Blog Cults

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 21, 2016

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Further examining the Cult issue, another question which popped up is whether Blogs are cults and the Bloggers Cult Leaders?  For this, we need to return to the definitions from our friends at Merriam-Webster.

Definition of cult

    :  formal religious veneration :  worship

    :  a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also :  its body of adherents

    :  a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also :  its body of adherents

    :  a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator <health cults>

    a :  great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially :  such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b :  the object of such devotion c :  a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

cultic play \ˈkəl-tik\ adjective
cultish play \-tish\ adjective
cultishly play \-lē\ adverb
cultishness play \-nəs\ noun
cultism play \ˈkəl-ˌti-zəm\ noun
cultist play \ˈkəl-tist\ noun
cultlike play \-ˌlīk\ adjective

Officially, you need to be some type of Religion to fit the cult definitions, but I did mention Capitalism as a form of religion even though it is not officially recognized as such, and so fits many of the cult definitions.  I also mentioned cults that form up around Rock bands and celebrities like Kim Kardashian.

If the blog is espousing a particular belief system, like say belief in Peak Oil or belief in Near Term Human Extinction or belief in Techno-Conucopianism, then this can take on a Religious Fervor to it.  People who believe in NTHE are VERY firm in that belief; people who believe in Renewable Energy also very firm.  So I think it is fair to apply the definitions from the dictionary to blogs and bloggers.

To become Cultish though, you need more than just the general spin of the blog to define it as a cult.  The main thing additionally necessary is that there must be Uniformity of Belief among the readers of the blog, and fealty to the Blogger who serves as the Cult Leader.  Beyond that, no DISSENT can be permitted in the blog commentariat if it is going to be a Cult.  So if ONLY posts which support the dogma espoused by the Blogger are approved, you're starting to get quite cultish.

Now, virtually no blog has any kind of formal worship ongoing and no rituals, so you have to go NO CHECK on #1 & #2, although you do find some slavishly syncophantic posting on some blogs as the readers kiss the ass of the blogger and tell him how great he is.  That is a form of Worship.  If other posters are allowed to tell the blogger he's wrong though, then you no longer have a cult because dissention is being allowed.

If you do accept the idea that belief in stuff like Near Term Human Extinction or Techno-Cornucopianism takes on a Religious quality to it, then it is CHECK #3.  Both beliefs are unorthodox, and it just depends who you talk to as to whether they are viewed as spurious or not.  The Body of Adherents tends to gravitate toward the Blog and Blogger that come closest to their own viewpoint, so uniformity of opinion and Group Think tends to develop from that organically.

Enforcement of Group Think on a given blog commentariat comes in two ways mainly.  First is if the Blogger only approves comments which are in agreement with his POV.  That's a very EZ way to maintain uniformity within the blog-cult.  The second way is to have ENFORCERS of the group think who drop in and ATTACK anyone who is not sticking to the party line.  Ulfulgi on Nature Bats Last and Fast Eddy on Our Finite World are typical examples of Enforcers in a blog commentariat.

Far as the Doomstead Diner goes, it doesn't fit Cult Definitions from Merriam-Webster at all.  Nobody agrees on EVERYTHING we discuss daily Inside the Diner, in fact it's one very long, non-stop ARGUMENT on numerous topics. There is no Central Ideology to the Diner, other than we all agree to argue the issues, hopefully politely with respect for other Diners.  As the main Blogger on the site, my ideas are attacked all the time, and I get personally attacked Ad Hom all the time too!  I have a very thick skin from years of moderating forums, going back to the Wild West days on AOL. It's all Water Off a Duck's Back for me most of the time. For the most part I let all the posting go up, although you can go too far in attacking me personally, as one of our more insulting members found out recently.  While I like Free Speech, if somebody refuses to be respectful and polite to myself and other Diners, I WILL drop down the Ban Hammer.  It just gets too disruptive after a while when Trolls do this.  When you cannot get a troll to grasp this simple fact of life, it becomes a FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE.

Even if a given Blog and Blogger do fit Definition #3 of Cults from Merriam-Webster though, I don't consider them to likely end up in a Jonestown or Waco or Haley-Bopp Mass Death endgame.  Because these cults are in Virtual Space and all the cult members are not gathered together in one compound, getting them all to Drink the Kool Aid at the same time would be a highly unlikely scenario.  The FBI would also have a hard time hitting everyone at the same time, other than shutting down their internet access, which would be quite EZ.  That would be the Virtual Death of the Cult, but the Meat Packages would still be walking around for a while.

Some folks like to be together only with people who believe EXACTLY as they do, and are not comfortable with the daily dissention you get when you all do NOT subscribe to precisely the same belief structure.  I personally am not that way, in fact I am exactly opposite to that, I love to argue, I love the interplay of ideas between people with different belief structures. Much new knowledge can be elucidated this way.  The main thing I do NOT like is when people cannot argue to topic and start insulting each other as dim or imbeciles etc, and I WILL also retaliate for that kind of behavior in kind, before I send you to the Cooler or Ban your ass permanently.  It's the CHICAGO WAY.

