Society in the Post- Jonestown Era:
More Susceptible to the Actions of Extreme Groups & Cults than ever before?
An Opinion … & Two Recommended Articles:
On remembering the 40th anniversary of the infamous ‘Jonestown Massacre’, but more than that … on the need for becoming more coscientised regarding the modern, the old and the new ‘cults in our midst’ …
Written as another one of my customary weekend reading recommendations, what follows refers in the main to two recent articles, fresh & absorbing, by Stella Morabito, published online by The Federalist:
The first article, ‘The 40th Anniversary Of The Jonestown Massacre Is The Perfect Time To Brush Up On How Cults Operate’, reflecting on many observable trends in the intersecting socio-political sphere of our own time, succeeds quite brilliantly in bringing a mostly neglected aspect of the cult tragedy to the fore, namely the communist nature of the creed adhered to by Jim Jones and his followers. I want to deal with this rediscovery of the extreme ‘communistic’ origins of the Jonestown experiment‘s collective social suicide, if it may be termed that, here, in a relatively brief paragraph, before moving on:
One realises in reading increasingly popular right-minded online sources like The Federalist that well-established narratives, characteristically omnipresent in the media and education, have for a long time concealed or elided many of the most essential facts needed to make sense of events like the Jonestown Massacre. This is unequivocally one of the foremost merits of the first of Morabito’s two related articles, i.e. foregrounding in her retelling of the horrors as they unfolded the leitmotiv of a synergy between Jones’s message, moving from the originally pseudo-religious to the uncompromisingly ideological; the submission of the individual’s thought & mind to the increasingly deranged fantasies of the cult leader; and, almost providing the chain of events with something like a self-mocking tempo or rhythm, a descent into madness marked by a circular, labyrinthine pattern pertinently illustrated by Jones’s slurred speech & thought patterns in the recording of the last moments in Jonestown, the so-called ‘Death Tape’ (available via link intra-article, but also elsewhere on the Net):
“ … in Guyana, cult members were subject to all the tools of cultic mind control …” & (then) laborious days sapping the will to resist were followed by “evening hours of communist indoctrination”.
The second article, ‘How To Recognize The Cult Mindset In Yourself And Others’, is written quite intentionally as a follow-up to the first, enabling Morabito to review certain trends that can be connected to the curious contemporary phenomenon of political correctness, a mindset with its own highly recognisable sub-culture, vis-à-vis historically distinct mainstream culture.
Yet, where professed by substantial numbers, i.e. in large coteries, cabals, sects or ‘communities’, within the entertainment industry, within Left-wing groups and parties (i.e. the latter political), inside the media mega-complex, and on an increasing number of campuses, in institutionalised education, this may even represent something resembling a pseudo-religious cult with any or all of the following characteristics:
Various attempts (including those that are subversive) to stifle freedom of thought & expression; an atmosphere in which individuals cave to groups with intimidating, mob-like inclinations; a preference for the reductionistic emotive slogan over reasoned argument; self-censorship consisting of modelled behaviours; the mimicking of a new language consisting of (ultimately oversimplified) formulaic views & concepts; proneness to paying lifestyle obeisance to charismatic false prophets like actors, musicians, athletes, professors, writers, ‘reality show’ (the irony!) celebs with ‘fab’ ideas or even whole ideologies for sale, etc.
Indeed, by reading the articles - especially the second as far as focusing the lens on the present era is concerned - we are able to join Morabito in identifying evidence of the presence and/or persistence of cults & cult-like groups & their associated thought patterns in society around us.
Furthermore, her incorporation of cult scholar Margaret Thaler Singer’s research-based analyses into her own observations makes it possible to place the central motifs of the Jonestown tragedy alongside the continuing dangers of groups, known or unknown, in the present era with “a hidden agenda that is never exposed when recruiting” & who operate with a lust for more & more power over people in combination with an aggressive brainwashing mandate to match.
The fact that Morabito has selected Margaret Singer’s expert research work on cults, to inform her contemporary critique, strikes me as particularly apposite. But perhaps it is better to introduce what must be said next by quoting a point adduced by Morabito, one that’s derived directly from Singer’s description of the operative methods of groups that rely on, and promote, coercive thought reform:
“Cults make a point of getting footholds in the institutions of society - including government, media, and education — in order to get mainstream credibility”.
Until very recently in modern history, radical, extreme & hard(-core) Left-wing views had unmistakably been in existence, yet were demonstrably marginal & often associated with relatively small groups, so-called ‘splinter’ or ‘fringe’ phenomena. This is a generalising observation for theoretical purposes that begs to be anchored, however succinctly, in order to provide better perspective:
Reaching back to circa the Second World War (WWII), and dated from that period onward, in much of the West, dominant actors in constitutional systems held predominantly moderate, centrist views. Institutionalised political actors on the Left became preoccupied with systemic reform. Smaller parties or organisations, typically on the radical Left, desiring an overthrow of the system that excluded their Bohemian notions, sometimes preferring outright revolution, & many expressing allegiance to the Soviet Union & other communist/socialist regimes, acting beyond the structures or mechanisms of governance.
