Is MAGA A Cult?

This post is about the possibility that all those who are avid MAGA followers are actually trapped in a cult? Let’s start off with some of the things that cults have in common. The article from which these quotes were taken was written almost ten years ago in the Guardian by Rick Ross who is an authority in the field of cults.

1. A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power. That is a living leader, who has no meaningful accountability and becomes the single most defining element of the group and its source of power and authority.
2. A process [of indoctrination or education is in use that can be seen as] coercive persuasion or thought reform [commonly called “brainwashing”].
The culmination of this process can be seen by members of the group often doing things that are not in their own best interest, but consistently in the best interest of the group and its leader.
Lifton’s seminal book Thought Reform and Psychology of Totalism explains this process in considerable detail.
3. Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

Source: The Guardian (2009)

All of this sounds uncannily like what is happening today, doesn’t it? But since the article was written almost ten years ago, it is impossible to claim it was tarnished by today’s circumstances.

  • 1) a charismatic leader who demands worship/loyalty – Yep
  • 2) Doing things against their own self-interest – Yep
  • 3) Economic exploitation – Yep

If this short description isn’t enough, let’s look at the 10 warning signs of a cult leader as further described by Mr. Ross:

Here are 10 warning signs …
• Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
• No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
• No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget or expenses, such as an independently audited financial statement.
• Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
• There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
• Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
• There are records, books, news articles, or broadcast reports that document the abuses of the group/leader.
• Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
• The group/leader is always right.
• The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

I guess I should have bolded what maybe didn’t apply to the MAGA movement instead of what does apply. It is almost eerie to see how all of this so accurately describes the MAGA cult leader, isn’t it? This article was written at a time when Trump was no more than a background nuisance, so you can’t argue that he is just picking on your president as you may think so many others do.

Coming to a conclusion here, It very much seems that the MAGA folks are entwined into a cult to one degree or another. So, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it must be…

I gotta study this some more. The one thing I do know is that those trapped in a cult almost never recognize that they are trapped in a cult. I want to learn how we can prevent something like this from happening again? More on that later…

Collections/Obsessions

2018-02-24_11-31-50.pngThe TV show American Pickers is basically about obsessions.  Most of the episodes are about a couple of Le Claire Iowa men going to “pick” people’s collections.  Many have thousands of square feet of barns, outbuildings, and old houses stuffed with things they have purchased throughout their lives.

2018-02-24_11-34-14.pngThey dig things out from massive piles and ask if it is for sale? More often than not the answer is “no, I don’t want to sell that”. The item is likely something that they threw into a barn 30 years ago and hasn’t seen the light of day since then! So, why does it have such a pull on them? The answer, of course, is that their “collecting” is really an obsession.

When I was younger I heard stories of people who grew up during the Great Depression in the 1930s and had obsessions about throwing things away. They simply couldn’t do it. Most of the “It’s not for sale” group are no more than a few years from their death but still can’t get themselves to let go of anything. Some of their children in this TV series are begging their parents to sell as they don’t want to have to deal with the piles and piles after they are gone.

Now on to a personal note. As a 70-some-year-old, I don’t have very many collections.

  • I have had a lot of personal computers during the last forty years, too many to actually count now, but only three still reside in my presence. The rest were scrapped soon after they became obsolete, which is about four years in time. 😉
  • My Study.jpgI do have a collection of about 40 small metal cars on the shelves behind me where books used to reside. I don’t know why I started to collect them but since they, for the most part, cost no more than a couple of bucks apiece they can be easily discarded.
  • I also have a wall of pictures and a few shelves of vacation memorabilia.
  • Ok, I also have about 20,000 pictures taken over the last fifty years. The early years were paper photos that have been digitized and are now on an external hard drive attached to my computer. I am in the process of moving them to the “cloud” but since I have such a slow Internet speed that could take years to accomplish.
  • Of course, my biggest collection is probably my 4,000 or so posts on my various blogs.  The word count of that collection would rival the Bible in volume.

After making this list I guess I do have quite a few collections. It’s funny how this kind of stuff can sneak up on a person.  But at least my collections are contained by a 10 x 12 study. No intervention needed 🙂