I found this article I wrote in 2010 that is quite interesting (I had to work on it a bit to finish it up). It involves ideas that I forgot about but some of which I have developed and written about. I think its relevant to record:
THE ‘MODERN CULT’
Over the years I began to speak of what I call the ‘Modern Cult’. To me it is a cult like any other. People sacrifice themselves, and others, for it. For some people it’s like a God. The basic premise of the ‘modern cult’ is that if we don’t have ‘modernity’ we’re all going to be miserable shape or even die. In addition, there is the belief that we, and everyone else in the world, needs to attain ‘modernity’ and become modern.
I tend to believe that the idea of ‘modernity’ has deep origins in the neoclassical movement in Europe which began in the middle ages. By neoclassical I mean the revival of Greek and Roman classics and philosophy. This movement hit Europe like a storm and helped to create changes in the government, religion, knowledge, art, architecture, and other things. Very few people really realize the influence this movement had. Basically, a lot of our view of the world and what we have originates from this movement.
As time went on this movement would be mixed with Christianity. Slowly, particularly after the Protestant Reformation, the neoclassical philosophy would replace Christianity as Europe’s ‘unofficial religion’, so to speak. By the 1800’s a large part of western Europe was engrossed in what I like to call the ‘neoclassical religion’. They basically gutted Christianity and replaced it with neoclassical thinking. Instead of Christ saving us it became ‘modernization’. It’s for this reason that I consider this a cult as well as the fact that it often has a resemblance to a religion.
The ‘modern cult’ consists of two main branches or ways of thinking:
- The ‘Progress Cult’ – originating from the scientific and knowledge aspects of neoclassical thinking.
- The ‘Freedom Cult’ – originating from the political aspects of the neoclassical thinking.
THE ‘PROGRESS CULT’
This philosophy is a product, really, of science and scientific thinking. The basic premise of the ‘progress cult’ is that knowledge, and what knowledge produces, will save us. Without them life will be miserable. If we live in a state of ‘not knowing knowledge’ we will be in a horrible and terrible state. It glorified knowledge as if it was the ‘height of humanity’ or the ‘great light of humanity’. Everything else is minor and insignificant. There is this idea that knowledge is what makes us superior to animals and what moved us out of the ‘primitive’ days. It made us rise above nature and, basically, to become like gods.
A Solution to Christian Misery
Oddly, Christianity with its emphasis on poverty and misery helped create the image that life was miserable and ‘progress’ would save us. I’ve found that history is generally perceived as bad or miserable usually from the fall of the Roman Empire (creating the dark ages) to the 1800’s or thereabouts. What is unique about this period of time? It was the time when Christianity reigned at its height. What did Christianity preach? Poverty, misery, and that life was an ordeal because of our sins and the evil nature of humanity. Is it any wonder this period of time is perceived as ‘dark’ or miserable? That’s what Christianity told people life was and, oddly enough, that is the memory we have of this period of time. Personally, I do not believe that life was all that miserable back then. The people, reared in Christianity, colored life that way and, in a sense, made life miserable. That’s what they were taught that God wanted! What do you expect?
With this image of the Christian era before us as miserable, people who believe this cult tend to believe that the past is miserable. I’ve talked with many people who automatically assume the past is miserable. This is such a strong belief that I could prove them wrong and they still won’t change their point of view. As a result, it’s created a lot of myths about the past. I’ve seen people turn everything about the past as miserable. A good example is one I’ve heard several times. In the middles ages there was a lot of partying. People went to festivals and fairs and did nothing but party. Why? To a ‘progress cult’ mentality it must be because they are miserable. As one person said, “they partied because life was so miserable and it was the only time they can be happy.” My God, the misery these people had to endure . . . The problem is that observation shows that people who are ‘miserable and poor’ don’t go around partying typically.
Reviving the Glory Days of Greek and Rome as the Solution to Christian Misery
The rediscovery of the Greek and Roman classics seems to of given this notion that, by adopting their viewpoints, we will adopt the glory of those former times and solve the misery of Christianity. The Greek and Roman period of time, then, is perceived as a ‘golden’ time, followed by the dark miserable Christian era . . . but no worry. We have been saved by progress, by the rediscovery of the Greek and Roman classics. Now a new golden age begins where Christian misery will end, or so they think.
