Sunday, January 13, 2019

James Baldwin: Collected Essays

_Baldwin:  Collected Essays_ by James Baldwin
NY:  The Library of America, 1998
ISBN 1-882011-52-3

“Everybody’s Protest Novel”
(17)  In America, now, this country devoted to the death of the paradox - which may, therefore, be put to death by one - his lot is as ambiguous as a tableau by Kafka.

“Many Thousands Gone”
(24)  Americans, unhappily, have the most remarkable ability to alchemize all bitter truths into an innocuous but piquant confection and to transform their moral contradictions, or public discussion of such contradictions, into a proud decoration such as are given for heroism on the field of battle.

(31-32)  …that Americans, who evade, so far as possible, all genuine experience, have therefore no way of assessing the experience of others and no way of establishing themselves in relation to any way of life which is not their own.

“The Harlem Ghetto”
(48)  The American ideal, after all, is that everyone should be as much alike as possible.

“Journey to Atlanta”
(54)  It is considered a rather cheerful axiom that all Americans distrust politicians.  (No one takes the further and less cheerful step of considering just what effect this mutual contempt has on either the public or the politicians, who have, indeed, very little to do with one another.)

“Notes of a Native Son”
(65)  ...I had discovered the weight of white people in the world.

(68)  In learned in New Jersey that to be a Negro meant, precisely, that one was never looked at but was simply at the mercy of the reflexes the color of one’s skin caused in other people.

(75)  I had told my mother that I did not want to see him [his father] because I hated him.  But this was not true.  It was only that I _had_ hated and I wanted to hold on to this hatred.  I did not want to look on him as a ruin:  it was not a ruin I had hated.

(78)  When one slapped one’s child in anger the recoil in the heart reverberated through heaven and became part of the pain of the universe.

(82)  To smash something is the ghetto’s chronic need.

“A Question of Identity”
(99) … one of the most American of attributes, the inability to believe that time is real.

“Stranger in the Village”
(128)  … Americans are as unlike any other white peole in the world as it is possible to be.  I do not think, for example, that it is too much to suggest that the American vision of the world - which allows so little reality, generally speaking, for any of the darker forces in human life, which tends until today to paint moral issues in glaring black and white - owes a great deal to the battle waged by Americans to maintain between themselves and black men a human separation which could not be bridged.
NB: locked into black and white binary in thought and deed

“The Discovery of What It Means to Be an American”
(137)  I left America because I doubted my ability to survive the fury of the color problem here.  (Sometimes I still do.)  I wanted to prevent myself from becoming _merely_ a Negro;  or, even, merely a Negro writer.  I wanted to find out in what way the _specialness_ of my experience could be made to connect me with other people instead of dividing me from them.  (I was as isolated from Negroes as I was from whites, which is what happens when a Negro begins, at bottom, to believe what white people say about him.)

“Princes and Powers”
(150)  He [Leopold Senghor] told us that the difference between the function of the arts in Europe and their function in Africa lay in the fact that, in Africa, the function of the arts is more present and pervasive, is infiintely less special, “is done by all, for all.”  Thus, art for art’s sake is not a concept which makes any sense in Africa.  The division between art and life out of which such a concept comes does not exist there.  Art itself is taken to be perishable, to be made again each time it disappears or is destroyed.  What is clung to is the spirit which makes art possible.  And the African idea of this spirit is very different from the European idea.  European art attempts to imitate nature.  African art is concerned with reaching beyond and beneath nature, to contact, and itself become a part of _la force vitale_.  That artisitc image is not intended to represent the thing itself, but, rather the reality of the force the thing contains.  Thus, the moon is fecundity, the elephant is force.

(165)  Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drunkard

“Fifth Avenue, Uptown”
(179)  As far as the color prolbem is concerned, there is but one great difference between the Southern white and the Northerner:  the Southerner remembers, historically and in his own psyche, a kind of Eden in which he loved black people and they loved him.

“A Fly in Buttermilk”
(195)  For segration has worked brilliantly in the South, and, in fact, in the nation, to this extent:  it has allowed white people, with scarcely any pangs of conscience whatever, to _create_, in every generation, only the Negro they wished to see.

“Nobody Knows My Name”
(205)  And this hell was, simply, that he had never in his life owned anything, not his wife, not his house, not his child, which could not, at any instant, be taken from him by the power of white people.  This is what paternalism means.  And for the rest of the time that I was in the South I watched the eyes of old black men.

(207)  “Integration,” said a very light Negro to me in Alabama, “has always worked very well in the South after the sun goes down.”  “It’s not miscegenation,” said another Negro to me, “unless a black man’s involved.”

(208)  Men do not like to be protected, it emasculates them.  This is what black men know, it is the reality they have lived with;  it is what white men do not want to know.  It is not a pretty thing to be a father and be ultimately dependent on the power and kindness of some other man for the well-being of your house.

…Any honest examination of the national life proves how far we are from the standard of human freedom with which we began.  

“Faulkner and Desegregation”
(212)  It is apparently very difficult to be at once a Southerner and an American;  so difficult that many of the South’s most independent minds are forced into the American exile;  which is not, of course, without its aggravating, circular effect on the interior and public life of the South.

“In Search of a Majority"
(217)  In a way, status became a kind of substitute for identity, and because money and the things money can buy is the universally accepted symbol here of status, we are often condemned as materialists.  In fact, we are much closer to being metaphysical because nobody has ever expected from things the miracles that we expect.

(220)  I suggest that the role of the Negro in American life has something to do with our concept of what God is, and from my point of view, this concept is not big enough.  It has got to be made much bigger than it is because God is, after all, not anybody’s toy.  To be with God is really to be involved with some enormous, overwhelming desire, and joy, and power which you cannot control, which controls you.  I conceive of my own life as a journey toward something I do not understand, which in the going toward, makes me better.  I conceive of God, in fact, as a means of liberation and not a means to control others.  Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does.  Loves is a battle, love is a war;  love is a growing up.

(221)  I think that what we really have to do is to create a country in which there are no minorities - for the first time in the history of the world.  The one thing that all Americans have in common is that they have no other identity apart from the identity which is being achieved on this continent.  This is not the English necessity, or the Chinese necessity, of the French necessity, but they are born into a framework which allows them their identity  The necessity of Americans to achieve an identity is a historical and a present personal fact and this is the connection between you and me.

This brings me back, in a way, to where I started.  I said that we couldn’t talk about minorities until we had talked about majorities, and I also said that majorities had nothing to do with numbers or with power, but with influence, with moral influence, and I want to suggest this:  that the majority for which everyone is seeking which must reassess and release us from our past and deal with the present and create standards worthy of what a man may be - this majority is you.  No one else can do it.  The world is before you and you need not take or leave it as it was when you came in.

