Eric Hoffer (1902-1983), the Philosopher and Author wrote a classic book in 1951 on the nature of mass movements. It was first brought to national attention when cited by President Dwight Eisenhower and it speaks to what is happening today, not only in the Middle East, but in far too many places in our world.
"Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both... "There is a deep reassurance for the frustrated in witnessing the downfall of the fortunate and the disgrace of the righteous. They see in general downfall an approach to the brotherhood of all. Chaos, like the grave, is a haven of equality. Their burning conviction that there must be a new life and a new order is fueled by the realization that the old will have to be razed to the ground before the new can be built..."A sublime religion inevitably generates a strong feeling of guilt. There is an unavoidable contrast between loftiness of profession and imperfection of practice. And, as one would expect, the feeling of guilt promotes hate and brazenness. Thus it seems that the more sublime the faith the more virulent the hatred it breeds."Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, Perennial, 1951, pp. 96-8