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Conservatives Need To Quit Treating The Symptoms And Start Attacking The Disease

November 21, 2012

According to Brad Hirschfield, as reported in his Washington Post article, “Cults are typically defined by five characteristics….”

First, cults tend to centralize power in the hands of a single individual or small group that is considered beyond questions.

Second, they treat all questions about the group and its beliefs as intolerable challenges to the group’s authority and authenticity.

Third, they demean all those who do not share their beliefs and sow fear and mistrust amongst their believers about all such people.

Fourth, they typically cut off all or most opportunities for members to interact freely with those outside the group.

And finally, they take revenge upon those who choose to leave the group, in ways which include, cutting them off from all relationships with those who remain inside, confiscation of material goods and even physical harm.

Laura Ellen Shulman had this to say when discussing the five characteristics:

These five characteristics seem pretty straightforward. I might suggest that for a group to be a “cult” in the truly negative sense of the word, it would have to have all five characteristics (rather than just one or another of them). And if there is any doubt about a given group being a cult or not, the fewer of these characteristics the group has, the more doubt we should have that it is not a “cult”.

There are any number of factors that go in to making a group a “dangerous” cult:

  • charismatic leadership is one
  • strict rules of behavior is another
  • being closed to the outside world is a third
  • communal living is a fourth factor

I’m just suggesting that conservatives need to consider these five characteristics when faced with progressive responses that seem to have no rational explanation.  Let me go first and admit that I rarely discuss politics with my sweet lovable mother due to the fact that she evidences what I now find is cult like behavior.  This is an educated and tolerant woman who dismissed every fact I presented to her by explaining that each and every one of those facts were really just conservative lies.  The point is not that she thought they were lies, which might be enough of a problem, but the real point is that she didn’t think it worth her effort to do any further research.  This unfortunately didn’t come as much of a surprise as I had just been treated to a dinner in the company of some very nice people of long acquaintance and yet these very nice people felt perfectly comfortable speaking ill of conservatives in casual dinner conversation.  These are people who, at least in my presence,  have never uttered a single curse word and yet if I had suggested that perhaps conservatives and conservatism deserved some respect it might well have ended my visit.  The point I am trying to make is that conservatives have a real problem.

Marcia Rudin has come up with a list of 14 characteristics.  I provide them below and note that the previous author also linked them;

1. Members swear total allegiance to an all-powerful leader who they believe to be the Messiah. 

2. Rational thought is discouraged or forbidden. 

3. The cult’s recruitment techniques are often deceptive. 

4. The cult weakens the follower psychologically by making him or her depend upon the group to solve his or her problems. 

5. The cults manipulate guilt to their advantage. 

6. The cult leader makes all the career and life decision of the members. 

7. Cults exist only for their own material survival and make false promises to work to improve society. 

8. Cult members often work fulltime for the group for little or no pay. 

9. Cult members are isolated from the outside world and any reality testing it could provide. 

10. Cults are anti-woman, anti-child, and anti-family. 

11. Cults are apocalyptic and believe themselves to be the remnant who will survive the soon-approaching end of the world. 

12. Many cults follow an “ends justify the means” philosophy. 

13. Cults, particularly in regard to their finances, are shrouded in secrecy. 

14. There is frequently an aura of or potential for violence around cults. 

I don’t wish to beat a dead horse here, but…..:

Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.

As with the other articles, let me just provide another small quote for your consideration:

If evidence is presented that they have had false prophecies or they are used to make money. The focus is shifted members are taught to question the motives or character of the person and ignore the evidence. So the focus is on the others character and not the proof that they have. They will be called emissaries of Satan so that they can’t be trusted with anything they have.

AN “US AGAINST THEM” ATTITUDE AND PHILOSOPHY: Anyone who challenges the cult’s doctrine is automatically branded as an enemy which is usually anyone who disagrees.

We’ve taken a quick look at cults and the type of behavior one might expect from their members, but what about the leadership?

In general, charismatic personalities are known for their inescapable magnetism, their winning style, the self assurance with which they promote something, a cause, a belief, a product. A charismatic person who offers hope of new beginnings often attracts attention and a following.

And, from the same article:

Dr. Robert Hare, one of the world’s foremost experts in the field, estimates that there are at least two million psychopaths in North America. He writes, “Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret.”

If we assume that “Progressiveness” is the fastest growing cult in America,, the next step is to find out how to combat it because what we are doing now isn’t working.

  1. Regarding “the next step is to find out how to combat it because what we are doing now isn’t working.”:

    My focus area is less on the tactics in the political arena and more on the conservative philosophy itself, and how best to teach it. After mostly hibernating for a couple weeks since the election, I’ve begun trying to analyze and write about why the conservative messaging went wrong in 2012. I’ve decided that we must start by earnestly trying harder to understand the liberal perspective, so we stop inadvertently playing into their hands by our careless and sometimes even flippant phrasing of our views.

    We already know what our philosophy is…we now must figure out how to explain it favorably to folks who are leaning towards the opposite philosophy. To defeat your (political) enemy, you absolutely must understand him. Towards this end, I implore you and your followers to purchase and read Thomas Sowell’s “A Conflict of Visions.” (2007 revised edition).

    – Jeff

    • Thank you so much for your interest and input.

      Understanding our “enemy”, which is often times also a friend or family member, was the primary reason for me posting this article.

      Although I agree with your observations and suggestions, the point of this article was to point out that rational discussions and conversations using facts for persuasion are just not enough if one understands the cultish behavior. I’d be very interested in what you think as I agree we must spread the message.

      Thanks for the suggested reading….His articles are truly conservative gems.

  2. From your quote above,
    “AN “US AGAINST THEM” ATTITUDE AND PHILOSOPHY: Anyone who challenges the cult’s doctrine is automatically branded as an enemy which is usually anyone who disagrees.” (I wish they would allow italics in comments here),
    I suspected you might be referring to a cult only attitude, but I’ve learned to expect this in one form another from almost everyone I meet. It doesn’t appear to be a conservative or liberal attitude, but a pervasive American attitude. Maybe it’s always been this way and it took me this long to figure it out. One characteristic yet to be covered is how the lack of an enemy will affect these groups. Will the United States be able to exist in a peaceful environment lacking an enemy? If one political party or another is able to finally control the system absolutely, will it self-destruct by turning on itself?

    • Thanks for your comment and perspective. I understand that from your libertarian perspective you might think that “both sides are the same”, but I disagree. For the moment I’ll leave it at that.

      As far as a “lack of an enemy”, I don’t see us as having that problem any time in the foreseeable future.

      Having said that, no, in my opinion it will not “self-destruct by turning on itself”, purges at the top and any conflict between different factions will not have much of an effect on the so-called 99%. What’s the sense in fighting for a position of leadership if you destroy the system by which you expect to lead?

      Not to mention any serious threats against those in leadership positions will be dealt with long before they have the means to do so.

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