Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Lesson From Canetti on Crowd-Power

Salim Mansur writes:
In Crowds and Power, the late Elias Canetti, a wonderfully gifted writer and Nobel laureate, brought a unique perspective in examining the human condition and history under the stress of mobs in politics.
When individuals gathered together turn into a crowd and then erupt into a mob, the transition from one into another is the obliteration, even momentarily, of the individual as a thinking being reduced physically into a mindless atom constituent of a mass set in motion by the wish to demonstrate power. 
The crowd as mob, wrote Canetti, “wants to experience for itself the strongest possible feeling of its own animal force and passion and, as means to this end, it will use whatever social pretexts and demands offer themselves.” 
The politics of the Arab-Muslim world of late — or at least since the 1979 revolution in Iran that brought clerics with a medieval mind-set to power — has been reduced to the pathology of the mob in politics. 
This is not unique in history and, for instance, as it was with the pathology of mob politics during the “reign of terror” in France or the Maoist “cultural revolution” in China, the situation in the Arab-Muslim world may likely pass at some point in the future. 
In the meantime, however, it should be clearly understood that there is no reasoning with mobs, and any sign of weakness in terms of appeasing mobs by acknowledging or giving in to their demands amounts to stoking their wild frenzy...
Smart man. Unlike some others I could name.

1 comment:

Carlos Perera said...

_Pace_ Scaramouche, I am not sure that the "some other" you could name is acting out of weakness or foolishness in appeasing the Moslem mobs. As I've written several times before in these comments, my impression--shared by much smarter and better-informed people than I, like Dinesh D'Souza--the "some other" wants to weaken his country and diminish its standing in the world . . . in fact, he wants to do this for all Honkeydom, which is why he has such an animus against strong, civilizationally confident honkeys, like Winston Churchill and Benjamin Netanyahu.