Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Robert FitzPatrick explains how journalists repeated the big 'MLM' lie.

News and feature articles on “multi-level marketing” are now a distinct genre in the media. I should know. I am frequently interviewed for them. I and several colleagues play a small (about two sentences usually) but essential part in the MLM-genre. In  these uplifting stories of success and hope, illustrated by happy faces and cheering crowds, I am the “MLM critic,” spoiling the mood  with unexplained “opinions” about deception, fraud, cults and pyramid schemes.
These “MLM” stories are not prompted by investigative research, economic studies or government prosecutions (which have all but ceased in recent years). The news peg, if “news” is even the proper term, is that social media is suddenly and alarmingly swarming with MLM solicitations. Dismayingly, the demographic target for this recent tsunami of recruiting is not the poor or the immigrant, but, apparently, young adult women, educated and middle class. New and fast growing MLMs are tailored to this group, including Rodan & Fields, Stella & Dot, LuLaRoe and, one of the latest, Bellame. These new MLMs exude fun, sexiness, sisterhood, feminism, and an alluring potential for wealth and fulfillment!
Many of the reporters given the MLM-genre story assignment,  educated middle-class professionals themselves, must explain a mass mania among their peers which, they tell me, they recognize as a cheesy, too-good-to-be-true scam that they would never join or support any member of their family to join. But they are under time and space restraints. Intuitively and with career savvy they also know their editors will never accept a story showing MLM as a preposterous fraud. The realities of a corrupted FTC and Congress protecting a racket based on charging hundreds or thousands for a non-existent “unlimited income” and “infinite expansion” are literally unpublishable.  So, they write the usual fantasy story about personal sales of face creams or leggings as if it is the wave of the future and a breakthrough business model that can rescue the American Dream.  A 2009 New York Times article included, as have others,  the Direct Selling Association’s mathematically impossible claim that the “median” (half make more, half less) income of all MLMers is $2,400. If it were true, total “commissions” would have to be greater  than the industry’s stated total revenue, which is obviously impossible. A calculator, not an expert or a critic, is all that is needed to indisputably prove the number is outrageously false. They printed it anyway and refused to retract it. Why? Perhaps because the actual median income is zero. Far more than half of all MLMers gain nothing at all. 
A slight variation on the genre are stories that focus on personal mistrust and disruption that MLMs cause among friends and family. In these, as well as in those that focus on income, the MLM “business model” is treated as legitimate with “risks.”  A typical example is a January 2019 piece in the Washington Post, “How MLMs are Hurting Female Friendships.” It is subtitled, “These businesses carry well-known financial risks. But what about the social costs?” 
MLM-genre articles contribute to why so many people can no longer distinguish valid journalism from PR, propaganda, fake news and deceptive marketing. Presented as feature news stories, consumer protection pieces, cultural trend alerts or, occasionally, as business news, nearly all the articles could seemingly have been written by the same author. They repeat the  talking points concocted by the Direct Selling Association and unwittingly repeated millions of times over by MLM recruiters. They include  non-fact-checked profiles of “success” and false or misleading income claims without qualification. They reinforce the message that if you lost money in MLM, that’s just how “business” works sometimes… sucks to be you.
 It is my experience that the journalists themselves are not deliberately deceptive. I have talked with many of them before and after the pieces have run. Inevitably they insist their articles are “fair and balanced” (noting that my own negative quote was included). DSA data are defended as valid, even when mathematically impossible because it is a “trade association,” and of course, they remind me that the FTC itself treats MLM as “legitimate.” Many admit they knew nothing about the workings of MLM or its history or its political lobby. They relied on what is accepted as the truth and wrote what their editors were willing to print, demonstrating that the aphorism,  a  lie repeated often enough becomes the truth  and big lies are believed more than small ones, applies to the news media itself. 
These MLM-genre stories overwhelmingly leave three interconnected impressions upon readers, which are “colossally” and “infamously” false:(see footnote)*
(1) “MLM” is based on  retailing personal and household goods  to friends and family, i.e., direct selling. At the same time, MLM is a breakthrough new business model unlike any other, and  so powerful it can rescue millions from today’s economic  pressures.
(2) There’s a true opportunity  for anyone to make extra or a lot of money, full time or part time, in MLM  and millions of people are doing it. You could too… if you work hard. The opportunity never diminishes. 
(3) Most people don’t even try to do “the business”. Instead, they sign sales contracts and pay fees as “sales contractors” just to buy MLM products at a slightly lower price. Because so few “try,”  income disclosures, loss rates and attrition may appear hopelessly negative and often prompt warnings about dire “odds” in MLM. 
Takeaway: In an era of hyper-competition for decent jobs, college and credit card debt, unaffordable housing and health care, MLM is one place where hope still abounds and extraordinary income is truly possible. The main requirements, according to successful people, are “hard work” and “belief.” 
In actuality,  the percent of new recruits gaining even a penny of net profit is, effectively, ZERO. The system is designed to produce that rate of loss. The calculated losses of the 99% are transferred to the company and the top  1% of recruiters as “commissions” and “profits”.
Here, for example,  is a recent and typical news story, entitled, How Much Money Do Multilevel Marketers in Charlotte Actually Make Selling You Things on Facebook? The headline already sets up the conclusion: MLM “marketers” do make money. The online publication in Charlotte NC claims 400,000 unique visitors a month, aimed at readers under 40. The article features the usual pleasing graphics of smiling faces, images of togetherness and attractively arranged products. In tone and intent it is offered as factual, informative and helpful.  This one like most others includes disclaimers and cites one study showing  99% consumer  loss rates.  
Here are some imbedded deceptions, diversions and omissions in this piece, representing so many others of the MLM-genre:
1. The only individuals interviewed or referred to in the entire article claim to be “successful” in MLM.
One was formerly a non-believer, but is now a convert and happily getting thousands a month. One who is associated with the new MLM, Bellame, says she gets $8,000-15,000 a month, plus a $71,000 bonus. Another, with Rodan & Fields, says she makes $6,000 a month plus “perks like earning vacations, designer watches, jewelry, handbags and laptops.” Yet another from the MLM, Plexus, is a “Senior Ruby Ambassador” claiming to get more than $5,000/month on average from a downline of over 400 people. There is no mention of her downline’s average income because she claims, “About 80% of those people came in for the wholesale price and have no interest working the business. They just love the products”. And then another also with Bellame says she makes $4,000 a month “plus car, cruises and vacations.”
2. The losers – the article cites one source that they could be  as many as 99% – have no face, no name, no story. They are lifeless stats.
Some of these MLM-genre pieces may include the voice of a “loser” who may blame the company or claim to have been misled. His or her experience is drowned and dispelled by other inspiring stories of success and overcoming great difficulties or doubts, making it seem that “failure” by anyone else is mostly a personal matter. 
3. Color photos show happy, excited young women — hardly the faces of losers and seemingly undaunted by some of the article’s disclaimers and warnings. If they aren’t afraid, why should the reader be? If they see possibility and reason for hope, what’s wrong with you?
4. Income Disclosures of several MLMs are cited that, incomprehensibly, contradict the happy, hopeful message and stories by winners.
Against the stories and the images, these cold data points and stats tend to fade, like privacy statements when downloading apps. The happy successful people, the amazing stories of conversion, success and prosperity and the pleasing images drive the disturbing data from readers’ consciousness. Humans cannot hold two directly opposing and contradictory  thoughts at the same.
5. The upsetting income disclosure data, though seemingly negative, are actually blunted and misleading. Reality is worse.
One company, for example, discloses that “44% earned no compensation”  and “of those that were paid 60% earned less than $1,000.” Combining those figures shows 78% of participants gained on average less than $20 a week, with the majority of that 78% getting  zero, and nearly two-thirds no more  than $5 a week. Also, the term “earnings”, is before costs, purchases and fees are deducted.
6. Disclosure data are invalidated by the unchallenged statement that all losses are voluntary.   
As one of the featured winners claimed without evidence, in the Charlotte-area article – and as someone always claims in MLM-genre stories – most people in MLM sign up as salespeople, not to make any money or even to sell products,  but only to get the products at a discount. They they did not even “try” to succeed.
For this amazing claim to make sense, all those people would have decided the “opportunity” was not worth their effort or they had no need for any “extra” money.  This is beyond belief. For this group to  have been willing to sign “sales contracts” and pay fees just to get discounts,  there would have to be a very large number of people paying full retail price. If there isn’t such a “retail” base, why would someone pay to get a discount? In fact, there is no evidence such “retail-paying” people exist and there is no reference to retail customers in MLM-genre articles. For a profitable retail market to exist, there would need to be a large base of retail sellers. In fact,  there is no evidence  of retail sellers either. If 80% of the “salespeople” aren’t selling, just buying based on “love” of products, who is making the retail sales?

