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Review of The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements by Henry J

Review of The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements 
by Henry J 5.0 out of 5 stars on
Essential Reading for Revolutionaries - a masterpiece.
August 30, 2018 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

The book can be bought here and is also available on for free but you must be in line and take it when available.  

Revolutions and other mass movements all have commonalities, chief among them are the people who start and promulgate them. This short, concise book breaks down and organizes the characteristics of these people: The True Believers - and the movements they promote. This is a book of genius, comparable to ‘The Prince’ or ‘Rules for Radicals,’ in its simplicity and insights into human nature and organized political action. Hoffer wrote this book after the Second World War while the memories and realities of Fascism and Communism were very present.

If you’ve ever been part of a mass movement, or ever contemplated participating in one, this book will open your eyes to what you can expect as a mass movement gets underway and develops through its active phase. It’ll provide you with an understanding of the motivations and designs of the movement’s leaders, and insight into your own and your fellow believers’ psychology. If you have the ambition to be the next Christ or Hitler to lead a mass movement, this is your blueprint.

In summary:

I. THE APPEAL OF MASS MOVEMENTS The desire for change starts and lives in the hearts of frustrated people. Attached to this frustration these individuals possess a sense of power to accomplish great change. Faith in the future and the ability to project hope makes for receptivity to change. High hopes and dark endings incongruently go together. Belonging to a mass movement substitutes for deficiencies in the individual. Mass Movements compete with one another, and often are interchangeable. No movement is whole of a singular nature.

II. THE POTENTIAL CONVERTS The best and worst of society often determine the course of history - over the heads of the great middle. A society without the dregs may be peaceful and complacent, but lacking in the seeds for change. Here are the ranks of mass movement fodder:

New Poor: Memory of better times puts fire in their bellies.

Abject Poor: Too occupied with survival to organize. Discontent is high, however, when misery is still bearable.

Free Poor: Freedom creates and alleviates frustration. Fanatics fear freedom more than persecution. Equality and fraternity are preferred over freedom.

Creative Poor: The ability to create mitigates frustration; however, those whose creativity is fading, or those who didn’t quite achieve creative satisfaction, may seek escape in mass movements.

Unified Poor: Compact or tribal groups are relatively free of frustration. Mass movements often try to break down family units to feed the movement. Compact structures, like families in decline are, however, fertile ground for mass movements.

Temporary Misfits: Adolescents, unemployed, veterans, and new immigrants are unreliable supporters of mass movements; their frustrations abate once circumstances improve.

Permanent Misfits: The incurably frustrated can never have enough of what they really do not want anyway. They are likely to become the most violent true believers.

Inordinately Selfish: Those who have lost faith in themselves, look to attach to a holy cause; In compensation, they become champions of selflessness.

Ambitious with Unlimited Opportunity: Current actions are never enough; they possess excessive readiness for self-sacrifice.

Minorities Intent On Preserving Their Identity: These persons act as tribal groups and lack frustration.

Minorities Bent On Assimilation: These frustrated cannot get in the door of the established order.

Bored: These people are required in quantity for a successful mass movement; they’re looking for fulfillment in a meaningless existence.

Sinners: For the irredeemable, salvation can be found in losing oneself in a holy cause; they are willing to go to extremes.

Mass movements attract and hold followers by offering refuge from anxiety. Mass movements aim to infect people with a malady, then offer a cure. Hope comes in two forms: one immediate and one distant.

III. UNITED ACTION AND SELF-SACRIFICE The chief preoccupation of mass movements is to foster united action and self-sacrifice. For the individual to commit to self-sacrifice he must be stripped of his individual identity, and by ritual be associated with the movement.

To engage in dying or killing, the individual must suffer under the illusion of being a participant in a grand undertaking, or a solemn performance. Glory is theatrical.

The present must be deprecated, pushed off the stage, depicted as mean and miserable and held in utter contempt. In replacement, hope is assured for a better future. The frustrated individual is ready to die for what he wishes to have and wishes to be.