“Notes for a Hypotherical Novel”
(227)  But I didn’t meet anyone in that [the white] world who didn’t suffer from the very same affliction that all the people I had fled from suffered from and that was that they didn’t know who they were.  They wanted to be something that they were not.  And very shortly I didn’t know who I was, either.  I could not be certain whether I was really rich or really poor, really black or really white, really male of really female, really talented or a fraud, really strong or merely stubborn.  In short, I had become an American.  I had stepped into, I had walked right into, as I inevitably had to do, the bottomless confusion which is both public and private, of the American republic.

…The fact of color has a relevance objectively and some relevance in some other way, some emotional relevance and not only for the South.  I mean that it persists as a problem in American life because it means something, it fulfills something in the American personality.  It is here because the Americans in some peculiar way believe or think they need it.  Maybe we can find out what it is that this problem fulfills in the American personality, what it corroborates and in what way this peculiar thing, until today, helps Americans to feel safe.
NB:  The lost cause rebel who fights on against impossible odds is central

(228)  But to try and find out what Americans mean is almost impossible because there are so many things they do not want to face.

(229)  Let me point out to you that freedom is not something that anybody can be given;  freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be.  One hasn’t got to have an enormous military machine in order to be unfree when it’s simpler to be asleep, when it’s simpler to be apathetic, when it’s simpler, in fact, not to want to be free, to think that something else is more important.  And I’m not using freedom now so much in a political sense as I’m using it in a personal sense.

“Alas, Poor Richard”
(261)  Almost all Negroes, as Richard [Wright] once pointed out, are almost always acting, but before a white audience - which is quite incapable of judging their performance:  and even a “bad nigger” is, inevitably, giving something of a performance, even if the entire purpose of his performance is to terrify or blackmail white people.

“The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy”
(272)  And, anyway, the really ghastly thing about trying to convey to a white man the reality of the Negro experience has nothing whatever to do with the fact of color, but has to do with this man’s relationship to his own life.  He will face in your life only what he is willing to face in his.

(273)  …. money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didn’t have it and thought of other things if you did...

(274)  For all of this is happening not only in the wilderness of the soul, but in the real world which accomplishes its seductions not by offering you opportunities to be wicked but by offering opportunities to be good, to be active and effective, to be admired and central and apparently loved.

(279)  What my friend meant was that to become a Negro man, let alone a Negro artist, one had to make oneself up as one went along.  This had to be done in the not-at-all-metaphorical teeth of the world’s determination to destroy you.  The world had prepared no place for you, and if the world had its way, no place would ever exist.  Now, this is true for everyone, but, in the case of a Negro, this truth is absolutely naked;  if he deludes himself about it, he will die.  This is not the way this truth presents itself to white men, who believe the world is theirs and who, albeit unconsciously, expect the world to help them in the achievement of their identity.  But the world does not do this - for anyone;  the world is not interested in anyone’s identity.

(284)  In addition, the price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.

“Take Me to the Water”
(357)  Incontestably, alas, most people are not, in action, worth very much;  and yet, every human being is an unprecedented miracle.  One tries to treat them as the miracles they are, while trying to protect oneself against the disasters they’ve become.

(366)  And nakedness has no color:  this can come as news only to those who have never covered, or been covered by, another naked human being.

(371)  For, intellectual activity, according to me, is, and must be, disinterested - the truth _is_ a two-edged sword - and if one is not willing to be pierced by that sword, even to the extreme of dying on it, then all of one’s intellectual activity is a masturbatory delusion and a wicked and dangerous fraud.

(376)  Anyone who has ever been at the mercy of the people, then, knows something awful about us, will forever distrust the popular patriotism, and avoids even the most convivial of mobs.

(384)  I was old enough to recognize how deep and strangling were my fears, how manifold and mighty my limits:  but no one can demand more of life than that life do him the honor to demand that he learn to live with his fears, and learn to live, every day, both within his limits and beyond them.

(385)  But I have always been struck, in America, by an emotional poverty so bottomless, and a terror of human life, of human touch, so deep, that virtually no American appears able to achieve any viable, organic conneciton between his public stance and his private life.  This is what makes them so baffling, so moving, so exasperating, and so untrustworthy.  “Only connect,” Henry James has said.  Perhaps only an American writer would have been driven to say it, his very existence being so threatened by the failure, in most American lives, of the most elementary and crucial connections.

(389)  They [Little Rock students]  were attempting to get an education, in a country in which education is a synonym for indoctrination, if you are white, and subjugation if you are black.

(391)  The despair among the loveless is that they must narcoticize themselves before they can touch any human being at all.  They, then, fatally, touch the wrong person, not merely because they have gone blind, or have lost the sense of touch, but because they no longer have any way of knowing that any loveless touch is a violation, whether one is touching a woman or a man.  When the loveless come to power, or when sexual despair comes to power, the sexualtiy of the object is either a threat or a fantasy.

“To Be Baptized”
(405)  Hunger has no principles, it simply makes men, at worst, wretched, and, at best, dangerous.

(406-407)  Force does not work the way its advocates seem to think it does.  It does not, for example, reveal to the victim the strength of his adversary.  On the contrary, it reveals the weakness, even the panic of his adversary, and this revelation invests the victim with patience.  Furthermore, it is ultimately fatal to create too many victims.  The victor can do nothing with these victims, for they do not belong to him, but - to the victims.  They belong to the people he is fighting.  The people know this, and as inexorably as the roll call - the honor roll - of the victims expands, so does their will become inexorable:  they resolve that these dead, their bretheren, shall not have died in vain.  When this point is reached, however long the battle may go on, the victor can never be the victor:  on the contrary, all his energies, his entire life, are bound up in a terror he cannot articulate, a mystery he cannot read, a battle he cannot win - he has simply become the prisoner of the people he thought to cow, chain, or murder into submission.
NB:  Bombing people to break their will to fight does the opposite as the military well knows.

(407)  When power translates itself into tyranny, it means that the principles on which that power depended, and which were its justification, are bankrupt.

(436)  Nothing would ever reach the conscience of the people of this nation - it was a dream to suppose that the people of any nation had a conscience.  Some individuals within the nation might, and the nation always saw to it that these people came to a bad, if not a bloody end.

(456)  On the other hand, though no one appears to learn very much from history, the rulers of empires assuredly learn the least.

(465)  Real questions can be absurdly phrased, and probably can be answered only by the questioner, and, at that, only in time.

(468)  … I felt like a lip-reader watching the communication of despair.

