Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Eric Hoffer on Women

“Power corrupts the few.. . weakness corrupts the many." - Eric Hoffer

Eric Hoffer became blind when his mother tumbled down the stairs with him (she died a few years later from her injuries). He was five years old. He lost his sight at seven but it came back when he back at 15 and he read everything he could, fearing he'd go blind again. He made living during the Great Depression being a hobo picking crops. He only wrote a ten books but they were amazing.

He never got married but instead spent his money on books and whorehouses.

These are his thoughts on women.

The twentieth century is not only the century of the intellectuals but also of women. Women have entered the social arena in both Russia and China. You probably need something like a new race when you start to build a new world. You can create a new race by the genocide of a whole class as Stalin did when he liquidated the most enterprising and civilized segment of the Russian population, and made of Russia a nation of lesser mujiks. The entrance of women on a large scale amounts to the introduction of a new human type. And what excellent material are women for the building of a totalitarian society! Their capacity for blind faith, self-sacrifice, leader worship, and snooping makes them ideal true believers. What a picture: an elite of intellectuals served and guarded by an army of amazons.

The twentieth century has been more a century of leaders than the nineteenth. The concept of charisma strikes me as a throwback to the primitive. And who needs charismatic leaders? Intellectuals, women, and juveniles. The intellectual’s adoration of the power of words is a worship of magic. Women, too, are receptive to magic. The nineteenth century was a century of money worship, of the middle class, and of a preoccupation with the mastery of nature. The twentieth is a century of power worship, of the intellectuals, and of a preoccupation with the mastery of man. How innocent and naïve does the nineteenth century seem in retrospect!

In the industrialized western world the family is weakened and disrupted mainly by economic factors. Economic independence for women facilitates divorce. Economic independence for the young weakens parental authority.

Marriage has for women many equivalents of joining a mass movement. It offers them a new purpose in life, a new future, and a new identity (a new name).

On and off during the day I have been thinking about woman’s role in American political life. My feeling is that, on the whole, women will vote against the workingman. The will side with anything that smacks of an upper or ruling class. Women elected Eisenhower, and they were shocked by Truman’s commonness.

On Market Street: Two young people with dark glasses, and dressed in slacks. Even after looking closely at them I could not tell whether they were men or women. Has there ever been a time in history when the difference between the sexes became so unaccentuated that it was difficult to tell a man from a woman? Such a leveling of the sexes must involve biological changes. We read about effeminacy in past ages but I doubt whether it meant an effacement of the differences between the sexes.

There is no particular reverence for leaders in the U.S. It is primarily women who generate such leader worship as there is in this country. This lack of worship goes hand in hand with the fact that in normal times the country does not need great leaders in order to function passably well. The ability to get along without an exceptional leader is a mark of social vigor. The same holds true of our ability to do the world’s work with a minimum of supervision.

No one has fully investigated the effect of clothes on man's moods and behavior. Nietzsche said somewhere that a woman who feels well-dressed would not catch a cold even if she were half-naked. Emerson quotes a lady saying that when she is perfectly dressed she has a feeling of inner tranquility which religion is powerless to bestow. I have never been well-dressed; never had on things of perfect fit and excellent material.

The current absence of outstanding leaders is so hard to explain that all guesses are legitimate. The women's liberation movement – the disenchantment of women with men – might be a factor. Women who worshiped them have often been prominent in the rise of great leaders.

About the flow of influence: Ghetto attitudes toward the law, work, and drugs were propagated by the universities. Students mimicked low-class Negroes, and non-students mimicked students. It reminds one of the spread of fashions in France: demimonde fashions were adopted by aristocratic ladies, and middle-class women mimicked the aristocrats.

Were it not for women and children the industrial revolution might not have got started. They were made to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week, from the word go. Adult males stubbornly refused to be harnessed to this endless grind. The masters were unbelievably ruthless and arrogant. We read that in 1830 there were still forty-two traditional holidays. Some years later there were only four. The middle class that started the industrial revolution lived in its own world and cared less for the people who lived in the factories than for beasts of burden. The lower orders were seen as a different species.

Many outstanding men had outstanding mothers. An outstanding father seems to handicap his children. I ought to say “his sons,” for it may well be that women are not handicapped by strong fathers.

Righting wrongs does not increase social concord. Women's liberation, racial equality and the war on poverty have not made us a more united nation. On the contrary, social justice has multiplied grievances and fueled discord. Like total freedom, total justice may become a cause of social disintegration. Civilized life is based on an acceptance of imperfection – on not trying to enforce every right one possesses.

Jehovah’s injunction to man (Genesis, Chapter 1) is unequivocal: be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth. Nature lost its divine attributes. Sun, stars, sky, earth, mountains, rivers, plants and animals were no longer the seat of mysterious powers and the arbiters of man’s fate. Though man had to wrestle with the earth for his bread, he was the masterful male Adam, and the earth, Adama, a female to be beaten into submission.


Mindstorm said...

Wasn't that "Nature lost its divine attributes"?

Anonymous said...


Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that outstanding fathers handicap their sons. History simply does not bear this out?

Bob Wallace said...

It does happen when the father is so far ahead of the son in almost all ways
that the son can never reach his level. A lot of fathers have no idea how to raise such a son.

Mindstorm said...

^ It works both ways.

Bob Wallace said...

In that case, the fathers are proud of their sons.