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 Are Political Parties Cults?

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PostSubject: Are Political Parties Cults?   Mon 04 Jan 2010, 6:20 pm

After reading the excerpt below from another thread, I wonder if others here see the similarities between the description below and political movements?

The term cult is used to describe a pattern of social relations within a group. At the core of the relations is dependency. In a cult, members are dependent on the group and its leader for most if not all resources, including money, food, and clothing, information, decision making, and, perhaps most importantly, self esteem and social identity.

This dependency results in a specific pattern of relations. First, cults tend to be highly leader oriented, since the leader is the source of all sustenance. Second, because the leader is so important, he or she cannot be criticized or second guessed. Cults are marked by little or no checks and balances on the leader's power. The leader is typically exempt form the rules of the cult. Communication is highly centralized, with little information available from outside the group. The agenda, objectives, and work tasks are set by the elites. Finally given the importance of the group to the individual, all influence and persuasion is directed toward maintaining the leader's power. Dissent is immediately quashed. Persuasion is based on simple images and plays on emotions and prejudices.

Seven tactics for creating and maintaining a cult

  1. Create your own social reality - by eliminating all sources of information other than that provided by the cult. Cult headquarters should be isolated from the rest of the world. If cult members must remain in the larger community, then they should be isolated psychologically by keeping them busy chanting, reading cult literature, or working continuously for the cult. Members' mail should be censored. Family should be prevented from visiting members. Strict boundaries between believer and unredeemed must be maintained. Such censorship can be physical. However, it is much more practical to teach members self censorship by labeling everything that is not "of the cult" as "of the devil."

    Then provide a cult's eye view of the world. This picture of the world is then used by members to interpret all events and happenings. One useful technique for constructing social reality is to create your own language and jargon. A good vocabulary is useful for putting the "right" spin on things. By teaching a battery of clich├ęs any event is quickly defined as good or evil and critical thinking is abruptly terminated.

    Repeat your message over and over again. Repetition makes the heart grow fonder, and fiction, if heard frequently enough, can come to sound like fact.
  2. Create a granfalloon - the granfalloon technique requires the reaction of an in group of followers and an out group of the unredeemed. The technique allows you to control members by constantly reminding them: "If you want to be a chosen one, then you must act like a chosen one. If you are not chosen, then you are wicked and unredeemed. To be saved, you must act like you are supposed to act." Seasoned group members serve as role models and guides on how to behave for new group members. Intense peer pressure is applied to secure conformity. The result is a uniformity of opinion and behavior in the cult, which then serves to further reinforce cult practices - if everyone is doing it, it must be right.

    A new recruit is often brought into a granfalloon with a practice called "love bombing" - the newcomer is showered with attention, approval, and support by cult members. Cult recruiters are taught to mirror the interests and attitudes of the potential new member, thus making it feel as if there is rapport and understanding between the recruit and the cult. In order to keep this support and approval, the recruit must conform to the group.

    The essential ingredient in establishing an in group of believers is the creation of a social identity - an image of who "we" are. Joining a cult represents a break from the "other" world and the acceptance of this new identity.

    The outward trapping of the believer - the new name, distinct garb, a special diet - all confirm that the member is indeed a chosen one. To retain this valued membership, all one needs to do is continue to grow in this newfound life and, of course, continue to obey.

    The reverse side of the granfalloon tactic is the creation of an out group hate. The creation of an evil out group serves the dual purpose of making members feel good about belonging to their own group (I'm glad I'm not like them) and increasing their fears about leaving and not supporting their won group (I don't want to be like them; I can't let them take over the world.)

    If granfalloon techniques are correctly applied, then you should be successful in creating fear of the "outside" world and the belief that the cult is the only solution to a happy life. Life is thus impossible outside the cult - the only solution to life's problems.
  3. Create commitment through a rationalization trap. Cults can insure members' obedience by establishing a spiral of escalating commitment; the cult member, at first agrees to simple request that becoming increasing more demanding. After making an initial commitment, one does not feel comfortable reneging on the deal. To justify the sensibility of the initial commitment, the member if often willing to do more and then still more - to meet increasingly demanding commitments. In this way, the resolution of dissonance and maintenance of one's self image as honoring commitments form a powerful rationalization trap.

    Shower new recruits with attention and gifts; consistent with the norm of reciprocity, it is now time for the newcomer to do something for the group.

    Note also that the member, after having done all these things, is faced with a dilemma: "How can I explain all that I have done to those outside the group?" This requires the creation of the sensible, coherent justification that is not easily forthcoming. The rationalization trap is sprung.
  4. Establish the leader's credibility and attractiveness. Most cults have leader myths - stories and legends passed from member to member concerning the life and time of the cult leader. What is the purpose of such myths? Cults require members to engage in extreme behavior - that extreme behavior arouse dissonance; we are more likely to comply with extreme requests if common means for reducing our dissonance are not available (eg. Derogating the requester) and we can rationalize our extreme actions - we must do it for God and to "the son of God" or, at least, blessed by a divine purpose. Anybody in his or her right mind should seek to identify with and be like such a holy person.
  5. Send members out to proselytize the unredeemed and to fund raise for the cult. Witnessing to the unconverted has the obvious advantage of bringing in new members. Perhaps just as important, proselytizing can ensure that members are constantly engaged in self sell, or self generated persuasion. The act of witnessing requires the member to state anew to many different people the positive advantages of being in a cult. In arguing to convince others, members convince themselves. In testimonials given to other cult members, many cults encourage members to embellish how bad they were before joining the cult. The worst you were, the more approval you receive from the group. By constantly recounting these stories, cult members come to believe in the power of the cult to effect change and how hopeless they would be without it.
  6. Distract members from thinking "undesirable" thoughts. Most cult doctrines are hard to take seriously, must less accept. The cult member, especially a new recruit, is likely to question and counter argue basic points. Teaching that any "disagreeable thought" is evil and from the devil. Members become their own mind police. Control your own thoughts, or at least the expression of those thoughts.
  7. Fixate members' vision on a phantom. The successful cult leader is always dangling a notion of the promised land and a vision of a better world before the faithful. If is also likely that most new recruits will be in a state of despair. Phantoms can establish hope - a powerful motivator of human behavior - by providing a sense of purpose and mission.
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PostSubject: Re: Are Political Parties Cults?   Mon 04 Jan 2010, 6:28 pm

Yes cults, definitely.

I'd suggest not drinking the kool-aid but as I learned from the EVIDENCE series that's a red herring anyway.
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