Heart of the Cult (Part II)

One interesting facet of any organized group, business or cause is the way they constantly gain and lose members. There is no permanently solidified heart of the group. There may be owners or icons whom run the group, but they do not control their creation so much as direct it. They do not have complete control over their creation. Anyone who has worked in a chain restaurant or store knows that the store employees have no real connection to the chain owners. The establishment remains regardless of who works there.

In some sense I am saying that once something is created and promulgated in the world, (like a business, social cause, philosophical or political theory, new technological medium, and so forth) it is impossible to completely disassemble it or undo it. It now has roots of its own, it can continue to exist upon the fantasies and drives and power-lust of new people who wish to entertain its existence. It exists of its own blind magnetism to weaknesses in the human psyche. The Japanese film, Suicide Club actually explores this concept — the impersonal replication of the cult — in a very effective way. I found it to be a disturbing movie in that sense.

Just like a body shedding its cells, groups shed their members until the group is composed of almost entirely different individuals. And just as the human body is composed of completely different cells in seven years time and yet maintains a personal likeness (despite the physical changes that have taken place), a group’s membership is composed of completely different members after a certain period. Of course, the group has changed a bit, just as humans have changed appearances gradually with age. And like humans and all organisms, groups and cults of all sorts eventually must burn themselves out. Still, while they exist the agenda of the cult often remains the same, no matter who is in it, and consistently malicious.

The scariest aspect of cults is how they are able to destroy the individual will and identity and replace it with the will of the cult. The cult itself has no concrete goal (since ultimately none exists) except it’s own replication. Cults extend promises of rewards in this life or the next in return for extreme personal sacrifices to the cult. The individual simply becomes a vessel, a human sacrifice.

Thus, there is no real, concrete heart of the cult, gang or corporation — just as there is no concrete unchanging self, no real personified or conceptually tangible manifestation of God or Satan, no literal answer to life’s existential questions. The cult moves across the landscape of the world as a phantom, devoid of conscious self, like a plague. And here one begins to suspect that all life, all existence is rather cult-like. That, the argument for one’s personal beliefs is itself some kind of trap which causes painful attachments and a conscious search for meaning only stirs further emotional torrents in an individual. These torrents of the mind are analogous to the way cults exist in society. Most cults think their cause is divine or within grasp. But in the end, it all pops like a dream, a life wasted.

‘Course, cults are actually defined by the way they isolate individuals from their former social networks and demand total submission. They’re a bit like totalitarian governments in that respect. At least with businesses and other groups we have some modicum of decisive action we can take on our own. We’re not under their thumb and possess the freedom to entertain more personal illusions.


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