During the seventies and early eighties, there appeared to be a cancer of cults on the American landscape. The Washington Post published long investigative articles about satanic and Christian occults, L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology bloomed, the airports and streets were full of Hare Krishna followers, news reels and articles showed the slaughter of the People’s Temple followers via poisoned Kool-Aid by cult leader Jim Jones and the FBI stormed cult leader David Koresh’s compound in Waco, Texas.
It never failed to fascinate me how educated and privileged young people could actually fall for cult leaders, but I am witnessing a similar blind following of misguided ideology today by those who are caught up in the progressive left’s cult of victimhood and race. So in all seriousness, I have to ask the question, is progressivism a cult?
Joe Navarro, who studied cult leaders during his time with the FBI, said in his article in Psychology Today, “They all have or had an overabundant belief that they were special, that they and they alone had the answers to problems, and that they had to be revered. They demanded perfect loyalty from followers, they overvalued themselves and devalued those around them, they were intolerant of criticism, and above all they did not like being questioned or challenged. And yet, in spite of these less than charming traits, they had no trouble attracting those who were willing to overlook these features.”
Sure sounds a lot like progressive activism today. But what I wanted to know wasn’t why followers of progressivism clearly follow Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, but what is behind this mindlessness affecting our current cultural and political state. Is it really brainwashing of youth or is there a real pathology behind this new breed of zombies?
Let’s take a peek at what the experts are saying about brainwashing first. A recent study published by the National Academia of Sciences in the United States assessed psychological traits from digital footprints, demonstrating the effectiveness of psychological mass persuasion—that is, the adaptation of persuasive appeals to the psychological characteristics of large groups of individuals with the goal of influencing their behavior. Not surprising, the researchers found that psychological mass persuasion in social media could be used covertly to exploit weaknesses in a person’s character and persuade them to take action against their own best interests.
The study also pointed to the dangers of how the Master of the Universe, such as Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, are tracking people and exposing them to persuasive communication across platforms used by government and political parties that seek to sway how we think. The research unequivocally demonstrates that people’s psychological characteristics can be accurately predicted from their digital footprints, such as their Facebook Likes or Tweets. So is it Big Tech, not the Russians, interfering with elections and “triggering” social justice warriors?
In three field experiments that reached more than 3.5 million individuals with psychologically tailored advertising, researchers found that matching the content of persuasive appeals to an individual’s psychological characteristics significantly altered their behavior as measured by clicks and purchases. Persuasive appeals that were matched to people’s extraversion or openness-to-experience level resulted in up to 40 percent more clicks and up to 50 percent more purchases than their mismatching or unpersonalized counterparts. Take a moment to let that sink in.
In addition to the brainwashing by powerful media platforms, young students are often indoctrinated by far left-leaning teachers in academia. Not through any methodical subversive program but by their sheer representation in colleges in universities. Notwithstanding that these teachers/authorities do not welcome Christian or conservative views, most right-leaning individuals believe that our current educational system is having a poor effect on our country. A 2017 Pew Research study found that for the first time on a question asked since 2010, a majority (58 percent) of Republicans say colleges and universities are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country, while 36 percent say they have a positive effect.
Last, let’s look at the characteristics of cult leaders. Cult leaders aren’t just charismatic or persuasive, however, they are authoritarian, exhibiting sociopathic and abusive characteristics. Enter Brandon Straka, the handsome gay hairdresser from New York who sparked the #WalkAway Campaign when he uploaded his original video to YouTube on May 26, 2018. Since then, the video has seen more than 5 million views and Straka has racked up millions of Facebook followers.
Straka begins his video by saying, “Once upon a time, I was a liberal. Well, to be honest, less than a year ago, I was still a liberal.” Straka then says, “I reject a system which allows an ambitious, misinformed and dogmatic mob to suppress free speech, create false narratives, and apathetically steamroll over the truth,” he says. “I reject hate.”
Since Straka’s coming out, he has faced the wrath of those still in the cult of progressivism. Stratka tweeted this summer:
I’m shaking right now. I just went into a camera store to buy a camera and a light and mic, etc. and they recognized me from tv. I was refused service because they said it was for “alt right” purposes. That literally just happened.
— Brandon Straka (The Unsilent Minority) (@usminority) July 5, 2018
In an interview with Populist Wire on why he started the movement, Stratka said: “My mission for the #WalkAway Campaign is to expose the truth about liberal ideology, to reveal to those on the left what is really happening behind the curtain, and to encourage all people—particularly minorities in America, to walk away from liberalism and the Democratic Party. Liberalism has encouraged American minorities to no longer see themselves as an individual with unique potential or personal power. It insists instead on encouraging collectivism and tribal mentally by organizing these individuals into groups based off of race, gender, sexuality, religious affiliation, and national origin, then subdividing these groups into camps of ‘victims’ and ‘oppressors.’”
Is Straka wrong? Consider that Facebook and Twitter employees are hired to monitor posts by users and suspend or deplatform any comments that don’t fit the progressive left cult’s talking points. PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neill sees the similarities of cult-like behavior in the current left’s political authoritarianism when juxtaposed with religious cults. O’Neill sated in a post thread on the Ace of Spades website:
“There is a sort of orthodoxy required among liberals. Do you believe in climate change? What about the gender pay gap? Those who do not toe the line often find themselves exiled—not just from the fold, but from the conversation.”
To some extent, these views are merely what we mean when we say the word “liberal”—they describe a political program roughly supported by one major party. But at some point, these views have become prescriptive; they have morphed into a moral structure to provide meaning and guidance in place of religion. When political beliefs start to explain why bad things happen to good people, they may be crystallizing into something closer to faith.”
James Madison referred to emotional mobs as factions, which he defined in “Federalist No. 10” as a group, “united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”
Certainly the passions of those opposing the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court reached a fever pitch. Women were actually photographed sobbing and breaking down, their faith in their own cause bitterly disappointing them. Then there was the arrest of a Democratic Hill intern for doxing three Republican senators during the Kavanaugh confirmation circus. Even more egregious was Diane Feinstein’s exposing of Kavanaugh accuser Ford and Big Tech’s vanishing of Alex Jones and scores of other conservative content providers on public media.
Progressivism as manifested today is a cult. When individual ideas are routinely suppressed for the ideology of the cult leaders and those outside the group dare to voice a dissenting opinion, their reactions are often violent and swift. As many of the cults in the 1970s ate their own and played themselves out, this too, shall implode. Finally, let it be said that this should also be construed as a word to the wise for those Trump supporters who blindly support everything President Trump says, tweets and does. Despite his obvious love of this nation, Trump, too, displays characteristics of a narcissist. It is the policies we should always support rather than the lifting up of any single man or woman. #WalkAway.