The single most important standard by which to judge whether a philosophy is worthy of attention is to find out if it is condescending. If it is, it is wrong because people are not bad or immoral – they are conditional cooperators stuck in a perennial prisoner’s dilemma of whether the others would also behave …
In case you ever need to.
It is striking how heavily cults rely on the goodness in us. First generation cults are all about self-improvement and/or improving the world – and on the surface it looks like an innocent thing. But is it?
The ultimate goal of authoritarian control is to make people want what we want. In order to get there, first we must make them think what we want them to think and feel what we want them to feel. Cults all do that.
Making people to change how they feel is a cult staple. It is also ubiquitous in other parts of life. We will never be able to resist the lure of a cult if we constantly train ourselves to suppress our own feelings and replace them with the feelings we are supposed to have.
This is not an argument that everything is a cult. This is an illustration that the tools of authoritarian mind control are so widespread and ubiquitous that we have no leg to stand on when we try to argue against cults. Others are doing what cults do and are revered for it.
Arguably, every effort to define something starts with “I know it when I see it”. Then we proceed to draft a definition that includes what we want included but excludes what we don’t.
They are just the spectacular tip of the authoritarian control iceberg