I can pitch out insults as well as anyone on the net, I spent over a year trading them with one of the best Net Insulters ever to grace the Internet, Smokey from The Burning Platform.  But ya know, this gets old, even if it is done with someone as creatively scatological as Smokey was.  Calling people names elucidates NOTHING.  Argue to topic.

OK, I think I beat to death the topic of Cults here over the last 3 days, so now we will get back to our regularly scheduled Diner Arguments. 🙂

17 Responses to Blog Cults

  • Disaffected says:

    Nice post RE, and I think it's fair to say " I hear you" in regard to most of your points.

    Can't help but add that I think much of this is extremely self-serving and thus somewhat "cultish" as well, however.

    Not that that's necessarily a bad thing if the blogger is at least somewhat aware that they're doing it. Truth be told ALL BLOGS these days are least somewhat "cultish," from the decidely mainstream Naked Capitalism, which I've been banned from several times for spouting assorted untruths, to Kunstler, to the Archdruid, to Gail Tverberg, to kulturCritic, to fill in the blank. Blogs take a stance, form a community about that stance, and then gradually exclude those who don't agree with that stance. Just like you're apparently trying to do here.

    As to your apparent conflict with Guy McPherson, Near Term Human Extinction, William Catton and his book Overshoot and any of that, I don't want to get in the middle of that. I understand your views, as I face them everyday in everyone I talk to, and I must admit that I used to share them too. But you know what? I gradually got over my fears in facing what I now view as inevitable, and when you stop to think about it, it's really nothing more than viewing your own death on a human (and indeed, unfortunately, planetary) scale. As in, we're ALL going to die INDIVIDUALLY anyway, but unfortunately we might also ALL going to die COLLECTIVELY over a fairly short period of time as well. When you think about it, it's not even that great of a conceptual leap.

    But while we're on the subject, why not open the whole can of worms while we're at it? And regardless of yours or mine's definitions of what may or may not be "cultish behavior," what is the real cat we're trying to skin here? Just whose "cult" is at least approximating "the truth" as near as any of us are currently able to approximate it, and who of us are simply blowing smoke, if not throwing sand in the eyes of their "adversaries?"

    And that's where I think you've gone off the rails with this recent diatribe my man, in essentially asserting (in true DNC HRC style, I might add) that "you're either with us or you're against us." I guess it's safe to say that history's already rendored its verdict on that question, and the only question remaining is what will YOU do about it?

    Other than that, thanks for the admonitions against cultish behavior. Good advice for all times.

    • Davebee says:

      Could Disaffected kindly pay more attention to his/her grammar and spelling? Thanks

      PS  A plus for not using THEN instead of THAN, sadly a common error in lots of replies.

    • RE says:

      Discussion inside the Diner has already determined it’s not a cult.  There are too many different opinions and no dogma that everyone follows.

      As to who is right here, I am.  The issue is not whether Homo Sap will go extinct, that’s guaranteed. It’s a timeline question.  Guy McPherson puts the date for all dead people at 2025.  I put it In the Year 2525.  If we pass 2025 and there are still Homo Saps walking around somewhere on the planet, Guy will have been proven wrong for good.  Hopefully I am not personally dead by then so I can say “I told you so”.


      • Disaffected says:

        You're a bit haughty here, aren't you RE? By the by, did I get all that grammar quite right, Davebee? I would add "fuck you too," but I'm a bit of a stickler on "then and than" too, you fucking pretentious prick.

  • Frank Thamm says:

    Hi RE,

    I´m from Germany (so excuse my English, please)  and I don´t think that I´m following any cult. I do enjoy reading your blog though as well as JMGs and many others who have something to say about collpse and related issues. Only this time I think you are employing double standards. In this blog you say:

    The main thing I do NOT like is when people cannot argue to topic and start insulting each other as dim or imbeciles etc, and I WILL also retaliate for that kind of behavior in kind, before I send you to the Cooler or Ban your ass permanently

    and :

    Calling people names elucidates NOTHING.  Argue to topic.

    and I completely agree. I just wonder why a couple of blogs earlier you said this:

    JMG, or "Mr. Wizard" as I often refer to him is a bit different though, because in addition to being a Kollapsnik Doomer, he also served as a Religious Leader in the Druid camp

    and this:

    He may very well have Sapient Crows Nesting in there that will take over from Homo Sap when we go extinct and nobody would ever know it.

    At the end of the blog this:

    For Mr. Wizard with his Druid outfit, this makes him REALLY special.  Not too many Druids wandering the streets these days in such getups.  Then the huge and bushy beard also sets him apart in this culture.  About the only people here in the FSoA who routinely let their facial hair grow exceedingly long are the Amish, and there aren't too many of them around.

    and this:

    If they have a lot of facial hair, I imagine them with a fresh shave.  I am not interested in people's clothing statement or hair statement all that much.  It's fucking stupid cultural bullshit.

