My father must have turned me on to Eric Hoffer's True Believer years ago. I have his old copy of it, published by Time, Inc. in 1963. The many penned arrows and underlined passages indicate how carefully he studied it. The Time, Inc. edition also contains an introduction by literary critic Sidney Hook, who describes True Believer as a "restrained, urbane diatribe against faith, hope, and many forms of charity." In other words, just the thing for the modern American dissident.
Hoffer takes up the issues of True Believer, point by point.
First question: how important is unity for a nation? Hoffer lists his points as axioms:
45: Hitler had managed to exterminate six million Jews without meeting serious resistance. . . .
Yet they found that the Jews in Palestine were a formidable enemy: reckless, stubborn, and
resourceful. The Jew in Europe faced his enemies alone. In Palestine, he felt himself a member
of an eternal race, with an immemorable past behind it and a breathtaking future ahead.
The people of tiny Israel have proven themselves dogged, savage fighters. They practically coined the term "national home." It gave them the spiritual boost of a "home-team." Israel is the poster-boy of modern nation-building, although the former Czechoslovakia and former Yugoslavia have done it more recently. That home-team advantage gives the new nations their strength.
Most of Israel's loudest critics live in countries where they lack, in general, the courage to do what Israel has done—create a new nation. Jews fled persecution from a dozen or more countries and melded into one people, distinct and invigorated.
Likewise, Americans have endured persecution for years—from each other! Hoffer has something to say about this, as well:
73: An American's hatred for a fellow American . . . is far more virulent than any antipathy he
can work up against foreigners.
Americans need to regain a home-team advantage. They need to separate the hating parties in order to regain unity. They will never have the home-team advantage in the present national set-up, only more recriminations and intimidation.