Then there is the matter of retention. If these 80% “love” the product so much, then surely they are also loyal. Yet, the fact is most people in MLM quit buying and never buy again, in less than a year.  What happened to the “love”?
7. And, the greatest deception: “Odds” are defeated by “hard work.”
The gist of the MLM-genre stories is that data show difficult “odds” but the winners prove that those odds can be overcome by anyone with “hard work.”  This makes MLM appear like any other career opportunities or competitive business ventures. The articles normalize the impossible “endless chain” proposition as viable for all. The  absence of an explanation of “endless chains”  and its consequences along with the images of happy faces, stories of success and descriptions of the “business” as ordinary “direct selling”  make the terrible  truth of the “endless chain” invisible to the reader.
In fact, as an “endless chain” recruiting model, MLM  is rigged – fixed. The losses are inherent and would occur no matter how many “tried” and “worked hard.” Those at the top always win. Last ones in –  always lose.  Making money in MLM, as the MLM-genre articles readily acknowledge, depends on how many people are in a person’s downline. This puts the entire model into a math paradigm. For there to be new winners with large downlines, there must be a corresponding and much larger number of new losers at the bottom of those downlines. 
MLM’s absurd claim of “unlimited” expansion is unchallenged, even when data show the impossibility. For example, the MLM-genre article used as an example states that the state of North Carolina currently has 446,000 MLMers. That means 10% of all households are currently enrolled! There are only nine, on average, for each MLM to recruit. And that’s not counting all the past losers that quit and won’t join again! 
In the absence of any authoritative voices or analysis offering reality and  issuing urgent warnings about MLM as a calculated trap, or calling for federal investigation, the MLM-genre articles pass for valid journalism and are trusted. Millions are influenced to join and, after losing time and money and finally quitting, they are left only to conclude they did not beat the odds because they didn’t “work hard.” 

Robert FitzPatrick (copyright 2019)


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The origin of the 'Big Lie.'

(Although the following statement remains unthinkable to many people, the quantifiable evidence proves it to be an accurate summary of the current tragicomic situation regarding the 'MLM' cult phenomenon and, therefore, I make no apologies for it).

Today, due to its duration, the number of persons it has defrauded and exploited (and continues to defraud and exploit), the vast amount of money its peddling has unlawfully generated (and continues to generate) and the depth to which it has been allowed to gnaw its way (largely-unopposed) into the heart of traditional culture: the big lie entitled, 'Multi-Level Marketing,' poses one of the most-serious threats to freedom and the rule of law since the end of World War II.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law 

Unfortunately, as soon as anyone dares to compare kitsch, latter-day cultic groups to Adolf Hitler and the 'Nazis,' casual observers have a tendency to throw up their hands in horror and deny that this apparently shocking comparison can be valid or appropriate. There are even some academically-qualified casual observers who will point to what is known as Godwin's Law. However, Godwin's Law (which was created with the intention of stopping thoughtless persons from making glib statements) specifically allows thoughtful and appropriate comparisons to be made with Adolf Hitler and the 'Nazis.' 


 


'If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.'

Given its content, it is supremely ironic that there is no evidence for Joseph Goebbels ever having made the above statement (so often ascribed to him). That said, it is a pretty accurate summary of Goebbels' infexible approach as Adolf Hitler's propaganda chief. Indeed, before murdering his own children and shooting himself (rather than facing reality), Goebbels spent the last years of his life writing, producing, directing and performing endless ritual performances of the reality-inverting, closed-logic 'Nazi' controlling-narrative that the heroic and honest superhuman leader of the 'Noble Aryan Master Race,' was telling the truth, whilst the degenerate corrupt leaders of Britain and the USA (controlled by the forces of evil - Freemasons, subhuman Jews, etc.) were repeating big lies.

The origin of the first part of the above quote would appear to have been a psychological profile of Adolf Hitler, compiled in the USA during WWII by the 'Office of Strategic Services' (later to become the 'CIA'). 

This document concluded that:

 'Hitler's primary rules were - 
  • never allow the public to cool off; 
  • never admit a fault or wrong; 
  • never concede that there may be some good in your enemy;
  • never leave room for alternatives;
  • never accept blame; 
  • concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; 
  • people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.'

Prior to the full-extent of his crimes being uncovered, Hitler's psychological profile was drafted by a team of medically-qualified academics who had apparently been studying 'Mein Kampf,' Chapter 10:


 '... in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad mass of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly outrageous lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.' 


Image result for nazi rally


For more than a decade, the infallible 'Führer' was a 'Big Lie' - a long-con beyond the reach of the law in Germany; for the 'Nazi' controlling-narrative, gave Hitler a false-justification to exile, and/or imprison, and/or have assassinated, any ordinary mortal challenging his authority. It is now generally accepted that Hitler transformed into a megalomaniacal psychopath. The unconditional deference of his deluded followers only served to confirm, and magnify, his own increasingly-paranoid, and self-righteous, delusions of grandeur.

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'Multi-Level Marketing' warning:

The following deconstructed analysis has been formulated to sharpen the critical and evaluative faculties of all unwary persons approaching so-called 'Multi-Level Marketing' from the dangerous (subjective) point of view that it must be a business/industry, rather than from the safe (purely-objective) point of view that they don't really know what it is.

