So Allison Mack was getting half of the $6,000 fee that each student paid for The Source classes.
That forms part of the Nxivm pyramid scheme that the government named in its indictment.
Mack had a strong incentive to hook people into this organization. I suspect this is one reason she thought Nxivm was such a good thing – it was certainly a good thing for her. This partly answers my question about why these seemingly intelligent people never realized the operation was a scam, how it was empowering women when, in fact, it was literally enslaving them or not helping to make anyone a better person. The answer is simple: money.
It wasn’t “grooming”, or any kind of diabolical mind control. It wasn’t even indoctrination. These people were profiting from the exploitation of others. Self-interest is a powerful persuader, and nobody is as easy to fool as oneself.
So that’s why Mark Hildreth told Nicole not to google “Nxivm,” told her it would “make her a better person”. What’s good for Mark is good for everybody else – right? He had no beef with the organization. Nor did Mack. She had her BMW and her condos. Why poke around, why ask inconvenient questions, why think about it? Everything’s going splendidly.
There’s no mystery here, no diabolical plot, not even anything particularly evil. It’s just a bunch of selfish, thoughtless, self-centered people doing what profited them. That is, after all, how pyramid schemes work. Even Raniere was no evil genius, it’s not like he invented pyramid schemes. His Consumers Buyline was the same grift, and it imploded too.
Nxivm just took somewhat longer to hit the rocks, and it only lasted as long as it did and became as big as it did because he was lucky enough to get the Bronfmans to bankroll him.
Hannah Arendt famously wrote of the ‘banality of evil’. It was in reference to the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, who, as it turned out, did what he did not out of any fanatical hatred or perverted ideology, but simply out of self-interested careerism. Not that this made the slightest difference in terms of his guilt; Eichmann was hanged for his part in facilitating the Holocaust.
If Adolf Eichmann was banal, then far more so is Keith Raniere. His highest ambition, as it turns out, was for nothing more than pussy and pizza. And if the leader of this cult is a nonentity, his minions are even more insignificant.