Yesterday I read Eric Hoffer's classic The True Believer, which I'd previously read a couple of times, but not in many years, and certainly not with the eyes of a true believing privileged dissident insurrectionist white supremacist crimethinking badwhite member of the patriarchy.
Hoffer's thesis is that while mass movements vary, they all feature the same kind of person. Not just anyone can be a True Believer, nor does it matter much what he believes. Rather, it's the fervent believing that counts.
Think of Mumbly Joe. The party he entered 60 years ago is very different from the party of today. Back then it at least pretended to be liberal, whereas now it is openly racist, authoritarian, and anti-American, but he fights for it just the same.
We've said for a long time that man cannot not be religious. Since religion provides a kind of "folk metaphysic" for the average man, the average man who rejects religion will simply replace this with a bad, unexamined, and implausible metaphysic such as Marxism, or atheism, or feminism, or critical race theory.
Worse, as explained by Polanyi, the True Believer will have the same religious energy as anyone else, only now unhinged from religious constraint. This redounds to violence and destruction, every time -- most recently, the months of BLM and Antifa riots in 2020.
The absence of religious constraint is analogous to the claim of rights without concomitant responsibilities. In truth, just as duties are antecedent to rights (since you don't give rights to an irresponsible person), humility is prior to grace, so to speak.
Yes, man is in the image and likeness of the Creator, but he is also fallen, and if he fails to appreciate the latter, then the result is cosmic narcissism.
Genuine sanctity covaries with humility, and no one is less humble than the true believing leftist who not only presumes to know better how to run your life, but is so ignorant of his own ignorance that he never stops dreaming of "political solutions" that only set off a new round of problems. Just look at the border: Biden's solution is the problem.
Why is someone attracted to a mass movement, anyway, and why especially would an American be so attracted? The left is composed of losers, misfits, and weirdos at the bottom end, and a privileged class at the top end. In other words, it's a coalition of losers of the meritocracy and winners of the mediocracy, and neither class is able to recognize the truth.
If the left didn't exist, the losers would have to invent it on order to account for their failure: in short, it's much easier to blame racism or sexism than it is to acknowledge one's own shortcomings.
At the top end, the belief in "white privilege" and other such nonsense is like "envy insurance," so to speak. On some level, an Obama must recognize his own mediocrity and blind luck, so he deflects envy via an ideology that redirects it to acceptable objects. In reality, the left is an alliance of the top and bottom against the middle. Both are resentful but for different reasons.
Put it this way: a successful person who has succeeded on merit will see the system as generally fair. But an unsuccessful person who has failed due to his lack of merit will be sorely tempted to look for an alternative explanation. And a person who has succeeded despite his abundant lack of merit will know the system was rigged in his favor, and thus harbor bitterness about it.
Thus, the bitterness of the lucky winners joins forces with the bitterness of the luckless losers. How else to explain the bitterness of an Oprah, the Obamas, the Kamalas, the Markles, the Sharptons of the world?
Celebrities, journalists, and celebrity journalists must know deep down that they are just interchangeable lottery winners, which is why they are down with the revolution. This is how ridiculously privileged clowns such as Don Lemon or Chris Cuomo can be so vocal about white privilege: don't look at me, look the Orange Man!
For Hoffer, the impulse to join a mass movement goes beyond mere ideas and even existence, all the way to ontology. In short, the true believer wants to rid himself of his self and be someone else.
In my view, this is an inverse analogy of religion, in that the mass movement offers transcendence of the ego, only from below instead of above. It appeals
to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self. A mass movement attracts and holds a following not because it can satisfy the desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation.
People who see their lives as irremediably spoiled cannot find a worthwhile purpose in self-advancement.
There is an "innermost craving for a new life" or "rebirth" which brings "a sense of purpose and worth by identification with a holy cause." These people hope for change, but the real hope is to change into someone else.
Since it never works, it requires further change, which is the recipe for fanaticism. Democrats believe the stimulus will work this time if they only make it big enough, as Islamists believe the jihad will work if only they murder enough Jews.
The book has a number of aphorisms:
A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business.
Why can't, for example, Gavin Newsome mind his own business? What is he running from? And what is he hoping for? Hoffer describes the various types who are drawn to mass movements. Perhaps Newsome is among the Bored:
When people are bored, it is primarily with themselves that they are bored. The consciousness of a barren, meaningless existence is the main fountainhead of boredom.... By embracing a holy cause and dedicating their energies and substance to its advancement, they find a new life full of purpose and meaning.
Which would be great if it were't at our expense. I have a lot of hobbies that give my life meaning, but none of them involve bullying and bossing other people around, let alone wrecking their lives and livelihoods.
Mass movements also appeal to criminal types such as the Clintons, for they allow one to steal on a grand scale while laundering one's conscience in ideology. Come to think of it, this must apply to Andrew Cuomo and to so many other vocal male feminists. Public commitment to feminism is the perfect cover for private predators.