Most people think of cults as being a collection of suicidal weirdos led by a madman, who thinks he is Jesus. That’s understandable as they are the most colorful and therefore get the most attention. David Koresh and the Branch Davidians are the gold standard. Before him Charlie Manson was the guy Americans thought of whenever the subject of cults came up in conversation. The suicide cult is a regular feature of television police dramas for this reason.
The truth is cults don’t usually end in mass suicide. In fact, it is rare. Usually they run their course, eventually running out of steam and the adherents wander off to other things. People are natural believers and the more intense the inclination to believe, the more likely they are to sign onto mass movements, even wackadoodle nonsense like UFO cults and recycling campaigns. They go from one to another, looking for salvation, sometimes even signing onto a movement built on the negation of their prior cult.
Think of the nutty aunt who is always into some new age nonsense. Maybe she was into crystals and then it was a fake shaman that helped her discover her aura. Then it was off to volunteer for one social cause after another. We all know these sorts of people, yet we seldom think of them as members of a cult, but that’s what’s going on with them. Cults are just small, temporary mass movements.
The assumption is that cults always have a charismatic leader, but that is not the case. Scientology is a cult and it lacks this feature. Modern American liberalism latches onto temporary leaders like Barak Obama and now Bernie Sanders. The Obamasoxers of ten years ago are BernieBros today. Buckley Conservatives have been calling every GOP nominee “Reagan” since ’92. It’s a type of cargo cult where they think if they pretend their man is the Gipper, they will be transported back to the 80’s.
This brings us to the Cult of Never Trump, known on-line as #nevertrump and billeted at on-line sites like the Federalist, National Review On-line and The Blaze. Like every cult, the adherents are convinced beyond all reason that their cause is based in indisputable mathematical truths. These truths are so obvious, they repeat them with a regularity that resembles a chant. Every CoNT I’ve encountered says the exact same things, like they rehearse them.
This was something visitors to Maoist China and Stalinist Russia noticed about the bureaucrats. They always said the same things in response to questions. In most cases, it was simply pragmatic. The party stalwarts, the spear catchers for the cause, they chanted the party line with the enthusiasm of the fanatic. They did not just believe the party line, they were defined by it and defined by their adherence to it. They would die for it.
As an aside, I knew an Iranian that served in the Iran – Iraq War. He told me a story about how his unit came up to a minefield. The Revolutionary Guards in their unit ran into the field, sacrificing themselves to clear a path through the mines. For these men, their life was only useful in service to the cause. They had given themselves over completely to the cause and the proof of it was their willingness to die for it. Before they stepped on the mine, they were already dead to themselves.
The other thing every mass movement requires, particularly cults, is the bogeyman. To quote the go-to source on these things, Eric Hoffer, “Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.” The Nazis had the Jews, the Stalinists had the Kulaks and now the CoNT has Donald Trump. The enemy is what comes to define the cult and gives it a reason to continue on, even when all the prophesies fail.
The interesting thing about the CoNT is that it started a lot like a UFO cult, rather than a mass political movement. Last summer, they dismissed Trump as a ridiculous showman and not a real candidate. Then he was a vanity candidate who would drop out by fall. Then he would be crushed in the debates. Then Iowa was going to be his demise. This has been a pattern right up to now. After each setback, the CoNT rejiggers the prophesy and comes up with a new date for when the Dirt Monster will be slain.
The gold standard on this type of cult is the study, When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World. The group they studied was a UFO cult led by a woman named Dorothy Martin. It eventually disbanded, but she went on to start other fringe spiritual movements. I’ll just note that she was initially involved with Scientology. Again, true believers tend to move from one mass movement, one cult, to another.
Like a UFO cult, the CoNT becomes hyperactive as the next big date arrives. For the last week they have been waging a campaign to prove that the Dirt Monster is Hitler, hoping to bring about the great reckoning this Tuesday. This will surely go on until Trump clinches the nomination in a month or two. What happens at that point is tough to tell. I doubt we see a mass suicide, like the People’s Temple, but they will have to contend with what experts call “dis-conformation.”