Mass movements strive to interpose a fact-proof screen between the movement’s faithful and the realities of the world, in a word: doctrine. The effectiveness of a doctrine is judged not on its validity or profundity, but on how well it insulates the individual from his self and the world.

The individual’s estrangement proceeds with intense passion and fanaticism. Mass movements prevent the achievement of internal balance for the fanatic individual, but perpetuate insecurity and incompleteness.

Unified individuals in a compact collective of a mass movement body are no longer frustrated. Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents. Mass movements can rise without a belief in God, but never without a belief in evil.

Unreasonable hatreds emerge as an expression of the frustrated individual’s effort to suppress his own shortcomings and self-contempt. Self hate emanates from feelings of helplessness, inadequacy, and cowardice, rather than justified grievances. The object of hate is often those other than the ones who committed the perceived wrongs. Committing grave injustices upon the object of hate re-enforces and fuels hate. A guilty conscience lies behind such acts, which demands even greater effort to demonize the hated to suppress this guilty conscience.

Estrangement of the self is required for selflessness and assimilation into the whole of a compact group. The True Believer sees himself as one of ‘the chosen.’ Self-denial and group membership confers the right on them to be harsh upon others, and by which to be rid of personal responsibility. Violence is not the product of leadership, but of a unification of the whole.

Propaganda succeeds not with unwilling minds, but with frustrated individuals. Propaganda operates most effectively in conjunction with coercion. The mass movement requires the ability to make people believe, and by force as a last resort.

Leadership cannot create a mass movement out of thin air. There has to be grievances with intense dissatisfactions and an eagerness of the True Believers to follow and obey. Once the stage is set, however, an outstanding leader is indispensable. The leader personifies the certitude of the movement, as well as defiance and power. He must be able to steer the faithful and maintain its cohesion. To a large degree, charlatanism is required for effective leadership.

Action is a unifier of mass movements. Marching, for instance, kills thought and hastens the end of individuality. An inability to act breeds frustration with the movement, while successful action drains energy and commitment from the movement.

The mass movement must perpetuate the individual’s incompleteness and insecurity.

IV. BEGINNING AND END Men of Words: Mass movements usually rise when a prevailing order has been discredited. This is the work of men of words with a grievance. They set the groundwork for the movement by undermining existing institutions, promoting the idea of change, and creating a new faith. Men of words may champion the downtrodden, but the grievance that animates them is personal. Their vanity is greater than their ambitions; recognition and the appearance of power is preferred over power itself. Often it’s the men of words who are the tragic figures of the mass movement, as at a certain point, the movement is hijacked by a power hungry clique which usually cheats the masses of the freedoms they seek.

Fanatics: A genuine mass movement is hatched by the fanatic. Men of words shrink before the outbreak of anarchy, they forget the troubled masses they set out to help, and run to the protection of strong ‘men of action.’ For the fanatic, chaos is his element. Fanatics come from the ranks of the non-creative men of words; unfulfilled, they can never be reconciled with their self, and they desire not a finality or a fixed order of things. Hatred becomes a habit, and when the outsiders are vanquished, the fanatics then turn on themselves and threaten to destroy what they have achieved.

Man of Action: The movement begins with men of words, materializes by fanatics, and consolidated by men of action. With a balanced faith in humanity, men of action save the movement from the fanatics, marking the end of the dynamic phase of the movement. Men of action fix and perpetuate the movement’s unity and readiness for self-sacrifice. The new order is founded on the ‘necks of the people, rather than in their hearts.’ The man of action is a man of the law. The movement now becomes a means of self-realization for the ambitious. Concern for the frustrated is still there, not to harness their discontent, but to reconcile them with it; to turn them meek and patient with visions of distance hopes and dreams.

Good and Bad Mass Movements: No matter what good intentions a mass movement starts off with, or what benefit may result, it is hard not to see the active phase as unpleasant, if not outright evil. On the other hand, mass movements are a miraculous instrument for raising societies and nations from the dead.

