These are the five posts of a writer who identifies herself only as Ivy, who quotes Keith Raniere using the purloined language of George Orwell in 1984. Whether it is fiction or part fiction, it paints a true and ghastly picture of the inner world of Raniere…. and of the world of Big Brother and 1984. It is no accident that Keith Raniere has students read and re read 1984 – but not, I fear, as a cautionary tale, but, rather, as an indoctrination into the world he will build for them: A world where he is Big Brother. This may be what Ivy is trying to tell those who read Frank Report who are still ensnared in the cult. In this respect it is a message of escape and hope.
Part 1: A NXIVM woman tells chilling story in the language Vanguard understands
The people who have left committed an ethical breach. I am one of them. But I left in my head long before I physically left. It was always in the early morning —the fear invariably happened in the morning and made me want to run.
For me I learned that most of the ESP curriculum has no connection with anything in the real world. The whole aim of ESP is to control the range of thought. In the end, ESP makes wrong thinking impossible. Every concept ever needed, can be learned through Rational Inquiry.
The aim of ESP is not to prevent men and women from disintegrations. Its purpose is to remove pleasure.
How did I know how much of it was lies? The average Espian is better off now than she had been before she took her first intensive? That’s what you are taught. The past is erased, the erasure forgotten, the lie becomes truth.
For Espians the past not only changed, but changed continuously. What most afflicted me was the sense of nightmare that I never clearly understood. The immediate advantage of exploring meaning from the past was obvious, but the motive was mysterious and it frightened me.
I wondered whether I was completely disintegrated. Perhaps I was a lunatic and a minority of one. I might be alone in holding my belief that there was something wrong with ESP and Vanguard.
I would look at the others and I knew. I was alone. I was the suppressive. But the thought of being a suppressive did not greatly trouble me. The horror was that I might also be wrong. For Vanguard could cure me of my disintegrations. But how did I know that Vanguard and Prefect were right and I was wrong?
If my past and my reaction to it existed only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable–as Vanguard said, what then? Freedom is the freedom to say that Vanguard makes the rules and can change reality.
Yet life outside NXIVM bore no resemblance not only to the lies that Vanguard told but even to the ideals of the mission.
But there was hope. It lay in the curriculum. I had to cling to that. When I put it in words it sounded reasonable: when I looked at other Espians in the intensives it became an act of faith.
Within twenty years, Vanguard had created this enormous body of teachings and thousands of followers whose lives were changed for the better. But when I reflected, I had a huge and simple question: ‘Was my life better before NXIVM than now?’ For me it was unanswerable.
I remember useless things, a quarrel with my coach, a credit card charge for an intensive that was rejected, the expression on Prefect’s face, the swirls of dust on a windy morning, when after a cold shower I went out in the cold to run when I did not want to run.
But all the relevant facts were outside the range of my vision. I was a slave. I was like the ant, which can see small objects but not large ones. And when memory failed, the exploration of meaning was the record of my past and what happened. The claim of NXIVM to have improved the conditions of my life was accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested.
It did not matter if he killed my conscience. I lied for him a hundred times. To have my conscience killed was what I expected. Vanguard was the keeper of my conscience.
There was exploration of meaning: the bowing and handshakes; the dieting, the wakening at night, the ending of the menstrual cycle and for me the loss of clots of hair. Why did I endure it?
When once I succumbed to exploration of meaning, it was certain that by a given date I would be integrated. Why then did that horror, which altered nothing, terrorize me in the morning?
I thought with a kind of astonishment of the biological uselessness of pain and fear, the treachery of the human body which freezes exactly the moment when effort is needed. It struck me when I was branded I was not fighting an external enemy but against my own body.
I came out naked and vulnerable and saw what was about to happen. My heart leapt. A dozen times Dr. DR had branded women. It filled me with a hope that it would not hurt. Who knew, perhaps this would purify me of all that was rotten under the surface.
As for the sex I was required to have with Vanguard I have mixed emotions. At times I felt if I could have infected him with herpes or syphilis, I would have done so.
