Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
Robert J. Lifton is a professor of psychiatry at Cornell University. He has dedicated his professional life to studying thought control, brainwashing, and cults. A summary of his findings or characteristics of cult behaviors can be found here.
It is sadly strange that those who hold Russiagate near and dear and their many cohorts among the NeverTrump crowd check off most of the criteria on his list. For all of them, reality has been tossed out the window and a mantra-like doctrine has taken over. Already, there is a chorus of warnings about Russian meddling in an election that has not even happened yet. Several months after Mueller’s report concluding there was no Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, they hold to their beliefs. Now the story is that Russia will meddle in the 2020 election to keep Trump in office. This stems from the false belief that Trump is in office now because of Russia. These are not people with a political belief; these people are a cult.
On Election Day, the intelligence community, Pentagon and Justice Department released a joint statement about election security in 2020. The believers in Russiagate never really left. They are simply reiterating what has already been said. On October 21st, the Washington Post ran a pearl-clutching story claiming that Russians were targeting Joe Biden and puffing up Donald Trump. Before that, the same rag published an “earth-shattering” story that in 2017 Trump told Russian officials that he was not concerned about allegations against Russia regarding the 2016 election. Of course, they used their usual suspects- unnamed anonymous sources, but that is besides the fact. Trump was not concerned because Russia was not responsible for his victory in 2016. But, you cannot tell a cult member that.
When it comes to Russia, one can surmise that even if Trump is ousted by some dolt like Joe Biden- a scary thought- that it will be portrayed by the cult as a victory for good. If Trump wins in the absence of proof of Russian interference or meddling, then the cult will call it a “cover-up.” When the intelligence community claims there was meddling but fails to provide the proof, they will call it “classified.”
This faith in proven untruths has no place in politics. It is the domain of cults. They have their “deities-” James Comey, Robert Mueller, John Brennan. They have their many spokespeople in the media like Rachel Maddow and CNN. They even have a high priestess in the form of Hillary Clinton who is playing the role of dutiful martyr. Behind it all is their battle against the face of true evil in the form of the omnipotent Vladimir Putin who, one suspects, is behind all political discord in the country and ready to shut off the heat in the winter if things are looking bad for Trump. After all, it was Putin’s clumsy Facebook memes that convinced just enough voters to pull the lever for Trump in 2016. This is the mindset of a cult. Imagine what Russia can do if they really put their minds to it!
In 2016, CNN’s Chris Cuomo cautioned viewers not to read the WikiLeaks document dump on the DNC and Clinton campaign. Instead, he said, that was the job of journalists. Hence, the cult can control the message because us rubes cannot understand a DNC email message. The cult’s belief is thus protected, the dissenting reports are rejected and the doubters are frozen out. This is what Lifton called “mystical manipulation.” You cannot stray too far from the cult as they warn against “fake news” and using alternative media outlets. Russian disinformation, they tell us, abounds on just about any conservative website. This keeps the cult safe in its echo chamber.
If you control the information environment, you can control one’s thoughts. Cults demand purity above all else and it is prevalent here. One must banish impure thoughts by not researching something for yourself lest you stray towards “fake news.” One cannot have a civilized conversation online thus those holding the opposing view must be jettisoned. As many articles on the Left said in 2016 and 2017, if you cannot convince your friends (or family) then ditch them. This is the same phenomenon seen in cults that detach their members from their families. The cult becomes the new primary support system.
To believe that Russia is responsible for Trump’s victory in 2016 and will be responsible for his reelection in 2020 is tantamount to suspending belief in the face of rational thought. Instead, we are to take it on faith that Russia even hacked the DNC site based on a report from CrowdStrike without the FBI ever examining the server. We are to take it on faith that a few hundred thousand dollar’s worth of silly memes (many posted after the election) were responsible for Trump’s victory. Even the idea that Russian bots are swaying election results has been disproven, yet we are to take it on faith because the “experts” say so.
Most of these cult members are quick to label their enemies “traitors.” Former CIA director John Brennan famously accused a sitting president of being a traitor- a charge that has a very specific meaning. He may not be the leader of the cult per se, but the ongoing Durham investigation will hopefully make him a leader of Cell Block C in some federal prison.
When not being labeled a “traitor,” one is labeled a “Russiaphile.” Being labeled that these days is about two grades above being called a “Nazi,” slightly above “racist white supremacist.” It was James Clapper who described Russians as “genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate and gain favor.” Maybe so, but why should we trust FBI, CIA and IC leaders who lie under oath and attempt a coup? When an untrustworthy source accuses anyone of being untrustworthy, then one is forewarned. Tulsi Gabbard, “Moscow” Mitch McConnell and Rand “Red” Paul have all been branded cringe-worthy nicknames by the cult because they disagree with the cult’s narrative. They are heretics and as such, they must be burned at the stake on social media.
Perhaps sensing that maybe there is an alternate reality to that of the cult, some have begun to backpedal and hedge their bets. Brennan comes readily to mind. Or maybe he is starting to feel the heat of a legitimate criminal investigation into how the whole cult came to be in the first place. Regardless, given the recent joint statement by the Justice Department, IC and Pentagon, it appears they are preparing yet another excuse for yet another lost election.
As one enthusiastic Brennan supporter shouted at his recent National Press Club appearance, “Thank God for the Deep State!”
More to the point: Who are the real dupes of Putin?