of the window. Winston Churchill nailed it when he talked about a fanatic being a person willing to change all other minds except their own.

As I noted in my connectivity-plagued Wordpress blog, Eric Hoffer is a fantastic political philosopher.
The man who would rather have been known as an ordinary longshoreman has done more than anyone else in contributing to an understanding of fanaticism. One can only wish that his name had been more prominent in the terror-plagued first decade of the 21st century. Hoffer had his flaws - in being overly conservative and judgmental in a number of instances - but I have yet to see anyone explain things as lucidly and as wonderfully as Hoffer. His observations are profound in the truest sense of the word, and he manages with one sentence what other writers fail to do with ten pages. John Taylor Gatto would have been proud of him too - here is a man with so little in the way of formal education, but who taught himself to the point of outclassing post-doctorates.

We'll miss men like Hoffer who could expose fanaticism for what it really was: a grand system of madness and delusion that insulates a damaged, frightened, broken individual from a mad world. None of us are willing to look at the social and educational systems that create broken people, to 'use the slime of frustrated souls as mortar in the creation of a new world'.

Those who fight fanatics are often in ignorance of their true nature. May the light of Hoffer's knowledge be a candle in the dark to all those who fight the demon of fanaticism.

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