Before I joined NXIVM, I thought, a woman looked at a man’s body and saw that it was desirable, and that was the end of the story. But now I could not have pure love or even pure lust. No emotion was pure, Vanguard taught, because everything was mixed up with fear and for me self- hatred. Our sex was a battle, the climax a victory for him. By degrees his talking drove all speculations out of my mind. It was as though it were a kind of liquid stuff that poured all over me and got mixed up with the teachings that filtered through my mind. I stopped thinking and merely felt.
Sometimes when I had sex with Vanguard I felt happy afterward and didn’t give a damn for anything. He did not want me to feel like that. He wanted me to be bursting with energy all the time. All this jogging and the meetings and the goals and values and more meetings and cheering each other and going on the stripe path was simply to fill in the time when sex was not going to happen.
If I was happy inside myself, why should I get excited about having a boyfriend and getting married or having a child? Vanguard had sex with me once a week or once a month. Whenever he wanted. I had to obey and wait. Thirty minutes of touching and all the rest of the time just meetings and work.
There was a direct intimate connection, he said, between my chastity [except with him] and the vitality of the mission. For how could the fear, the hatred, and the lunatic credulity which ESP needed in its members be kept at the right pitch, except by bottling down some powerful instinct and using it as a driving force? The sex impulse was dangerous to Vanguard and he had turned it to account.
I asked him why he had sex with many women who later left him.
It would have made no difference, he said.
Then are you sorry you did it?
He said, I prefer a positive to a negative. In this game that we’re playing, we can win. Some kinds of failure are better than other kinds, that’s all.
Prt 2: NXIVM woman tells her startling story in the language of Vanguard
I think I knew — in a way, when I was in it, that what I was doing with ESP could not last long. But there were times when I had the illusion not only of safety, but of permanence. So long as I was in the classes, I felt no harm could come to me. The classroom was sanctuary. I would hang on from day to day and from week to week, in Clifton Park, spinning out a present that had no future.
I only questioned the teachings of ESP when they viscerally touched my life. I was ready to accept the official mythology of the life of Vanguard simply because the difference between truth and falsehood did not seem important to me. I knew most of his story was a lie. Once I even thought up a plan to tell him, but I had no intention of carrying it out.
Once when he happened in some connection to mention the lawsuits against Barbara Bouchey, I startled him by saying casually that he should not sue a former friend and lover. Then I said the legal attacks were probably meant to frighten others.
This was an idea, he said, that literally never occurred to him. Then he added, “You’re only defiant from the waist downwards.”
In a way, the world-view of Vanguard imposed itself successfully only on people who were incapable of understanding his teachings. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in knowledge or how the world works, or public events, to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding, they simply swallowed everything.
“Collateral is not betrayal,” he said after he told me I should provide video confessions of things I had never done. “What you say or do, doesn’t matter: only feelings matter.”
I thought it over. “I can’t do that,” I said finally. “It’s one thing I can’t do. I can’t make up lies so that anyone would believe it.”
“No,” he said earnestly “that’s not quite true. If you can feel that saying something is worthwhile, even if it is not true, it can have a true result, and then you’ve conquered your deficiency.”
It had never occurred to me that an action inherently dishonest can be meaningful.
He said, “when you have nothing else to give, you give lies.”
The terrible thing that Vanguard had done was to persuade me that mere impulses, mere feelings, were of no account, while at the same time robbing me of all power in the material world. There was no possibility of success. I spent everything on courses and had no time to earn more since I was constantly volunteering, working for the mission. I was in the grip of Vanguard. What I felt or did not feel, what I did or refrained from doing, made no difference. Whatever happened, I vanished, and neither I nor my actions were ever heard of again. I was lifted clean out of the stream of individual identity.
To people who are not in NXIVM, this might seem all-important. But they were governed by private loyalties which they did not question either. And those loyalties were not as wise or unselfish or compassionate as Vanguard, as we were told.
Still some data could not be kept hidden. They could be tracked down by rational inquiry. But we never did it. If we found out something he had done was not ethical, it could be squeezed out of us by penance. If the object was not to stay alive, but be true to Vanguard, what difference did it make if they said he had sex with a 12 year old, lost $65 million in commodities, or that women disappeared or committed suicide. This could not alter my feelings: I could not alter them myself, even if I wanted. Vanguard told me these were lies made up to destroy our mission. When we have nothing to give, we believe lies.
