” They who lack talent expect things to happen without effort. They ascribe failure to a lack of inspiration or ability, or to misfortune, rather than to insufficient practice and application. At the core of every true talent there is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement, and the confidence that by persistence and patience something worthwhile will be realized. Thus talent is a species of vigor.” Eric Hoffer, author, philosopher and longshoremen.
Reflection: Hoffer who was self-educate wrote many great books about social and political life. He is one of my favorite philosophers. His insights into mass movements and social change are still relevant today. He dicscovered through his own persistence and self-coaching why things happened in both a meaningful and/or purposeless life.
Among Hoffer’s insights about mass movements was that they are an outlet for people whose individual significance is meager in the eyes of the world and — more important — in their own eyes. He pointed out that the leaders of the Nazi movement were men whose artistic and intellectual aspirations were wholly frustrated. This could be said today about militias and radically haters of President Obama. Hoffer said in the True Believer : “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”
People who are fulfilled in their own lives and careers are not the ones attracted to mass movements: “A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding,” Hoffer said. “When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.”
What is amazing to me is that many of these frustrated zealots and “true believers,” who filled the ranks of ideological movements that created the totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century are still alive and flourishing in the 21st century.