Vanguard could be joyful when the whole world is lying about him. If it had been possible for members to set their scattered thoughts in order, they could understand this was the attitude of a human similar to themselves, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden. It became irrelevant to consider what the media said.
Everyone in NXIVM knows they have a higher calling now then before they joined ESP. Compared with their former work, they are less avaricious, less tempted by luxury, hungrier for enlightenment, and, above all, more conscious of what they are doing and more intent on the Stripe Path. This last difference is cardinal. By comparison with that existing today, all their success of the past was half-hearted and inefficient.
Part of the reason for this – both the war and unison in sole pursuit of the Stripe Path is that it is now more important than ever that Vanguard keep members under constant surveillance. Every member, or at least every member important enough to be worth watching, could be kept for twenty-four hours a day under the eyes of a coach, or in class, or groups, subgroups or committees, or with Exploration of Meaning Practitioners. With DOS, with readiness, with masters over slaves, with branding, collateral and the Vow, and with all other channels of communication closed, the possibility of enforcing not only complete obedience, but complete uniformity of opinion on all subjects, now exists in NXIVM for the first time.
The media war means nothing other than the intolerance of suppressives of members’ right to be free to be Vanguard’s slaves.
There are only four ways in which a cult can fall from power. Either it is conquered from without by law enforcement because it has committed crimes, or it rules so inefficiently that members are stirred to leave, or revolt, or it allows a group of its members to come into prosperity through independent success, or it leader loses his own self-confidence and willingness to rule. These causes do not operate singly, and as a rule all four of them are present in some degree. Vanguard knew he must guard against all of them to remain in power permanently. Ultimately the determining factor he knew is the mental attitude of he, himself.
What opinions the members hold, or do not hold, he looks on as a matter of indifference. They can be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect.
Media reports, he tells them, have no objective existence, but survive only in written records and in human memories. The past is whatever the records and the memories agree upon. And since Vanguard is in full control of all legitimate data, [as opposed to fake news] and in equally full control of the minds of NXIVM members, it follows that truth is whatever Vanguard chooses to make it for his members.
The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out without the feeling of sufficient guilt, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would allow detection of its falsity.
Vanguard knows in which direction his members minds must be reformed; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of hypnosis, he satisfies members that reality is not violated. For the secret of rulership is to combine member’s belief in his own infallibility, with the power to learn from his past mistakes.
There will be something further, more thrilling, beyond DOS, coming soon.
After a tune-up session, which consisted of him performing cunnilingus on me and culminated in my telling him I had an orgasm [to end it, which was a lie], and his ejaculation from his semi limp dick on my breasts, I asked him:
You talk of peace, yet concern yourself with litigation which is a form of war; you speak of finding truth, yet you lie about many things and ask me and others to lie; you speak of love, yet you want to torture ex-lovers, maybe me one day, and you speak of plenty, and you are obsessed with starvation.
He said: These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that disintegrations are removed. Understand, if you and the other High Rank, as we call them, are to keep your places – then the prevailing mental condition of all members must be controlled.
One question at any rate was answered. I told him something about the pain I endured when I was branded:
Never, for any reason on earth, could I wish for an increase of pain. Of pain I could wish only one thing: that it would stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain, there were no heroes, no heroes, I thought over and over as I writhed on the branding table at Allison’s house, clutching uselessly at the edge of the table while my arms and legs were held down and Dr. Roberts looked down at me leaning over like one who was demented.
He said: You had a feeling of deadly helplessness. But you volunteered, remember?
Volunteered? Had he forgotten the collateral? If I could have been certain that Vanguard was lying, it would not have seemed to matter. But it was perfectly possible that Vanguard had really forgotten the photographs. And if so, then he would have forgotten his denial of remembering it, and forgotten the act of forgetting. How could one be sure that it was simple trickery? Perhaps that lunatic dislocation in the mind could really happen: that was the thought that defeated me.
I tell you, he continued, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in my mind, which is immortal. Whatever I hold to be truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of Vanguard.
How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four, I said.
Sometimes. Sometimes, they are five. Sometimes, they are three. Sometimes, they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become integrated.
