Eric HofferEric Hoffer, (1902-1983) American author, philosopher, awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Eric Hoffer Quote

“People unfit for freedom - who cannot do much with it - are hungry for power. The desire for freedom is an attribute of a "have" type of self. It says: leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities. The desire for power is basically an attribute of a "have not" type of self.”

Eric HofferEric Hoffer
~ Eric Hoffer

Ratings and Comments

me again
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me again    10/20/06

Interesting.There appears to be more to this quote than I understand, though which is fine.

Joe, Rochester, MI

Congress, senators, judges, and other officials are examples of "hungry for power." They want you to "have not" what they can "have."

E Archer, NYC

Do we wish 'more freedom' or 'more power'? I think people often confuse the two. We talk about our rights as the 'power' to do whatever. As with freedom, more power means more responsibility. In America, the People have declared their Independence from any sovereign power and have established rules for limiting power of government in order to protect the freedom of the people. But a great danger lies among those people who want more and have a 'have not' type of self. 'Desire is the root of all suffering.' (Buddha)

Mike, Norwalk
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Mike, Norwalk Mike, Norwalk 12/7/23

My personal belief is that each and every, any and all children of the King of Eternity is/are fit for freedom. Many / most (?) do not choose freedom which acerbates a need for power. The more righteous an individual (an individual of real love, truth, faith, knowledge, as is averse to emotion / carnal sensorialism / amorous attachment, substance lacking data / information / evidence, belief / assumption / opinionated hypnosis, education / familiarity / a sense of) the fewer controls and power are sought to regulate action. The more iniquitous an individual, the more power to control the perceived chaos is sought.

David L Rosenthal

The trip into the abstract leaves behind the real. Those who choose to exercise tyranny, and do so with skill, have other skills that they could also choose to exercise, if they were not so perverse.

Walter Clark, Fullerton CA

Mike of Norwalk, a little help here. What do you suppose "have" and "have not" means, when it comes to the concept of the self? I did a quick scan of the Wikipedia on the self and there's no reference to the phrase "have not".
So I went to another source of aphorisms and found this one from Hoffer...
Those who lack the capacity to achieve much in an atmosphere of freedom will clamor for power."
That is clear as a bell. I'm going chock this up to a mistake on the part of who ever gathers these aphorisms. He probably left out too much context.

Mike, Norwalk

Walter, maybe this explanation may add to the thought? Under ancient Hebrew jurisprudence, there was a category of existence as could most closely be described as biblical equity. There is no single word in Hebrew that is a clear category title but, equity was the understanding of that which was considered tangible (faith - see Hebrews 11:1, love - see 1 John 4:8; knowledge, truth, etc.) Equity is the "be" - as relates to the quote, 'the haves'. "Law" is the "do". (by way of example; the thing 'love', emits, the lawful do - loves, loving, etc.; the thing 'faith' - or in form = belief, emits the lawful do - faithful, believing, etc. The term "iniquity" literally means outside of or contrary to "equity" (see Matt 7:20-23) Pertaining to the quote, the "have not's" are the iniquitous ones that may visually replicate an action but, it does not derive from the equitable substance within (the "haves") The power is perceived so, with out the substance, force is sought after.

Patrick Henry, Red Hill

Power lust is animated by those cardinal frailties of character that morbidly commonly delimit the demeanors of Fallen Man:

Pride and fear.

Bruski, Naples FL

Mr. Hoffer was a true freedom loving genius.

He describes much of the "leadership population" in and around the dismal swamp also know as Washington D.C.

Drain the swamp!

Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown

It is the duty of the haves to educate the have nots of the qualities of the positive growing capacities. Growth, after all, is inherent in all of us. Socialism is the challenge of social abilities to create.


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