There has been a lot of talk of cults lately. The language that describes a “Trump cult” has been popular among political pundits, both professional and amateur. The accusation is that people will follow him mindlessly, like automatons, without question and without thought of the consequences of doing so. But this is not new in that arena as criticism of listeners to Rush Limbaugh have received identical treatment.
The problem, of course, goes both ways. The followers of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are treated with the same disdain by many on the right. This happens regardless of the merits of the accusation. Sometimes there is merit to the statement and at other times not. Yet the accusation is used to broad-brush one’s political opponents. That’s what people do when they aren’t thinking. It’s also what people do when they are trying to manipulate others to hate a political opponent. That’s life in America today.
Apart from the accusations there is the problem of an actual cult. We all know about the extreme cults that lock people in compounds and restrict the information they are allowed to consume. Contact with outsiders is limited at best because outsiders, non-believers, are the enemy. An enemy is one who is out to destroy or erase you. That enemy does not deserve dialogue for any reason. This is mind control.
Members of the cult are often disciplined strictly. If you get out of line you lose what might be described as their version of social capital. Privilege is lost. Opportunity is restricted. The ability to gain the leader’s ear disappears. Sometimes there is even physical punishment. While the physical problems are real they are generally less damaging than the emotional burden placed on people by the control of the mind.
One need not be subjected to some exotic type of procedure to be brainwashed. Brainwashing as seen on TV and in the movies is quite unrealistic. There are far easier ways to manipulate people. Start by giving them what they want. Think of it like the limited menu of a fast-food establishment. Meet their basic drives with excess and they will often forget about their other needs or concerns.
The Frankfurt School was about more than sex and critical theory. The Frankfurt school was about managing a people like a herd of cattle. Treat the men like bulls and the women like cows. Tell them that they want one thing more than anything else and they’ll do what you want. It’s herd management in the disguise of libertarian language.
For much of the last century we’ve observed the information system in this country take a long turn toward the left. Yes, the information system is more than “news” as it includes entertainment (movies, television, and music) as well as education. Students in school were, in my day, treated to the lifeboat mentality along with values clarification and a basic dialectical view of the physical world. Gone was a linear view of the world, a world with purpose. No place was allowed for moral certainty. But at least at that time two plus two would yield four.
Even earlier were so many movies touting a socialist or anti-capitalist worldview. Take, for instance, Holiday, with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. There you have the old, stodgy capitalist up against the free and living-for-the-moment young man luring the daughter away from her capitalist heritage. That was the 1938 when people thought Stalin might have something good happening over there. At least some like Whittaker Chambers figured out that this was not the case and nobody had yet heard of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Yet the mindset that justice was in the hand of the socialist and injustice in the hands of the American and capitalist. This came out in the music of the 1950s. No, it wasn’t the Beatles who started this. It was The Weavers and Peter, Paul, and Mary and Woody Guthrie. Their voice was not simply about justice. It was about what they considered “democratic” and its assumed end. Perhaps they didn’t see what Che did to the poets in Cuba after their socialist revolution. Certainly Amazon, making lots of capitalist money off made-in-communist-China Che garb, must be aware.
These are but a smattering of what has happened. Today’s movement is taking the cult-management a step further. Yes, voices are being silenced. Has a single network had Trump on TV this past couple of weeks? How many times was an Obama on a late-night show during the Trump administration? Did you know that the false ideas of Russian collusion and Trump instigating an insurrection, empty conspiracy theories, receive support on social media while simple conservative voices like Devin Nunes is banned from Twitter. We all know Trump was banned from Twitter for no good reason. LifeSiteNews had all their videos pulled from Google’s YouTube. Google and Facebook have proven themselves to be manipulators of what information you receive. They call it curating. Whatever.
(Caveat: I’m no Trump cultist. He did many things very right like the economy, pro-life, COVID-19 management, China, and a number of others. But he didn’t look very good against Putin. The COVID relief bill was hardly a conservative economic. And the persistent baiting on Twitter was tiring no matter how entertaining it might have been. I informally volunteered to be his tweet writer but never heard back. Alas.)
Back to the point: What is happening is that people are not receiving the information they need to be actually informed. They are being taught by “news” outlets CNN and MSNBC and by entertainment sources such as The Rookie and FBI that those who disagree are somehow white supremacists, Islamophobes, or maybe even worse. This generates hate.
The nature of a cult is that it is an informational hotbox. We usually use that term with respect to education. A cult is an environment of limited education. It manages your worldview. It tells you that those who disagree are the worst possible people and deserve to be hated and despised.
Last month I was thinking about this nation as a large-scale hotbox. That it is when one considers the predominance of information sources. But then I took a look at the attitudes and tone being set in education and how social media is managed. It is in that light that the I now see this country as a cult committed to some abstract concept of socialism. That hasn’t changed in the last century. Only a few personalities have attempted to implement a de facto system, only fail. But it is coming incrementally.
Right now we are going through a stage-two Leninist-style revolution. Stage one was to distrust your nation and its military ventures. That was accomplished with the attack on our involvement in Viet Nam so that those who served were treated as baby killers.
In stage two is a distrust of the infrastructure of government itself. Turn the people against the institutions that otherwise protect them. No imagination is needed when looking at Portland, Seattle, Kenosha, Ferguson, and the work of John Sullivan in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. People are being taught to hate their own government.
When stage three comes it will be the same. Lenin brought in the Bolsheviks to destroy the Mensheviks. That is, hard-core revolutionaries to dispense with the half-hearted and institute a real change in government. If you think ANTIFA is a problem, there’s more to come that’s far worse. The violent language of Maxine Waters and the doxing work of Joaquin Castro only primed the pump.
That sounds harsh, I know. It sounds like an unfounded conspiracy. After all, who ever thought we would have a couple of administrations who sat at the feet of Saul Alinsky and Bill Ayers. Limbaugh took too long to call a communist a communist. In the 90s he started using the world “left” and during the Obama years he would speak of “communistic” but always danced around the subject. It’s easy to be timid when you are afraid of the consequences of your words.
But what is the Christian to do? Have you considered some sort of strategy? You need to discuss this within your own circles. If I give you a plan (I’ve tried that before) it will probably not be for you. But as, in The Sound of Music, Captain Von Trapp said to Herr Detweiler, “You must.”
Remember to pray and make your response a Christian response. Politics is temporal and should always be treated as such. Take the offensive with the gospel and the kingdom, whatever your theological persuasion.