The cult of Vanguard cannot be wiped out because it is not an organization in the ordinary sense. Nothing holds it together except an idea which is indestructible: You will never have anything else to sustain you except the idea that you are privileged to be in it You will get no comradeship and no encouragement outside of NXIVM. When finally you are caught, you will get no help. NXIVM never help its members.
In it you will have to get used to living without success. You will work for a while, you will be caught, you will do explorations of meaning, then you will admit you are deficient. Those are the only results that you will ever see. There is no possibility that any perceptible improvement will happen within your lifetime in ESP.
In a sense we are to die for the mission. Our life is in the future. We shall take part in creating a noble civilization where Vanguard will be given tribute. How far away that future may be, there is no knowing. It may be a 1000 years away. At present nothing is possible except to extend ESP little by little. We can only spread NXIVM outwards from individual to individual.
From the moment the Bronfmans made their appearance, it became clear to Vanguard the need for drudgery disappeared. The Bronfmans were used deliberately for that end. And without being used for any other purpose, but by a sort of automatic process—The Bronfman wealth was impossible not to distribute—from them to him. The Bronfmans did not raise the living standards of the average Espian. But it was clear that Vanguard had an all-round increase in power whereby he could threaten the destruction—indeed, in some sense was the destruction—of his enemies.
The object of suing one enemy was to be in a better position to prevent members from becoming enemies. At most, when it was absolutely necessary someone be silenced, he was able to sue them relentlessly or find a way to usher them into prison.
The Bronfmans funded a world in which he worked short hours, had more than enough to eat, served to him by women he kept on a diet; a world where he slept whenever he wanted, and visited any number of houses, where attractive slender, single women resided who were perpetually sleep deprived and who were honored by his visit. Most possessed a car, which was at his disposal. He would not need to drive. They would chauffeur him and, in the case of the Bronfmans, in a jet plane. And all of the women possessed a body which was at his disposal at all times.
The most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality that appeared with the Bronfmans was that he became the king of their wealth. He could pretend it would confer on him no distinction. He was a renunciant, above the need for money or sex. But in the long run, his hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of his control of Bronfman wealth.
Still a problem arose when the Bronfmans came: It was how to keep everyone busy without increasing the real wealth of the members. Something must be produced, but need not be distributed. In practice the only way of achieving this was by conducting continuous and expensive classes.
The essential act of ESP is destruction. In principle NXIVM is meant to eat up any surplus money that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the members. In practice the needs of the members are always underestimated, with the result being that there is a chronic shortage of half the necessities of life; but this is looked upon as an advantage. It is NXIVM policy to keep members near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another.
The Stripe Path not only accomplishes the necessary destruction of wealth, by substituting colored sashes for true success like creating something of value people can use and are glad to buy. The stripe path accomplishes this destruction in a psychologically acceptable way since promotions are based on the whim of Vanguard. In principle it would be quite simple to waste the surplus labor by building centers or statutes to Vanguard, or writing books about him. But it is easier to reward members with $10 sashes. Sashes provide the emotional basis for his hierarchical society.
The empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific achievements of the past were founded, is opposed to the most fundamental principles of NXIVM. Even the tech can only be used when it can in some way be used for the diminution of liberty in the service of Vanguard.
The two aims of Vanguard are to indoctrinate people and extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought in them. The curriculum is its most important safeguard. When classes become literally continuous, there is no such thing as a necessity to sell them. when progress in the tech is based on colored sashes and stripes and not by money or other measure of success, the most palpable facts can be denied or disregarded. Nothing is efficient in NXIVM except the satisfaction of the desires of Vanguard.
Part 3: NXIVM woman tells of Vanguard’s plans for the media war
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.
Part 4: NXIVM woman: What Vanguard told me he would do if I left him, as if he were GOD
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.
Part 5 NXIVM Woman: My thought was I wanted to escape but I had to keep it secret
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.
I expect the 20/20 and Dr. Oz publicity helped.
Ecen the most recent (Dec 31) articles on Knife Media still list Ivy Nevares as editor, writer, etc.
While its possible Ivy defected and they continue to list her at The Knife to cover it up, I think it’s more likely she hasn’t blown.
Perhaps she has defected in her own mind but not actually left yet. “NXIVM Woman” sou ds like she may be in that state.