This is when the true believer is presented with irrefutable evidence that contradicts their belief. In the famous Dorothy Martin case, the Seekers explained that the aliens did not come and destroy humanity because the faith of the Seekers convinced the aliens to relent. My guess is the CoNT will come up with something similar, maybe claiming Trump has changed and their efforts to stop have reformed him and made him acceptable.
Others will never go along with this. Neo-conservatives like Max Boot and Bill Kristol can never reconcile themselves to Trump. These are Trotskyites, who have a vision of the world wholly incompatible with anything one can call conservative. The smart money says they head back over to the Left and find some way to reconcile themselves to their old friends on the
Either way, we are bedeviled with CoNT’s for a while longer, then it will be something else.
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What do you think of this? Does it help or hurt Trump? Speaking for myself, I have some of the same misgivings, except for the smarmy weasel from the Packer PAC. Yet, again I see no path here for America’s Middle working demographic. Compared to the Rs, the Dems just offer a little less disdain and tsk, tsking.
I’ve dubbed them #willing for hillary, certainly kagan and boot, have made their intentions clear. buckley is screaming in the ether, as are burnham, kendall and meyer, and probably chambers.
Hi Z Man,
First off, I’ve been reading you and other “alt-right” bloggers for a number of years now and while I think you have some important things to say, I also think you get a number of basic things wrong about the conservative movement and politics. Let’s start with the conservative movement — there are plenty of folks who are anti-Trump simply because we don’t think he is a good candidate or representative for conservative values. My own group blog wrote a good anti-Trump editorial if you are interested in one (very Christian) perspective:
Now there are obviously other perspectives out there — for example, Jim Geraghty, who writes for the dreaded “National Review” has written smartly about the practical problems with nominating Trump against Clinton in the general election:
This year should tell us that nothing in politics is certain, but right now, there’s just no way for the Republican party to leave the convention in Cleveland unified. You can’t square this circle. A certain percentage of Trump voters won’t support anyone but their man as the nominee. On the flip side, 37 percent of Republican voters yesterday said they would “seriously consider” voting for a third party or other candidate if Trump is the nominee.
Barring a sudden Ted Cruz surge in the final 20 contests, the Trump folks will argue their guy won the most votes, the most states, and has the most delegates. We know how quick Trump is to hurl accusations he’s being cheated — even when they’re baseless. Nothing we’ve seen in Trump’s behavior going back years indicates he’s capable of graciously conceding defeat and pledging to do his part to help elect the Republican nominee. Nothing we’ve seen from his supporters suggests they’re amenable to voting for Cruz or some other Republican.
On the flip side, the #NeverTrump crowd believes that voting for Trump is selling their souls, reducing themselves to the humiliating subservience of Chris Christie. They’ve seen religious leaders compare Trump to King David, Senator Jeff Sessions endorse the guy who hired illegal immigrants for construction jobs and off-the-cuff endorsed expanding the H-1B visa program, journalistic institutions turn themselves into propaganda outlets for him, and the media turn themselves into an all-Trump, all-the-time frenzy of alternating adulation and denunciation. (“Nothing too hard, Mika.”) The allegedly conservative party is now ready to sign on to the guy who defends Planned Parenthood, opposes entitlement reform, speaks warmly of Vladimir Putin, boasts he’ll be able to get the military to violate the law, won’t rip up the Iranian nuclear deal, mocks Carly Fiorina’s appearance, and lies constantly, obviously, and shamelessly. Trump corrupts everything he touches, and one plurality in the party can’t believe the other plurality is eager to give him the powers of the presidency and authority over the FBI, Department of Justice, and IRS.
And despite the overwhelming hype, he’s won 37 percent of the cast votes so far.
All the polling indicates Rubio would have crushed Hillary Clinton in a general election. Cruz looks like he’s got a shot — not a great shot, but a shot. Donald Trump’s general-election numbers are sinking like a stone. (If you can stand him, John Kasich matches up quite well.)
