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.
Inevitably such adopted mindsets lead to the view that the individual is not in fact responsible for his own condition and its worsening or bettering. Compare this to the simple generic principles of awareness and consciousness discussed in the previous two posts (Basics and Identification and Membership) to see how plain that fact is. In order to become motivated to dedicatedly pursue perceived enemies the group member must become convinced that those enemies are worsening conditions that adversely affect him somehow.
Indoctrination of this mindset serves as a convenient deflection or justification for many of a group’s own failures or lack of results. More perniciously, it is the inculcation of a disease that ultimately destroys the individual member’s own determinism. If one buys into the indoctrination that the causes of his problems of consciousness or awareness are ‘over there’ one is in for a long, painful and wheel-spinning haul. Unfortunately, many former cult members simply continue to abide by the enemy-assignment mental machinery. They just change the target of their wrath. They spend years with their wheels in the mud ruminating on how their erstwhile cult and its leaders are responsible for their current travails.
On the positive side, to come to grips with these facts and how they might have poisoned one’s thinking and viewpoints opens one to an infinity of possibilities.