Quotes by Eric Hoffer

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Eric Hoffer (July 25, 1902 May 21, 1983) was an American social writer. He produced ten books and won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February 1983 from Ronald Reagan. His first book, The True Believer, published in 1951, ...

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It is cheering to see that the rats are still aroundthe ship is not sinking.

There is a totalitarian regime inside every one of us. We are ruled by a ruthless politburo which sets our norms and drives us from one five-year plan to another. The autonomous individual who has to justify his existence by his own efforts is in eternal bondage to himself.
Where there is the necessary technical skill to move mountains, there is no need for the faith that moves mountains.
The self-styled intellectual who is impotent with pen and ink hungers to write history with sword and blood.
There would be no society if living together depended upon understanding each other.
There is a grandeur in the uniformity of the mass. When a fashion, a dance, a song, a slogan or a joke sweeps like wildfire from one end of the continent to the other, and a hundred million people roar with laughter, sway their bodies in unison, hum one song or break forth in anger and denunciation, there is the overpowering feeling that in this country we have come nearer the brotherhood of man than ever before.
A soul that is reluctant to share does not as a rule have much of its own. Miserliness is here a symptom of meagerness.
When you automate an industry you modernize it; when you automate a life you primitivize it.
Nationalist pride, like other variants of pride, can be a substitute for self-respect.
Nature is a self-made machine, more perfectly automated than any automated machine. To create something in the image of nature is to create a machine, and it was by learning the inner working of nature that man became a builder of machines.
The necessary has never been man's top priority. The passionate pursuit of the nonessential and the extravagant is one of the chief traits of human uniqueness. Unlike other forms of life, man's greatest exertions are made in the pursuit not of necessities but of superfluities.
A grievance is most poignant when almost redressed.
The birth of the new constitutes a crisis, and its mastery calls for a crude and simple cast of mind -- the mind of a fighter -- in which the virtues of tribal cohesion and fierceness and infantile credulity and malleability are paramount. Thus every new beginning recapitulates in some degree man's first beginning.
To the old, the new is usually bad news.
More significant than the fact that poets write abstrusely, painters paint abstractly, and composers compose unintelligible music is that people should admire what they cannot understand; indeed, admire that which has no meaning or principle.
To spell out the obvious is often to call it in question.
It sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents.
Perhaps our originality manifests itself most strikingly in what we do with that which we did not originate. To discover something wholly new can be a matter of chance, of idle tinkering, or even of the chronic dissatisfaction of the untalented.
That which corrodes the souls of the persecuted is the monstrous inner agreement with the prevailing prejudice against them.
The real persuaders are our appetites, our fears and above all our vanity. The skillful propagandist stirs and coaches these internal persuaders.
It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his capacities and talents.
Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from the sense of their inadequacy and impotence. They hate not wickedness but weakness. When it is in their power to do so, the weak destroy weakness wherever they see it.
The unpredictability inherent in human affairs is due largely to the fact that the by-products of a human process are more fateful than the product.
Sometimes we feel the loss of a prejudice as a loss of vigor.
We all have private ails. The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ails.
To have a grievance is to have a purpose in life.
The main effect of a real revolution is perhaps that it sweeps away those who do not know how to wish, and brings to the front men with insatiable appetites for action, power and all that the world has to offer.
The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.
The savior who wants to turn men into angels is as much a hater of human nature as the totalitarian despot who wants to turn them into puppets.
Where everything is possible miracles become commonplaces, but the familiar ceases to be self-evident.
Self-esteem and self-contempt have specific odors; they can be smelled.
Many of the insights of the saint stem from their experience as sinners.
A successful social technique consists perhaps in finding unobjectionable means for individual self-assertion.
Social improvement is attained more readily by a concern with the quality of results than with the purity of motives.
A man by himself is in bad company.
Our passionate preoccupation with the sky, the stars, and a God somewhere in outer space is a homing impulse. We are drawn back to where we came from.
We find it hard to apply the knowledge of ourselves to our judgment of others. The fact that we are never of one kind, that we never love without reservations and never hate with all our being cannot prevent us from seeing others as wholly black or white.
Intolerance is the Do Not Touch sign on something that cannot bear touching. We do not mind having our hair ruffled, but we will not tolerate any familiarity with the toupee which covers our baldness.
It is the individual only who is timeless. Societies, cultures, and civilizations --past and present --are often incomprehensible to outsiders, but the individual's hungers, anxieties, dreams, and preoccupations have remained unchanged through the millennia.
When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.
A heresy can spring only from a system that is in full vigor.
Wise living consists perhaps less in acquiring good habits than in acquiring as few habits as possible.
A great man's greatest good luck is to die at the right time.
To the excessively fearful the chief characteristic of power is its arbitrariness. Man had to gain enormously in confidence before he could conceive an all-powerful God who obeys his own laws.
There is sublime thieving in all giving. Someone gives us all he has and we are his.
We are more prone to generalize the bad than the good. We assume that the bad is more potent and contagious.
It is the awareness of unfulfilled desires which gives a nation the feeling that it has a mission and a destiny.
The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do.
Fear of becoming a has been keeps some people from becoming anything.
Our greatest weariness comes from work not done.
Men weary as much of not doing the things they want to do as of doing the things they do not want to do.
There is no loneliness greater than the loneliness of a failure. The failure is a stranger in his own house.
Facts are counterrevolutionary.
The individual who has to justify his existence by his own efforts is in eternal bondage to himself.
It is not so much the example of others we imitate as the reflection of ourselves in their eyes and the echo of ourselves in their words.
Thought is a process of exaggeration. The refusal to exaggerate is not infrequently an alibi for the disinclination to think or praise.
The pre-human creature from which man evolved was unlike any other living thing in its malicious viciousness toward its own kind. Humanization was not a leap forward but a groping toward survival.
It is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak.
We have perhaps a natural fear of ends. We would rather be always on the way than arrive. Given the means, we hang on to them and often forget the ends.
Dissipation is a form of self-sacrifice.