A common human cultural habit is the formation of cults. Some of these take the form of religions, others of political organizations; some are commercial organizations, such as certain telephone sales outfits. The defining characteristic may be a willingness to accept information from only a limited source and to reject all information from other sources. As a result the people suffering from this condition will believe things that are clearly not true (such as: Stalinism produces happiness; the Market is the answer to all problems).

In the political world several Marxist groups fulfill the definition of a Cult (see Arthur J. Deikman "The Wrong Way Home" Beacon Press Boston 1990): All-powerful leader, submissive followers, irrational doctrine, no comparison with the world outside the group, willingness to kill outsiders.

These include:

  • Shining Path in Peru
  • Kurdish Workers Party in Turkey.
  • People's Mujahideen in Iran.
  • North Korean cult of the Kims, father and son.
  • Lenin's group may have begun this way or developed these characteristics.
  • Others are neo-Fascist organizations in Germany, Italy , Spain and several other countries, including the United States.
  • The Afghan regime of the Taliban could be classified as a cult regime. Osama bin Laden has been accused of leading a cult.
  • The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka showed some of the characteristics. Like several other cultish groups they had real grievances that ought to have been solved in other ways.
  • ETA in the Basque Country of Spain is another. Originally in the time of the dictator Franco they too had real grievances which have generally been met with grants of political autonomy, but they fight on.
  • In the past Nazism, Stalinism were seriously dangerous examples
  • The organisation of Hassan al Sabah - sometimes called the Assassins - is an example from the past.

In the United States there are many signs of cult political conditions, often allied with religious cults. The election of Barack Obama has brought this into public with people refusing to accept the quite ordinary information that he was born in Hawaii (for which adequate documentary evidence exists); or believing that his policies include proposals that do not exist (such as "death panels"). The proponents of these ideas show the signs of people in a cult mental condition: refusal to accept information unless it comes through an "approved" source (such as Fox news). Many people in this condition have been persuaded to act against their own interests (such as by opposing the health care reform that they need).

Deikman shows how a fairly harmless quasi-academic and professional group of people can turn into a cult, if the members don't observe what is happening to them. He includes the cases of a large business (such as General Motors) that can fail to be aware of the real information about the world, and pay too much attention to the views of its CEO, and as a result loses money on a grand scale.

The author has observed this happening in organisations he was involved with: a theatre group in England, a school in Africa; a social work charity in London. Clearly, the condition is very common. Only knowledge of how it occurs can assist people in getting free of the condition.

Interesting reading

Arthur J. Deikman "The Wrong Way Home" Beacon Press Boston 1990)
A description of the way people find themselves in cults and how they get out
A useful text:

Norman - Cohn - Pursuit of the Millennium

The Pursuit Of The Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages

Die Sehnsucht nach dem Millennium. Apokalyptiker, Chiliasten und Propheten im Mittelalter.

Les fanatiques de l'Apocalypse
Definition of cults

Last revised 7/12/10


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