Trump’s fans walk around with great confidence about his general election strengths for which there is no real evidence. They’re convinced he will win over traditional blue-collar Democrats. So far, he doesn’t. They’re convinced he will win over African Americans. Polling in February puts his support among African Americans between 4 and 10 percent. (Romney won 6 percent.) They’re convinced he’ll win a lot more Latinos than everyone thinks. (He’s currently at less than half Mitt Romney’s level of support.) They’re convinced he’ll win Democratic states like New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. (He trails by 18 to 23 points in those states in the most recent polls.)
Trump fans gleefully point to his 7.5 million votes in the primary so far, and forget that the universe of voters in the general election will be on a completely different scale — probably 130 million voters. (Mitt Romney won 10 million primary votes.)
When you mention Trump’s awful head-to-head polling with Hillary Clinton, you hear a lot of references to Ronald Reagan’s trailing Jimmy Carter in March 1980. Ronald Reagan never had the unfavorable numbers Trump has now.
When everybody says, “Oh, the pundits and the elected officials and the other campaigns didn’t see the GOP grassroots embrace of Trump coming . . .” well, yeah; the pundits and the elected officials and the other campaigns thought better of the GOP grassroots.
I read that and I don’t think of a cult — I think of a sober, well informed general election analysis (by someone with obvious conservative biases.)
Unlike many (most?) of the writers at “National Review” I’m happy to come out against third-world immigration and acknowledge painful and tragic racial realities — I don’t want America to turn into Brazil. I just don’t think Trump is the man who can prevent this outcome.
Assuming this is a typo, party-wise:
“Merkel out posing for selfies with refugees is as tone deaf as Republicans demanding open borders and amnesty for tens of millions of illegals. “
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It’s always good to know who your enemy is, or who at the very least is not your friend. Some people were not previously aware that the Elites from both parties are playing for the same team. I think this just garners Trump more support. The Left always plays hard ball, so it’s going to get a lot uglier.
Regarding Trump derangement aka (CoNT): The louder they holler the stronger my conviction that Trump is the one we have been waiting for (or at the very least, he can’t be as bad as they claim).
We forget who the real enemy of the political class is.
Foreign action only makes political stronger.
Fractuous Democrat coalition groups, seperately, have the numbers to support a politician-
but only one group, white middle class, has the numbers to take OUT federal polititions.
Thus, the demonized white middle is the true enemy and threat to the ruling class.
It isn’t just the numbers in the white middle-class. It is also the courage, the brains, the money and the loyalty. The problem for the elite is that the NWO hasn’t come together as swimmingly as they thought it would. If normal men start spitting on their hands and raising the black flag any time soon, all the hard work will be for nought.
What stuns me to the max, is how incredibly SENSITIVE little snowflakes the so-called “conservatives” have suddenly become.
In all their whining and moaning about the “tone” of one Trump, how he set the stage for “violent attacks” and that he is solely to blame for what happens… all this from the same people who would show the middle finger to political correctness or liberals getting their feelings hurt not so long ago.
My thought is they’re just using that as a means to attack Trump, because it works so well for the left. That’s all it is. Because if THEIR GUY was doing it, oh god they would be tickled pink if Cruz would FINALLY show some political incorrectness and march off that creepy preachy robotic plantation he lives on.
Just a little off script, and they would all collectively pee their pants in excitement.
Oy to the vey.
“My thought is they’re just using that as a means to attack Trump, because it works so well for the left.”
When you consider that the people who run the Republican Party are basically on “the left”, it makes perfect sense.
I saw a great Trump meme on twitter: “The Republicans in Washington can team up against Donald Trump in a matter of days…but can’t stop Barack Obama and liberal policies in seven years?”