… It has been vivid to me for many years that what we call a race problem here is not a race problem at all:  to keep calling it that is a way of avoiding the problem.  The problem is rooted in the question of how one treats one’s flesh and blood, especially one’s children.  The blacks are the despised and slaughtered children of the great Western house - nameless and unnameable bastards.

(468-469)  It is not true that people become liars without knowing it.  A liar always knows he is lying, and that is why liars travel in packs:  in order to be reassured that the judgment day will never come for them.  They need each other for the well-being, the health, the perpetuation of their lie.  They have a tacit agreement to guard each other’s secrets, for they have the same secret.  That is why all liars are cruel and filthy minded - one’s merely got to listen to their dirty jokes, to what they think is funny, which is also what they think is real.
NB:  Trmp

The Devil Finds Work
(484-485)  Bill [Orilla Miller, white woman teacher and friend] could instruct me as to how poverty came about and what it meant and what it did, and, also, what it was meant to do;  but she could not instruct me as to blackness, except obliquely, feeling that she had neither the right nor the authority, and also knowing that I was certain to find out.  Thus, she tried to suggest to me the extent to which the world’s social and economic arrangements are responsible for (and to) the world’s victims.  But a victim may or may not have a color, just as he may or many not have virtue:  a difficult, not to say unpopular notion, for nearly everyone prefers to be defined by his status, which, unlike his virtue, is ready to wear.

(499)  When I entered the church, I ceased going to the theater.  It took me awhile to realize that I was working in one.

(510)  A story is impelled by the necessity to reveal:  the aim of the story is revelation, which means that a story can have nothing - at least not deliberately - to hide.  This also means that a story resolves nothing.  The resolution of a story must occur in us, with what we make of the questions with which the story leaves us.  A plot, on the other hand, must come to a resolution, prove a point:  a plot must answer all the questions which it pretends to pose.

(521)  People who cannot escape thinking of themselves as white are poorly equipped, if equipped at all, to consider the meaning of black:  people who know so little about themselves can face very little in another;  and one dare hope for nothing from friends like these.

(522)  The blacks have a song which says, I can’t beleive what you say, because I see what you do.

(542)  If two and two make four, then it is a very simple matter to recognize that people unable to be responsible for their own children, and who care so little about each other, are unlikely instruments for the salvation of the people whom they permit themselves the luxury of despising as inferior to themselves.

(553)  “Lady Sings the Blues” is related to the black American experience in about the same way, and to the same extent that Princess Grace Kelly is related to the Irish potato famine:  by courtesy.

(562)  This incident is not in the book [Lady Sings the Blues]:  for the very good reason, certainly, that black people in this country are schooled in adversity long before white people are.  Blacks perceive danger far more swiftly, and, however odd this may sound, then attempt to protect their white comrade from his white brothers;  they know their white comrade’s brothers far better than the comrade does.  One of the necessities fo being black, and knowing it, is to accept the hard discipline of learning to avoid useless anger, and needless loss of life:  every mother and his mother’s mother’s mother’s brother is needed.

(563)  … when the prisoner is free, the jailer faces the void of himself.

(571)  To encounter oneself is to encounter the other:  and this is love.  If I know that my soul trembles, I know that your does, too:  and, if I can respect this, both of us can live.

“Preservation of Innocence”
(594)  It is not possible to have it both ways, to use nature at one time as the final arbiter of human conduct and at another to oppose her as angrily as we do.  As we are being inaccurate, perhaps desperately defensive and making, inversely, a most damaging admission when we describe as inhuman some reprehensible act committed by a human being, so we become hopelessly involved in paradox when we describe as unnatural something which is found in nature.  A cat torturing a mouse to death is not described as inhuman for we assume that it is being perfectly natural;  nor is a table condmned as being unnatural for we know that it has nothing to do with nature.  What we really seem to be saying when we speak of the inhuman is that we cannot bear to be confronted with that fathomless baseness shared by all humanity and when we speak of the unnatural that we cannot imagine what vexations nature will dream up next.

“The Negro at Home and Abroad”
(603)  White men are allowed the luxury of never thinking about blacks at all, until they happen to encounter one, whereas few black men anywhere live for very long without encountering, as an impossible obstacle forever, the idea, the presence, and the power of whites.  In the mind of the black man the humanity of the white is never for an instant in question - it is to this blind humanity, precisely, that all his plight bears witness.  The questions that the Negro lives with are how not to hate the white man, or, otherwise, how to hate him most effectively;  how to fool him, cheat him, use him;  how, in short, failing the possibility of a general overturn, to wrest for himself in the white man’s world an honored place, or at any rate a bearable Lebensraum.

For this reason the white man, in his interracial encounters, cannot fail to cause in the breast of the black a certain fury, however deeply this fury may be hidden - when, out of an innocence which can scarcely at first be believed, the white man wises to discover the spirit, aspirations, and personal history of the black stranger before him.  The black, in the face of this innocence, and observing the extent of the white man’s apprehnsions, cannot but feel a certain bitter superiority of his own, and a certain contempt.  And he cannot but find it very nearly unforgivable that, in the mind of the white man, who has cost him so much, his own humanity should occupy so little place or such a humiliating one.  This is an aspect of the interracial reality which nearly everyone in Europe has been able to ignore and which we in American, with dubious success, are perpetually wishing out of existence.

"The Crusade of Indignation”
(606-607)  [Love of money and redistributional utopia] One is that Negroes love money quite as much as whites do, and rather more than they love one another.  The other is that the people in America least attracted to the idea of a worker’s state are the workers.

(607)  They are interested in achieving what, in fact, can still be achieved at this period in American life:  a measure of economic peace.

… The importance of money is simply that power in the world does not exist without it and power in the world is what almost everyone would like to have.

(609)  Mr [Daniel] Guerin is unable to recognize a sadly persistent fact:  the concepts contained in words like “freedom,” “justice,” “democracy,” are not common concepts;  on the contrary, they are rare.  People are not born knowing what these are.  It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.

….. Clarity is needed, as well as charity, however difficult this may be to imagine, much less sustain, toward the other side.  Perhaps the worst thing that can be said about social indignation is that it so frequently leads to the death of personal humility.

“They Can’t Turn Back”
(636)  It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.

“The Dangerous Road Before Martin Luther King”
(638)   It is rare that one _likes_ a world-famous man - by the time they become world-famous they rarely like themselves, which may account for this antipathy.

(640)  And it has never been very difficult for a Negro in this country to figure out what white men want to hear:  he takes his condition as an echo of their desires.

(642)  This silence made me think of nothing so much as the silence which follows a really serious lovers’ quarrel:  the white, beneath their cold hostility, were mystified and deeply hurt.
NB:  on the Montgomery bus

(644)  He does not offer any easy comfort and this keeps his hearers absolutely tense.  He allows them their self-respect - indeed, he insists on it.