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More than half a century of quantifiable evidence, proves beyond all reasonable doubt that:



  • the widely-misunderstood phenomenon that has become popularly-known as 'Multi-Level Marketing' (a.k.a. 'Network Marketing') is nothing more than an absurd, non-rational,  cultic, economic pseudo-science maliciously-designed to lure unwary persons into de facto servitude, dissociate them from external reality and not only steal their money, but also deceive them into unconsciously acting the role of bait to lure other unwary persons (particularly their friends and family members) into the same trap. 
  • the impressive-sounding made-up jargon term, 'MLM,' is therefore, the misleading title for an enticing structured-scenario of control which has been developed, and constantly acted out as  reality, by the instigators, and associates, of various copy-cat, major and minor, ongoing organised crime groups (hiding behind labyrinths of legally-registered corporate structures) to shut-down the critical, and evaluative, faculties of victims, and of casual observers, in order to perpetrate, and dissimulate, a series of blame-the-victim 'Long Cons*'  - comprising self-perpetuating rigged-market swindles**, a.k.a. pyramid scams (dressed up as 'legitimate direct selling income opportunites') and related advance-fee frauds (dressed up as 'legitimate: training and motivation, self-betterment, programs, recruitment leads, lead generation systems,' etc.).
  • Apart from an insignificant minority of shills (whose leading-role in the 'Long Con' has been to pretend that anyone can achieve financial freedom simply by following their unquestioning example and exactly-duplicating a step-by-step-plan of recruitment and self-consumption)the hidden overall net-loss/churn rate for participation in so-called 'MLM income opportunities,' has always been effectively 100%.
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*A 'Long Con' is a form of fraud maliciously designed to exploit victims' existing beliefs and instinctual desires and make them falsely-believe that they are exercising a completely free-choice. 'Long Cons' comprise an enticing structured-scenario of control acted out as reality over an extended period. Like theatrical plays, 'Long Cons' are written, directed and produced. They involve leading players and supporting players as well as props, sets, extras, costumes, script, etc. The hidden objective of 'Long Cons' is to convince unwary persons that fiction is fact and fact is fiction, progressively cutting them off from external reality. In this way, victims begin unconsciously to play along with the controlling-scenario and (in the false-expectation of future reward) large sums of money or valuables can be stolen from them. Classically, the victims of 'Long Cons' can become deluded to such an extent that they will abandon their education, jobs, careers, etc., empty their bank accounts, and/or beg, steal, borrow from friends, family members, etc.



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** The enticing structured-scenario of control fundamental to all 'rigged-market swindles' is that people can earn income by first contributing their own money to participate in a profitable commercial opportunity, but which is secretly an economically-unviable fake due to the fact that the (alleged) opportunity has been rigged so that it generates no significant, or sustainable, revenue other than that deriving from its own ill-informed participants. For more than 50 years, 'Multi-Level Marketing' racketeers have been allowed to dissimulate rigged-market swindles by offering endless-chains of victims various banal, but over-priced, products, and/or services, in exchange for unlawful losing-investment payments, on the pretext that 'MLM' products/services can then be regularly re-sold for a profit in significant quantities via expanding networks of distributors. However, since 'MLM' products/services cannot be regularly re-sold to the general public for a profit in significant quantities (based on value and demand), 'MLM' participants have, in fact, been peddled infinite shares of their own finite money (in the false expectation of future reward). 

Thus, in 'MLM' rackets, the innocent looking products/sevices' function has been to hide what is really occurring - i.e The operation of an unlawful, intrinsically fraudulent, rigged-market where effectively no non-salaried (transient) participant can generate an overall net-profit, because, unknown to the non-salaried (transient) participants, the market is in a permanent state of collapse and requires its non-salaried (transient) participants to keep finding further (temporary) de facto slaves to sustain the enticing illusion of stability and viability.

Meanwhile an insignificant (permanent) minority direct the 'Long Con' - raking in vast profits by selling into the rigged-market and by controlling/withholding all key-information concerning the rigged-market's actual catastrophic, ever-shifting results from its never-ending chain of (temporary) de facto slaves.

Although cure-all pills potions and vitamin/dietary supplements, household and beauty, products have been most-prevalent, it is possible to use any product, and/or service, to dissimulate a rigged-market swindle. There are even some 'MLM' rackets that have been hidden behind well-known traditional brands (albeit offered at fixed high prices). Some 'MLM' rackets have included 'cash-back/discount shopping cards, travel products, insurance, energy/communications services' and 'crypto-currencies' in their controlling scenarios.

No matter what bedazzling product/service has been dangled as bait, in 'MLM' rackets, there has been no significant or sustainable source of revenue other than never-ending chains of contractees of the 'MLM' front companies. These front-companies always pretend that their products/services are high quality and reasonably-priced and that for anyone prepared to put in some effort, the products/services can be sold on for a profit via expanding networks of distributors based on value and demand. In reality, the underlying reason why it has mainly only been (transient) 'MLM' contractees who have bought the various products /services (and not the general public) is because they have been tricked into unconsciously playing along with the controlling scenario which constantly says that via regular self-consumption and the recruitment of others to do the same, etc. ad infinitum, anyone can receive a future (unlimited) reward.

I've been examining the 'MLM' phenomenon for around 20 years. During this time, I've yet to find one so-called 'MLM' company that has voluntarily made key-information available to the public concerning the quantifiable results of its so-called 'income opportunity'.

Part of the key-information that all 'MLM' bosses seek to hide concerns the overall number of persons who have signed contracts since the front companies were instigated and the retention rates of these contractees. 

When rigorously investigated, the overall hidden net-loss churn rates for so-called 'MLM income opportunites' has turned out to have been effectively 100%. Thus, anyone claiming (or implying) that it is possible for anyone to make a penny of net-profit, let alone a living, in an 'MLM,' cannot be telling the truth and will not provide quantifiable evidence to back up his/her anecdotal claims.



Although a significant number of 'MLM' front-companies (like 'Vemma', 'Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing', 'Wake Up Now') have been shut-down by commercial regulators, some of the biggest 'MLM' rackets (like 'Amway' ,'Herbalife', Forever Living Products' ) have continued to hide in plain sight whilst secretly churning tens of millions of losing participants over decades.

The quantifiable results of the self-perpetuating global 'Long Con' known as 'Multi Level Marketing,' have been fiendishly hidden by convincing victims that they are 'Independent Business Owners' and that any losses they incurred, must have been entirely their own fault. 






Blog readers should observe how (in the above linked-videos) chronic victims of 'MLM' cults are incapable of describing what they were subjected to in accurate terms. Even though they are no longer physically playing along with the 'Long Con's' controlling-scenario, they unconsciously continue to think, and speak, using the jargon-laced 'MLM' script - illogically describing themselves as 'Distributors.' 

