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Before we all get too smug and self-congratulatory about people who join cults, let’s remember that we ourselves live in a cult—I mean, I seem to be bombarded with propaganda about “the Lionesses” at the moment, this bizarrely Aryan football team we’ve fielded (permissible because, girls—but, in two years, I guarantee we’ll see articles on the “unbearable whiteness” of the Lionesses). Aside from that, I’ve seen Oxford Street decorated in a vast flood of LGBT banners—so…

Yes, that’s the state cult, right—women, blacks, and LGBT; and, if you think people aren’t in a cult, I dare you to raise an objection to any of the above at your next family gathering or, perhaps, even in the office (if you’re feeling financially secure…). It’s why your uncle will retail you a little homily about how he was in a taxi in Norfolk and the driver said “the immigrants in the fields work harder than the locals, they’re all on welfare…”

Are you singing the happy-happy cult song, everybody? (Guess who was the only person on his street not to “clap for the NHS”, btw). Well, it’s a good job we’re not like those North Koreans, eh—with their kooky kult around Kim. By the way, what are your pronouns? What do you mean “there are just two genders????

So let’s not get too smug about people who join cults—since you’re probably in cooperation with a cult at the moment. “Oh, but that’s completely different.” It’s like if you try to talk about religion with people who believe in Christianity or Islam—you make some obvious point about the religion or mention “other gods”. They won’t have it—you can’t go there. “Oh no, no, no, no, you don’t understand, my friend, this is completely different. This is the truth.”

It’s like when I was a teenage Marxist and my mother said, “It’s a religion,” and I stomped my feet and said, “It is not a religion, it’s completely different.” Except it blatantly is a religion. That’s the difference between being on “the inside” and either having some sceptical distance or saying “yeah, well, there are a lot of religions in the world—they share many features, in fact.”

But smart people, professional people in cults? Who would have ever thought? Well, as already noted, man is a cult-making animal—it’s really hard to step outside cults altogether unless you’re autistic (i.e. only mentally deficient humans are immune from cult appeal). We need cults, as it happens—we’ll invent them if there is none to hand, we’ll worship blacks and women if need be. And all cults think other cults are “kooks” (a word that derives from one “rabbi Kook”, if I recall correctly).

If you get down to it, professionalism is cultic—the scientific method is cultic (at a certain point, if you unwind it enough, it ends in intuitions and assumptions—are you allowed to admit that?). Have you ever seen a medical doctor? Have you noticed how they all speak and act the same way? That’s because they went through a little cult induction called “medical school”—and now they all talk and act the same, they’ve all been inducted to have “bedside manner” and they’ll carry on like that until they die, even at home (it’s just you don’t think they’ve been inducted like a soldier—but they have, in a genteel way).

In fact, intelligent people are more likely to join cults—intelligence correlates with high openness to experience, so the intelligent person delights in “neat” new ways to do things (New Religious Movements, the euphemism for “cults”); and intelligence also correlates with agreeability, so the intelligent person is likely to be quite up for a lot of happy-clappy save-the-world-Rev-Moon action (and the singing, the close-harmony singing…).

Further, novel cults today are often about consciousness, not intelligence—they alter your consciousness. What these intelligent people want what from a cult is relief from thought—these doctors, lawyers, engineers, and so on spend their time locked in thought and it makes them miserable. Cults tend to teach techniques to alter consciousness—and that provides relief from thought.

Famously, the cult founded by Osho (Rajneesh) had a little sign outside its induction halls that said “check your mind at the entrance”—it’s “lose your mind and come to your senses”, and a lot of these professional people who have been trained to be thinking machines are relieved to escape the thought process in the cult (all those new ideas and new ways to analyse things that keep you up all night—but when you chant rama-rama-ding-dong three hundred times the thoughts stop, you blank; it’s relief—from intelligence).

If you look at Sufism, for example, it’s considered to be an error, as in Buddhism (to which it is related), to have an internal monologue or to “hear voices” in conversation—you’re meant to act on intuition, which is unitary and not vocalised. Total relief from the thought process—whereas the professional is taught to live in and identify with the thought process. “You are your thoughts,” so they come to think—cults show you that you are not your thoughts.

Why do you think professionals drink and take drugs? To turn it off—to turn the “constant schemer” off.

Indeed, the Rajneesh cult was mostly composed from psychology post-graduate students and other professionals—probably why they found it so easy to make their own bioweapons in the end…

The fact you think “intelligent people” shouldn’t “fall for” cults just reflects that you are inculcated in a cult—the cult of Enlightenment-style scientific materialism.

What we’ve killed above all in the West is consciousness—it’s all intellect, intellect, intellect (problem-solving). So you think people who are intelligent professionals in the sciences are “immune” from “stupid” life decisions because for you everything scientific means “good”, and intelligence, as T777 pointed out, is what we have instead of virtue—they’re your priests (doctors, engineers, scientists). That’s the cult you’re in—that’s its inculcated values “how could a priest do a stupid thing?” (how could high-status people who are “keepers of the holy knowledge” make a mistake?).

Christianity kills consciousness, as does Islam—there’s no gnosis in these (apart from Sufism); and scientific materialism is even worse—it treats life as a problem to be solved not a mystery to be lived. So for many people—especially the people most trapped in “problem-solving” mode—the novel cult is a blessed release.

Look, it’s cults all the way down, and the biggest delusion is to think you’ve escaped cultic thought—because you yearn for it. You should add to the Socratic injunction “the only thing I know is that I know nothing” the corrective “the only thing I know is that I am in a cult, and I want to be in one”. That at least grounds you in the actuality, at least it gives you critical distance from your own fucked-up state (perhaps you might change cults in a critical way now?)—at least you won’t turn into that most annoying person, the atheist who says, “I’ve put irrational religion behind me, it’s only rational to work for gender equality…after all, it is 2023.”


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