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Eric Hoffer
1902 - 1983

American writer and philosopher, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983

Book by Eric Hoffer
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True Believer, The: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1989)
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To dispose a soul to action we must upset its equilibrium.

1963 - from The Ordeal of Change
There can be no freedom without freedom to fail.

1963 - from The Ordeal of Change
There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.

1955 - from The Passionate State of Mind
The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do.

A ruling intelligentsia, whether in Europe, Asia or Africa, treats the masses as raw material to be experimented on, processed, and wasted at will.

1955 - from The Passionate State of Mind
The intellectuals and the young, booted and spurred, feel themselves born to ride us.

from First Things, Last Things
The real persuaders are our appetites, our fears and above all our vanity. The skillful propagandist stirs and coaches these internal persuaders.

1955 - from The Passionate State of Mind
The beginning of thought is in disagreement - not only with others but also with ourselves.

The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the singlehanded defiance of the world.

from The True Believer
When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.

To spell out the obvious is often to call it in question.

1955 - from The Passionate State of Mind
You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.

We clamor for equality chiefly in matters in which we ourselves cannot hope to attain excellence. To discover what a man truly craves but knows he cannot have we must find the field in which he advocates absolute equality. By this test Communists are frustrated Capitalists.

1955 - from The Passionate State of Mind
We usually see only the things we are looking for - so much so that we sometimes see them where they are not.

1955 - from The Passionate State of Mind
Our credulity is greatest concerning the things we know least about. And since we know least about ourselves, we are ready to believe all that is said about us. Hence the mysterious power of both flattery and calumny.