Chronic victims of blame-the-victim cultic rackets who have managed to escape and confront the ego-destroying reality that they’ve been systematically deceived and exploited, are invariably destitute and dissociated from all their previous social contacts. For years afterwards, recovering cult victims can suffer from psychological problems (which are also generally indicative of the victims of abuse):

depression; overwhelming feelings (guilt, grief, shame, fear, anger, embarrassment, etc.); dependency/ inability to make decisions; retarded psychological/ intellectual development; suicidal thoughts; panic/ anxiety attacks; extreme identity confusion; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; insomnia/ nightmares; eating disorders; psychosomatic illness, fear of forming intimate relationships; inability to trust; etc.  


David Brear (copyright 2019)

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Allison Mack, Keith Raniere - from 'Amway' to 'Nxium.'









Today, the media is again full of 'shock horror' headline stories about a 'sex cult' called 'Nxium,' because a celebrity actress, Allison Mack, has publicly-admitted to her key-role in a criminal racket which lured, and enslaved, its victims by means of an elaborate (pay-through-the-nose-to-play) game of make-believe.


The 'Nxium' racket is neither original nor unique and, consequently, it cannot be fully-understood in isolation, but, unfortunately, it has been investigated, and its bosses are being prosecuted, in isolation.

Yesterday, in a Brooklyn federal court, Allison Mack plead guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges. She has confessed to recruiting women into 'Nxium' for the hidden criminal purpose of financial, and sexual, exploitation by convincing them they were joining a 'female mentorship group.' Allison Mack has also stated her desire to 'take full responsibility' for her conduct. However, she is one of 5 other women under-bosses of the 'Nxium' mob facing criminal charges along with one man, the boss, Keith Raniere.





Obviously, Keith Raniere has not come up with this cultic racket all by himself. Tellingly, he is a former adherent of the 'Amway' (aka 'Quixtar') cultic racket, and it should come as no surprise to Blog readers that federal prosecutors also allege that 'Nxium' is a pyramid scheme built like a secret society - the victims of which have been duped into handing over thousands of dollars for 'courses' to rise within its effectively-meaningless ranks.
Keith Raniere has been the self-appointed sovereign 'Master' of this classic cultic long-con (i.e. he is the author of the fictitious closed-logic narrative controlling the minds and behaviour of his deluded victims). Allison Mack was one of his closest female associates.
To date, Raniere's predictable defence has been that his sexual relationships with group members were all consensual, but female 'Nxium' core-initiates were given the illusion that they were making a free-choice to be branded with Mr Raniere's initials and, according to his narrative, they were then obliged to have sex with him as part of a 'slave and master system.'

Blog readers are reminded that Keith Raniere and his associates have been charged under the US federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 1970, because, in the USA and elsewhere, legalistically there is still no such thing as a pernicious cult. Yet again, the tragicomic 'Nxium' affair demonstrates the need for legislators to examine the wider historical evidence and finally recognize cultism as an ongoing criminogenic phenomenon which can be hidden behind almost any façade.


David Brear (copyright 2019)



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The Universal Identifying Characteristics of a Cult 

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In 1961 (after years of field-research, including the interviewing of US servicemen and civilians held prisoner during the Korean War), Dr. Robert Jay Lifton (b. 1926) published, ‘Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism.’ In this standard medical text-book, Dr. Lifton identified 8 ‘themes’ which, if present in any group, indicate that its members are being subjected to a mixture of social, psychological and physical pressures, designed to produce radical changes in their individual beliefs, attitudes and behaviour.


1). ‘Milieu control’ — the attempted control of everything an individual experiences (i.e. sees, hears, reads, writes and expresses). This includes discouraging subjects from contacting friends and relatives outside the group and undermining trust in exterior sources of information; particularly, the independent media.


2). ‘Personal or mystical manipulation’ — charismatic (psychologically dominant) leaders create a separate environment where specific behaviour is required; leading to group members believing that they have been chosen and that they have a special purpose. Normally group members will insist that they have not been coerced into group membership, and that their new way of life and beliefs are the result of a completely free-choice.

3). ‘Demand for purity’ — everything in life becomes either pure or impure, negative or positive, etc. This builds up a sense of shame and guilt. The idea is promoted that there is no alternative method of thinking or middle way, to that promoted by the group or by those outside it. Everything in life is either good or bad and anything is justified provided the group sanctions it as good.


4). ‘Confession’ — personal weaknesses are admitted to, to demonstrate how group membership can transform an individual. Group members often have to rewrite their personal histories and those of their friends and relatives, denigrating their previous lives and relationships. Other techniques include group members writing personal reports on themselves and others. Outsiders are presented as a threat who will only try to return group members to their former incorrect thinking.


5). ‘Sacred science’ — the belief in an inexplicable power system or secret knowledge, derived from a hierarchy who must be copied and who cannot be challenged. Often the group’s leaders claim to be followers of traditional historical figures (particularly, established political, scientific and religious thinkers). Leaders promote the idea that their own teaching will also benefit the entire world, and it should be spread.


6)‘Loading the language’ — a separate vocabulary used to bond the group together and short-circuit critical thought processes. This can become second nature within the group, and talking to outsiders can become difficult and embarrassing. Derogatory names, or directly racist terms, are often given to outsiders.


7). ‘Doctrine over persons’ — individual members are taught to alter their own view of themselves before they entered the group. Former attitudes and behaviour must then be re-interpreted as worthless, and/or dangerous, using the new values of the group.


8). ‘Dispensing of existence’ — promotion of the belief that outsiders — particularly, those who disagree with the teaching of the group — are inferior and are doomed. Therefore, they can be manipulated, and/or cheated, and/or dispossessed, and/or destroyed. This is justifiable, because outsiders only represent a danger to salvation.

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Another giant in the field of academic research into the cult phenomenon, is Prof. Margaret Singer (1921-2003).  Her major work which was published in 1996, is 'Cults in Our Midst.' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cults_in_Our_Midst). In this, Prof. Singer set out 'six conditions' in which totalistic thought-reform can be achieved:


1). Keep the person unaware of what is going on and how attempts to psychologically condition him or her are directed in a step-by-step manner.


Potential new members are led, step by step, through a behavioral-change program without being aware of the final agenda or full content of the group. The goal may be to make them deployable agents for the leadership, to get them to buy more courses, or get them to make a deeper commitment, depending on the leader's aim and desires.


2). Control the person's social and/or physical environment; especially control the person's time.


    Through various methods, newer members are kept busy and led to think about the group and its content during as much of their waking time as possible.


    3). Systematically create a sense of powerlessness in the person.


      This is accomplished by getting members away from their normal social support group for a period of time and into an environment where the majority of people are already group members.

      The members serve as models of the attitudes and behaviors of the group and speak an in-group language.

      Strip members of their main occupation (quit jobs, drop out of school) or source of income or have them turn over their income (or the majority of) to the group.

      Once the target is stripped of their usual support network, their confidence in their own perception erodes.

