WASHINGTON. Stevedore philosopher Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) wrote that “permanent misfits can find salvation only in a complete separation from the self; and they usually find it by losing themselves in the compact collectivity of a mass movement.”
We see this acted out in the mindless violence connected to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, aided by the black-shirted miscreants of Antifa. Its leaders surely know the radical goals they are fighting for, but what of their predominantly White, college-aged, middle and upper-class followers?
No sense of direction
Anthony Beckford, president of the Brooklyn chapter of Black Lives Matter, told the New York Times what ran through his mind at seeing so many White faces during a BLM protest,
“I looked around and I was like: ‘I feel outnumbered. Is my life in danger?’”
The Times itself asked if support for BLM was “just trendy for White people?”
Recently, the Pew Research Center answered that question:
“In June, a majority of White adults (60%) said they supported the [Black Lives Matter] movement at least somewhat; now, fewer than half (45%) express at least some support.”
As Eric Hoffer observed in mass movement psychology: “It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible.”
It was a playoff of G.K. Chesterton’s observation of a growing secular society:
“When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”
Brand me confused
And this loss of self-awareness is also true of cult followers. Take the case of the 17,000 devotees of the NXIVM (nex-ee-um) movement; an organization founded in 1998 by self-help guru Keith Raniere. A man alleged to have an IQ of 240 and degrees in physics, biology, and philosophy. None other than the Dalai Lama wrote a forward to one of Raniere’s books.
Although he’s said to be an expert in computer science, his true proficiency is in exploiting human emptiness.
A sub-sect of Raniere’s cult was called DOS. He reduced many of DOS’s female members to sex slavery, going so far as to physically brand them as his property. For his crimes, Raniere was convicted of human trafficking and sentenced to 120 years in federal prison.
According to the federal indictment against him,
“DOS operates as a pyramid with levels of ‘slaves’ headed by ‘masters.’ Slaves are expected to recruit slaves of their own (thus becoming masters themselves), who in turn owe service not only to their own masters but also to masters above them in the DOS pyramid.”
Judge Nicholas Garaufis told Raniere at his sentencing hearing that the evidence against him clearly showed he was “cruel and perverse” and “despite everything that has happened and despite the countless victims” Raniere remained “unmoved… To him, the brave victims who have spoken out about the abuse suffered at his hands … are liars.”
But it should make us pause to consider the pathology of those willing to allow another to claim them as a “slave.” Not to mention giving their consent to receive the sting of a hot branding iron. How devoid of personal identity must someone be to permit these two forms of self-mutilation?
Americans were once renowned for their fierce independence. Unwilling to be cogs in a machine. Refusing to be mere Cattle in a corral.
And the children shall lead them?
But, to take a quote from President Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural, “The torch has passed to a new generation of Americans.”
Recently, the Pew Research Center surveyed Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials to see what separates their particular generation from the others. Generation Xers say “behavior and lifestyle” define them. Older Baby Boomers say it’s “historical experiences” that set them apart.
“… emphasize technology use as the defining characteristic of their generation much more than do their older counterparts.”
Hours of neurotic button-pushing explains Millennial’s desperate search for meaning, whether found in the form of dead-end, violent protests or by submitting slavishly to the glowing-red branding iron and raving commands of a cut-rate Svengali.
No wonder Millennials are so enamored of socialism. Like the followers of NXIVM, they long to serve a higher purpose outside themselves.
The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves
Instead of looking outward to build a better world, perhaps they should concentrate on growing a more substantive inner life.
Thomas Jefferson said the power of American’s God-given inner spark is what allowed our nation “to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.”
In other words, we cannot build a just world unless and until we change ourselves for the better.
Otherwise, we search mindlessly for a master and his red-hot brand.
Top Image: Keith Ranier. NEXIVUM video screen capture.