Recommended complementary reading: ‘The Anatomy of Revolution’ by Crane Brinton; compares the four greatest revolutions, providing much historical background that Hoffer refers to in ‘The True Believer.’

Proto Religion by Lisa For Truth

Human Redux @HumanRedux Schools Ray Comfort

Do We Need Religion to be Moral?

The Theft of Our Values

Excerpt from Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith

Excerpt from Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith (page 169)

"The biblical portrait of Christian faith is far removed from the approach of modern liberals who represent Christianity as a reasonable, benevolent philosophy of life interested in the pursuit of truth. There is nothing reasonable about intellectual blackmail, nor is there anything benevolent about threats of violence. As for Christianity's alleged concern with truth, Christian faith is to free inquiry what the Mafia is to free enterprise. Christianity may be represented as a competitor in the realm of ideas to be considered on the basis of its merits, but this is mere disguise. Like the Mafia, if Christianity fails to defeat its competition by legitimate means (which is a foregone conclusion), it resorts to strong arm tactics. Have faith or be damned-this biblical doctrine alone is enough to exclude Christianity from the domain of reason".

Definition of Primates by Aron Ra

"Primates are collectively defined as any gill-less, organic RNA/DNA protein-based... ... metabolic, metazoic, nucleic, diploid, bilaterally symmetrical, endothermic, digestive, triploblast, opisthokont, deuterostome coelomate with a spinal cord and 12 cranial nerves connecting to a limbic system in an enlarged cerebral cortex with a reduced olfactory region inside a jawed skull with specialized teeth including canines and premolars, forward-oriented fully enclosed optical orbits, and a single temporal fenestra, -attached to a vertebrate hind-leg dominant tetrapodal skeleton with sacral pelvis, clavicle, and wrist and ankle bones; and having lungs, tear ducts, body-wide hair follicles, lactal mammaries, opposable thumbs, and keratinized dermis with chitinous nails on all five digits on all four extremities in addition to an embryonic development in amniotic fluid, leading to a placental birth and highly social lifestyle." -Aron Ra

The Three Laws Of Logic

The Three Laws of Logic 

The three laws of logic may be stated different ways, depending on whether they refer to things, classes or propositions. Here is a formulation from a standard text on logic:
1. The Law of Identity: For things, the law asserts that "A is A," or "anything is itself." For propositions: "If a proposition is true, then it is true."
2. The Law of Excluded Middle: For things: "Anything is either A or not-A." For propositions: "A proposition, such as P, is either true or false."
3. The Law of [Non-]Contradiction: For things: "Nothing can be both A and not-A." For propositions: "A proposition, P, cannot be both true and false."
"The laws of logic are a precondition to reality. That if you think of reality (even imaginary) that you must presuppose the laws of logic".- (imymejubilee from YouTube in video entitled "Laws of Logic vs Quantum Theory")

Thoughts On Theology by George H. Smith and Walter Kaufmann

Reason- According To George H. Smith

Reason is the faculty by which man acquires knowledge...

Random Thoughts by Apetivist

I will use this area as my thinking out loud.  I am not sure all of my thoughts will be correct or will jive with logic.  I hope so!  But if you find me in error please let me know.  You can leave a comment below or you can DM me on @apetivist or email me at
Come to think of it man has been trying to save god(s) since the dawn of civilization but the more we learn the more we see god(s) shrink proportionally to our increased understanding of the Universe.  How long will theologians and apologists pretend that they have anything of substance to hang their claim that a god(s) exists?  -Apetivist ⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺
What is a god?  Seriously.  Has one ever showed up for verification?  What qualities or characteristics does a god even have?  Does having any characteristics limit a god then if so aren't theists putting their faith in something that can't even be specified?  If a god is beyond human understanding then why do any theists think they have anything correct at all about any god?  If something is beyond description then isn't it indistinguishable from that which does not exists?  -Apetivist ⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺
Yahweh is supposedly omniscient.  This implies that he is not capable of learning.  It also means he is not capable of thinking as thought would imply that he has to think and since he knows everything that ever could possibly be known then God can't even be considered to be intelligent and even more so can't be considered a superintelligence.  Intelligent design is therefore a misnomer as Yahweh can't adapt, learn, or change and thus he isn't even intelligent.  Yahweh might as well be a non-being as it can't possibly have any personage nor can it be anything but a script running immaterial non-thingamabob.  As an atheist I am left with no other choice than call Yahweh a defeated and contradictory concept.  -Apetivist ⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺⸺

Thoughts On The Pettiness Of The Christian God by Apetivist

Thoughts On The Pettiness Of The Christian God by Apetivist

Assuming for the sake of argument that the god of Christianity (Yahweh) exists it is indeed a very petty deity.

He demands faith not only in him but also a itinerant preacher/messiah that supposedly existed over 2,000 years ago and yet he offers no evidence of his existence. 

If you don't accept him on faith coming from hearing or reading dubious accounts from many second hand sources in a book that was translated and copied by the hands of infallible men then he will send you to Hell. 

Worse you must also not just believe in him but get the right type of faith and process in spite of conflicting methods of salvation found in the Bible. 

Choose the wrong Christianity and you are doomed!  Not choosing Christianity and you are doomed!

Being told the Gospel and not accepting it because you find it an absurd story then you are doomed!

In addition to all this the Bible isn't clear as to the fate of the unevangelized.  If we are to take the Bible on its silence on the matter then we are left with little choice but to also see that the unevangelized are also doomed! 

Jesus never spoke about the age of accountability and so we are left wondering whether babies, adolescents, and (pre?)teenagers are also doomed if they don't become the right kind of Christian with the right kind of faith based on sheer luck of hearing it and recognizing it as something that is true even though they wouldn't even have the background knowledge as to what would constitute a justified belief in light of evidence or lack thereof to begin with.

Stack on top of all this that no self proclaimed Christian has any true knowledge of whether they themselves are actually saved.  In fact it could very well be the case that most people that claim a faith in Jesus Christ could very well be doomed!

Atheist Nations Are The Most Socially Healthy


My Personal Library as of 12/10/2018

My Personal Library as of 12/10/2018
A list of my books (collection of printed books, pdf books, ebooks, and audio books).

Books I personally own: Paper books, Audiobooks, & Ebooks:

Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason -Seth Andrews

Foundational Falsehoods Of Creationism -AronRa

Faith vs Fact -Jerry Coyne

Why Evolution Is True -Jerry Coyne

God and the Folly of Faith -Victor J. Stenger

Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief -David Madison

The Rise and Fall of the Bible -Timothy Beal

Jesus Interrupted -Bart D. Ehrman

Freethought Resource Guide- Mark Vandebrake

The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You To Read-Time C. Leedom

god is not Great -Christopher Hitchens

50 Simple Questions For Every Christian -Guy P. Harrison

Unapologetic -John W. Loftus

Why I Became An Atheist -John W. Loftus

Thunder Of The Fall -Blair A. T. Mullins

The Mythmaker -Hyam Maccoby

A Manual For Creating Atheists -Peter Boghossian

Why There Is No God -Armin Navabi

The Moral Landscape -Sam Harris

Fuck Jesus -Judas H. Peters

World Of Their Own -Robert J. Schadewald

Climbing Mount Improbable -Richard Dawkins

Imagine There's No Heaven -Michael Stephens

The Demon-Haunted World (Science As A Candle In The Dark) -Carl Sagan

Good Book -David Plotz

Evolution Slam Dunk -James Downard

Idiot America -Charles P. Pierce

Kingdom Coming (The Rise Of Christian Nationalism) -Michelle Goldberg

American Fascists (The Christian Right And The War On America) -Chris Hedges

Sapiens: A Brief History Of Mankind -Yuval Noah Harari

The God Delusion -Richard Dawkins

Letter To A Christian Nation -Sam Harris

The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll And American Freethought -Susan Jacoby