The Worship of Knowledge
Many people who believe in this cult believe that knowledge is the answer for everything. They seem to think that knowledge contains everything. Knowing some fact or figure is tantamount to being ‘transformed’ by it into some greater thing, like a caterpillar into a butterfly. My observation, though, does not support this viewpoint. My experience, actually, has shown that knowledge does not create better people nor, necessarily, improves them as is often claimed.
Typically, the knowledge preached by this cult is without heart. It is dry facts and figures, oftentimes without any emotion. It’s cold logic. As a result, it is a passionless way at looking at the world. There is no belief, faith, passion, trusting, or anything like that. There is also a lack of ‘artistic expression’ as well. As a result, there is a tendency for people in this cult to take a cold distant ‘non-human’ way at looking at life.
This cult tends to preach the need to question everything. In a way, this cult teaches not to trust anything or anyone. Many times you’ll see people in this cult say things like, “I’ll believe it if I see it with my own eyes.” This makes this philosophy very suspicious about everything.
Because this cult emphasized knowledge it glorified the person. After all, it is the person who had to ‘learn’. This tends to make believers in this cult to have a self-centered outlook on life.
Because of the ‘progress cults’ emphasis on knowledge it has created the necessity that everyone must go through absurd amounts of schooling. I’ve always remarked how it’s weird how the kids have to go through all this schooling nowadays but, yet, in primitive-like societies, where they live in nature, they don’t need to know a quarter as much information. It’s created a ‘burden of information’ that, I think, is almost unbearable. Frankly, most of the knowledge taught nowadays is a waste of time and useless.
From the middle ages to about the 1800’s or so there was something like a competition between Christianity and neoclassicism. With the rise of the Protestant Reformation there became a doubting of Christianity. It seemed like Christianity split into many groups, each claiming they were right. This, it seems, put a lot of doubt in the population about the validity of Christianity. As a result of this, it seems, neoclassical thinking began to dominate and literally usurped Christianity. This seemed to be very pronounced in the 1800’s. But, because of this competition, there began to appear, in the 1700’s or so, a notion that still exists today, that science refutes the belief in God and proves he does not exist. Darwin’s theories, no doubt, really brought this dispute out into the general population.
Phases of the ‘Progress Cult’
The ‘progress cult’ movement seemed to of had three phases:
- In the first phase, it was primarily a ‘knowledge movement’. As a result, it was primarily focused at the Universities. It was not extended into the general population.
- Later, in the 1700’s and 1800’s it went into the second phase. This is when the application of knowledge began to see its fruit, primarily in machines and consumer products as well as certain facts about nature. This is when it hit the general population and they became aware of it.
- In the mid-later 1900’s it went into the third phase, when consumer products and technology was highly developed affecting everything and everybody. The products of the ‘progress cult’ became so powerful that no one could escape it.
These later two phases, described above, has created a massive ‘technological onslaught’, as I always say. The ‘progress cult’ created all these machines that, adherents to this cult seem to think, we have to have and what’s more, they have to be developed to ungodly proportions. The developing of machines and technology is almost like a mania that affects some people in this cult. Blindly, and for no apparent reason, they will just invent and keep inventing with no thought of the consequences of what they’re doing. As a result of this, the ‘technological onslaught’ has a blind quality, of someone driving a steamroller without looking where he’s going or seeing the effects of what he’s doing. This, to me, describes one of the problems of this cult. Sure, they may have the knowledge and the know-how but they have no common sense and practicality. They also don’t foresee the consequences of what they do nor do they usually seem to care. In a word, you could say that this cult lacks a ‘wisdom’ in life. This quality seems very lacking in this cult.
