Cults and Communism
Cults are a hot news item because of their usually nefarious and dramatic actions. They have a lot of fanatics, and it is in the human nature to bow down to someone, be it a god or a human being with a lot of charisma. But what exactly are cults? The word is used in a lot of situations, where it is vaguely defined.
The Webster’s defines a cult as “1) formal religious veneration, 2) a system of religious beliefs and ritual, 3) a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious”. Now, if we take only definition 1 or 2, this emcompasses most religions. Indeed most religions are based on veneration or ritualistic admiration. But the meaning that most people mean when they use this word is the third one : a religion which is unorthodox. In my studies of particular cults, I have found some common characteristics that are common to most of them.
*doctrine (and as much cognitive dissonance as possible) – religious or fallacious front to evil actions or doctrines.
*minimal contact with the outside world (doctrine cannot stand to examination).
*excommunication, offloading, etc.
*conspiracy theories and/or planned faschist world domination.
*lawyers (gotta defend against all the lawsuits).
in terminal cases :
*work (sleep deprivation).
*mild or strong forms of mind control.
Robert Lifton, in “Thought Reform And The Psychology Of Totalism” (1961), proposes the following criterias : milieu control (“[This form of control] is achieved by immersing a person in a social environment where, in order to function, he must shed his old identity and adhere to the new identity desired by the group.” (Hassan, 1988)), the cult of confession (by publically confessing your mistakes or sins you will become a better person), sacred science (it’s true because we have experienced it), loading of the language and doctrine over person.
The Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame has the following criterias : internal control, infallibility claimed and credited, dogma, recruiting, front groups, money (costs), political ambitions, sexual manipulation, censorship, dropout control, approval of violence, paranoia, grimness, surrender of will, hypocrisy.
Can we qualify communism as a cult ? The answer is yes. Communism has many characteristics of a cult : it has a doctrine (sacrifice of the individual to societal constructs), involves the lessening of contact with the outside world (blocking communications from capitalist countries), purges are a known characteristic of communist regims, the cult of the person is a very important part of the communist mindset. We see these characteristics being used by communism to a high degree.
One might tell me that all I’m saying is blindingly obvious, and that there is no point in rehashing this. But the point that I want to drive to is that communism, although being an atheistic system, has all the markings of a cult itself. Communism *has* to deny all religions, in order to establish itself as the state religion – the worship of the almighty state. In fact this vision of the almighty state is validated in the political repression of the right to property, by the state itself.
HOW TO RESIST CULTS AND BRAINWASHING – five ways to resist brainwashing (from an internet article) :
1. Have strong convictions : As noted above, the person most easily brainwashed is the one quickly swayed by others. Do not go along with an idea just because your associates accept it. Make sure that the views you adopt are truthful.
2. Find the reason : Inadvertently we often accept attitudes without knowing what is behind them. For instance, people in your community may have a negative view of certain races or ethnic groups. But why? If you find the reason unconvincing, why adopt the viewpoint? go back in the chain of cognition when necessary (see the article “philosophical roadmap”) or, as a general rule, search for causes.
3. Resist improper thoughts : It is hard to avoid seeing, hearing or otherwise experiencing improper thoughts. But must we soak our minds full of them ? Doing so will adversely affect our judgments and actions. How much better to resist improper thoughts and to dwell upon things that build up !
4. Speak up for what you know to be right : This will give you opportunity to test what you believe and more firmly entrench the truth in your life. If you are convinced of the truth of a matter after thorough search, do not be disconcerted by ridicule from others.
5. Live the truth: Do not look for excuses to compromise what you know to be right. Remember, if something is right and proper, it will work out for your good. Do not be tricked into thinking that you are missing out on something or that you are unduly restricted because you conform to what is right.
Now, let me conclude on the general topic of cults and religions. In my opinion, most religions have started as cults – we have examples in present time. The reason why we have religions and not cults today is because the evolution of the subjective societal viewpoint of mankind has somewhat evolved to the point that widespread control or slaughter of innocents based on religion is less acceptable, at least in North America.
Most religions are still based on dogma, include worship of deities or mythical characters, practice excommunication and demand your money (although at a lesser degree).
“A delusion held by one person is a mental illness, held by several is a cult and held by many is a religion”
Let me end by these two quotes :
“Of course, I should point out that MOST religions have rather profane origins to them, but that the longer the time between origin and us the more clouded in mystery it seems, adding considerable “sacredness” to it.
I am fond of saying that the difference between a cult and a religion is about a hundred years. A hundred years ago the Mormons were about as cultish as they come, but now are considered a mainstream religion (see www.adherents.com) for an amazing statistical database on adherents to over 1200 religions around the world).
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and others are old enough that most people know next to nothing about how very human their creators were”
The true fanatic is a theocrat, someone who sees himself as acting on behalf of some superpersonal force: the Race, the Party, History, the proletariat, the Poor, and so on. These absolve him from evil, hence he may safely do anything in their service.
Lloyd Billingsley, “Religion’s Rebel Son: Fanaticism in Our Time”