I am seeing a lot of queries coming into this blog relating the nature of tribalism and cultism. The nature of cults is a topic that is quite close to me, having seen one very closely, and having watched its operations.
I have written in the past about the telltale signs of a cult, which probably warrants another read, if you haven’t been past there. I agree that it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what constitutes a cult, especially when something as benign as a support group can exhibit similar tendencies, however I think there is one big identifier that is worth considering.
Because it was this specific factor that awakened me to the cult that I was in. You’d think this would be a simple criterion, but when you’re inside a cult, it’s amazing how your head would cloud the rational thought. So, here it is:
The group – the cult – never meets the standard that it sets for others. Specifically, cult members (and opponents of the cult) are expected to meet certain standards and requirements, but the moment that the cult is expected to align with the behaviours and attitude, the concerns are dismissed.
With the cult that I had joined, there was a mantra that all members would participate in all club activities. To not participate for any reason (and some particular events were extremely expensive) would be a sign of failure, and a sign that the individual lacked the skills to be a practitioner of the cult’s system (it was a martial arts group). Specifically, it was said that if someone failed to make something happen for them, then they had failed.
Later in my membership with the cult, an event was being organised in a distant land. It would require travel to get there, which was a huge cost to go. Thinking the opportunity would be great, I joined up for the trip. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that the event was going to be cancelled because they hadn’t obtained the numbers they required.
I had already purchased plane tickets, which were expensive to cancel.
Querying the matter with the cult’s administration team, they were unsympathetic to the plight. It was here that I threw their doctrine in their faces, outlining that their inability to meet the standard they placed on others (ie that they had failed to “make something happen” and that therefore they had failed). This was immediately dismissed and was guffawed away with the assertion that I didn’t truly understand, and only had superficial knowledge of the art.
Cults place expectations on others that they do not themselves fulfill. And I see it in the world of political discourse and analysis as well – people will denigrate one party for a behaviour, but celebrate it when their party does same.
Look at the controversy surrounding the demonetisation of conservative comedia Stephen Crowder on YouTube. The claim here is that Crowder engaged in harassing behaviour to Carlos Maza of Vox Media. Yet YouTube is more than happy to leave up a violent video from The Late Show in where a depiction of NRA spokeswoman, Dana Loesch is shot.
Not a perfect example of hypocrisy, I know, but I cannot help but feel that had the video depicted a different person being shot, someone more favoured by mainstream media, that the resulting fallout would be vastly different.