Another problem with the ‘technological onslaught’ is that you can’t “uninvent” something. Once something is invented you can’t get rid of it. They invent blindly without any real wisdom motivating what they do. This creates a condition where things are created that you can’t get rid of. I often speak of this as the ‘Technological Disease’. In many ways, the ‘technological onslaught’ has been one big infection on the world, a disease that runs rampant. We can’t get rid of this disease either. The ‘technological onslaught’ created such a massive surge of technology with such power and influence that it seems to of developed a life of its own. In many ways, we are now slaves to the machine, we are its subjects. We don’t dominate it . . . it dominates us. It also affects us in a multiple number of ways, ranging from good to bad. Regardless of whether it is good or bad, we are powerless against it.
As a child I was brought up with the ‘progress cult’ almost like it was a god. I can remember, when I was in grade school, reading a book I thought was the ideal of life. Basically, it was about this boy who built all these machines that did everything for him. I distinctly remember how when he got up in the morning the bed would tilt and he’d fall out, half asleep, into a pair of pants. Then a machine would finish dressing him and try to feed him breakfast while he’s still slumbering. I thought that was the neatest thing in the world and, for years, I saw that as a great thing. As I got older, in my 20’s. I began to see otherwise. I began to see that it actually is a sick and twisted way of looking at life. What kind of life is that . . . a machine doing everything for us? But yet that is the ‘ideal’ of many people who believe in this cult. The more a machine does for us the more happy we’ll all be. There are some, even, who think that in machines lies the path to happiness in life.
The problem is that machines have actually taken away from life and, in a way, stolen ‘human life’ from us. Through the influence of the ‘technological onslaught’ they have taken our control of life from us, our ability to live like ‘natural human beings’, and have added all these unnatural variables in our life. The net result of all this is that the ‘progress cult’ has created an inhuman dehumanizing world when you look at now. It’s also made life and the world horribly complicated. I always say: “the modern world is unfit for human beings.”
The Need for Moderation
I should point out that I am not against technology or ‘progress’. But, to borrow a phrase from religion (the “competitor” of progress!): “technology and progress is a good thing . . . in moderation.” The problem is that there is too much of it. Really, the control of ‘progress’ and technology is just as bad as it was in the ‘religious era’. Things haven’t really changed all that much, just what’s in control has changed.
THE ‘FREEDOM CULT’
This philosophy very much developed, apparently, in England in the 1500-1600’s. It appears to be a product of the English reformation and is associated with the rise of English prosperity.
I began to question the idea of ‘freedom’ in high school. I began to notice that everything violated everybody’s freedoms or rights, it seems. It got to the point that anything could be construed as a ‘threat’ in some way. This made me wonder. What kind of philosophy is it that sees threats everywhere?
It wasn’t until 10 or so years later that this subject was brought up again while I was studying history. I began to notice these weird claims they were making. There seemed to be a pattern. Many of the claims seemed obviously wrong. I began to look at it closely.
Some Traits of the ‘Freedom Cult’
Here are a few of the traits of this thinking:
- They seemed to think life is a fight against some threat.
- They are very paranoid.
- They are also easy to scare and get frightened easily.
- This threat is something trying to take away their freedoms typically.
- This freedom is a political/legal idea.
- They feel they need to have all these safeguards to protect them.
- They believe that the threat is usually government or someone in power. This person is trying to take something from them.
- All the old governments are of the type which they call tyrannical or despotism.
- They see the solution as the creation of a NEW government, which means destroying the old. This new government is a democracy.
- They glorify the people, as if the people are the source of power, wisdom, and sanctity.
- They seem to think they are the answer to the worlds and life’s problems.
- They get wound up with high causes and principles. It seems to intoxicate them once it gets started.
- There is an absence of a belief in humanity, though they say otherwise. They seem to try to take the human out of the picture.
- There is little sense of loyalty to authority. The old European sense of loyalty to people in power is absent.
- They act scared of authority.
- They seek to destroy authority.
- Their general stance and outlook on life is looked at from this point of view.
A New Form of Christianity
As I looked at it it became clear that this point of view is really a varied form of Christianity. I sometimes call this point of view ‘post Christianity’ as it seems to be a result of the failure of Christianity after the reformation. To put it simply, the reformation created great religious fervor in some of the population, but for many it created a religious dryness. In some ways, with all the religious problems religion became too unbelievable. As a result, there was a move to look for something new, a new hope, a new god, a new belief as I mentioned above. This was found in neoclassicism.