(651)  Perhaps young Martin was finding a new and more somber meaning in the command:  “Overcome evil with good.”  The command does not suggest that to overcome evil is to eradicate it.

“The New Lost Generation”
(664)  Voyagers discover that the world can never be larger than the person that is in the world;  but it is impossible to foresee this, it is impossible to be warned.  It is only when time has begun spilling through his fingers like water or sand - carrying away with it, forever, dreams, possibilities, challenges, and hopes - that the young man realizes that he will not be young forever.  If he wishes to paint a picture, raise a family, write a book, design a building, start a war - well, he does not have forever in which to do it.  He has only a certain amount of time, and half of that time is probably gone already.  As long as his aspirations are in the realm of the dream he is safe;  when he must bring them back into the world, he is in danger.

(667)  In my own case, I think my exile saved my life, for it inexoably confirmed something which Americans appear to have great difficulty accepting,  Which is, simply, this:  a man is not a man until he’s able and willing to accept his own vision of the world, no matter how radically this vision departs from that of others.  (When I say “vision,” I do not mean “dream.”)

“The Creative Process”
(669) The states of birth, suffering, one, and death are extreme states:  extreme, universal, and inescapable.  We all know this, but we would rather not know it.

(672)  We are the stongest nation in the western world, but this is not for the reasons that we thin,  It is because we have na opportunity which no other naiton has of moving beyond the Old World concepts of race and class and caste, and create, finally, what we must have had in mind when we first began speaking of the New World.

“Color”
(677)  Most people are not able to look on each other as human beings, and, in spite of everything, to treat each other that way.  Until this happens, freedom is only an empty word.

“A Talk to Teachers”
(682)  I was not a “nigger” even though you called me one.  But if I was a “nigger” in your eyes, there was something about _you_ - there was something _you_ needed.  I had to realize when I was very young that I was none of those things I was told I was.  I was not, for example, happy.  I never touched a watermelon for all kinds of reasons.  I had been invented by white people, and I knew enough about life by this time to understand that whatever you invent, whatever you project, is you!  So where we are now is that a whole country of people believe I’m a “nigger,” and I _don’t_, and the battle’s on!  Because if I am not what I’ve been told I am, then it means that _you’re_ not what you thought _you_ were _either_!  And that is the crisis.

(683)  And what if that was so there was no point in dealing with white people in terms of their own moral professions, for they were not going to honor them.
NB:  “profession as job rather than statement

(684)  When I was living in Europe, for example, one of the worst revelations to me was the way Americans walked around Europe buying this and buying that and insulting everybody - not even out of malice, just because they didn’t know any better.  Well, that is the way they have always treated me.  They weren’t cruel, they just didn’t know you were alive.  They didn’t know you had any feelings.

“This Nettle, Danger…”
(688)  … experience is created out of the effort to create oneself.

“Words of a Native Son”
(711)  And I began to see that this what we all do, all of the time, all of us, including you and me.  That whatever is really driving us is what can never, never, never be hidden and is there to see if one wants to see it.  The trouble is, of course, that most of us are afraid of that level of reality.

(713)  Please take note.  I’m not interested in anybody’s guilt.  Guilt is a luxury that we can no longer afford.  I know you didn’t do it, and I didn’t do it either, but I am responsible for it because I am a man and a citizen of this country and you are responsible for it, too, for the very same reason:  As long as my children face the future that they face, and come to the ruin that they come to, your children are very greatly in danger, too.  They are endangered above all by the moral apathy which pretends it isn’t happening.  This does something terrible to us.  Anyone who is trying to be conscious must begin to be conscious of that apathy and must begin to dismiss the vocabulary which we’ve used so long to cover it up, to lie about the way things _are_.  We must make the great effort to realize that ther is no such thing as a Negro problem - but simply a menaced boy.  If we could to this, we could save this country, we could save the world.  Anyway, that dead boy is my subject and my responsibility and yours.

“On the Painter Beauford Delaney”
(720)  Paradoxically, this meant for me that memory is a traitor and that life does not contain the past tense:  the sunset one saw yesterday, the leaf that burned, or the rain that fell, have not really been seen unless one is prepared to see them every day.

“The White Man’s Guilt”
(726)  The people did not go away, of course:  once a people arise, they never go away (a fact which should be included in the Marine handbook).

….White man, hear me!  A man is a man, a woman is a woman, a child is a child.  To deny these facts is to open the doors on a chaos deeper and deadlier, and, within the space of a man’s lifetime, more timeless, more eternal, than the medieval vision of Hell.

“Report from Occupied Territory”
(734)  They [the police] are, moreover - even in a country which makes the very grave error of equating ignorance with simplicity - quite stunningly ignorant;  and, since they know that they are hated, they are always afraid.

“Negroes Are Anti-Semitic Because They’re Anti-White”
(745-746)  One may become reconciled to the ruin of one’s own life, but to become reconciled to the ruin of one’s children’s lives is not reconciliation.
NB:  Ta-Nehisi Coates

(746)  A genuinely candid confrontation between American Negroes and American Jews would certainly prove of inestimable value.  But the aspirations of the country are wretchedly middle-class and the middle class can never afford candor.

“White Racism or World Community?”
(751)  … most people are not wicked, most people are terribly lazy, most people are terribly afraid of acting on what they know.

(755)  It seems to me that this shows very crucially in the nature, the structure of our politics and in the personalities of our children, who would like to learn, if I may put it this way, how to sing the blues, because the blues are not a racial creation, the blues are an historical creation produced by the confrontation precisely between the pagan, the black pagan from Africa, and the alabaster cross.  
NB:  Black and white don’t make gray, they make the blues

… I am saying that when a person, when a people, are able to persuade themselves that another group or breed of men are less than men, they themselves become less than men and have made it almost impossible for themselves to confront reality and to change it.

“Last of the Great Masters”
(771)  A man’s life can be threatened and taken:  But the price of being a man is knowing that.

“Every Good-Bye Ain’t Gone”
(775)  Because one cannot forgive oneself, one cannot forgive others, or, even, really, _see_ others - one is always striking out at the wrong person, for only some other, poor, doomed innocent, obviously, is likely to be in striking range.

“Black English"
(782)  A language comes into existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey.

(783)  It is not the black child’s language that is in question, it is not his language that is despised:  It is his experience.  A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.  A child cannot be taught by anyone whose demand, essentially, is that the child repudiate his experience, and all that gives him sustenance, and enter a limbo in which he will no longer be black, and in which he knows that he can never become white.  Black people have lost too many black children that way.

“Open Letter to the Born Again”
(786)  But the state of Israel was not created for the salvation of the Jews;  it was created for the salvation of the Western interests.