Through group-based organisational procedures & selection strategies, academia since the 60s of the last century became - to use Singer’s phraseology – one of the most prominent “institutions of society” where cult-like sub-cultures or related Bohemian organisational ‘behaviours’ could be given free reign more than in many other contexts, contributing to a gradual process of the normalisation of outré ideas & practices that are now manifesting much more visibly in mass culture, often even finding expression in institutionalised political proceedings, to the surprise of those who are not familiar with academic or other earlier Twentieth Century sub-cultures.
Perhaps symptomatic, therefore, of the rapidly radicalising academic sub-culture(s) or ‘cult(s)’, if you prefer to adopt the term loosely, especially in well-known problem areas such as the social ‘sciences’, was the decision around the middle to late 1980s by the American Psychological Association (the well-known APA), not to publish the findings of the special task force appointed to ...
“help expose cult methods and tactics”, created following the socially turbulent 60s & 70s including the Jonestown Massacre, led by none other than Singer.
In legal action undertaken by Singer against organised academia following the decision not to formally accept the findings of DIMPAC (aka the APA Task Force on Deceptive and Indirect Methods of Persuasion and Control), she probably rightly, once circumstances are carefully considered, contends that the move diminishes the standing, credibility and above all ‘ability’ of social researchers to investigate and provide guidance on the potential threat of subversive, cult-like groups & organisations:
In legal proceedings, she not only pointed out that there was what she suspected to be ‘collusion’ between defendants & members of certain cults in preventing the release & publication of the Report, but she moreover accuses the academics involved of “defamation, fraud, aiding & abetting & conspiracy”.
Thus, reminiscent of arguably well-established conduct & tactics normally associated with agents acting on behalf of vested cultic interests. Well-documented episodes such as this needn’t be the subject of wistful retrospective speculation only, as more ought to be done quite obviously to discover exactly who or what is responsible for the suppression of certain sets of information or research, as well as the positively confounding prioritising, instead, of mind-numbingly stereotypical & predictable Cultural Marxist projects & findings, in established academia, over a very prolonged period.
Although the DIMPAC Report has never been released - as Morabito observes - we are extremely fortunate to have Singer’s subsequently published classic in the field, Cults in Our Midst (1995), providing us with the kind of public-spirited guidance that is no longer available from areas controlled & influenced by the many cliques, sub-cultures & ‘cults’ in academia with their Cultural Marxist vested interests & globalist agenda:
Constituting a credible, scientifically based social & psychological diagnosis & delineation of the phenomenon of cults & associated ‘symptoms’ it thereby provides proper conscientisation available to those who may be potentially affected as well as those professionally concerned & responsible (e.g. law enforcement), and, suggested strategies for dealing with the effects thereof. Cults in Our Midst (1995) is clearly written by someone with experiental know-how second to none – unlike the wispy chimeras pursued by many in the social ‘sciences’.
We should, finally, also give credit to Morabito who, in her two commendable articles, manages to bring into juxtaposition various pieces, through a recent historical prism, of the jigsaw puzzle concerning true cults & pseudo-cults, with a number of useful suggestions as to how the phenomenon has undergone adaptations & seeks to replicate itself again in our present era:
The main task, in retrospect, is for the reader to pursue this tantalizing template provided by elaborating on it through meticulous observation of the institutions & organistions they encounter in today’s society.
One final example of this thought-provoking juxtaposition is the startling contemporary resonance, therefore, of Morabito’s final quote chosen from Singer’s concluding remarks in the book:
“Tyrants who take over our thinking and enforce political, psychological, or spiritual ‘correctness’ by taking away our freedoms, especially the freedom of our minds, are the menace of today, tomorrow & all eternity”.
From Cults in Our Midst (1995) by Margaret Singer
The recommended articles by Morabito can be found here (below) or by visiting the online pages of The Federalist (http://thefederalist.com/ ):
“The 40th Anniversary Of The Jonestown Massacre Is The Perfect Time To Brush Up On How Cults Operate”
“How To Recognize The Cult Mindset In Yourself And Others”
Carl J. Kieck is an independent international researcher & consultant in the often interrelated & overlapping fields of society, education, culture, media & organisations; occasionally either an educator or manager, or both, he undertakes contractual assignments in secondary and higher education, thereby keeping abreast of all the latest developments, reforms & best practices; moreover, he is involved in a number of large long-term research projects & will be happily occupied in this capacity for the foreseeable future.