When finally you surrender, he told me, it must be of your own free will. I do not destroy the defiant one because she resists, so long as she resists me I never destroy her. I convert her, I capture her inner mind, I reshape her. I burn all evil and all illusion out of her; I bring her over to my side, not in appearance, but genuinely, heart and soul. I make her one of us before I kill her. That is what I mean by ‘I have had people killed for my beliefs’. It is intolerable that an erroneous thought should exist in NXIVM, however secret and powerless it may be. Even in the instant of death, I cannot permit deviation. I make the brain perfect before I blow it out.
I thought he was merely trying to frighten me and he did not mean what he said about killing or he was acting as if he were not a man but GOD.
He continued: The command of the tyrant is Thou Shalt Not. My command is Thou Shalt. My command is Thou Art. No one whom I bring to this place ever stands against me. Everyone is washed clean. Do not imagine that if you ever leave you will save yourself, however completely you surrender to me later. No one who has once gone astray is ever spared. And even if I chose to let you live out the natural term of your life, still you would never escape from me. What happens to you here is forever. Understand that in advance. I shall crush you down to the point from which there is no coming back if you defy me.
Things will happen to you from which you could not recover, if you lived a thousand years. If you try to leave me, never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. I will squeeze you empty and then I shall fill you with myself.
The old cults and religions, which are really also cults, to a greater or lesser degree, claim they were founded on love or justice. NXIVM is founded upon hatred. In NXIVM, there are really no emotions permitted except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else Keith destroys — everything.
Keith knew in advance what Nancy Salzman would say. That NXIVM did not seek power for its own ends, but only for the good of NXIVM. That Keith sought power because women were frail cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived by a man who is stronger than themselves.
That the choice for womankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of women happiness was better. That NXIVM was the guardian of women, a dedicated group doing evil that good might come, sacrificing its own happiness to that of others. The terrible thing, I thought, the terrible thing was that when Keith said this, Nancy believed it.
I knew better. I knew that Keith sought power entirely for its own sake. Keith is not interested in the good of others; he is interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. Keith is different from all the cult leaders of the past, in that he knows what he is doing. All the others, even those who resembled him, were cowards and hypocrites.
Keith knows that no one ever has power over another with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a cult in order to safeguard its members’ freedom or safety; one creates the means of enslavement in order to establish the cult. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.
The first thing you must realize is that my power is collective, he said. The individual only has power in so far as she ceases to be an individual. You know my slogan: “He [not she] who has the most joy wins”? Has it ever occurred to you that it is reversible?
Whoever has less joy, loses? The woman is always defeated. It must be so, because every woman is doomed to die, which is the greatest of all failures. But if a woman can make complete, utter submission, if she can escape from her identity, if she can merge herself into Me so that she is the slave of Vanguard, then she too is all-powerful and immortal.
What can you do, I thought secretly, against this lunatic who is more intelligent than me, who gives my arguments a fair hearing, and then simply persists in his lunacy?
He continued, mistaking my terror for adoration. “Obedience is not enough. Unless you are suffering, how can I be sure that you are obeying your will and not my own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of my own choosing.”
One day Keith said he wanted to control all of our orgasms as a test of loyalty. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards me, he said. There will be no love, except the love of Vanguard. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of my triumph over a defeated enemy.
All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this Ivy, always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine my mind controlling India Oxenberg’s mind and body forever.
I control life, he said at another time to me, at all its levels. You are imagining that there is something called human nature which will be outraged by what I do and will turn against me. But I create in my followers human nature. Women are infinitely malleable. If you are truly a defiant woman, then you are the last. Your kind is extinct. Do you understand you are alone? You are outside history, you are non-existent.
“Tell me,” I said when I first thought of leaving, “how soon will you kill me if I left you?”
“It might be a long time,” Keith said. “On the other hand, you will not leave. You will surrender. You made a vow. You are my wife in spirit. Everything else you do must follow. However hard you struggle, nothing can change except your attitude.”
For the first time I perceived that if I ever wanted to escape him, I must keep it a secret not only from him but I must also hide it from myself. I must know all the while that it is there, but until I was ready, I must never let it emerge into my consciousness in any shape that he could read on my brow. From now onward, I must not only think NXIVM; I must feel NXIVM, dream NXIVM. And all the while I must keep my hatred of him locked up inside me like a ball of matter which was part of myself and yet unconnected with Vanguard, a kind of cyst.
To die hating him, that was the only freedom I had left to imagine.