I’s say Jim Jones and the People’s Temple are more the gold standard. After all, he murdered hundreds of his own followers (forced “suicide”), while the Branch Davidians were firebombed by the feds.TLLpY
Oops…I accidentally typed the verification code at the end of that comment
Trump is the enemy of my enemies, and day by day, the fact that someone is standing up to my enemies matters more and more.
Me and the Trumpster hate the same people. I’ve been saying for 10 years that if someone got up and let rip at the people I hate, he or she would be elected president. I can’t do it and become President because I am too busy restoring my 68 Triumph so I am glad Don could step up.
The thing I am enjoying the most is the pussy journalists, lefty wank comedians who have suddenly become sanctimonious televangelists and DC creeps who are lining up to scold the public who “too stupid to know what they are getting themselves in for” and keep getting told – NEXT!
The worst thing – if Trump loses, white America is going to suffer for its insubordination. It is going to get a taste of democracy, good and hard. Yep, even the ones cheering for Hilary and Bernie too.
Z, you nailed it with your description of the Neocons as Cold Warriors. I’m not one of these guys who thinks every politician should be able to discuss Blackstone in Latin — and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest that Trump doesn’t know the Assistant Vice Finance Minister of Azerbaijan or whatever — but, bare minimum, you need to be able to answer the seminal political question: What is government FOR? “Defending us from the Soviets” was a legit answer, however misguided the implementation. But now? 2016 is the first presidential contest I can remember where a frontrunner can even process that question. That’s really the key to Trump’s (and Sanders’s) success – they have an answer other than “because it’s my turn to be President!”
Z-Man, what’s your take on tequila? Damn it, 3x captcha’s so far!
Another fun read. Thanks, Z-man, whoever you are. (apologies to the Lone Ranger Show)
What will guys like Rick Wilson and Stuart P Stevens end up doing? Supporting Bloomberg?
Ever see “Midnight Cowboy”? A talented mouth never goes to bed hungry…
The #NeverTrump phenomenon is surprisingly recent, at least on Twitter. The hashtag didn’t reach escape velocity until February 26th. So it’s only a few weeks old.
First heard it on radio, Megan McCain, a determinedly moderate show on a large Midwest station
That says big money backing.
As usual, you’ve hit on something Z. I’ve also been puzzled about the vehemence and sheer irrationality of the anti-Trumps on the GOP side. I mean, when you get down to brass tacks, isn’t the point of politics to win? But the more Trump looks like a winner, the more unhinged the CoNTs become.
Some of it, as you pointed out in the last piece on Krazy Kevin, comes down to class hatred – or in the case of Krazy Kevin, class self-hatred. It’s part of a vein I’ve seen recently in commentary on the Trump phenomenon that seeks to portray his support as the exclusive preserve of whites who still have a job working with their hands, but is really just code words meant demean his supporters as “those kind of whites” – uneducated, bad thinking, bigoted whites. In other words, Trump supporters conform to a stereotype (the kind of stereotype that it is anathema to apply to blacks, by the way), and thus the whole Trump business can be dismissed as a kind of acting out by bad whites who don’t know any better; but then, what do you expect from these kinds of people? Seemingly, as far as the commentary goes, there’s precious little to distinguish between these whites who still work for a living and whites who are now dependent of government assistance for their livelihoods. Lower class whites are bad, Trump is bad, and the one explains the other.
Aside from considerations as to whether this stereotype is even accurate, is it really true that Trump’s support is confined to working-class whites and a few other malcontents? The kind of mental gymnastics we see on display to simplify the roots of Trumpism is nothing more than an attempt to deny the existence of more complicated and threatening – to the conservative commentariat – phenomenon, which is the collapse of “conservatism” as a cohesive political and ideological movement, and its replacement by something else. What “conservatism” has no answer for, and will not even address (because it isn’t polite to mention, and “conservatism” is by its own definition well-behaved and housebroken), is the marginalization of working-class and middle-class suburban whites in their own society. Conservatism, as currently configured, only promises to increase that marginalization, which the “conservative” political class and their mouthpieces, have demonstrated time and time again.
