Cults

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

    1
    :  formal religious veneration :  worship

    2
    :  a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also :  its body of adherents

    3
    :  a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also :  its body of adherents

    4
    :  a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator <health cults>

    5
    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. 🙂

Defining Cults

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 20, 2016

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What defines a cult, and what defines a cult leader?

These are questions which preoccupied Diners this week, with respect to John Michael Greer, author of the Archdruid Report blog, collapse writer and former Archdruid of the AODA, one of the Druid sects operating out there these days.

The main question which evolved in this discussion is whether Druidry is a cult, because given the fact he had the title of "Archdruid", it's hard to make the case he was not a leader.

Now, generally speaking people do not like being identified as either cult leaders or cult followers. So if you call something they subscribe to a "cult", they get upset.  Reason for this is because a few cults have ended very badly at the hands of some less than sane people that ran them.  Examples of this often given are Charles Manson, Jim Jones and David Koresh.  So to people who focus on these cults, the word cult itself has taken on a very negative connotation.  In and of themselves though, cults aren't either necessarily bad or good, and they are very common.

Here is the modern definition of cults, as defined in the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Definition of cult

    1
    :  formal religious veneration :  worship

    2
    :  a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also :  its body of adherents

    3
    :  a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also :  its body of adherents

    4
    :  a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator <health cults>

    5
    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

Now, insofar as Druidry is concerned, there is formal veneration and worship there, CHECK #1.  They hold ceremonies, they built Stonehenge, etc.  Now, today there isn't a whole lot known about what original Druids believed, but the modern incarnation has developed their own rituals, not to mention the costumes.  So CHECK #2 also.

Is Druidry unorthodox or spurious?  Well, not many people believe in this religion today, so it's definitely unorthodox.  Whether it is spurious or not would be a matter of opinion.  However, you still gotta check off this box as well because it's an OR logical connector, and Druidry satisfies one of the conditions. CHECK #3

Druidry does not appear to meet the 4th definition of cult, since as far as I know it doesn't cure diseases, although possibly some Druids believe in various kinds of Spiritual Healing.  Still, I would not check off on this definition for Druids. NO CHECK #4

Definition 5 speaks to the individual or Cult Leader.  There are many people with great devotion to Mr. Wizard, his ideas and his writings.  They post up all the time in his commentariat.  In fact they are about the only ones even allowed to post in his commentariat, since he axes the posts of anyone who disagrees with him all the time. lol.  I know this to be factual, since most of my posting got axed from that commentariat before I quit trying to post up there.  So you can CHECK #5 as well here for Mr. Wizard.

Now, what about some other religions or belief systems?  Are they cults too?  Well, IMHO most of them are, yes.  They may not meet as many of the Merriam-Webster definitions as the Archdruid does, but they still meet some of them and are also cults.  Roman Catholicism is a cult, and the cult leader is His Popeness, the Vicar of Christ on Earth, currently Pope Francis until he croaks and the White Smoke comes up from the Vatican anouncing a NEW Glorious Leader for all RC's to follow.

Capitalism is also a Cult.  It's not usually regarded as a Religion, but in fact it is.  People believe in this and have Faith in stuff like the Free Market and the Invisible Hand that supposedly controls it, with absolutely NO EVIDENCE either one of these things really exist.  They are incredibly dogmatic in these beliefs as well.  Far as Leaders go, they're all the Bizmen and Banksters that make a lot of MONEY.  It's EZ to tell who the Tyler Durdens Worship on Zero Hedge.  It's the big Hedge Fund managers like Crispin Odey, Bill Gross, Kyle Bass, etc, etc, etc.

The issue here is that due to their exposure to media and the very nasty end a few cults came to, the word "cult" has taken on a negative connatation to these people.  So whenever they hear the word "cult", they immediately picture up all the DEAD PEOPLE in Jonestown or in Waco.  They let their emotions run away with them and don't understand the meaning of the word because of that. The definition in the dictionary is quite clear however, and it's up-to-date also, Merriam-Webster provides a new edition every year at the very least in paper form, the online version is updated daily.

When I use the word "cult", it's a description of a group of people and their belief system. It's often explicitly religious as in the case of Druidry or Catholicism, but sometimes more secular like Capitalism.  In fact you have cults around Rock bands too, like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or Queen.  There are even cult followers of people like Kim Kardashian!  Cults are all around us, some good, some bad, some fairly innocuous, but they exist everywhere, and so do the leaders of these cults.

To be a real cult, there has to be a Uniformity of Belief to begin with, which means everyone in the cult accepts the given wisdom of that cult, whether it comes in a long diatribe off the keyboard of Mr. Wizard or in a Tweet from Kim Kardashian.  Enforcement of the Group Think of a cult can come in many ways, some "soft" and some "hard", but whatever the case everyone in the cult has to buy into the core principles of the cult, usually espoused by the cult leader.  Cults are not generally Democratic institutions.

Some cults like Catholicism and Capitalism have been WILDLY successful over time, others such as Druidry and Tribalism not so successful.  Quid Pro Quo though, you can't say any NEW cult that pops up is either good or bad or will be successful or unsuccessful.  There are MANY cults to pick from these days to join up with, but really until the Cult Leader asks you to drink the Kool Aid and go for a ride on Haley-Bopp, you cannot say a priori that one is good or one is bad, that depends strictly on your opinions and your beliefs.

Cults will be with us until Homo Sap and Sapience vanish from the Earth.  My value judgements on Mr. Wizard's cult are my own, you are free to make your own value judgements there.  It's still a cult though, and he is the Leader of that Cult.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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