“New York State of Mind”

This article is a re-print from Bill Fairchild, a Painful Truth Contributor.

Billy Joel published a song with that title in 1975. The song is melancholy, and is about a New Yorker who is sorry he moved away and is longing to get back to the Manhattan he so sorely misses.

I used to dislike New York City. It always seemed dirty, over-crowded, crime-ridden, and filled with endless traffic jams and so many mentally unstable people.

I have been to Manhattan several times on business trips and personal vacations, and have had my mental stereotypes reaffirmed by some people there but have also have my prejudices upset by other New Yorkers who seemed genuinely friendly, caring, and like real human beings.

I have a much different opinion now. All of a sudden, I am proud of New York City and its people. On television I see men wearing hard hats who are working 12-hour shifts to remove the 1,200,000 tons of rubble that used to be the World Trade Center that now lie in an ugly heap on top of what used to be 6,000 human beings. Those emotionally devastated emergency workers, many of whom have suddenly lost dozens of close friends in one stroke, are forcing themselves to keep working. They will stay at it until they break down. Hooray for their indomitable spirit! I am proud that New York City is a part of my homeland, and that I am privileged to live in a nation that has a place as fine as New York City.

New Yorkers have proven worthy of their giant guardian, the Statue of Liberty. I still get goose-bumps when I read Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus” that is carved on its base: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

I am also terribly proud of the men who attacked the hijackers on the plane that crashed into rural Pennsylvania. I doubt that any plane can be hijacked in the United States now. There would be dozens of passengers swarming all over the hijackers within seconds.

An often told joke was that New York City was a great place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there. I want to go visit New York City even more now, to share in the pain of those who are suffering, to experience the enthusiasm and resolve evinced by those who are cleaning up so they can start to rebuild, to do my part in stimulating that area economically by spending tourist dollars there, to tell strangers there how proud of them I am, and to be inspired by their heroic examples.

But I have to admit that I want to live there even less than before. I would be proud to live there if I had to, but only if I had to, because I think that that great warren of high-rise office buildings, subways, tunnels, and millions of people have become a very dangerous place to live and work. And those who could move away but choose to continue living and working there are also heroes simply for staying put.

The devastation caused on September 11 by a small gang of psychopaths should be a mind-jarring wake-up call to the whole world of the dangers of crazed religious cults. Those of us who have come out of the fanatical religious cult called Armstrongism should be painfully aware that what Al-Qaeda did on 911 is the same that we could have done if Armstrong’s cult had been allowed to continue growing unchecked.


Every person on earth needs to read “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer. If we all read it, then perhaps a few may be plucked from the fire of endemic cultism. Hoffer wrote this book in 1951, long before the Worldwide Church of God became prominent or a hundred-million dollar a year engine of fraud. He certainly wasn’t writing his book just about Herbert W. Armstrong’s cult. Yet when I read this book in 1974 and when I reread it this year, almost every page seems to contain a warning about HWA and his cult.

The full title of Hoffer’s book is “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.” Hoffer discusses common traits found in those who start mass movements, those who lead mass movements, those who become the top lieutenants in mass movements, and those who join mass movements at the bottom level. He also discusses the life cycle of mass movements – how they are born, how they grow, and how they stagnate and die.

I urge everyone reading this web page to read Hoffer’s excellent little book. As you read it, think of the following, for they are all examples of the mass movements he had in mind when writing it: the Roman Empire, Christianity, Islam, the Crusades, the Salem witch hunt, the American Revolution of 1776, the French Revolution of 1789, the anti-Tsarist revolution in Russia in 1917, the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917, Stalin’s purges in the 1930s, Stalin’s gulags, Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s fascist Italy, Japan’s warrior society, Armstrongism, Gandhi in India, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, McCarthyism, all American religious revivalists (e.g., A. A. Allen, Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Rex Humbard, Pat Robertson), National Organization for Women, hippies, Mao’s cultural revolution in China, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, Aum Shin Rikyo in Japan, Promise Keepers, Heaven’s Gate, the Solar Temple, and the New Age movement.

Not all the movements I mentioned above turned out bad. Hoffer discusses how mass movements can end up being a positive change in humanity as well as becoming destructive.