      As the target's sense of powerlessness increases, their good judgment and understanding of the world are diminished. (ordinary view of reality is destabilized)

      As the group attacks the target's previous worldview, it causes the target distress and inner confusion; yet they are not allowed to speak about this confusion or object to it - leadership suppresses questions and counters resistance.

      This process is sped up if the targeted individual or individuals are kept tired - the cult will take deliberate actions to keep the target constantly busy.


      4). Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments and experiences in such a way as to inhibit behavior that reflects the person's former social identity.


        Manipulation of experiences can be accomplished through various methods of trance induction, including leaders using such techniques as paced speaking patterns, guided imagery, chanting, long prayer sessions or lectures, and lengthy meditation sessions.

        The target's old beliefs and patterns of behavior are defined as irrelevant or evil. Leadership wants these old patterns eliminated, so the member must suppress them.

        Members get positive feedback for conforming to the group's beliefs and behaviors and negative feedback for old beliefs and behavior.


        5). The group manipulates a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in order to promote learning the group's ideology or belief system and group-approved behaviors.


          Good behavior, demonstrating an understanding and acceptance of the group's beliefs, and compliance are rewarded while questioning, expressing doubts or criticizing are met with disapproval, redress and possible rejection. Anyone who asks a question is made to feel there is something inherently disordered about them to be questioning.

          The only feedback members get is from the group; they become totally dependent upon the rewards given by those who control the environment.

          Members must learn varying amounts of new information about the beliefs of the group and the behaviors expected by the group.

          The more complicated and filled with contradictions the new system is and the more difficult it is to learn, the more effective the conversion process will be.

          Esteem and affection from peers is very important to new recruits. Approval comes from having the new member's behaviors and thought patterns conform to the models (members). Members' relationship with peers is threatened whenever they fail to learn or display new behaviors. Over time, the easy solution to the insecurity generated by the difficulties of learning the new system is to inhibit any display of doubts—new recruits simply acquiesce, affirm and act as if they do understand and accept the new ideology.


          6). Put forth a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and refuses to be modified except by leadership approval or executive order.

            The group has a top-down, pyramid structure. The leaders must have verbal ways of never losing.

            Members are not allowed to question, criticize or complain. If they do, the leaders allege the member is defective, not the organization or the beliefs.

            The targeted individual is treated as always intellectually incorrect or unjust, while conversely the system, its leaders and its beliefs are always automatically, and by default, considered as absolutely just.

            Conversion or remolding of the individual member happens in a closed system. As members learn to modify their behavior in order to be accepted in this closed system, they change—begin to speak the language—which serves to further isolate them from their prior beliefs and behaviors.

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            Building on Lifton's and Singer's solid foundation (and after much research) I concluded that pernicious cultism is an evolving criminogenic phenomenon which, like all phenomena, cannot be accurately defined. Therefore, I set down the essential, and universal, identifying characteristics of a pernicious cult, and I first published these in 2005:

            It is important to note that cults don't just suddenly appear and they don't always exhibit exactly the same characteristics. This is because (like cancers and viruses) cults grow and evolve (and sometimes explode or even implode) and their identifying characteristics appear at different stages of their evolution cycle. Thus, the fact that a particular group doesn't exhibit all of the characteristics described in the following document, doesn't mean that it won't in the future or that it should not be identified as being a constituent part of the overall cult phenomenon.

            ___________________________________________________________________

            The Universal Identifying Characteristics of a Cult
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            Apart from its use in the sense of ‘a popular fashion especially followed by a specific section of society’ or ‘a person or thing popularised in this way,’ the traditional definition of the English noun, cult (Latin cultus worship), has been ‘a system of religious worship (Latin religiosus obligation, bondage) especially as expressed in ritual,’ or ‘devotion or homage to a person or thing.’ However, the word is now also used as shorthand for what is more-accurately described as a pernicious cult. This ongoing historic, and criminogenic, phenomenon can be briefly described as: 

            any self-perpetuating, non-rational/esoteric, ritual belief system established or perverted for the clandestine purpose of human exploitation.

            Such groups are identified by the following characteristics:
              

            1). Deception. Pernicious cults are presented externally as traditional associations. These can be arbitrarily defined by their instigators as almost any banal group (‘religious’, ‘cultural’, ‘political’, ‘commercial’, etc.). However, internally, they are always totalitarian (i.e. they are centrally-controlled and require of their core-adherents an absolute subservience to the group and its patriarchal, and/ or matriarchal, leadership above all other persons). By their very nature, pernicious cults never present themselves in their true colours. Consequently, no one ever becomes involved with one as a result of his/her fully-informed consent.

            2). Self-appointed sovereign leadership. Pernicious cults are instigated and ruled by psychologically dominant individuals, and/or bodies of psychologically dominant individuals (often with impressive, made-up names, and/or ranks, and/or titles), who hold themselves accountable to no one. These individuals have severe and inflexible Narcissistic Personalities (i.e. they suffer from a chronic psychological disorder, especially when resulting in a grandiose sense of self-importance/ righteousness and the compulsion to take advantage of others and to control others’ views of, and behaviour towards, them).* They steadfastly pretend moral and intellectual authority whilst pursuing various, hidden, criminal objectives (fraudulent, and/or sexual, and/or violent, etc.). The admiration of their adherents only serves to confirm, and magnify, the leaders’ strong sense of self-entitlement and fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beautyideal love, etc.
            __________________________________________________________________________

            ‘Narcissistic Personality Disorder,’ is a psychological term first used in 1971 by Dr. Heinz Kohut (1913-1981). It was recognised as the name for a form of pathological narcissism in ‘The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 1980.’ Narcissistic traits (where a person talks highly of himself/herself to eliminate feelings of worthlessness) are common in, and considered ‘normal’ to, human psychological development. When these traits become accentuated by a failure of the social environment and persist into adulthood, they can intensify to the level of a severe mental disorder. Severe and inflexible NPD is thought to effect less than 1% of the general adult population. It occurs more frequently in men than women. In simple terms, NPD is reality-denying, total self-worship born of its sufferers’ unconscious belief that they are flawed in a way that makes them fundamentally unacceptable to others. In order to shield themselves from the intolerable rejection and isolation which they unconsciously believe would follow if others recognised their defective nature, NPD sufferers go to almost any lengths to control others’ view of, and behaviour towards, them. NPD sufferers often choose partners, and raise children, who exhibit ‘co-narcissism’ (a co-dependent personality disorder like co-alcoholism). Co-narcissists organise themselves around the needs of others (to whom they feel responsible), they accept blame easily, are eager to please, defer to others’ opinions and fear being seen as selfish if they act assertively. NPD was observed, and apparently well-understood, in ancient times. Self-evidently, the term, ‘narcissism,’ comes from the allegorical myth of Narcissus, the beautiful Greek youth who falls in love with his own reflection.

