Cult Leaders Aim To Detach Their Followers From Reality

‘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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The Act of Killing

Joshua Oppenheimer’s startling documentary The Act of Killing has attracted praise and controversy alike. The Independent’s reviewer called it ‘without question one of the most horrifying films I’ve ever seen.’ The reason is not hard to see. The documentary features real mass murderers re-enacting their crimes for the camera. That The Act of Killing is neither voyeuristic nor sensationalist is a testament to the thoughtfulness that Oppenheimer has brought to the making of this remarkable film. Continue reading

In Democracy Building the Means are the Ends

A Blow to Democracy in Egypt

One year ago Egyptians were celebrating the end of thirty years of dictatorship and the beginning of a new era of democracy. Now Egypt’s first elected President Muhammad Morsi has been ousted by a combination of street protests and military intervention. This is a mistake. By adopting non-democratic means, Egypt’s opposition parties are unwittingly playing into the hands of those, on all sides, whose pathology makes them incapable of building democracy. Continue reading

Our Age of Unrest

This weekend marks the first anniversary of the election of Mohamed Morsi as President of Egypt. During the first year of Morsi’s rule, Egyptian society has become more divided. After his election victory, instead of seeking to build consensus around a new political order, Morsi sought instead to monopolise power. As a result, this anniversary is being marked by protests instead of celebrations. Continue reading