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The Ordeal of Change, by Eric Hoffer – Pub 1963

The Ordeal of Change

I first stumbled upon the name Eric Hoffer when reading about Ronald Coase, a Noble Prize laureate in Economics who was known to regularly present the Eric Hoffer “Hat Full of Peas” award (that’s another story).  So who is Eric Hoffer?  He was a well-read and well-received philosopher who juggled a schedule between his job as a longshoreman on the San Francisco docks and his position as Research Professor at the University of California.  Hoffer was the author of several books, including “True Believer” (1951), the work that first gained him recognition.  Unlike your editor, Hoffer was a compact writer and his observations are delivered in succinct monographs.  Hoffer, with a tough mind and a steady pen, delivers his insights to the human condition in closely reasoned arguments.  The Ordeal of Change examines what creates change in society, and what are the manifestations of change.  From the book;

“When a population undergoing drastic change is without abundant opportunities for individual action and self advancement, it develops a hunger for faith, pride, and unity. It becomes receptive to all manner of proselytizing, and is eager to throw itself into collective undertakings which aim at ‘showing the world.’ In other words, drastic change, under certain conditions, creates a proclivity for fanatical attitudes, united action, and spectacular manifestations of flouting and defiance; it creates an atmosphere of revolution. We are usually told that revolutions are set in motion to realize radical changes. Actually, it is drastic change that sets the stage for revolution. The revolutionary mood and temper are generated by the irritations, difficulties, hungers, and frustrations inherent in the realization of drastic change. Where things have not changed at all, there is the least likelihood of revolution.”

You know you need the read the full 120 pages.  Here’s a sample

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