Here are some quotes from Hoffer’s book that relate obviously to HWA’s gigantic fraud disguised as a cult disguised as a church that I hope will whet your appetite to read the whole book:

  • All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die …, breed … fervent hope … and intolerance, … demand blind faith…
  • Faith in the future renders us receptive to change. … All mass movements are interchangeable [explains how fervent cultists can easily jump from one cult to another]. …
  • We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or … “to be free from freedom.” … a proselytizing mass movement must break down all existing group ties if it is to win a considerable following … the inordinately selfish …are likely to be the most persuasive champions of selflessness [think about HWA, GTA, and their hideous excesses]…
  • All mass movements deprecate the present by depicting it as a mean preliminary to a glorious future, a mere doormat on the threshold of the millennium. …
  • A deprecating attitude toward the present fosters a capacity for prognostication … the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine …
  • To rely on the evidence of the senses and of reason is heresy … those who find no difficulty in deceiving themselves are easily deceived by others … stripping each human entity of its distinctiveness and … turning it into an anonymous particle with no will and no judgment of its own … a homogeneous plastic mass that can be kneaded at will. … the leader of a mass movement … relies on miracles … mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil …
  • Every difficulty and failure within the movement is the work of the devil…
  • In the phenomenal spread of Islam, conquest was a primary factor and conversion was a by-product. …
  • The main requirements [for a mass movement’s leader] seem to be: audacity and a joy in defiance; an iron will; a fanatical conviction that he is in possession of the one and only truth; … and, above all, the ability to evoke fervent devotion in a group of able lieutenants [like all the evangelists, Raymond “Mr. Loyalty” McNair, Gerald Waterhouse, Rod Meredith, etc.]
  • There can be no mass movement without some deliberate misrepresentation of facts. … the atmosphere of an active movement stifles the creative spirit.
  • The fanatic is also mentally cocky … the conviction that life and the universe conform to a simple formula …
  • In the eyes of the true believer, people who have no holy cause are without backbone and character … fanaticism … was a Judaic-Christian invention.”

If anyone wants to let someone else do his thinking for him, he should remember Auschwitz, Jim Jones, Heaven’s Gate, the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the plane that nose-dived into the soil of southwestern Pennsylvania. This is where religious fanaticism ends up – death, destruction, and thousands of survivors grieving for those who are lost and wondering how could so many people believe such insanity. Anyone who thinks he has found an infallible leader, knows the absolute truth, or is on a mission from God should reflect on where such ideas can lead. Religious fanaticism and cultism can easily lead to lying to oneself, lying to others, murder, mass murder, and mass destruction. All cultists, extremists, and zealots need to think about the missing 6,000 people and the missing World Trade Center, put themselves into a New York state of mind, and think about what their zeal may lead them to do.


Bill Fairchild Douglas, Mass. 09 OCT 01

12 Replies to ““New York State of Mind””

  1. I’ve long realized we were just like the Nazis in our fanatic mindset. Whatever came out of Hebert’s mouth was truth to us. We didn’t question. To question was to damn oneself. The booklets and the PT were to us like Mein Kampf was to the Nazi Germans.

    All such groups, including the Tea Paarty, are dangerous and filled with fanatics who are absolutely convinced they and only they have the “answers.”

    I haven’t read Hoffer’s book. I’m going to.

  2. From Hoffer’s book, and keep in mind this was published in 1951:

    “The Americans are poor haters i n international affairs because of their innate feeling of superiority over all foreigners….Shoud Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life”.

    Americans not only fear possible wars with other governments, but more important, they fear the “invasion” of average men and women, as “illegal aliens” and as “terrorists”. Americans feelt themselves part of a diminishing “pie” over which they have no control, and in fact, they don’t. They have progressed to that point of “unity” described by Hoffer:

    “Unity and self sacrifice, of themselves, even when fostered by the most noble means, produce a facility for hating. Even when men league themselves mightily together to promote tolerance and peace on earth, they are likely to be violently intolerant toward those not of a like mind”.