As with the ‘progress cult’ they gutted Christianity and replaced Jesus with democracy, the new savior. If you look at the freedom and democracy movement you will see that a lot of it is Christianity with a new name. It behaves and assumes many things just like Christianity but it goes by another name.
A particularly good example of this is the glorification and sanctifying to the ‘people’ which seems to have origin in the Christian principle of the ‘body of Christ. To glorify the people, therefore, had a ‘religious’ quality to it. It turned the people into this great holy thing. Even during the French Revolution there was talk of building a ‘Temple of the People’.
A lot of the ‘freedom cult’ act like the Christian missionary movement used to trying to convert the world to democracy. This should be no surprise as it descends from it. In many ways, it’s just a continuation of it. Just like the Christian missionaries they seem to think they have the answers to the world’s problems. As a result, they go around the world pushing their government and philosophy onto people.
I was always mystified by the paranoia and fear that seems to be so common with this cult. But, we must remember, that the reformation was a direct act of defiance with the Pope, the symbol of god on earth. To refute the Pope was like refuting god. As a result, it became very important for this new ‘branch off the reformation’ (the freedom cult) to justify its defiance. Again, it used the Greek/Roman model in particular (early on they seemed to use things from the bible like Moses freeing of the slaves). I feel that this defiance against authority was a very important issue with this movement as I seem to feel that it has created this deep inner sense of fear that seems unique to this movement. It’s so strong that it created within the movement a certain mentality that can only be called a paranoia. It persists to this day and permeates the whole philosophy. More than once have I called this moved the ‘paranoid movement’. A lot of their principles and ideals seem to do nothing but to stave off this paranoia.
Recent Examples of Conflicts Involving the ‘Freedom Cult’
Three conflicts all used the ‘freedom cult’ philosophy:
- English Civil War. I believe a lot of this movement began to be formed into a cohesive philosophy during the English Civil War. Many philosophies stated there are still said today. It was also there that they had the King executed and created a new style of government, refuting 100’s of years of tradition and authority.
- American Revolutionary War. But this style of thinking would be used again. I believe the American Revolution was just another tax dispute in British history. In other words, it wasn’t the great cause they made it out as. If it wasn’t for two accidental firing of guns (the ‘shot heard around the world’ and the Boston massacre) violence probably would never of begun. After those events happened it became ‘us against them’ . . . war. Once the violence started they had to create a cause. What do you think the British university trained people came up with? The philosophy started in the English Civil war – the people in power is threatening them and tyrannizing them so they need to fight for their freedom. That was their excuse. It’s not what happened. They naturally used the philosophy that was popular at the time.
- French Revolution. The French also used ‘freedom cult’ philosophy quite heavily during the French Revolution as well. It really became the basis for it all and what they did.
Two killed their kings. And what they claimed happened wasn’t what happened. They made events fit their philosophy.
Democracy as the Only Solution
The ‘freedom cult’ seem to think that the main solution to problems is democracy or democratic-like government. Though this idea has origins in ancient Greece, it seems Rome had more influence on this cult. Not a lot of people are aware that Rome saw that the people and senate are what rule the government (this is because the later reign of the Roman Emperors is what most people think of when they think of Rome). Their emblem , SPQR, means Senatus PopulusQue Romanus. This means ‘the senate and people of Rome’. In some ways, it became an ideal for this cult.
The Illusion of Democracy
I should point out that democracies, really, don’t work. It didn’t really work in ancient Greece and it never has ever worked successfully. Not even primitive tribes are democratic. Most ‘attempted democracies’ break down to something like a republic or what I always call a ‘representative assembly’. This means that a person represents a group of people at some assembly. This is sort of what SPQR meant. It’s also how American and British government work as well. I believe ‘representative assembly’ governments, of which there are many variations, are the normal form of government. Even many primitive tribes use a variation of this style of government. This is why I think the ‘freedom cult’ should use words more like ‘republic’ to describe their governments instead of democracy which is misleading.
