Creating a cult is relatively easy. Most cults are centered on a person - you know, Jim Jones and that sort of thing. Those types are less in vogue nowadays. These times foment the rise of the Cult of Ideas. More specifically the Cult of Personal Anguish. Here are four simple steps to creating your own cause.
Step 1: Choose a set of grievances and attribute them to an amorphous enemy.
In the odd quirk of being the only truly conscious animal on the planet, each one of us is the hero (or anti-hero) of our own private movie. Each of us, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, believe that our struggle is the Greatest Struggle (often in spite of all evidence to the contrary). The Cult of Personality functions by breaking that quirk down, effectively convincing people that someone else is the real hero and themselves pawns to his or her victory over the Other. The Cult of Personal Anguish exploits this quirk, enforcing that each of us has Greater Pain than anyone else and by attacking the Other, we each receive our due.
So pick one. Pick some slight you feel personally. Anything that makes you feel all the bad feels. You know, because you are misunderstood and treated with less...whatever you think you deserve. Hell, pick a couple that seem related.
Some examples might include:
- You feel objectified by _____.
- You feel unheard by _____.
- You feel left out by _____.
- You feel criticized and shamed by _____.
- Your choices in life have left you with LESS than _____.
- _____ are happier or more fulfilled than you
Step 2: Use language to pre-emptively invalidate all criticism or questioning.
This is key. The idea is to take an already agreed upon set of words that denote injustice or abuse and gradually expand the meaning until your specific anguish is cloaked in them. That way, when anyone questions your logical conclusions, you can throw out those words and phrases and shut down dissent.
The Conservative segment of the United States has this locked down.
- Family Values
- Religious Freedom
- Cultural Heritage
The Progressive side is getting really good at this, too.
- White fragility
- Sexual Harassment
Good examples in practice include:
- If someone is critical of a war, they are automatically supporting terrorists.
- If someone tells an off color joke in the office, he is automatically a sex offender.
- If someone points out the obvious connection of a flag to slavery, she is automatically attacking your cultural heritage.
By expanding the umbrella that words mean, you destroy the nuances of language. Like when the word "rape" - defined as sexual intercourse without consent - is attached to the word "culture" and suddenly paints a broader brush that covers pretty much anything men say or do. Attaching the word "verbal" to the very specific "assault" amps up the calling of names to felony territory. Add "heritage" to a long standing bigoted "culture" and it seems goddamned noble.
More importantly, let these words and phrases completely dominate your discourse. Find ways to attack anything and everything through the prism of your pain. Eventually you and your followers will begin to lose the ability to see the complexities of living on a rock with seven billion fucking people and only see society through that kalaidiscope of personal misery. The mere opening of a door can be construed as sexist. The practice of women's basic health 97% of the time is completely eradicated because of a legal surgical procedure. Everything a white person says or does is automatically racist in intent.
A Cult of Personal Anguish requires a huge degree of fealty to these horse blinders, this narrowing of the world within the tunnel of your personal oppression or it falls apart under scrutiny.
Step 3: Recruit others who either feel that grievance or gain something by identifying.
In the Age of Constant Connectivity, this is a breeze. White Supremacist groups would be pocketed away in small, dark corners if not for the internet. With this tightening of the world via digital communication, being heard by others who hurt the same hurts as you is easier than ever before.
There are also on the periphery those who, while they don't exactly feel your specific pain, gain a sense of validation by identifying with it. These "allies" to your cause are good for numbers but don't count upon them if things get tough. While they can assist in many ways, these are just groups of seekers who feel that things aren't quite fair enough for them but have no esoteric pain to attach to. Your cause is like a t-shirt they can wear and feel included in something bigger than themselves.
Speaking of, sell t-shirts. Your "allies" will buy them. That's how you can tell them from your True Believers and you can make a couple of bucks in the process.
Step 4: Create an “Us vs Them” Mentality
Essential. Without an enemy to blame your grief upon, your cult goes nowhere. Focus lots of energy in pointing out the differences rather than similarities. The similarities weaken your cult. The differences are the fucking gas on the fire. Using Step 2 to amp up the discord, be on a constant attack on the Other. Ignore those other groups who, perhaps, have some of the same grievances because YOUR cause is FAR more important than theirs.
Remember the propaganda of WWII that reduced all Germans and all Japanese to evil caricatures. Observe how FOX News demonizes anyone who doesn't fall in line with their narrow worldview. Find your version of Bobby Jindal or Ben Carlson to turncoat against those you see as Them. Remember, this is WAR (because if you attach the word "war" to anything else, it automatically becomes a Big Deal).
Become a Single Issue Proponent. Anyone who is not completely loyal to your cult becomes a part of the cause of your hurt. This is a broad strokes, scorched Earth approach that has succeeded for thousands of years.
When called out on this focus, obfuscate the issue by claiming a broader definition of the problem/oppressor:
"I love all sinners but hate the sin."
"When I say 'white people are racist' I mean the system is racist."
"I'm not saying Mexicans are the problem. All illegal immigrants steal our jobs..."
"I'm not attacking the Good Policemen just the 'bad apples' when I say Kill the Cops."
"It's not a war on women. It's a war on what's inside of women."
Once you have these four steps nailed down, go organize. Get a non-profit status or a Super PAC to support you (I mean, while you are out there sowing the seeds of revolution, someone has to pay the bills, am I right?) and legitimize your cult as either a political movement, a righteous cause, or a religion. Look around - there are legal organizations surrounding the pain Christians feel about abortions they don't have, the anguish Southerners have when removing their flag, coercing airlines to increase seat capacity for the Differently Weighted, the misery certain people have when their kids read about evolution, and Online Bullying.
So if you feel some sort of discomfort and haven't figured out where to direct your energy, create a cult! It's easier than ever before and a lot more fun than voting and stuff. I mean, the political system is fucked and corrupt, so why bother with that?