Eric Hoffer and the Dangers of Group Psychology

‘Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.’

For students of the human condition, Eric Hoffer is an indispensible guide. A self-educated dock labourer, Hoffer’s book ‘The True Believer’ is regarded as a classic of political psychology.

This blog post outlines Hoffer’s views on the power of mass movements, including his explanation as to why many ordinary people are willing to give up everything to sacrifice themselves to a ‘greater’ cause – even when that cause involves the slaughter of millions.

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How to Stop Religious Extremism

After watching the evening news, it’s hard to believe that religion makes us kinder to one another.

This month’s murder sprees by fundamentalists in Paris and Nigeria follow months of slaughter by ISIS and the Taliban in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

And adherents of Islam are not the only ones to engage in violence. Israel’s merciless bombardment of Gaza last summer resulted in the deaths of hundreds of women and children. In parts of Africa, evangelical Christians continue to campaign for the death penalty for gay men. And in Burma, Buddhist monks preach hate against that country’s persecuted Muslim minority.

So what is it about religion that so readily incites hatred?   Continue reading

It Isn’t Just Politics That’s Broken

Over the past three decades, as power was being sucked upwards, it wasn’t just politics that was being damaged. The foundations of our democracy were also being undermined. This guest post on ShiftingGrounds looks at how the pillars of liberal democracy have been subverted by the very politicians whose job it is to defend democracy. Continue reading here…

photo credit: Maia C via photopin cc

photo credit: Maia C via photopin cc

The Idea of Equality – The Greatest Change of the Last Millennium

Ian Mortimer’s magnificent new book ‘Centuries of Change’ describes the myriad ways in which European societies have been transformed over the past one thousand years. Modern cities, advanced technologies, democratic governments, scientific knowledge – all this would have been unthinkable to our ancestors ten centuries ago.

So can we possibly isolate one change as the single greatest change of the last millennium?’ Disordered World believes we can…  Continue reading

Centuries of Change 3

Ian Mortimer’s magnificent new book ‘Centuries of Change’ describes the myriad ways in which European societies have been transformed over the past thousand years. This series of blogs summarises Mortimer’s work and asks just how much progress have we made?

This third post brings us up to the present by looking at the breakneck speed of change during the twentieth century.    Continue reading

Centuries of Change 2

The American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the Age of Invention, the Spread of Democracy, and women’s rights…

Ian Mortimer’s magnificent new book ‘Centuries of Change’ describes the myriad ways in which European societies have been transformed over the past thousand years. This series of blogs summarises Mortimer’s work and asks just how much progress have we made?

This second post looks at the increasing pace of change during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a period that defined the modern world.   Continue reading