            Currently, NPD has nine recognised diagnostic criteria (five of which are required for a diagnosis):
            •       has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
            •       is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, ideal love, etc.
            •       believes that he/she is special and unique and can only be understood by other special people.
            •       requires excessive admiration.
            •       strong sense of self-entitlement.
            •       takes advantage of others to achieve his/her own ends.
            •       lacks empathy.
            •       is often envious or believes that others are envious of him/her.
            •       arrogant disposition.
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            3). Manipulation. Pernicious cults employ co-ordinated, devious techniques of social and psychological persuasion (variously described as: ‘covert hypnosis’, ‘mental manipulation’, ‘coercive behaviour modification’, ‘group pressure’, ‘thought reform’, ‘ego destruction’, ‘mind control’, ‘brainwashing’, ‘neuro-linguistic programming’, ‘love bombing’, etc.). These techniques are designed to fulfil the hidden criminal objectives of the leaders by provoking in the adherents an infantile total dependence on the group to the detriment of themselves and of their existing family, and/or other, relationships. Pernicious cults manipulate their adherents’ existing beliefs and instinctual desires, creating the illusion that they are exercising free will. In this way, adherents can also be surreptitiously coerced into following potentially harmful, physical procedures (sleep deprivation, protein restriction, repetitive chanting/ moving, etc.) which are similarly designed to facilitate the shutting down of an individual’s critical and evaluative faculties without his/ her fully-informed consent.

            4). Radical changes of personality and behaviour. Pernicious cults can be of any size, duration and level of criminality. They comprise groups, and/or sub-groups, of previously diverse individuals bonded by their unconscious acceptance of the self-gratifying, but wholly imaginary, scenario that they alone represent a positive or protective force of purity and absolute righteousness derived from their leadership’s exclusive access to a superior or superhuman knowledge, and that they alone oppose a negative or adversarial force of impurity and absolute evil.Whilst this two-dimensional, or dualistic, narrative remains the adherents’ model of reality, they are, in effect, constrained to modify their individual personalities and behaviour accordingly.

            5). Pseudo-scientific mystification. The instigators of pernicious cults seek to overwhelm their adherents emotionally and intellectually by pretending that progressive initiation into their own superior or superhuman knowledge (coupled with total belief in its authenticity and unconditional deference to the authority of its higher initiates) will defeat a negative or adversarial force of impurity and absolute evil, and lead to future, exclusive redemption in some form of secure Utopian existence. By making total belief a prerequisite of redemption,adherents are drawn into a closed-logic trap (i.e. failure to achieve redemption is solely the fault of the individual who didn’t believe totally). Cultic pseudo-science is always essentially the same hypnotic hocus-pocus, but it can be peddled in an infinite variety of forms and combinations (‘spiritual’, ‘medical’, ‘philosophical’, cosmological,’extraterrestrial’, ‘political’, ‘racial’, ‘mathematical’, ‘economic’, New-Age’, 'magical', etc.), often with impressive, made-up, technical-sounding names. It is tailored to fit the spirit of the times and to attract a broad range of persons, but especially those open to an exclusive offer of salvation (i.e. the: sick, dissatisfied, bereaved, vanquished, disillusioned, oppressed, lonely, insecure, aimless, etc.). However, at a moment of vulnerability, anyone (no matter what their: age, sex, nationality, state of mental/ physical health, level of education, etc.) can need to believe in a non-rational, cultic pseudo-science. Typically, obedient adherents are granted ego-inflating names, and/or ranks, and/or titles, whilst non-initiates are referred to using derogatory, dehumanising terms. Although initiation can at first appear to be reasonable and benefits achievable, cultic pseudo-science gradually becomes evermore costly and mystifying. Ultimately, it is completely incomprehensible and its claimed benefits are never quantifiable. The self-righteous euphoria and relentless enthusiasm of cult proselytisers can be highly infectious and deeply misleading. They are invariably convinced that their own salvation also depends on saving others.

            6). Monopoly of information. The leaders of  pernicious cults seek to control all information entering not only their adherents’ minds, but also that entering the minds of casual observers. This is achieved by constantly denigrating all external sources of information whilst constantly repeating the group’s reality-inverting key words and images, and/or by the physical isolation of adherents. Cults leaders systematically categorise, condemn and exclude as unenlightened, negative, impure, absolutely evil, etc. all free-thinking individuals and any quantifiable evidence challenging the authenticity of their imaginary scenarios of control. In this way, the minds of cult adherents can become converted to accept only what their leadership arbitrarily sanctions as enlightened, positive, pure, absolutely righteous, etc. Consequently, adherents habitually communicate amongst themselves using their group’s thought-stopping ritual jargon, and they find it difficult, if not impossible, to communicate with negative persons outside of their group whom they falsely believe to be not only doomed, but also to be a suppressive threat to redemption.


            7). False justification. In pernicious cults, a core-group of adherents can be gradually dissociated from external reality and reformed into deployable agents, and/or de facto slaves, and/or expendable combatants, etc., furthering the hidden criminal objectives of their leaders, completely dependent on a collective paranoid delusion of absolute moral and intellectual supremacy fundamental to the maintenance of their individual self-esteem/identity and related psychological function. It becomes impossible for such fanatics to see humour in their situation or to feel pity for, or to empathise with, non-adherents. Their minds are programmed to interpret the manipulation, and/or cheating, and/or dispossession, and/or destruction, of inferior outsiders (particularly, those who challenge their group’s controlling scenario) as perfectly justifiable.

            8). Structural mystification. The instigators of pernicious cults can continue to organise the creation, and/or dissolution, and/or subversion, of further (apparently independent) corporate structures pursuing lawful, and/or unlawful, activities in order to prevent, and/or divert, investigation and isolate themselves from liability. In this way, some cults survive all low-level challenges and spread like cancers enslaving the minds, and destroying the lives, of countless individuals in the process. At the same time, their leaders acquire absolute control over capital sums which place them alongside the most notorious racketeers in history. They operate behind ever-expanding, and changing, fronts of ‘limited-liability, commercial companies,’ and/or ‘non-profit-making associations,’ etc. Other than ‘religious /philosophical’ and ‘political’ movements and ‘secret societies,’  typical reality-inverting disguises for cultic crime are:

            ‘charity/ philanthropy’; ‘fund-raising’; ‘lobbying’ on topical issues (‘freedom’, ‘ethics’, ‘environment’, ‘human rights’, ‘women’s rights’, ‘child protection’, ‘law enforcement’, ‘social justice’, 'peace,' etc.); ‘publishing and media’; ‘education’; ‘academia’; ‘celebrity’; ‘patriotism’; ‘information technology’; ‘public relations’; ‘advertising’; ‘medicine’; ‘alternative medicine’; ‘nutrition’; ‘rehabilitation’; ‘manufacturing’; ‘retailing’; ‘direct selling/ marketing’; ‘multilevel marketing’; ‘network marketing’; ‘regulation’; ‘personal development’; ‘self-betterment’; ‘positive thinking’; ‘self-motivation’; ‘leadership training’; ‘life coaching’; ‘research and development’; ‘investment’; ‘real estate’; ‘sponsorship’; ‘bereavement/trauma counselling’; ‘addiction counselling’; ‘legal counselling’; ‘cult exit-counselling’; ‘financial consulting’; ‘management consulting’; ‘clubs’; etc. 

