Blog: Enemies - 2014-07-08
Once a close-knit ideological group initiate has bought into the proposition that it behooves him to be a member he is indoctrinated into what a member does. He then gets busy doing what a good member does in the pursuit of having the benefits of membership.
It seems that all cults have one vital type of 'to do' indoctrination in common. That is, the member learns to a high level of certitude who the perceived or designated enemies of that group are and he accepts a share of responsibility for taking action against those enemies. The less rational the group the greater the importance is given to the enemy and the more overwhelmingly destructive the enemy is portrayed as. The less the group's principles and objectives stand on their own merit the more emphasis is put on remaining ever vigilant for signs of enemy encroachment and upon destroying perceived enemies. Conquering the enemy can become the group's raison d'etre. Sometimes the highest level of 'reason' you will hear from some cult members is a rant about the evils of this or that nemesis as the answer to virtually any tough question. That is a particular strain of denialism.
Irrespective of the degree of apparent effectiveness of a cult's teachings in isolation, this enemy indoctrination feature begins a mental reversal that wipes out any potential positive and makes the member a mental prisoner and potentially dangerous. Some groups preach that ultimate enlightenment or salvation cannot be reached absent elimination of the enemy. Some extreme cults even talk in terms of the need to 'obliterate' or 'annihilate' entire classes of people in order for themselves or humankind to survive. Such groups clearly are of concern to family and friends of members and to society at large for obvious reasons. It is not hard to see the negative social effects that a band of such self-righteous zealots marching to the beat of the same paranoid drum could cause. But, ultimately the adverse effect on the cult soldier individually is more predictably certain.