How To Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist -John W. Loftus

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself -Sean Carroll

Sophie's World: A Novel About The History of Philosophy -Jostein Gardner

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America -Nancy MacLean

Evidence Considered: A Response to Evidence for God -Glenton Jelbert

On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt -Richard Carrier

Why I Am Not a Christian: Four Conclusive Reasons to Reject the Faith -Richard Carrier

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress -Steven Pinker (Note:  I added this book 01/01/2019) 

Rationalism -George Jacob Holyoake

The Book Of The New Moral World -Robert Owen

Dogmas Discarded -Guy A. Aldred

The Cambridge Companion to Atheism by Michael Martin

Superstition In All Ages -Jean Meslier

The Trial Of Theism -George Jacob Holyoake

Books I've Read Or I have On A Waiting List from (my username is apetivist101):

Bertrand Russell on God and Religion -Bertrand Russell

In Defense Of Atheism -Michel Onfray

The Faith of a Heretic -Walter Arnold Kaufmann

Why I Am Not A Christian -Bertrand Russell

Natural Atheism -David Eller

Critiques of God: Making the Case Against Belief in God by Peter Adam Angeles

Letters To A Young Contrarian -Christopher Hitchens

Atheism: A Philosophical Justification -Michael Martin

Atheism -Joseph McCabe

Atheism: The Case Against God -George H Smith

The Six Ways Of Atheism -Geoffrey Berg

An Intelligent Person's Guide to Atheism -Daniel Harbour

Freedom Under Siege -Madalyn Murray O'Hair

The Homemade Atheist -Betty Brogaard

Disbelief 101 -S.C. Hitchcock

A Question Of Faith -William E. Kaufman

God The Problem -Gordon D. Kaufman

Does God Exist? -James Porter Moreland

Away With All Gods! -Bob Avakian

The System Of Nature -Paul Henri Thiry baron d'Holbach

The Bible Handbook For Freethinkers And Inquiring Christians -George William Foote

A Plea For Atheism -Charles Bradlaugh

Imagine No Superstition -Stephen Frederick Uhl

Apetivist Quote "Religion is like looking..."

"Religion is like looking at the Universe with a microscope and thinking that one has seen it all. Science is looking at the Universe with all tools and means available and never assumes it has seen it all." - @apetivist

We Know We Don’t Know And Neither Do You!

“We may say to the Theist, You do not know the mystery of things, we do not know. Yet some advantage is ours. We know that you do not know ; we also know that we do not know, whereas you do not know that you do not know”.
– (Excerpt The Trial of Theism page 16 by George Jacob Holyoake)
The Trial of Theism is a Free Book on Google! I highly suggest it.

Christian Eschatology and The Problem of Evil by @apetivist

Christian Eschatology and The Problem of Evil by @apetivist

Note: When I refer to Yahweh I do not mean to suggest that he actually exists but for the purpose of thinking these problems through I assume he exists for the sake of argument.

According to Christian Eschatology there will be a New Heavens and New Earth.

Revelation 21:1;4: "Then I saw 'a new heaven and a new earth,' for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea...'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away"

The question is if Yahweh could make such a world then why did he make the former world where there was suffering/evil? Why not avoid all the unnecessary suffering and jump to the perfect situation in the New Heavens and New Earth? If Yahweh were omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnisapient then he clearly would have done so.

What was there to gain in not doing so? It is illogical and inhumane of Yahweh to not have done so in the first place. If Yahweh does exist then I am left with no other conclusion that it is a malevolent deity and unworthy of adoration.

Apetivist on YouTube Interviews and Podcasts

My interviews found on YouTube and Podcasts:


The Godless Iowan:

Wonder Lady:

Atheist Inquisition 1-

Atheist Inquisition 2:


A Significant Figure Born on December 25

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