“Dark Days”
(788)  The irreducible price of learning is realizing that you do not know.

(794)  But children, I submit, cannot be fooled.  They can only be betrayed by adults, not fooled - for adults, unlike children, are fooled very easily, and only because they wish to be.

“The House if Bondage”
(805)  Thus, what the house of bondage accomplished for what we will call the classic white American was the destruction of his moral sense, except in relation to whites.  But it also destroyed his sense of reality and, therefore, his sense of white people had to be as complusively one-dimensional as his vision of blacks.  The result is that white Americans have been one another’s jailers for generations, and the attempt at inidividual maturity is the loneliest and rarest of the American endeavors.  (This may also be why a “boyish” look is a very decided advantage in teh American political and social arena.)

“Introduction to ‘Notes…’"
(812)  The people who think of themselves as White have the choice of becoming human or irrelevant.

Or - as they are, indeed, already, in all but actual fact:  obsolete.

“Freaks and the American Idea of Manhood”
(815)  The American idea of sexuality appears to be rooted in the American idea of masculinity.  Idea may not be the precise word, for the idea of one’s sexuality can only with great violence be divorced or distanced from the idea of the self.  Yet something resembling this ruputre has certainly occurred (and is occurring) in American life, and violence has been the American daily bread since we have heard of America.  This violence, furthermore, is not merely literal and actual but appears to be admired and lusted after, and the key to the American imagination.

… The American _ideal_, then, of sexuality appears to be rooted in the American ideal of masculinity.  This ideal has created cowboys and Indians, good guys and bad guys, punks and studs, tough guys and softies, butch and faggot, black and white.  It is an ideal so paralytically infantile that it is virtually forbidden - as an unpatriotic act - that the American boy evolve into the complexity of manhood.

The exigencies created by the triumph of the Industrial Revolution - or, in other terms, the rise of Europe to global dominance - had, among many mighty effects, that of commercializing the roles of men and women.  Men became the propagators, or perpetrators, of property, and women became the means by which that property was protected and handed down.

(823)  The fear of the world was bearable until it entered the bedroom.

(824)  The object of one’s hatred is never, alas, conveniently outside but is seated in one’s lap, stirring in one’s bowels and dictating the beat of one’s heart.  And if one does not know this, one risks becoming an imitation - and, therefore, a continuation - of principles one imagines oneself to despise.
NB:  key

(828-829)  But we are all androgynous, not only because we are all born of a woman impregnated by the seed of a man but because each of us, helplessly and forever, contains the other - male in female, female in male, white in black and black in white.  We are a part of each other.  Many of my countrymen appear to find this fact exceedingly inconvenient and even unfair, and so, very often, do I.  But none of us can do anything about it.

“The Price of the Ticket”
(831)  Not only was I not born to be a slave:  I was not born to hope to become the equal of the slave-master.

(833)  … an oblique confession is always a plea.  But I was to hurt a great many people by being unable to imaigine that anyone could possibly be in love with an ugly boy like me.

(835)  … and partly because part of the price of the black ticket is involved - fatally - with the dream of becoming white.

This is not possible, partly because white people are not white:  part of the price of the white ticket is to delude themselves into believing that they are.


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor

Stories from the Shadows:  Reflections of a Street Doctor by James J O’Connell MD (Boston:  Boston Health Care for the Homeless Project (http://www.bhchp.org), 2015  ISBN 978-0-692-41234-3)

Stories and essays by James O'Connell, a founder of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Project.

(page 49)  The packed waiting room of the clinic was eerily quiet and somber, as often happens after such frightening occurrences [stabbing between two women].  The staff was visibly shaken and Joan ventured a nervous comment on how truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction.  Jerry Niles, back in the shelter after a two-week drinking binge and soaking the remnants of his frostbitten feet in a bucket of warm water and Betadine, looked up with an insouciant smile:
“Piece of cake.  Fiction, my friends, has to make sense.”

(72)  Those with long years of drinking alcohol often walk with a wide-based gait to counter the disequilibrium caused by alcohol’s effect on the cerebellum in the brain.

(82)  Survivors of hypothermia often describe a sense of “floating in the air” and experience an intense warmth that can lead them to shed their clothes, a circumstance known as “paradoxical undressing.”

(102)  The chains were removed, the uniformed guards departed, and Roger [Ramsey] finally gave up his struggle and found some peace.  I was with him when he died early Sunday morning.  His last words to me:

“I told you no one ever listens.  But thanks.”

With some unease, I found myself sharing in his rage - indignant at a system that ignored his pain, made him a number, chained him to his deathbed, and frankly missed a crucial diagnosis.  Death tendered a fleeting glimpse into the lifelong fury of a man dealt an unplayable hand, born with dreams dashed and opportunities limited by a chemistry that bathed him in pain and anger.  But his stunning courage and rare honesty emerged unscathed.  To the end he remained his own person.

(104)  An Intimate History of Humanity by Theodore Zeldin 

(105)  Barbara McInniss [of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Project]:  “I make no plans.  I have no dream of a different society.  I never think about that.  I’m busy surviving, like the guests.  I am intuitive… we are overwhelmed."

(128)  We know from our own studies in Boston, as well as from studies across the globe, that homeless persons suffer mortality rates that are at least fourfold higher than those of the general population.

(163)  Live life fully in each moment and the mundane is sacred.

(168)  Kip Tierney, founder of Rosie's Place, the first shelter exclusively for homeless women in Boston, MA:  “Never forget that charity is scraps from the table and justice is a seat at the table.  First, involve homeless people in all aspects of the program especially governance.  And second, find doctors and nurses who will stay the course and not abandon us after a year or two of doing good work."

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Hints to Those That Would Be Rich: From Poor Richard's Almanac, 1737

The use of money is all the advantage there is in having money.

For £6 a year you may have the use of £100, if you are a man of known prudence and honesty.

He that spends a groat a day idly, spends idly above £6 a year;  which is the price of using £100.

He that wastes idly a groats worth of his time per day, one day with another, wastes the privilege of using £100 pounds each day.

He that idly loses 5 shillings worth of time, loses 5 shillings, and might as prudently throw 5 shillings into the river.

He that loses 5 shillings not only loses that sum, but all the other advantage that might be made by turning it in dealing, which, by the time a young man becomes old, amounts to a comfortable bag of money.

Again, He that sells upon credit, asks a price for what he sells equivalent to the principal and interest of his money for the time he is like to be kept out of it;  - therefore,

He that buys upon credit pays interest for what he buys,

And he that pays ready money, might let that money out to use;  so that

He that possesses any thing he has bought, pays interest for the use of it.