    Americnas fought for freedom of speech and created great essays against government power to control that speech. Now, we are frightened of anything and everything that comes along, carefully orchestrated by our government to “protect” us against the invasion of a person who might be carrying a bomb. Such heightened fears is symptomatic of people who have lost a sense of their own superiority and goodness toward others. A person who feels frightened will give up inherent freedoms in a pact to protect himself from all harm, real or imagined.

    “When we lose our individual independence in the corporateness of a mass movement, we find a new freedom–freedom to hate, bully, lie, torture, murder, and betray without shame or remorse”.

    Think of the prison at Abu Ghraib. This is something I personally realized during my time in the marines, that I could kill man or animal with little remorse, with no feeling of guilt. That is what terrified me into leaving.

    “When we see the bloodshed, terror and destruction born of such generous enthusiasms as the love of God, love of Christ, love of a nation, compassion for the oppressed and s on, we usually blame this shameful perversion on a cynical, power-hungry leadership. Actually, IT IS THE UNIFICATION SET IN MOTION BY THESE ENTHUSIASMS, RATHER THAN THE MANIPULATIONS OF A SCHEMING LEADERSHIP, THAT TRANSMUTES NOBLE IMPULSES INTO A REALITY OF HATRED AND VIOLENCE…The torture chamber is a corporate institution.”

    The same human mind, the same human reason, that once attributes noble collective goodness to “God” can be deceived into committing the same collective error in service of “country”. The same mind reasons its way into both traps.

    1. So many people on the Internet are expressing the same thoughts. We have gone from freedom back into a tribal society. Its degenerate in nature and a short path to tyranny from this path.

      As Ben Franklin noted, we desire safety and security as a nation. When we reach that point we deserve neither. We are the cowards.


  3. “The same human mind, the same human reason, that once attributes noble collective goodness to “God” can be deceived into committing the same collective error in service of “country”. The same mind reasons its way into both traps.”

    That’s why I try to keep a tight reign on myself lest I go from one extreme to another. It would be very easy to do.

    1. The Internet has truly changed our lives. Having information available like this is great. Taking classes over the Internet is fantastic as a tool. Lets hope it never goes away.

  4. That’s something that has bothered me for some time, how a person can realize that there is no “God” to whom s/he can surrender without giving up the self to a tyrant, but then will reason that it’s perfectly good to surrender one’s autonomy and independence to a govermnment, which is actualy defined as a form of power based on human imagination.

    For me, it breaks down to a simple example: suppose you own a farm in which you have managed to be self sufficent. You have employees, but you pay them according to their abilities as your profit allows. Then someone comes along and says, “I don’t have a job to pay me money, so I’ve decided that it’s not fair for you to produce and enjoy all you have. I suggest that you give part of what you earn to me so I can live easily like you”.

    This person has just placed a claim on your productivity, and decided you owe it to him because you happen to be “lucky” enough to have it. You may ask, “What can you offer that would be worthwhile to me?”

    he answers, “I have nothng to offer, but it’s not fair for you to enjoy wealth and ease while I suffer, so you should give some to me”.


    “Because I am entitled to part of this wealth, as much as you”.

    “What did you do to contribute to this wealth?”

    “I allowed you to earn it.”

    “You didn’t ‘allow’ anything. I worked for it, and I earned it, without any input from you. Get off my land”.

    Suppose he brings back two more men with him, and you run them off. Then three, and then ten, later a hundred. At what point, at what number of men, does it stop being theft and becomes a just entitlement? If you can give a number at which it ceases to be theft and becomes moral to take property from a person by force, then I will show you why you were able to accept such people as HWA as authorities, and why you accept government as a legitimate form of theft, and also why you shouldn’t be complaining that HWA was a crook.

  5. No matter how we cut this, it is all about making us livestock.

    Herbert Armstrong wanted us as livestock to keep himself in luxury.

    The Armstrongist cult leaders want to keep us in slavery as livestock to have a salary, retirement and have prestige to maintain their narcissistic source.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m not just about to stay penned up if I can help it.

  6. That’s the deal. Ayn Rand called it “Attila and the Witch Doctor: faith and force. You can call it church and state, beast and false prophet, or whatever, but it’s all about your enslavement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.