April 3, 2010

Nothing is Transparent: 5 Fascist Fundamentals


Richard at the Belmont Club with his usual clarity makes a little list that shouldn't be missed in » A Reason To Believe:

"So why do smart people believe in dumb things? The author Scott Peck claimed that intelligence was no defense against foolishness, especially where belief was concerned. The intelligent were perhaps even more vulnerable than the simple precisely because they believed themselves to be immune when in fact they were not. All a cult leader had to do was flash his neon sign in the middle of a spiritual night and the vainglorious moths would come in their thousands, beating their wings against the electrified screen. If you built it, they would come. And whether the goals of the belief joint were Helter-Skelter, alien abduction or the Workers Paradise, these temples of the night would do a land-office business and all be built in the same way. All of them would have:

"1. A charismatic leader demanding total authority at their center. From him would radiate authority through an elect group of followers. This is inevitable since power does not spring from the institution, but rather from the personal divinity of the god at its center.

"2. Controlling techniques harnessing shame, guilt and peer pressure to bring dissidents to heel. Within a cult are only hymns of praise and condemnations of the wicked. Deviation from dogma would be treated as a moral failing; sin or blasphemy against a sacred leader and his goals.

"3. Self-isolation from the world. Cults constitute little universes unto themselves; closed hermetic societies, where the “us” faces out against the “them”.

"4. Extremist or fanatical behavior. In a cult excess is normal. Activity is frenzied, every emotion is at the highest pitch. People act as if possessed because time is short. The long awaited moment is at hand.

"5. Secrecy and deception. Routine documents are concealed. Inquiries are treated with suspicion. Associations, personal histories, financial records, decisions — all go behind a firewall. Nothing is transparent."

Belmont Club » A Reason To Believe

Posted by Vanderleun at April 3, 2010 2:38 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

That sounds almost EXACTLY like the checklist of whether something is a cult. There's one more point that I remember: "The organization's wealth does not benefit its [general] members or society."

I used to be able to access the list of what defines a cult through xenu.net, but that subsidiary website is not apparent now. But that site is fairly entertaining and includes lots of links on how to avoid being victimized by a cult (Rule #1: Learn to employ critical thinking skills.)

Posted by: B. Durbin at April 3, 2010 3:09 PM

Countdown for the resident troll to point a finger at conservatives...


Posted by: jwm at April 3, 2010 3:25 PM

It sounds to me like these five defining characteristics describe exactly the Cult of Dear Leader, the Exalted O-Man.

Posted by: Hangtown Bob at April 3, 2010 5:08 PM

Seemed that way to me too.

Posted by: vanderleun at April 3, 2010 5:33 PM

Although he was making a different point, I thought this recent post by Tigerhawk is relevant.

Posted by: Barnabus at April 3, 2010 6:47 PM

I was in a cult for several years, although most people might not identify it as such -- the United Methodist Church.

What I've learned is that "cult" and "religion" are not discrete categories. Controlling and exploitative tendencies are common to all religions. It's just that some are more aggressive and destructive about it.

The more that you get into any cause or movement that claims transcendent truth, the more cult-like it becomes. Any group, if you go in far enough and deep enough, is a cult.

Posted by: John at April 4, 2010 8:34 AM