Consider then, when you are tempted to buy any unnecessary household stuff, or any superfluous thing, whether you will be willing to pay interest, and interest upon interest for it as long as you live, and more if it grows worse by using.

Yet, in buying goods, ’t is best to pay ready money, because,

He that sells upon credit, expects to lose 5 per cent by bad debts:  therefore he charges on all he sells upon credit, an advance that shall make up that deficiency.

Those who pay for what they buy upon credit, pay their share of this advance.

He that pays ready money, escapes, or may escape, that charge.

A penny saved is two pence clear.  A pin a day is a groat a year.  Save and have.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Every Man Dies Alone

Based upon the Gestapo files of an actual case, Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (Brooklyn, NY:  Melville House, 2009 ISBN 978-1-933633-63-3) is about a middle-aged, working class couple who resist the Nazis in 1940 Berlin.  Otto and Anna Quangel drop postcards and leaflets in mailboxes and in public places protesting Hitler’s government and the war.  They know what they are doing can and probably will result in their capture, torture, and death by the Gestapo.  They also know what they are doing is a very small disturbance in the larger world;  but they must do something.  After the death of their only son in the war, they have nothing to lose.

The daily atmosphere of Nazi rule is described so you feel the constriction of the limited choices, always on the edge of violence, every person had to make, every moment of every day.  Everyone is alone in a world where everyone is an informant.

Fallada stayed in Germany throughout the war though he was blacklisted by the Nazis and institutionalized for a time.  He reportedly felt he was something of a collaborator. Every Man Dies Alone was Fallada’s last book.  He died before it was published.  The book was not translated into English and released until 2009, becoming a surprise success. With the wave of authoritarian nationalism and tactical cruelty by despots washing around the world right now, it is a difficult book to read though, perhaps, a necessary one.

We are, it seems, always a few years away from extermination camps in any society and I think I could make a reasonable case that, all my life, there was and is almost always attempted genocide happening somewhere in the world.


Quotes from Every Man Dies Alone
(page 9)  Not that she’s [Eva Kluge, Karlemann’s mother] a political animal, she’s just an ordinary woman, but as a woman she’s of the view that you don’t bring children into the world to have them shot.  Also, that a home without a man is no good, and for the time being she’s got nothing:  not her two boys, not a man, not a proper home.

(20)  Because you could see it with your eyes closed, the way they were making separations between ordinary citizens and Party members.  Even the worst Party member was worth more to them than the best ordinary citizen.  Once in the Party, it appeared you could do what you liked, and never be called for it.  They termed that rewarding loyalty with loyalty.

[footnote]  Winter Relief Fund was a Nazi-organized charity collected during the winter months.  Pressure to contribute was considerable, and armbands and pins were distributed for public display to identity donors - and thus non-donors.  Much of the money was siphoned off by the Party, and scholars have noted that it kept the populace short of extra cash and acclimated to the idea of privation.

(43)  Father of Karlemann: “On his last furlough he showed me a photograph that a comrade took of him.  He was proud of it.  There’s your Karlemann, and he’s holding a little Jewish boy of about three, holding him by the leg, and he’s about to smash his head against the bumper of a car.”

(64)  For an instant, Baldur Persicke [Hitler Youth] thought the game was up.  But then he remembered one of his maxims, Shamelessness wins out…

(78)  [footnote]  Jewish women were forced to change their names to Sara by the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 (also known as the Nuremberg Racial Purity Laws);  Jewish men were forced to call themselves Israel.

(132)  He might be right:  whether their act was big or small, no one could risk more than his life.

(146)  In the year 1940, he had not yet understood, our good Harteisen, that any Nazi at any time was prepared to take not only the pleasure but also the life of any differently minded German.

(153)  “Show me one that isn’t afraid!” said the brownshirt contemptuously.  “And it’s so unnecessary.  They just need to do what we tell them.”

“It’s because people have got in the habit of thinking.  They have the idea that thinking will help them."

(157)  In other words, the Quangels were like most people:  they believed what they hoped.

(223)  That was all his superiors really cared about:  something had to be done, even if it was the wrong thing, as the whole pursuit of Kluge [father of Karlemann] was wrong. It was the waiting around the gentlemen couldn’t endure.

(278)  “Thoughts are free,”  they said - but they ought to have known that in this State not even thoughts were free.

….They had failed to understand that there was no such thing as private life in wartime Germany.

(284)  "They just need to overcome their fear.  At the moment, their fear of the future the Nazis are creating is still less than their fear of the present.  But that will change before too long."

…. “Second, my dear chap, you ought to know that it doesn’t matter if there’s a handful of you against many of them.  Once you’ve seen that a cause is right, you’re obliged to fight for it.”

(288)  Eleven of his workforce, including two men who had been at the furniture factory for twenty years, had disappeared without trace:  either in the middle of the shift or they hadn’t come to work one morning.  He was never told what had become of them, and that was further evidence that they had spoken a word out of turn somewhere and been packed off to a concentration camp.

(289)  But sometimes out of that dullness a terrifying rage would explode like the time a worker had fed his arm into the saw and screamed, “I wish Hitler would drop dead! And he will!  Just as I am sawing off my arm!"

(292)  “Danger,” he said.  “There’s always danger, Anna;  otherwise, it’s not fighting….”

(352)  [Detective] Escherich once felt very secure.  He once thought nothing could happen to him.  He worked on the assumption that he was completely different from everyone else.  And Escherich has had to give up these little self-deceptions.  It happened basically in the few seconds after SS man Dobat smashed him in the face and he became acquainted with fear.  In the space of a very few days, Escherich became so thoroughly acquainted with fear that now there is no chance of him forgetting for as long as he lives.  He knows it doesn’t matter how he looks, what he does, what honors and praise he receives - he knows he is nothing.  A single punch can turn him into a wailing, gibbering, trembling wretch, not much better than the stinking coward of a pickpocket who shared his cell for a few days and whose hurriedly rattled off last prayers are still ringing in his ears.  Little better than that.  No, no better at all!

(355)  His parsimony, his “confounded miserliness” prevents him from destroying them, but also his respect for work;  everything that constitutes work is sacred to him.  The destruction of work is a sin.

(359)  They all sense the threat hanging over each one of them.  Because there is not one among the eighty men there who has not in some way opposed the present government, at least by a word or two!  Each one is threatened.  Each life is at risk.  They are all terrified…

(368)  Besides, she seems to belong to the minority that respond to threats with increased obstinacy.  There’s nothing to be gained by knocking her about.

(370)  "Half the population is set on locking up the other half.  Well, it can’t go on like this much longer.  At any rate, I will remain here;  no one is about to lock me up…”

He smiles and nods.

“The worse it gets, the better it will be.  The sooner it will all be over!"

