The Makings of Totalism
But why in the world do people pay attention to such
These variables, which I am borrowing from Lifton and reinterpreting,
were present in Bin Laden’s case, in Koresh’s case, and in the
background of every instance of totalistic violence committed in
recorded history. They are:
1) Milieu control, the complete absence of civil liberties, total control
of communication, etc.
2) Mystical manipulation, an overinterpretation
of certain details of experience to induce a mystical belief
in the correctness of the ideology.
3) The cult of confession, the emphasis on complete lack of privacy,
obligation to inform on yourself
and repent any minor deviation.
||4) The sacred science,
the given ideology is considered objectively correct, there
is no possibility of differing interpretation. It is
considered persuasive to any reasonable person because it fits the facts
of the world. So people who deviate from it are considered
irrational, they're going against what their own intellect
(heart/soul/etc.) is telling them.
5) The demand
for purity, people are expected to have an all or nothing
attitude towards the ideology. They have to live their whole
lives, down to every detail, in conformity with the ideology, and any
deviation is regarded as equivalent to being evil.
6) Loading the language, the emphasis on thought-terminating clichés, i.e.
communication only occurs with clichés and
verbal formulas that discourage original thought. They talk in
jargon and slogans.
7) Doctrine over
person, the given doctrine applies to every situation—any
time there's an inconsistency between what a person thinks and what the
doctrine says, the person should be sacrificed to the doctrine.
8) Dispensing of existence, the rights and
claims of nonbelievers don't merit consideration. If
somebody is a nonbeliever, they're considered in the grip of Satan and
you can kill them without feeling any guilt — in fact, you're obligated
to do so. (This applies to all rights, from the lesser rights to
the right to live.)
Notice the overlap in the variables, with the
Down" characteristics of John Taylor Gatto, describing
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