Why did his women followers (and they were legion) continue to follow Keith Raniere?
Why did they, many of them feminists, put up with his teaching of ‘Rape as a Metaphor for Orgasm’?
Without even questioning, let alone disputing, these kinds of “lessons” from him? This raises the question that’s at the heart of my interest in this and other cults: why do people submit themselves, entirely and wholeheartedly, to a cult leader? Educated, literate, often well-off middle class and upper middle-class people who surrender their free will and devote themselves completely to a dictatorial, self-aggrandizing leader. What’s going on?
This article sheds some light on the phenomenon https://quillette.com/2019/09/04/the-frankfurt-school-and-the-allure-of-submission/ It’s mainly about the followers of Fascism, Nazi Germany in particular. But the same principles apply more universally, I think.
Freedom is hard.
Everybody pays lip service to freedom as an ideal, of course, but freedom is a challenge. Even figuring out what you WANT is a challenge. Finding the right path. And then sticking to it. Figuring out how even to get from A to B. And maybe not even being sure you want to go to B. Thinking for yourself may seem great, but then… what am I supposed to think anyway?
Much easier to let someone else do the thinking for you.
Of course, the people who follow their leader don’t admit– even to themselves– that that’s what they’re doing. Oh no. It’s not that Vanguard does my thinking for me. He’s just my guide, my mentor, my guru.
Following the leader is probably hard-wired into us.
We are social animals, who evolved into living in groups. It’s what enabled us to survive, collective effort, collective defense. Language gave us our evolutionary advantage, and language isn’t any use to the solitary individual. We banded together. The band needed a leader. Now, the fact that it’s part of our evolved psyche to follow leaders doesn’t mean we have to, or even that it’s “unnatural” to be independent. It’s just a bit harder, to resist the urge.
The fools who joined Nxivm and DOS didn’t resist the urge.
One of the appalling highlights of the Nxivm trial was listening to the audio of Keith Raniere expound with ill-concealed glee the details of how exactly he wanted his women to be branded on their nether regions, while proud feminist Allison Mack meekly agreed to every S&M inspired detail. Unquestioning, obedient, subservient.
To her male Master.
Have a threesome with him?
Procure new girls for him, girls who are younger and thinner than she is?
Brand his girls for him?
Yes, of course, and how would you prefer it done, sir?
So it’s really no surprise that she and all the other feminists of DOS sat meekly and listened to him lecture them on how women wanted to be raped.
All it takes is being weak-willed. Being too lazy to free oneself, to be independent. To prefer the shelter and certainty of a cult to the knocks and turmoil and uncertainty of thinking for oneself.
I find I have little sympathy for the weak-willed fools who joined this cult. They lacked the bare minimum of courage to say “No”.
They didn’t question, they didn’t think.
In their escape from freedom, they empowered this man; without his minions, Raniere would have had no power.
They are responsible for a great deal of damage done to others. Because, as it turns out, there is no escaping responsibility.
I don’t buy the argument that Nxians were brainwashed or hypnotized or mind-controlled. They were merely trying to escape freedom. To evade responsibility. Instead of doing the hard work of being an adult, they sought the comfort of childhood, of doing as they were told, of pleasing daddy.
The “inner circle” of obedient slaves are despicable. Contemptible. People who decline the responsibility of thinking for themselves, who are too weak-willed to question the path they are following, are not to be coddled as victims but should be reviled instead.