(418)  She had delicate hands, the hands of an old child…

(458)  Everyone is guilty.  You just need to probe for long enough, and you’ll find something.

(483)  A double standard.  Clemency is for Party members, not for members of the public.

(501)  The gravel was a dream gravel, the crunching of stones underfoot was a sound in a dream…

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

I first became aware of Eric Hoffer when I was a young teenager and stumbled upon a half-hour show he did for KQED that was broadcast on the local public TV station in NYC.  I fell in love with his enthusiasm, his joy in learning and thinking, and followed his work until he became an unofficial advisor to LBJ and began to inveigh against the 60s©™allrightsreserved without, to me, much understanding at all.  Still, his books like The True Believer and The Ordeal of Change helped me formulate some of my own thinking and may still be useful to others.

Here are the notes I made when I reread The True Believer in 2008.

The True Believer:  Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer
NY:  Harper & Row, 1951

(xii)  "Starting out from the fact that the frustrated predominate among the early adherents of all mass movements and that they usually join of their own accord, it is assumed:  1)  that frustration of itself, without any proselytizing prompting from the outside, can generate most of the peculiar characteristics of the true believer;  2)  that an effective technique of conversion consists basically in the inculcation and fixation of proclivities and responses indigenous to the frustrated mind."

(9)  "Those who would transform a nation of the world cannot do so by breeding and captaining discontent or by demonstrating the reasonableness and desirability of the intended changes or by coercing people into a new way of life.  They must know how to kindle and fan an extravagant hope.  It matters not whether it be hope of a heavenly kingdom, of heaven on earth, of plunder and untold riches, of fabulous achievement or world dominion.  If the Communists win Europe and a large part of the world, it will not be because they know how to stir up discontent or how to infect people with hatred, but because they know how to preach hope."

(10)  "There can be revolutions by the privileged as well as by the underprivileged.  The movement of enclosure in sixteenth and seventeenth century England was a revolution by the rich."
NB:  We are now undergoing a similar revolution of the rich, the enclosure of the intellectual commons and the complete corporate branding of life, down to your DNA.

"Another English revolution by the rich occurred at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century.  It was the Industrial Revolution."

(11)  "For men to plunge headlong into an undertaking of vast change, they must be intensely discontented yet not destitute, and they must have the feeling that by the possession of some potent doctrine, infallible leader or some new technique they have access to a source of irresistible power.  They must be wholly ignorant of the difficulties involved in their vast undertaking.  Experience is a handicap."

(15)  "The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless."

(16)  "When people are ripe for a mass movement, they are usually ripe for any effective movement, and not solely for one with a particular doctrine or program."

(17)  "Since all mass movements draw their adherents from the same types of humanity and appeal to the same types of mind, it follows:  a) all mass movements are competitive, and the gain of one in adherents is the loss of all the others;  b) all mass movements are interchangeable.  One mass movement readily transforms itself into another."

(28)  "Discontent is likely to be highest when misery is bearable;  when conditions have so improved that an ideal state seems almost within reach.  A grievance is most poignant when almost redressed."

(29)  "It is not actual suffering but the taste of better things which excites people to revolt."

(30)  "There is a hope that acts as an explosive, and a hope that disciplines and infuses patience.  The difference is between the immediate hope and the distant hope."

"Later, as the movement comes into possession of power, the emphasis is shifted to the distant hope - the dream and the vision.  For an 'arrived' mass movement is preoccupied with the preservation of the present, and it prizes obedience and patience above spontaneous action, and when we 'hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.'"

(31)  "Freedom aggravates at least as much as it alleviates frustration.  Freedom of choice places the whole blame of failure on the shoulders of the individual."

(41)  "It is futile to judge the viability of a new movement by the truth of its doctrine and the feasibility of its promises.  What has to be judged is its corporate organization for quick and total absorption of the frustrated."

(43)  "When people revolt in a totalitarian society, they rise not against the wickedness of the regime but its weakness."

(51)  "There is perhaps no more reliable indicator of a society's ripeness for a mass movement than the prevalence of unrelieved boredom."

(54)  "An effective mass movement cultivates the idea of sin.  It depicts the autonomous self not only as barren and helpless but also as vile."

(58)  "It is perhaps impossible to understand the nature fo mass movements unless it is recognized that their chief preoccupation is to foster, perfect and perpetuate a facility for untied action and self-sacrifice."

(59-60)  "Such diverse phenomena as a deprecation of the present, a facility for make-believe, a proneness to hate, a readiness to imitate, credulity, a readiness to attempt the impossible, and many others which crowd the minds fo the intensely frustrated are, as we shall see, unifying agents and prompters of recklessness."

(61)  "The technique of fostering a readiness to fight and to die consists in separating the individual from his flesh-and-blood self - in not allowing him to be his real self.  This can be achieved by the thorough assimilation of the individual into a compact collective body;  by endowing him with an imaginary self (make-believe);  by implanting in him a deprecating attitude toward the present and riveting his interest on things that are not yet;  by interposing a fact-proof screen between him and reality (doctrine);  by preventing, through the injection of passions, the establishment of a stable equilibrium between the individual and his self (fanaticism)."

(63)  "The effacement of individual separateness must be thorough.  In every act, however, trivial, the individual must by some ritual associate himself with the congregation, the tribe, the party, etcetera.  His joys and sorrows, his pride and confidence must spring from the fortunes and capacities of the group rather than from his individual prospects and abilities.  Above all, he must never feel alone.  Though stranded on a desert island, he must still feel that he is under the eyes of the group.  To be cast out from the group should be equivalent to being cut off from life."

(68)  "Glory is largely a theatrical concept.  There is no striving for glory without a vivid awareness of an audience - the knowledge that our mighty deeds will come to the ears of our contemporaries or 'of those who are to be.'"

(71)  "The self-sacrifice involved in mutual sharing and co-operative action is impossible without hope."

(73)  "It is often the fanatics, and not always the delicate spirits, that are found grasping the right thread of the solutions required by the future." 
Alexis de Tocqueville, On the State of Society in France Before the Revolution of 1789 (John Murray, 1888)

(74-75)  "The radical and the reactionary loathe the present.  They see it as an aberration and a deformity.  Both are ready to proceed ruthlessly and recklessly with the present, and both are hospitable to the idea of self-sacrifice.  Wherein do they differ?  Primarily in their view of the malleability of man's nature.  The radical has a passionate faith in the infinite perfectibility of human nature.  He believes that by changing man's environment and by perfecting a technique of soul forming, a society can be wrought that is wholly new and unprecedented.  The reactionary does not believe that man has unfathomed potentialities for good in him.  If a stable and healthy society is to be established, it must be patterned after the proven models of the past.  He sees the future as a glorious restoration rather than an unprecedented innovation.