    Is that not namecalling ? Is that not insulting? I myself have got a beard and I can tell you that it´s not because of projecting authority or any other cultural bullshit; I´m simply too f…ing lazy to shave every day. As much as I enjoy visiting the Diner, this time I think you´ve really gone a bit far, and to me that ´´not-getting-along-with-each-other´´ thing just sounds childish.

    Despite this criticism I´d like to thank you (and all the other bloggers) for the time and effort you put in your blogs to keep us informed.





    • RE says:

      Well, I knew I would piss off a few of Mr. Wizard's fans with this series, but ya know I gave him a lot of chances and he was persistently disrespectful to me so I took this opportunity to retaliate.  i hold a grudge a LONG time, and when I hit back, I hit back hard and long.

      So how long is your beard?


      • Disaffected says:

        I find it interesting that you characterize him as "Mr Wizard" in the first place, Re. He's always just been just another guy on the internet who may or may not be worth listening to, to me.

    • Disaffected says:

      Thanks. I've never given that much weight to the Archdruid's facial hair or religious credentials, so I guess I never noticed. He's just another guy talking as far as I'm concerned. 

  • Mo Oxman says:

    RE  I enjoy visiting the Diner.  However, lately I find myself drawn to the other writers on the blog and passing over many of your posts.  This series of attacks on JMG is an example of why. I am an older permaculture practitoner (65), and working my ass off every day to develop livable viable alternatives that might alow those who follow to have lives with some dignity and joy.  To that end I seek perspectives and ideas that enhance my knowledge and broaden my outlook, perhaps even teaching me something valuable for the increasingly difficult times ahead.   I do not have the time for your insult pieces.  It is not courageous to attack and insult others from a great distance.  This may fill your days – but it does nothing to enlighten people.  Besides, anyone can sound tough from a computer.  I suggest – if you really want a fight – you visit the local saloon of your choice and start insulting the first large man with a beard that you encounter. I do not agree with all that JMG writes.  However, he has had a profound effect on my thinking regarding matters of collapse.  I do agree with you on some of the more meaningful and profound topics you discuss.  Your best writing is on those topics that are the pressing issues of our time.  Your worst writing surrounds personal insults and boasting about who is the tougher blogger.  Come on.   I'm too old and tired to waste time on what you think of JMG's beard.  Please do better.   Thanks for reading this.  I now must go feed the sheep and butcher a turkey for Christmas dinner.  Oh, and Hercules the ox needs to skid the Christmas tree out of the woods.  Gotta go.            

    • RE says:

      What distance?  Mr. Wizard is free to respond from WV over the internet, there is no distance involved here at all.

      Besides, he started it.  He's the one who axed my posting on Archdruid Report. 😛

      My philosophy on this is "Don't get MAD, get EVEN".

      Glad you enjoy the other bloggers here on the Diner. 🙂


  • Frank Thamm says:

    My beard´s not all that long; it´s rather thin and wispy, some people might call it sad. I´m one of those guys whose facial hair just sprouts enough to allow for a goatee, and lest I end up looking like catweazle I have to trim it every few weeks. Thanks for your interest. But of course this is all rather beside the point: I was onlly suggesting that you stick to your own rules. So JMG has been repeatedly disrespectful to you? You poor thing! But whatever happened to water of a duck´s back and all that?



    p.s. I don´t believe I´m a fan of anyone, I just listen to different points of view

    • RE says:

      Water off a Duck’s Back only counts for the commentariat, not other bloggers.  There it is Mano-a-Mano, a fight to the Death in the Thunderdome!  Two Bloggers enter one Blogger leaves! 🙂


  • Frank Thamm says:

    p.p.s. I´m not pissed off, either  :~D

  • As the nations authority on Cult Investigations, Private Detective and Author, its unfortunate that law enforcement doesn't get directly involved in under-cover deployments to defuse these clandestine groups. I'm a renown expert in the industry with over twenty five years of experience and an official track record in investigating many Satanic groups of a serious nature.; I specialize in Search-Locate-Extraction-Deprogramming of those affected.; Like so, the emotional stress that the family members endure is quite unimaginable. As a direct result of the isolation of the sibling by the cult group, it also becomes a traumatic experience for all involved. Many times the charismatic demagogue employs his deceptive psychological manipulation by means of religious fanaticism, satanic worshiping,or Wicca groups. Then there are also other less obvious cults that are more recognizable as those shown in the main stream media as Jehovah's Witness, Mormons and Scientology. These dangerous groups are in particular very militant in nature and armed with a team of attorneys and unscrupulous private detectives in order to defuse anyone who attempts to expose their malicious undertakings at any cost! Creating Blog sites like this is imperative in providing awareness and educating the public with the right information in order to safeguard our love's ones.

    Charles Del Campo

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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