Friday, August 9, 2019

What Kind of People Join Cults?

The notion that only the ignorant and foolish join cults is based on the false belief that high intelligence and cultism are antagonistic to each other. The truth is that the intelligent rush in where the ignorant fear to tread.

Look at the modern libertarian movement—this movement has been operating for more than 100 years in most advanced democracies and is being led by very intelligent and educated people. The libertarian movement is unique in the sense that it has always been under the total domination of scholars with high educational qualification, many of them with PhD’s. But a leadership consisting of highly educated scholars has not saved the libertarian groups from being cultish.

Every libertarian group seems to think that it has found the answers to all the big questions of life; they are convinced that only they have the solutions to the world’s problems—they believe that they must keep spreading their gospel of truth to save the world. They look at politics as a religious mission to spread their gospel. Almost all the practices and tendencies of cults apply to the libertarian movements.

Then there is Ayn Rand—in the 1950s, she started objectivism which is billed as the philosophy of reason and individualism. But the objectivists behave like a tiny but noisy religion and regard Rand as the greatest intellect to have ever lived on this planet. Rand and her key disciples preach that her novel Atlas Shrugged (a work of fiction) is the finest philosophical treatise in the history of mankind. The objectivists are educated and intelligent, but they seem convinced that by dedicating themselves to objectivism, they can do something to save the world.

Even the non-libertarian cults have followers with high intelligence. L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology cult has been endorsed by some of the leading intellectuals and celebrities. Scientology counts among its followers top film stars, bestselling authors, popular journalists, politicians, and philosophers, and successful businessmen. Nazism and Bolshevism (Lenin’s Marxist movement) too have all the characteristics of a cult and in the first half of the 20th century they were being supported by a multitude of highly educated people, many of them with PhD’s.

An examination of the cultish movements of the last 120 years shows that it is the so-called "intelligent" sections of the population who tend to become fanatical members of cults.

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