A Philosophy of “-ifying”
During the neoclassical era they ascribed everything to Greece and Rome. The problem is that many things used by the British actually did not originate with them but with people like the Vikings. When they say the Greeks or Romans are the origin of certain things and it actually came from somewhere else I speak of them as ‘Greekifying’ or ‘Romanifying’ things. Moses and his ‘liberating’ the Jews has a great impact on this movement. In many ways, the liberation or freeing of the Jews from Pharoahs control became the base for this whole mentality. This point of view would be continued with Christianity where the Christians are now “liberating” the people from the Romans and sin. I sometimes speak of this as ‘Jewifying’ or ‘Jesusifying’ things. When one looks at it the ‘freedom cult’ is nothing but a philosophy of “-ifying”.
Forcing the Interpretation
Over the years I began to notice that the ‘freedom cult’ has a pattern of thought that is often predictable and narrow in its conception of things. Whenever the cry of Freedom is yelled these patterns of thought go into play, regardless of the situation. It’s like a pre-formed philosophy that is brought up and the situation is made to fit the philosophy. I call this ‘forcing the interpretation’. Because of this ‘forcing the interpretation’ they have a history of misinterpretation. Take the U.S. Look at their explanations for all their wars:
- Revolutionary War – fight for freedom against tyranny
- Civil War – fight for freedom against tyranny
- WWI – fight for democracy
- WWII – fight for freedom against tyranny
- Korean War – fight for freedom
- Vietnam War – fight for freedom
- Iraq War – fight for freedom against tyranny (isn’t it called ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’?)
It’s the same viewpoint war after war, conflict after conflict, year after year. From the American point of view everything is about freedom. Doesn’t that seem a little suspicious to you? Doesn’t that seem a little bit too convenient . . . everything fits into their point of view? There’s a lot more to why things happen than freedom and democracy. What’s happened is that the ‘freedom cult’ has become narrow in its conception of things and favor their point of view. As a result, everything is looked at the same way. This gives them the illusion that they are right because they see their right in everything.
Because of their one sided way of looking at things I have learned that whenever I hear certain words and I immediately question it. These include:
- Professing to know the will of the people or knowing what the people want.
Becoming Self-Proclaimed Representatives of the People
Since this philosophy is a ‘power of the people’ philosophy the people in ‘power’ have this habit of becoming self proclaimed representatives of the people. A good example is when the Rump Parliament of England voted on January 4, 1649 that they were the representatives of the people and reflected the will of the people. They VOTED themselves this! Another example is Bush in the Iraq War who, without even asking anyone, chose a path that would affect the lives of millions of people. Naturally, the solution for Bush was to use his government and economy. He never even asked those people. The great symbol of democracy became a self-proclaimed representative and a self-proclaimed liberator of the people. Doesn’t this contradict the democratic principles of the philosophy?
The ‘freedom cult’ seems to use two procedures to try to justify its authority, oftentimes. These are:
They seem to think these hold some magical mystical power of truth.
There seems to be two types of trials they hold:
- Trials of leaders, usually after they overthrow a government
- Trials of ‘threats’ which are usually everyday people that do individual acts
Most trials of the ‘freedom cult’ are, really, ‘show trials’ . . . they are done to show and display their philosophy and ‘truth’ in the situation. It often has the quality of “does everyone see that they’re bad and we’re good?” In some trials they won’t even let the opposition state their case, they’re so committed to stating their point of view only. I’ve seen it where it is nothing but an exposition of how ‘right’ they are. What this means is that trials often become a pulpit to preach their cause.
The using of trials for their own purposes shows how they have a tendency to distort the law and manipulate it to their own end. In fact, this is a major problem with this cult. Ever since the ‘freedom cult’ has got hold of the law it has been nothing but misuse and distortion of the law.
One of the attitudes of this cult is the destroying of authority. In many ways, the ‘freedom cult’ is an anti-authority philosophy. They have done nothing but try to degrade and undermine authority in its many forms. Despite this, there has to be authority. One of the ways they maintain an authority is by exalting law. Basically, human authority is replaced by the authority of ‘written law’. The human being is taken out of the picture.
