Posts tagged “cult

What’s the point of conspiracy theories? Even if the most ridiculous ones were true, and jew lizard aliens from the Pleiades really did kill JFK with a laser and flew hologram cruise missiles into the World Trade Center, they’ve already gotten away with it, and there’s nothing a bunch of alcoholic, paint-sniffing paranoid maniacs are going to be able to do about it. Wouldn’t the person who’s truly interested in the welfare of humanity instead try and busy themselves with the duties of figuring out how to survive under the jew lizard shapeshifter alien government?

What’s the point of spreading histrionic paranoia to other easily excited paranoids?

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Why does it seem like half of the people who proclaim themselves to be pro-Palestinian do so not because they actually care about Palestinians, but because they want an excuse to hate Jews? If I stumble upon another site that consists entirely of “ALL JEWS ARE EVIL DEMON BANKERS AND HERE IS THE PROTOCOLS OF ELDERS OF ZION TO PROVE IT” with a little “I support Palestine!” button at the bottom, I’ll scream. I also find it ironic that Nazis use that Israeli flag with the swastika in it as some sort of insult– don’t you assholes like that symbol and what it represents? I mean, if Israel really is a fascist state that practices ethnic cleansing, shouldn’t you be supporting it?


Conspiracy Theorists in activist movements

The problem with conspiracy theories is that they are an outgrowth of paranoia and religious thinking. Do these have any place in an activist movement? No! Of course not— especially if this movement sources itself from ostensibly secular and skeptical roots. Conspiracy theories exist as a way for entrenched power structures to perpetuate themselves by attempting to convince easily frustrated people that there is a simple answer for every question. Yes, it’s a lot easier to digest the theory that “the Jews did 911” rather than take the time to meticulously unravel the complex, onion-like structure of 30 years of central Asian geopolitics, the opium trade and Reagan/Thatcher era fanatical anticommunism. The ease by which a conspiracy theory can be consumed does not lend any support for its validity, regardless of however many appeals to the size of the audience the purveyor of the theory makes.

The irony of conspiracy theories is that even though they do not stand up to even cursory examination or skepticism, these easy challenges provoke a fevered response from their supporters. If, for example, one attempts to point out that not all bankers are Jews, the person doing this will be immediately labelled one of a number of flowery, absurd insults— “Zionist stooge for the banksters” comes to mind— and any hope for rational discourse is lost. This is a pattern echoed in religious thought wherein people who attempt to point out that the earth could not be only six thousand years old are labelled “satanic.”

The “conspiratorial mindset” thrives on martyrdom and oppression. When persons who are spouting racist conspiracy theories inside activist groups are subsequently removed from these groups, they will run howling and screaming to their theorist comrades about the “harsh injustices and fascist oppression meted out by a decidedly non-revolutionary sock-puppet group which is probably entirely composed of agents from a variety of government intelligence agencies.” The purpose of this action is, of course, to provoke said activist group to stop “censoring” these demonstrably false activities and allow another venue of message delivery— after all, the conspiracist will claim, the “lamestream media” actively works to suppress the activities of these “activists for truth” and what ostensibly anti-authoritarian activist group wants to be tarred with any accusation of hypocrisy?

All of these claims operate around false suppositions. Yes, there is little mention of every half-baked conspiracy theory in mainstream media, just like there is no serious consideration of anything that challenges the dominant social, political and economic order— but this does not mean that the two are linked, nor does it mean that there is some sort of wide-ranging governmental policy to stifle talk about “Reptilian shape-shifters from the Pleidean cluster.” Mainstream media does not discuss alternative political, social or economic processes because doing this invites debate and uneasiness— where it is easier to sell products to a calm, assured audience than an agitated one. The role that conspiracy theorists play in the grand scheme of things is that they fill a niche market in the capitalist system— namely, the market of people who prefer to be easily agitated or frightened and will buy product. Because of this, the conspiracy theory community has created its own media ecology, with an endless array of talk show hosts and websites delivering 24/7 live content to a voracious audience. Conspiracy theorists not only have plenty of bandwidth to push their ideals, they demand that all venues be open to them.

The irony of being labelled a “fascist” by someone who is removed from a group for attempting to push racist conspiracy theories is that the person doing the labelling has probably never read the Encyclopedia Britannica definition of Fascism— written by Benito Mussolini. The common talking point among most conspiracy theorists today is a general advocacy against an intrusive, big-brother style authoritarian government. This is strangely pursued by supporting politicians like Ron Paul who openly advocate for a halt to governmental oversight of businesses and corporations under the guise of “liberty” and “freedom.” This pairs nicely with Mussolini’s definition of fascism being the merger of corporate and state power. The conspiracy theorist then refers to themselves as an “anti corporatist” which only furthers their absurdist image.

The presence of conspiracy theorists wouldn’t be a problem if not for their desire to find possibly receptive audience members to whom the conspiracy theorist lifestyle can be sold— and for the subsequent practice of hijacking movements and changing their goals and purpose to suit their own ends. Put plainly, the conspiracy theorist moves to activist groups because they believe some form of affinity exists between two groups of supposed “anti-corporatists.” In reality, their presence is a product of an unconscious realization that they have exhausted all of their possible social networking potential within the insular conspiracy theorist scene. In other, slightly more rare cases, their presence is due to an effort by a sect of conspiracy theorists to piggy-back on the successes and momentum of the group they are “targeting.”*

The primary danger that conspiracy theorists pose to activist groups is a dereliction of message and reduction in effectiveness. This can manifest itself in many different ways, from an anti-war group turning into an explicitly anti-Semitic group, to an anarchist media collective turning into another mirror of Alex Jones’ propaganda, to an anti-globalization group being turned into a money farm by a new-age cult scam. What must be done is to perform the admittedly unpleasant task of distancing one’s group from elements which will hurt the overall message. It is possible to weather any storm of criticism from the conspiracy theorists as their complaints against the group will last until they have found a new home. It is not “fascist” to not want to be associated with elements that hold no logical sense or purpose for their existence within your group.

