Unlike a lot of his ivory-tower brethren, philosopher Eric Hoffer led a life that was anything but cloistered. Born in the Bronx in 1898 (another source says 1902) to Alsatian immigrant parents, he went blind at age 7 but became an inveterate reader when his eyesight returned at age 15.
Hoffer worked sporadically while living on skid row in Los Angeles in the 1920s. During the Depression, he was a migrant farm worker and prospector. Famously, he worked as a longshoreman from World War II till he retired from the docks in 1967. His “hard knocks” life was reflected in his philosophy, which was definitely more a posteriori than a priori. “My train of thought grew out of my life just the way a leaf or a branch grows out of a tree,” he once said.
A regular visitor to public libraries wherever he happened to be working, he read widely and educated himself in philosophy. Though he had no academic credentials, he published his first book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements in 1951. An insightful study of fanatics and misfits, it identified the core elements common to mass movements of all types…right wing and left wing, religious and secular, communist and fascist, racialist and rainbow coalition…take your pick.
Though he published a number of books over the next three decades, The True Believer remains his best-known work. He received some income from his literary efforts and even achieved a measure of fame, yet he continued to live in a one-room apartment with no phone.
Feminism was probably not on Hoffer’s radar screen when he first started publishing. Considering he was a lifelong bachelor, it would have been interesting to hear what he had to say on the topic, but he died in 1983, long before the third wave of feminism arose.
A lot of Hoffer’s open-ended observations, however, apply to today’s social justice warriors. So I herewith present an interview with Eric Hoffer from beyond the grave. The questions are mine, but the answers are all quotations from Eric Hoffer.
Q. Mr. Hoffer, as laughably loony as feminism is these days, it has permeated every nook and cranny of Western society. Why do so many people not only accept but embrace the principles of feminism?
A. We run fastest and farthest when we run from ourselves.
Q. It seems the more the social justice warriors lie, the louder they shout. Why do you think that is?
A. We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.
Q. Why are the social justice warriors so spiteful? Couldn’t they get their points across without being so obnoxious?
A. Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus, people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.
Q. It seems that the more absurd the demands of the social justice warriors, the angrier they get.
A. Vehemence is the expression of a blind effort to support and uphold something that can never stand on its own.
Q. But the sheer nastiness of social justice warriors is astounding. Couldn’t they get their point across in a more civilized manner?
A. It is remarkable by how much a pinch of malice enhances the penetrating power of an idea or an opinion.
Q. The more detached from reality feminist dogma gets, the more spiteful if not downright hateful it gets. How do you account for that?
A. A doctrine insulates the devout not only against the realities around them but also against their own selves. The fanatical believer is not conscious of his envy, malice, pettiness and dishonesty.
Q. I don’t disagree with all the positions taken by social justice warriors, but I have to wonder about their tactics. I hate to sound like Miss Manners, but why must they all act like spoiled children?
A. Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength.
Q. Even though they’re in the minority, the social justice warriors have nothing but contempt for people who don’t agree with their progressive platform. How can they be so arrogant when they’re seeking support? Wouldn’t you think they would dial it down a notch or two when they’re trying to win hearts and minds?
A. A dissenting minority feels free only when it can impose its will on the majority: what it abominates most is the dissent of the majority.
Q. White women in western civilization are arguably the most privileged people on the planet – ever. So why do they have such a sense of entitlement? Why are they so demanding?
A. Our frustration is greater when we have much and want more than when we have nothing and want some.
Q. Why do social justice warriors ignore facts in favor of ideology?
A. Facts are counterrevolutionary.
Q. But how can social justice warriors remain steadfast in their convictions based solely on ideology and brush off all data and scientific evidence to the contrary?
A. We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand.
Q. But we’re not talking rocket science here. Feminists are certainly capable of comprehending the truth. I think they just refuse to acknowledge it. What do you think? Are they deluding themselves?
A. The refusal to see ourselves as we are develops a distaste for facts and cold logic.
Q. I can’t help but notice that working and middle-class women with families are much less likely to identify as feminists. Being unmarried and/or well-to-do almost seem to be prerequisites for being a feminist. Too much time on their hands or what?
A. The boredom of spinsters and of women who can no longer find joy and fulfillment in marriage stems from an awareness of a barren, spoiled life. By embracing a holy cause and dedicating their energies and substance to its advancement, they find a new life full of purpose and meaning.
Q. Feminists are notorious for lacking a sense of humor, and social justice warriors seem to suffer from anhedonia – the inability to enjoy themselves. Sounds like a hopelessly dreary existence! How can they stand it?
A. Not only does a mass movement depict the present as mean and miserable – it deliberately makes it so….It views ordinary enjoyment as trivial and even discreditable and presents the pursuit of personal happiness as immoral. To enjoy oneself is to have truck with the enemy – the present.
