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April 04, 2008

Ron Paul, True Believer

With apologies in advance for any Paulbots who show up, this was simply too good an opportunity to let pass. Low hanging fruit 'n' all. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an article about Paul's campaign in Pennsylvania. It has plenty of quotes from worshipful Paulians, as if we needed more of that, but what caught my eye was the very end of the article:

Ron Paul and his people keep going on despite, or perhaps because of, what is a hopeless situation.

"If anyone's looked at what I've done for so many years, it's just sort of a steady determination," he said, when asked about his character. "I think if I should be compared to somebody, it might be called a true believer."

So my question is, does he mean this kind of true believer or that kind of true believer. The first describes a 1951 book on mass movements called "The True Believer" which remains in print today. Given the book's subject matter, I almost find it impossible to believe that Paul is not familiar with it:

The book evaluates and sometimes disparages Communists, Fascists, Nationalists, and early Christians. Part of Hoffer's thesis is that movements are interchangeable and that fanatics will often flip from one movement to another. Furthermore, Hoffer argues the motivations for mass movements are interchangeable: religious, nationalist and class-based movements tend to behave in the same way and use the same tactics, even when their stated goals or values are diametrically opposed.

One of the central theses of the book is that mass movements are made up of a group of people who have strong feelings of frustration directed at dominant majorities. These people are passionate about achieving a glorious future, which achieves such value in their minds that fundamental norms are occasionally dropped by the wayside for the greater good. A revolution indeed.

The second kind of true believer is described by Lamar Keene:

Keene used the term to refer to people who continued to believe in a paranormal event or phenomenon even after it had been proven to have been staged. It has since been applied, more loosely, to refer to any belief without empirical or logical foundations.

I think it's fair to say that either version works for Paul and his followers. Why is Paul still running? Why does he think that Republicans should work with him? And what does he plan to do when he finally drops out?


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 02:48 PM

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