            9). Chronic psychological deterioration symptoms. The long-term core-adherents of pernicious cults are psychotic (i.e. suffering from psychosis, a severe mental derangement, especially when resulting in delusions and loss of contact with external reality). Core-adherents who manage to break with their group and confront the ego-destroying reality that they’ve been systematically deceived and exploited, are invariably destitute and dissociated from all their previous social contacts. For many years afterwards, recovering former core-adherents can suffer from one, or more, of the following psychological problems (which are also generally indicative of the victims of abuse):

            depression; overwhelming feelings (guilt, grief, shame, fear, anger, embarrassment, etc.); dependency/ inability to make decisions; retarded psychological/ intellectual development; suicidal thoughts; panic/ anxiety attacks; extreme identity confusion; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; insomnia/ nightmares; eating disorders; psychosomatic illness ( asthma, skin disorders, headaches, fatigue, etc.); sexual problems/ fear of forming intimate relationships; inability to trust; etc.

            10). Repression of all dissent. The leaders of the most-destructive cults are megalomaniacal psychopaths (i.e. suffering from a chronic mental disorder, especially when resulting in paranoid delusions of grandeur and self-righteousness, and the compulsion to pursue grandiose objectives). The unconditional deference of their deluded adherents only serves to confirm, and magnify, the leaders’ own paranoid delusions. This type of cult leader maintains an absolute monopoly of information whilst perpetrating, and/or directing, evermore heinous crimes. They sustain their activities by the imposition of arbitrary contracts and codes (secrecydenunciation, confession, justice, punishment, etc.) within their groups, and by the use of humiliation, and/or intimidation, and/or calumny, and/or malicious prosecution (where they pose as victims), and/or sophism, and/or the infiltration of traditional culture, and/or corruption, and/or intelligence gathering and blackmail, and/or extortion, and/or physical isolation, and/or violence, and/or assassination, etc., to repress any internal or external dissent.


            _________________________________________________________________________

            A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO CULTISM 

            Who hasn’t heard about cults? The word, ‘cult,’ has been thrown around so often that most of us now take it for granted that we must know exactly what it means. To be honest, very few people have sought out sufficient background material to be able to form the lucid picture of cultism contained in the essential identifying characteristics presented in the above document. Even the most-diligent news reports have tended to examine individual cultic groups in close-up, leaving the wider phenomenon either out of shot or out of focus. However, in recent years, it has become a matter of public record that, as a result of unprotected exposure to one of an ever-growing and evolving catalogue of apparently diverse and innocent groups, almost anyone can begin to exhibit remarkably uniform symptoms. In everyday terms, it is as though they’ve fallen head over heels in love. Although this initial euphoria is often short-lived, a significant minority will subsequently undergo a nightmarish transformation and recklessly dissipate all their mental, and/or physical, and/or financial, resources to the benefit of some hitherto unknown person(s), whom they continue to trust and follow no matter what suffering this entails. Only when enough victims of one of these latter-day ‘Pied-Pipers’ wind up in psychiatric hospitals or on mortuary slabs is the word, ‘cult,’ liberally applied by the popular press. It is then always revealed that there had been some timely attempt(s) to warn the authorities, but they couldn’t intervene, because, legalistically, cultism does not exist. That said, all cosmopolitan people readily accept that cults most-certainly do exist, but, due to the prevalent style of media coverage, we habitually think of them only as remote, and grotesque, freak-shows.

            In my experience, if it is suggested that ‘we should all be on our guard against cultism, because it is actually much closer to us than we like to think,’ the average person is immediately convinced that such an idea is absurd. This instinctual reaction is usually accompanied by one, or more, of the following comments:
                                                        
            ·     ‘Don’t worry, I wasn’t born yesterday, a cult couldn’t fool me or anyone in my family… only idiots and weaklings join cults.’

            ·     ‘In a free society everyone has the right to believe in what they want… if adults decide to hand over their time and money to some charismatic guru, it’s their own business.’


            ·     ‘One man’s cult is another man’s religion.’


            ·     ‘I suppose you’re including all the people who believe Elvis is still alive.’


            ·     ‘Unless they are being physically held as prisoners, adults always have a free-choice to walk away if they don’t like what’s happening to them.’


            ·     ‘Perhaps some cult members get harmed, but that’s their problem not mine.’


            ·     ‘Cults have been around for centuries, there’s nothing new to learn about them.’ etc.


            Whilst these opinions can all seem valid to the ill-informed, the underlying facts prove them to be nothing more than ego-protecting self-deceptions, which completely miss the point. It’s easy to understand that ‘knowledge itself is power,’ but it’s altogether harder to accept that (by the same token) ignorance is vulnerability. Obviously, cults never announce themselves, but their many disguises continue to adapt to mirror the changing spirit of the times. Throughout the ages, a dangerous minority of mythomaniacs, charlatans and would-be demagogues have always been able to get their human prey to sail blindly into positions of subjection, by first bedazzling them with all manner of false beacons which seemed so welcoming and authentic that the majority of people could not have been expected to determine exactly what was lurking behind them. Even though most of us want to deny it, at a moment of weakness all of us can need to listen to the latest cultic voice of insanity; especially when it appeals to our existing beliefs and instinctual desires, and originates from the apparent face of reason. To casual observers, the phenomenon might seem to be a ridiculous anachronism, but cultism or occultism has survived the tide of history and continues to wreck countless lives, simply because its instigators keep updating the lyrics of their siren song. Totalitarianism itself is enduring, its camouflage is ephemeral.

            Young children’s unconscious acceptance of ‘Santa Claus’ as total reality, stems from a fictitious scenario reflected as fact by the traditional culture in which they live. Up to a certain age, children are not equipped to challenge the model of reality offered to them by authoritarian figures within their family groups; particularly, their parents. Therefore, once children have been converted to a self-gratifying, non-rational belief in ‘Santa,’ the truth (that they are actually being deceived by the people whom they instinctively trust and follow) is unthinkable. The scenario can then be expanded to modify children’s behaviour — ‘Santa’ has magical powers… he can see and hear everything they do at all times… he will reward them for unquestioning belief and punish them for dissent. Only when they attain the necessary level of intellectual/psychological development, can children begin to use their critical and evaluative faculties and come to realise that ‘Santa’ is merely a game of make believe. If you think about it, what I’ve just described is the most elementary form of self-perpetuating, non-rational/esoteric, ritual belief system - perfectly tailored to fit infantile minds, and reliant on the maintenance of an absolute monopoly of information presented using a constant repetition of reality-inverting key words and images combined with pseudo-scientific mystification and closed-logic.


