It was Charles Mackay’s “Memoirs Of Extraordinary Popular Delusions & The Madness Of Crowds” published in 1841 which provided an intellectual earnest to meaningfully reflect on local and international manias, their lethal destructive capacity in destroying both individual lives and civilizations.
Mackay’s book is still regarded as the finest literary grasp of the limits of reason when overwhelmed by passion. His only rival is Elias Canetti’s “Crowds & Power”.
Elias Canetti’s childhood experience of witnessing the burning of Vienna in 1927 became a lifelong earnest from which to draw insights regarding the imaginative study of mass movements within disintegrating cultures. Hitler, Fascism, romantic movements and the fierce ideologies that dominated the second half of the 20th century were his forte.