Eric Hoffer (1902 – 1983)
Known as the “Longshoreman Philosopher,” Hoffer’s first book, The True Believer, (1951) was a new perspective on the power and danger of fanaticism and mass movements, both political and religious. His background as a migrant farmhand, hobo, and ultimately a dock worker gave him an authority to speak of the working class as few academics could. His ideas on the power of meaningful labor to enhance self-esteem and therefore positive societal change are still controversial today. Hoffer won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983.