*My use of the word “targeting” in this case should not imply that all sects of conspiracy theorists that engage in this behavior do so consciously or with a clear and direct motive or directive from any form of leadership or heirarchy within said sect, although notable examples of intentional hijacking by conspiracy sects/cults has occurred.


I just don’t get apocalyptic Christianity.

So, Partner and I were driving around, and we saw this completely cheesy sign for a church calling itself Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry. I looked it up, and it comes across like the same type of scam church that Sarah Palin’s involved with: demonic possession, witchcraft, gays are satanic, et cetera. They’re one of a plethora of Christian movements out of Africa (Nigeria, in this case)– a subject that requires its own piece– but what’s most interesting is that they have a ministry group calling itself “God’s Violent Army” that drapes itself in, well, violent rhetoric:

“Praise God, Its time for the equipping of the saints and trainings warriors for the end times. Teaching you to take it by force. The bible says “from the days of John the Baptist the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence and the violent taketh it by force’ …… We’re equiping people that will be a terror to the kingdom of darkness.”

Sure, we can take this two ways, that all of this is metaphorical and they’re talking about waging “spiritual warfare” against Satan, and their violent acts constitute fervent praying– but this sort of rhetoric is only a few minute changes from being applied to less esoteric and far more prosaic matters. Suddenly, Satan manifests itself in a physical form, and there’s a ready crop of True Believers ready to wage a very literal violent struggle against this embodiment of evil. This pattern appears time and again in religious movements when some external presence applies stress to the workings of the group, such as was the case of the Vatican waging war against “satanic” states that did not bend to its will, or when certain cults attracted federal investigations.

Of course, Satan is very real to the True Believers in these cults because of constant reinforcement of popularly accepted suggestion. It’s easy to see how this works: you go to a prayer meeting receptive to the idea that you’ll see an actual miracle happen in front of your eyes– and because you turn off your skepticism and are ready to believe, a Verifiable Miracle *does* happen right before you. This allows you to grant power and authority to the minister, preacher or whoever is in charge of the prayer meeting, because, after all, they performed a Verifiable Miracle, and who are you to oppose them? As these authority figures now speak for the authority of God Himself, you’re led down the path of believing everything they say, because as these authority figures are only repeating the Word Of God verbatim, it must be Truth. It’s then that people are most susceptible to being convinced that some bloated, bureaucratic government agency is the right arm of Satan himself and must be violently resisted in order to avoid having one’s soul devoured and their family cursed for seven generations. Hence, Jonestown residents had to drink the Flavor-Aid to save their souls from the US Government and $cientology had to declare open season on its critics.

The reason for this sticking in my craw might just be a cultural discrepancy– mainstream churches here simply don’t advertise the fact that they have prayer groups calling themselves “God’s Violent Army” and this sort of rhetoric may be commonly accepted in Nigeria. What’s causing concern in my mind is the obvious similarity in titles and subject matter between this group and the infamous “Lord’s Resistance Army” of Uganda, whose rhetoric is also heavy on the apocalyptic end-times Christianity stuff. The major difference–so far, anyway– is that “God’s Violent Army” isn’t a heavily armed paramilitary army that’s guilty of an endless list of war crimes.

I should really start reading more about the history of post-colonial Africa. That continent has been used as a puppet and proxy for other world powers for so long I shouldn’t be surprised that the socio-political climate is far more complex than anyone can comprehend.


Utopia as Dangerous Fallacy

Utopianism is an interesting concept. It is strange in that when it is pursued as a way of life, its proper execution consists of understanding that it will never reach completion. It is unsuitable for the undisciplined mind because it is an ultimately disappointing philosophy if one pursues it believing they will attain perfection. The perfect is impossible to attain, but the striving towards that unreachable perfection is what is meant to be desirable. The undisciplined mind, however, sees the utopian ideal as achievable, and easily done so; they believe that utopia is achievable by the rote repetition of ritual and dogma. Such practices actually hinder people in this pursuit.

The idea is that you see a goal and you see your current position, but you have no pre-set way of reaching that goal. it is up to you to climb over the rocks and hurdles to get to your goal.

The misuse of Utopian thinking is prevalent amongst political vanguardists and religious messianics. To them, utopia is possible only by following THEM. And perfection, while not easily attained, IS attainable by following their creeds or their books– at least in their mind. The problem is that the vanguardists and messianics are either consciously or unconsciously seeking validation for their existence by preaching Utopianism to their flock. The vanguardist is depressed, and derives validation and morale from the adulation of their followers. The follower of the vanguardist is equally depressed, but suffers the additional hardship of being confused and lacking direction. Following the vanguardist leader as a means to allay one’s own depression ultimately results in a quick and dirty fix, and one that doesn’t last. And isn’t the concept of vanguardism in and of itself anti-anarchist? Since when should anyone who seriously considers themselves to be an anti-authoritarian cede their free will to someone or an organization who merely promises to “make it all better?”

Of course, there’s plenty of examples of this on the left: Zendik farm has a long history of this cult-like behavior, as does the Revolutionary Communist Party, ANSWER, Progressive Labor Party and the Nation of Islam. I’m not denigrating their performance in accomplishing political actions (when they choose to act) but the bulk of their activity exists to perpetuate their groups’ existence and build internal morale, not actually change society for the better.

The cocaine of Utopian Vanguardism may get you high, but once it wears off, the low is lower than you’ve ever felt.