            When analysed with the same level of intellectual rigour, many of the basic procedures and conditions required to establish cultic groups turn out not to be a mystery at all. They are revealed as only more-sophisticated versions of those which also propagate the benign ‘Santa’ deception. As such, they are frighteningly easy to replicate. However, the instigators of cults are anything but benign and, interestingly, many of their most-deluded subjects and convincing apologists turn out to be well-educated adults who have simply become incapable of facing the ego-destroying reality that they’ve been fooled by what is merely a game of make believe. No sane person would ever suggest trying to ban ‘Santa,’ and everyone lies to their children at some time to modify their behaviour, but consider the variety of destructive behaviour that an authoritarian adult (with hidden criminal objectives) could get dependent children to follow by exploiting their unconscious acceptance of the same imaginary, but nonetheless emotionally and intellectually overwhelming, narrative as total reality. The unpalatable truth is that, just by perverting the closed-logic rules of the game, anything - from theft by proxy to sexual, and/or violent, abuse - becomes possible.


            Prior to publication, a number of people were given unfinished copies of the above document to appraise. Although no reader could refute its content, the reactions of a minority were split into two groups; these were as different as chalk and cheese. Those who had already survived a direct personal experience of cultism devoured it. Others, who had never knowingly encountered the phenomenon, found the booklet less easy to digest; they generally described its tone as ‘alarmist.’ One man (a middle-aged, American academic) was sure that it had been written by a naïve soul who had suddenly discovered the world to be a cruel place, and who now wanted to shout about it. Several years ago, when I was naïve, I might have agreed with him. In fact, I now blush when I remember a conversation I once had with a senior citizen of the Czech republic (a survivor of rule by the ‘Nazi’ and ‘Soviet’ myths), in which I coolly dismissed his passionate contention that any country whose own citizens mistakenly believed themselves to be immune to totalitarianism, faced the greatest risk of from it. Today, in the light of a traumatic personal encounter in Europe with the large, American-based cultic group known as 'Amway,' I have come to understand that I could not have been more wrong. However, many of the crass opinions which cultism continues to attract are completely predictable, because, even as adults, we all instinctively want to shut out of our minds any information that disturbs our habitual model of the world. Sadly, anyone who searches for the truth about cultism, and who then speaks plainly, is forced to ask a lot of people to think the unthinkable; so I make no apologies for this.

            Another man started to read the document and decided that it contained ‘intemperate language.’ He felt sure that it was  ‘going to be a sermon’ in which I would ‘attempt to impose ideas of morality’ on him. That opinion made me go back to my original text and remove any suggestion of preaching, because that’s the last thing I want to do. I don’t pretend to be perfect, and I fully recognise that morality is only what is generally regarded as an acceptable standard of behaviour by whatever culture we live in. I tried to base my investigation of cultism on quantifiable evidence, and my analysis on rules made by democratic institutions defining what is criminal, and/or unethical. I didn’t invent this evidence or write these rules, but I couldn’t escape the fact that cultism involves the subversion of traditional codes of morality. Like my wise Czech acquaintance, I have had the dubious privilege of witnessing for myself how unsuspecting individuals can be tricked into entering a counterfeit culture in which their existing perceptions of right and wrong are overturned and then made absolute. As a result, I now accept that apparently rational persons can suddenly abandon all reason and allow themselves to be systematically abused, exploited and even slaughtered whilst participating in the systematic abuse, exploitation and slaughter of others. In short, I am describing how it is possible to enslave any human being, but without the use of chains. This, in itself, is an ego-destroying reality which, self-evidently, many onlookers will wish to deny. However, when this reality is faced, at first it can become impossible to find appropriate words (other than expletives) to describe the results of cultism. Even presiding judges, in related cases, have felt it necessary to deliver verdicts using emotive terms such as ‘evil,’ ‘sinister,’ ‘depraved,’ ‘obnoxious,’ etc., to express publicly their own private outrage. Unfortunately, many other well-intentioned people have been, and continue to be, completely fooled by the seductive words and images shielding the instigators of cultism. The great paradox of the phenomenon is that persons under cultic influence will steadfastly claim to be absolutely righteous, even when all the quantifiable evidence proves their behaviour to be (at best) misguided, or (at worst) downright evil. Although they are demonstrably dissociated from external reality, cult adherents are always certain that they alone represent the ‘truth’ and they act accordingly.

            In the above document, I have tried to demystify cultism by using an accurate, deconstructed vocabulary to describe the phenomenon. As a result of my own extensive investigation, I am entirely satisfied that all groups exhibiting the essential characteristics given previously, are manifestations of the same problem. The historical evidence has led me to the inescapable conclusion that the only real differences between cults are the exact motives and mental state of their leaders, and the length of time they survive before they face a well-informed and determined challenge.

            Cultism is a trap. Obviously, anyone who only examines the bait in a trap and who remains unaware of its true purpose, risks getting caught themselves. Just like a mousetrap, the basic design for the cultic trap has remained the same down the centuries even if the presentation of the bait has become evermore sophisticated. Sadly, many commentators have found it impossible - when faced with the apparently illogical results of cultism - to abandon their existing academic, and professional, disciplines, which are anchored in the logic of the traditional world. Consequently, their understanding has often been made impossible by misplaced objectivity. However, it must be remembered that a counterfeit banknote might be 99.9 % perfect, but the bit that is not makes all of it a fake. Similarly, in order to have any chance of understanding cultism, it must be approached from the apparently subjective point of view that its results are always the product of a contagious deception, the victims of which unconsciously accept fiction as fact. Only then, can the phenomenon be examined with genuine objectivity. Once this vital principle has been learnt, the apparently authentic words and images reflected by persons under the influence of cultism - like those printed on counterfeit banknotes - are revealed as dangerous distractions. They should never be taken at face value and, therefore, I try to remind the reader of this at all times. Any commentator who repeats the reality-inverting shielding-terminology of any cultic group, but without detailed qualification (or heavy irony), demonstrates that he/she remains at a pitifully low-level of understanding.


            In truth, if it wasn’t for its tragic consequences, then cultism would be nothing more than a sick joke. However, until an individual is confronted by a nightmarish change in the personality and behaviour of a loved-one, then they can never really appreciate the full horror of the phenomenon. I realised a long time ago that there are always some people who will never be able to accept what I describe, because, for them to do so, they would have to abandon too many self-deceptions supporting their own view of themselves. Like many others before me, a soul-destroying experience with members of my own family forced me to abandon most of mine. Then, through close contact with the survivors of various cults and my research into the deeper origins of ‘Nazism’ and the ‘New Global Terrorism,’ I came to the further, inescapable conclusion that it is actually impossible to exaggerate the potential menace posed by the creators of these counterfeit cultures, or their significance to the history and future of civilisation. I then found great comfort in the opinions of some of my critics, because the people who first tried to warn the world of the horror lurking behind an apparently absurd, little gang of sanctimonious charlatans - calling themselves the ‘National Socialist German Workers Party’ and led by a hitherto unknown, German Army veteran playing the comic-book role of ordinary man turned superman - were also dismissed as ‘alarmists.’

            Whilst it remains generally misunderstood, cultism will continue to be an unnecessary threat to the lives, liberty and happiness of all communities, families and individuals all over the world.



            David Brear (copyright 2019)