By Aristotle’s Sausage
A commenter wrote that “the primary difference between a cult and, say, religion is: you can leave a religion without penalty. You cannot leave a cult ( without penalty).”
There are people who left Nxivm without penalty.
And there are mainstream religions with penalties for leaving. There’s even a term for it: apostasy. Aside from the obvious one, that you’re gonna go to Hell, there were here-on-Earth penalties. Like being burned as a heretic.
Religions are cults. All the ones we happen to not believe in anyway 😈
Sociologists sure do love their jargon.
According to Frank Report article, Life Reinvented, NXIVM Style – a Study by Susan Raine: “Professor Raine utilizes Susie Scott’s ‘reinventive institution’ thesis, one that was built upon the earlier Erving Goffman’s concept of the ‘total institution.’”
Most of this is impressive sounding word salad that’s eerily similar to Keith Raniere’s bullshit.
Making hair-splitting distinctions between a TI and an RI may make the stuff of sleep inducing academic papers, but it’s fundamentally useless. It’s just spinning jargon.
None of this stuff seems well researched and all of it looks speculative. Like the dubious assertion that “Reinventive Institutions are a feature of societies where conventional social structures are broken.”
No, they are not.
There are examples of these self-actualization schemes all through history. Many religious, and many not. Plenty of them have been business-based like Raniere’s ESP. His was in fact based on a hodgepodge of ideas “borrowed” from past schemes going back a century or more.
So unless every era in history is considered one where “conventional social structures are broken”, that thesis is pure BS.
Look, this isn’t complicated. Raniere was running a scam. Scammers have been doing this forever. They prey on gullible fools, who also have been with us forever. “There’s a sucker born every minute” after all.
The cure: don’t be a gullible fool. If someone tells you he’s the smartest man on Earth and will fix your life for you if you pay for his $2000 five day course, the man’s a liar. You don’t need to be a college professor to figure that out.
Vincent Bugliosi, the DA who prosecuted Charles Manson, had a simple explanation for why that madman had followers who would kill for him. It wasn’t that Manson had some diabolical power over people. Rather it was the fault of a few of his followers, just the law of averages. As a drifter hippie guru in hippie California, garrulous Manson encountered a ton of followers. A handful happened to be as homicidal as him. The idea seems convincing to me.
So keep in mind that the continued existence of scams and cults may well have as much to do with the fools who join them as with the scumbags who set them up.
Women Did Harm to Each Other
Susan Raine’s unconvincing thesis tells only half the story and tells that badly. Raniere may well have something called “malignant narcissism” but that doesn’t actually explain anything.
Cults need two things: a leader, and followers. A scam artist, and damn fool followers. Both are essential: you can’t have a cult without followers.
Susan Raine would have us believe that it’s all the scam artist’s doing.
Which is nonsense. Particularly in the case of Nxivm.
It was Nancy Salzman who designed much of the ESP/Nxivm “tech”. She was the psychobabble expert. It was Clare Bronfman who bankrolled the operation.
Sarah Edmondson would become the star recruiter (as she herself weirdly boasts in her book).
It was overwhelmingly women who actually ran Nxivm. And DOS.
Look at Mack’s eager, proactive lieutenancy of DOS. She enthusiastically believed in it, its goals and its methods. The lying, the blackmail, the torture-branding. The subjugation of women.
And don’t try to tell me Mack was “groomed” by Raniere. Check out the two of them in the pop-my-cherry volleyball video. If anything, it’s Raniere being played by Mack.
Look at Sarah Edmondson, running her Vancouver center, making good money selling Nxivm. She wasn’t under Raniere’s thumb. He rarely left Knox Woods, eating pizza, watching Star Trek, playing volleyball.
It was the women who ran Nxivm and DOS. They were the eager go-getters. They provided the money. And the brains.
Odd, then, that Professor Susan Raine would blame The Patriarchy for the damage this cult did. Odd that she wants to blame it on “grooming”.
Sarah Edmondson barely had any contact with Raniere. So how was she “groomed”?
The idea may not have occurred to Professor Raine, but women are fully capable of doing bad things. Things like running scams that make them money and give them power over others.
Sarah Edmondson’s book (inadvertently) shows her up as ambitious as hell, striving and conniving. She was obsessed with ascending the stripe path. And she wanted money. Money and success. And she seems to have little moral sense.
Women can be blindly ambitious just like men. Money-grubbing and power-obsessed. Note well that a hell of a lot of money poured into the Nxivm coffers. Where did it all go? Not into Raniere’s pockets. Just look at how he lived. How he dressed. He didn’t even have a car.
These women were a lot like Raniere. (Mack has been described as “cut from the same cloth”.) They craved power just like he did. Fact is, DOS had women eagerly being Masters over their Slaves.
Professor Raine’s thesis is full of holes and runs contrary to the facts. It wasn’t all Raniere’s doing and it wasn’t Raniere’s “malignant narcissism” coupled with The Patriarchy that somehow created this monster.
Women were the brains, the financier, and the entrepreneurs of Nxivm/DOS. Raniere was the sponge.
Keith was one lucky guy, getting laid, gambling on the stock market, having women fight over his sperm. He didn’t even need to buy shirts. He was lucky, that is until that fateful day in Mexico.
Professor Susan Raine may not believe it, but women can be as nasty, greedy, and power hungry as men. I think she gives her own sex too little credit.