Q. Social justice warriors identify even mild, reasoned criticism as hate speech. Yet judging by their tirades, the SJWs are the ones consumed with hatred. Why can’t they make their case without the overheated rhetoric?
A. Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents.
Q. So much of that hatred seems to be fixated on white heterosexual males and the so-called patriarchy. Why are they so obsessed with these bogeymen straw men?
A. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.
Q. Feminists often ask not to be judged by the most radical elements in their ranks. Is it right to judge all feminists by the actions of the extremists?
A. There is a tendency to judge a race, a nation or any distinct group by its least worthy members. Though manifestly unfair, this tendency has some justification. The character and destiny of a group are often determined by its inferior elements.
Q. Judging by their actions and appearance, it seems that radical feminists are part of the lunatic fringe – and proud of it. Why have there been so many gynocentric goon squads in the history of the women’s movement?
A. The game of history is usually played by the best and the worst over the heads of the majority in the middle.
Q. Social justice warriors are constantly sticking their noses into matters, some of them ridiculously trivial, that are none of their concern. Why can’t they just mind their own business?
A. 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.
Q. Do you think the slew of progressive propaganda in the mainstream media is fooling anyone?
A. Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.
Q. Why are so many women with little or no sexual marketplace value attracted to feminism? Is it nothing more than the revenge of the omega women?
A. It is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak.
Q. How do you account for the young white men who hang their heads and plead mea culpa to so-called white male hetero privilege?
A. When cowardice is made respectable, its followers are without number both from among the weak and the strong; it easily becomes a fashion.
Q. Whenever I try to reason with social justice warriors, they respond not with logic or a reasoned argument but with sloganeering. Why do they always respond with empty-headed rhetoric?
A. An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.
Q. Radical feminist leaders assert that masculinity per se is evil and the only way to render men suitable for contemporary society is to emasculate them and make them more like females. Do you think that severing men from their masculinity will make the world a better place?
A. 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.
Q. Supposedly, the women’s movement was about freeing women from the domination of men, but institutionalized feminism promotes the domination of women over men. Can’t the feminists see that they’re promoting tyranny, not freedom?
A. I doubt if the oppressed ever fight for freedom. They fight for pride and power – power to oppress others. The oppressed want above all to imitate their oppressors; they want to retaliate.
Q. Anita Sarkeesian is one of the most famous feminist leaders of our time, yet she’s a shameless huckster. Why can’t her followers see through her?
A. Charlatanism of some degree is indispensable to effective leadership.
Q. The more ridiculous her assertions, the more moral posturing she indulges in, the more money pours in. How do you account for this?
A. Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.
Q. No matter how many barriers to advancement are removed, many feminists and minorities still complain the deck is stacked against them. With more opportunities than ever before, why do they spend so much time bitching and moaning?
A. There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement…when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.
Q. Why do so many social justice warriors suffer from OCD when it comes to equality?
A. The passion for equality is partly a passion for anonymity… No one can then point us out, measure us against others and expose our inferiority.
Q. Do you think the social justice warriors will ever be satisfied? It seems like the more concessions you make to them, the more demands they make, and the more they resent you.
A. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from their sense of inadequacy and impotence. We cannot win the weak by sharing our wealth with them. They feel our generosity as oppression.
Q In every society, the welfare of women and children is at the top of the agenda. The welfare of men appears near the bottom, if it appears on the list at all.
A. The misery of a child is interesting to a mother, the misery of a young man is interesting to a young woman, the misery of an old man is interesting to nobody.
Q. Every time I try to offer someone a red pill, I get rebuffed. Why won’t people at least listen to what I have to say?
A. Far more crucial than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know.
Q. After a half-century or so of feminism we’ve sacrificed two generations of men with no turnaround in sight. Do feminists really believe this is in the best interests of civilization?
A. Those who would sacrifice a generation to realize an ideal are the enemies of mankind.
Q. Feminists seem more intent on breaking down men rather than winning them over to their cause. Would you agree?
A. Our sense of power is more vivid when we break a man’s spirit than when we win his heart.
Q. When I listen to the progressive politicians and academics, I can’t help but wonder if they really believe what they say. I know they’re not stupid, but how can people in high places act so stupidly? Are they clueless dupes or what?
A. Naivete in grownups is often charming, but when coupled with vanity it is indistinguishable from stupidity.
Q. Social justice warriors are always petitioning governments, universities, and other institutions for every slight, demanding redress for every conceivable misfortune of women, minorities, and other protected classes.
A. We all have private ails. The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ails.
Q. Social justice warriors have nothing to offer but grievances. Don’t they have a purpose in life?
A. To have a grievance is to have a purpose in life.
Q. You do realize that according to social justice orthodoxy, your views are anathema, and you would be considered a problematic, prejudice-ridden mossback.
A. I hang onto my prejudices, they are the testicles of my mind.
Q. Thank you, sir. Rest assured, if there is ever a MGTOW Hall of Fame, you will be one of the first inductees.