"In reality the boundary line between radical and reactionary is not always distinct.  The reactionary manifests radicalism when he comes to recreate his ideal past.  His image of the past is based less on what it actually was than on what he wants the future to be.  He innovates more than he reconstructs.  A somewhat similar shift occurs in the case of the radical when he goes about building his new world.  He feels the need for practical guidance, and since he has rejected and destroyed the present he is compelled to link the new world with some point in the past.  If he has to employ violence in shaping the new, his view of man's nature darkens and approaches closer to that of the reactionary.

(75)  "What surprises one, when listening to the frustrated as they decry the present and all its works, is the enormous joy they derive from doing so.  Such delight cannot come from the mere venting of a grievance.  There must be something more - and there is.  By expiating upon the incurable baseness and vileness of the times, the frustrated soften their feeling of failure and isolation.  It is as if they said:  'Not only our blemished selves, but the lives of all our contemporaries, even the most happy and successful, are worthless and wasted.'  Thus be deprecating the present they acquire a vague sense of equality."

(76)  "One of the rules that emerges from a consideration of the factors that promote self-sacrifice is that we are less ready to die for what we have or are than for what we wish to have and to be."

(77)  "Craving, not having, is the mother of a reckless giving of oneself."

(78)  "All active mass movements strive, therefore, to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world.  They do this by claiming that the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine and that there is no truth nor certitude outside it.  The facts on which the true believer bases his conclusions must not be derived from his experience or observation but from holy writ."

"To rely on the evidence of the senses and of reason is heresy and treason."

(79)  "The effectiveness of the doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude."

"Crude absurdities, trivial nonsense and sublime truths are equally potent in readying people for self-sacrifice if they are accepted as the sole, eternal truth."

"We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand."

"If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague;  and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable."

"There is thus an illiterate air about the most literate true believer.  He seems to use words as if he were ignorant of their true meaning.  Hence, too, his taste for quibbling, hair-splitting and scholastic tortuousness."

(82)  "The true believer is without wonder and hesitation."
NB:  No curiosity

"The true believer is emboldened to attempt the unprecedented and the impossible not only because his doctrine gives him a  sense of omnipotence but also because it gives him unqualified confidence in the future."

(83)  "The rule seems to be that those who find no difficulty in deceiving themselves are easily deceived by others.  They are easily persuaded and led.

"A peculiar side of credulity is that it is often joined with a proneness to imposture.  The association of believing and lying is not characteristic solely of children.  The inability or unwillingness to see things as they are promotes both gullibility and charlatanism."

(85)  "The fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure.  He cannot generate self-assurance out of his individual resources - out of his rejected self - but finds it only by clinging passionately to whatever support he happens to embrace.  This passionate attachment is the essence of his blind devotion and religiosity, and he sees in it the source of all virtue and strength."

"The fanatic is not really a stickler to principle.  He embraces a cause not primarily because of its justness and holiness but because of his desperate need for something to hold on to."

(86)  "He cannot be convinced but only converted."

"Though they seem to be at opposite poles, fanatics of all kinds are actually crowded together at one end.  It is the fanatic and the moderate who are poles apart and never meet."

"The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a God or not."

(87)  "He hungers for the deep assurance which comes with total surrender - with the wholehearted clinging to a creed and a cause.   What matters is not the contents of the cause but the total dedication and the communion with a congregation."

(89)  "On the other hand, the leader of a mass movement has an overwhelming contempt for the present - for all its stubborn facts and perplexities, even those of geography and the weather.  He relies on miracles.  His hatred of the present (his nihilism) comes to the fore when the situation becomes desperate.  He destroys his country and his people rather than surrender."
NB:  Now suicide is a tactic

(92)  "Common hatred unites the most heterogeneous elements.  To share a common hatred, with an enemy even, is to infect him with a feeling of kinship, and thus sap his powers of resistance."

""It seem that, like the ideal deity, the ideal devil is one.  We have it from Hitler - the foremost authority on devils - that the genius of a great leader consists in concentrating all hatred on a single foe, making 'even adversaries far removed from one another seem to belong to a single category.'"

(93)  "Finally,it seems, the ideal devil is a foreigner."

"But we always look for allies when we hate."

(95)  "There is perhaps no surer way of infecting ourselves with virulent hatred toward a person than be doing him a grave injustice.  That others have a just grievance against us is a more potent reason for hating them than that we have a just grievance against them.  We do not make people humble and meek when we show them their guilt and cause them to be ashamed of themselves.  We are more likely to stir their arrogance and rouse in them a reckless aggressiveness.  Self-righteousness is a loud din raised to drown the voice of guilt within us."

(97)  "It is startling to see how the oppressed almost invariably shape themselves in the image of their hated oppressors.  That the evil men do lives after them is partly due to the fact that those who have reason to hate the evil most shape themselves after it and thus perpetuate it.  It is obvious, therefore, that the influence of the fanatic is bound to be out of all proportion to his abilities.  Both by converting and antagonizing, he shapes the world in his own image."

"Hitler, who sensed the undercurrent of admiration in hatred, drew a remarkable conclusion.  It is of the utmost importance, he said, that the National Socialist should seek and deserve the violent hatred of his enemies.  Such hatred would be proof of the superiority of the National Socialist faith.  'The best yardstick for the value of his [the National Socialist's] attitude, for the sincerity of his conviction, and the force of his will is the hostility he receives from the .. enemy.'"
NB:  The propagation of "Bush-hating" by Republicans?

(107)  "Ferrero says of the terrorists of the French Revolution that the more blood they 'shed the more they needed to believe in their principles as absolutes.  only the absolute might still absolve them in their own eyes and sustain their desperate energy.  [They] did not spill all that blood because they believe in popular sovereignty as a religious truth;  they tried to believe in popular sovereignty as a religious truth because their fear made them spill so much blood.'"
Guglielmo Ferrero, Principles of Power (GP Putnam, 1942)

(116)  "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."

(121-122)  "A mass movement's call for action evokes an eager response for the frustrated.  For the frustrated see in action a cure for all that ails them."

(132)  "'Vanity,' said Napoleon, 'made the Revolution;  liberty was only a pretext.'"

(154)  "The mass movement leader who benefits his people and humanity knows not only how to start a movement, but, like Gandhi, when to end its active phase."

(162)  "In the eyes of the true believer, people who have no holy cause are without backbone and character - a pushover for men of faith."

(1680  "JBS Haldane counts fanaticism among the only four really important inventions made between 3000 BC and 1400 AD."
JBS Haldane, The Inequality of Man (Famous Books, 1938)