Voting is another way they justify their authority. This is a good example how they exalt the ‘people’ as this great authority and ‘god’. I always joked about how when the ‘freedom cult’ wants to consult ‘god’ they hold an election. Voting is their ‘oracle’, so to speak. The problem is that voting isn’t quite as great, revealing, or as accurate as they think. People determine what they vote for often based on shady concepts and media-based viewpoints. In addition, voting is usually a ‘nay’ or ‘yay’ to something or a choosing of someone. That’s not that much of a ‘voice’. Not only that, most voting involves thousands, even millions of people in some cases. The more people there are the less ‘power’ you have. To vote for the president of the U.S., for example, involves so many people that your power is as great and influential as a grain of sand in a sand pile. But yet they think it’s this great power that reveals truth.
The Three Conjurings
There is something which I call the Three Conjurings. These are:
- A Conjured Up Cause
- A Conjured Up Threat
- A Conjured Up Enemy
These are part of what paranoid ‘freedom cult’ government does when an event scares it and they can’t determine who it is. I call this the ‘Elusive Ghost Threat’. They are seeking the Elusive Ghost, that great threat that is plotting against them. This is a threat from someone that may do something at any time but they cannot determine who it is. In effect, it is a witchhunt and show that the ‘freedom cult’ has a tendency of doing witchhunts. I believe it is, in some way, a continuation of the old witchhunts of the middle ages.
In a response to threat or fear they ‘whip up a cause’, as I always say. They ‘Conjure Up a Cause’. And then up comes the high and mighty principles and self-righteous cause. This cause ends up being exaggerated and blown out of proportion. It is not looked at as an event in life but looked at as part of some “life” struggle involving some divine notion of a “truth” that they are fighting for. This, I believe, is why it has this tendency to get out of control. It can be a small event but they’ll make it out like some big deal. They get too wound up with it. If it was looked at more simply and level headed then I don’t feel it would get blown out of proportion. I would compare it to going into a panic that you’re going to catch an infection and die because you poked yourself with a pin. What’s sad is that they become a slave to this Conjured Up Cause, it becomes like a god to them. I often call this the ‘Cause God’. They will often worship it and, in some sense, make sacrifices to it (I have often wondered if the “enemy” is nothing but a form of sacrifice to this God, as their explanation of the enemy often makes no sense whatsoever). They develop a mindless subservience to the cause. In some cases they become almost like robots to it. The cause for everything! I believe this ’cause worship’ is why this movement has become so tragic and has a history of getting out of control.
Because the ‘freedom cult’ has a ready-made philosophy it uses it and forces the interpretation, as I said above. Therefore, with the creation of the High Cause they must create a High Threat to match it. The ready-made philosophy establishes a prefabricated image of the threat and the enemy. In other words, the enemy is often based on the image created from the ready-made philosophy rather than the image of the enemy in real life. Most of the time there is little resemblance. Remember that the ready-made image is an image centuries old created before any of the ‘enemy’ was even born. Yet people have been judged by a court and condemned based on that image.
This exaggerated threat creates what I call a ‘Phantom Enemy’. It’s an enemy that doesn’t really exist on the scale they say it does. Usually, an event happens that displays that there is an enemy. The problem is that it’s often small. But with the High Cause comes the High Threat which requires a High Enemy. Eventually, they will find people who fit the ‘enemy profile’. They’ll find new threats, new enemies, and it goes on and on, year after year. Once the ball gets going it snowballs. They end up creating new threats and new enemies, making a larger snowball. The cause is elaborated and glorified even more making an even larger snowball. It will often grow out of control and develop a life of its own. A good example is the ‘spy hysteria’ from the USSR in the 30’s or the McCarthy era in the U.S.
It seems that once the Elusive Ghost Threat mania begins about the only way to stop it is to get the people in power, who believe it and sustain it, out of power. The other way is that time slowly dissipates it. It seldom “just ends”.
Many people have paid for this mania, probably in the 20-30 million range from 1789 on. It seems that the ‘freedom cult’ is one of the most deadliest philosophies in history. It’s also the most disruptive, destructive, intrusive, and damaging philosophies in history.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen