Thursday, February 13, 2020

Beware of Leader Cults

Have you ever wondered just why you cannot talk to some of your friends and neighbors about politics anymore?  Have you ever wondered just why our political parties no longer talk to each other,  and therefore get little done that is actually useful? 

Have you ever noticed that when this occurs,  it is facts that cannot be agreed-upon?

When facts cannot be agreed-upon,  this is usually due to belief being more important than facts,  which is an extreme way of approaching life.  Extreme belief is usually associated with some sort of religious or political cult.  So,  I thought about that for a while,  and came up with a list of characteristics that seem to me,  to be associated with leader cults,  whether big or small,  and whether religious,  or political,  or some of both.

Then I started looking around me,  and what I came up with is frightening.  I hope it frightens you readers,  too.  It certainly should,  whether or not you are involved with any sort of cult.

Here’s my list of characteristics (cult names vary,  that’s just an identifier):

#1. Autocratic leader – every one of these cults has one.
#2. Leader says and does atrocious things,  even to followers. 
#3. Followers believe leader can do no wrong,  and so they accept any mistreatment.
#4. Followers will say and do anything to support and protect leader,  no matter how atrocious.
#5. There is always an enemy to be fought or killed.
#6. There is always a scapegoat to blame for everything that is perceived as wrong.
#7. Belief always outweighs facts and logic,  which is why one cannot talk or argue rationally with cult members.
#8. There are multiple reasons-for-being for any given cult.
#9. There are multiple scales of existence for any given cult.
#10. There is eventually one end (always death and destruction).

So I looked at a couple of religious cults that most of you are familiar with from the news of the last several years.  That list is noncomprehensive,  there are many more.  Both examples conformed to my list of characteristics.  The Branch Davidians were a straight religious cult,  whose members died in the fire that ended their catastrophic siege.  The People’s Temple cult was both religious and political.  Those died in South America in a mass suicide by poisoned kool aid.

Then I looked at a couple of well-known terrorist organizations that ostensibly are religious fundamentalist groups,  but who want to hold political power in the countries where they are (or were) located.  One of these is almost destroyed now,  although it has many vigorous offshoots in many places around the world.  The other is still a threat just as it is. Both conform to my list of characteristics.  Bear in mind that there are many of these;  for convenience I just looked at two.

Then I looked at two infamous historical examples of political leader cults,  one in Italy,  the other in Germany,  between the two World Wars.  The point here is this:  political leader cults do indeed conform to my list of characteristics.  Again,  the list is not comprehensive.  I could have included the Bolsheviks in Russia,  Mao in China,  and many other examples.  But you get the point.

Then I looked at the US House and Senate Republicans,  as led by President Trump,  in terms of this list of characteristics.  They also conform to the list as a political leader cult.  We’ve just seen exactly those behaviors during the Mueller investigation and the impeachment process,  over the last 3 years.

I probably could have looked at the leftmost-wing of the Democrats and identified them as a cult,  too,  but I leave that to others.  Try it.  You may enjoy doing it.

Here is how it stacks up relative to the Trumpist form of the GOP:

Considering the outcomes that have happened with some of the other cults,  this should scare the everlasting hell out of you,  regardless of your political preferences!  And well it should.

Those of you involved with any sort of leader cult may want to rethink your membership.  If you can.

Those of you interested in opposing any sort of leader cult should keep in mind the “belief always outweighs facts and logic” characteristic.  You will not change member’s minds talking or arguing with them.  It takes something utterly overwhelming to get their attention.  Such as for a political leader cult,  the rest of us must rise up en-masse and vote them completely out of power.  That’s the only thing short of death and destruction,  that is powerful enough to shake them out of their haze of belief.

And for the record,  here is the whole spreadsheet where I did this.  Use it as guide to making your own versions.  


Wanna know why so many folks dislike Mr. Trump?  Wanna know why I classify almost all his behavior as “atrocious”?  Well,  here is a quote that describes supposedly what many Brits think of him.  I think this Brit got it just about right (and that comes from a native Texan who is a fierce independent,  politically).  This came from a Facebook post:

Quote ---
Someone asked "Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?"
Nate White, an articulate and witty writer from England, wrote this magnificent response:
"A few things spring to mind.
Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.
For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace - all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.
So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.
Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing - not once, ever.
I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility - for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.
But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is - his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.
Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.
And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults - he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.
There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.
Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.
Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.
And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.
Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.
He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.
He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.
And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.
That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.
There are unspoken rules to this stuff - the Queensberry rules of basic decency - and he breaks them all. He punches downwards - which a gentleman should, would, could never do - and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless - and he kicks them when they are down.
So the fact that a significant minority - perhaps a third - of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think 'Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:
* Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
* You don't need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.
This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.
After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.
God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.
He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.
In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws - he would make a Trump.
And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:
'My God… what… have… I… created?
If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set."

--- end quote

Update 1-2-2021:  related articles include "Q As a Threat to the US",  dated 18 December 2020,  and "Observations About the Mainstream Media,  And Much More",  dated 1 January 2021. 

Update 1-10-2021:  there is also "It Ain't Over Yet!" posted 1-10-2021.

Update 1-17-2021:  add "Sometimes You Simply Must Do What Is Right"  published 1-17-2021. 



  2. Gary, you need to look in the mirror a bit more. You are an extremely partisan person and lack all credibility in political insight.
    You should realize that President Trump is the best president that we've had in a very long (if ever) time based on economic, military, foreign policy, employment%, stock market, etc. What's wrong with you, Gary, that you cannot acknowledge that? Must be that "cult" you side with?

  3. "Unknown": I simply cannot agree that Trump is the best president we have had. All men who hold that office do both good and bad. In Trump's case, the bad far outweighs any good, some of it straying close to treason. I side with no party.
    Much less any sort of cult. -- GW