The data from exit polls shows that Trump is the most broad based candidate running – in both parties. Demographically, his coalition looks more like America than we have seen in decades. I say this as someone who is not really a fan of Trump. I don’t hate the guy, but his style does not work on me. Still, the facts are the facts and I would have no problem voting for him over Clinton or Sanders.
I think it comes down to something as simple as people who love America (or at least the concept of America) are moving to Trump in large numbers. Because of all the nastiness surrounding this election, it isn’t possible for the pollsters and their masters to get a good read on the situation. And that uncertainty is scaring the poop out of the goose.
I think the media is working double hard overtime to make everyone think Trump’s followers are “unwashed” in order to keep “decent” folks from supporting him. It isn’t working.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that the conservative establishment is being replaced for the simple reason that they have utterly failed to deliver on things that they promised even when handed electoral majorities. Really, other than the collapse of the Soviet Union (which was a generation ago) what have the conservatives conserved or achieved? Smaller government? Preserving traditional marriage? Undoing 0bamacare? Ending affirmative action? Halting Islamic terrorism? The one thing they have delivered on is championing open borders and wholeheartedly endorsing a kind of predatory global capitalism that has nearly destroyed American manufacturing.
What I see in the Trump phenomenon is that the marginalization of working-class and middle class whites that has now been going on in earnest for twenty years – economically, socially, culturally – has now provoked a political response. People are mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore. And the first group to be crossed off the list are so-called conservatives and their umpteen failures and squandered opportunities.
CSJ, your POV needs adjusting. The conservative establishment have achieved every fukking thing they desire. That none of these achievements help working Americans is not incidental, it’s intentional.
The anti-Trumpers I’ve encountered are a haughty, imperious, supercilious bunch (who all seem to get the same talking points memo every morning via social media or a chip in their brains) who share one other characteristic: They are terrified that they are not able to control the Trump supporters at whom they throw every malicious name, every bit of psychological warfare, they can think of.
Throughout the course of Trump’s rise during the campaign some of them have lost numbers of candidates (sequentially), each of whom they vowed was “the best”, as attrition ran through the ranks.
Many of them pride themselves on being able to control minds. That that is not working with the Trump supporters, and those on the fence whom the rabid antis are turning off, is making them crazy.
Watch John McCain and Lizzie Graham bolt the aisle, such as it is, before the inauguration.
There’s a couple of layers to it. You have the spear catchers in the Buckley Mystery Cult that are completely invested in the CoNT. Then you have politicians that need to navigate around the coming realignment. I think some of the first group end badly. David French at National Review appears to be having a psychotic break. It seems all of the old CIC agit-pro organizations are blowing apart as their CoNT elements radicalize and go on jihad.
It’s going to be ugly.
Ugly would be beautiful.
I love the smell of ugly in the morning.
I don’t know, so much of the “conservative” commentariat and politicians have been revealed as false agents (by their anti-Trumpisim) that it feels like a permanent fracturing of the non-Dem world. If that is the case, then which faction has the majority numbers is the next big question. Personally, I don’t see Kristol holding 30k person events very often.
In the 70’s, the so-called neo-cons started moving from the Left over to the Right. These men were primarily Cold Warriors who were comfortable with social democracy, if it helped defeat the Soviets. Their main argument was that you had to win elections in order to control foreign policy. It’s a philosophy of “give the Left whatever they want as long as we run foreign policy.” The Soviets are gone and that just leaves “giving the Left whatever they want” as a basis for their ideology.
The Bush project was to replace the Soviets with Islam and that gave us the Freedom Agenda. Conservative would now mean big government at home and constant warfare with the Muslims. The Left did not take the deal and the public soon tired of war with the Muslims. The realignment we’re seeing, I suspect, is the neo-cons going home to make the Democrats the invite the world/invade the world party and the Republicans the nativist/localist/isolationist party.
Are the neo-cons really that numerous? Seems like the anti-Trump faction is them plus the Dem wannabes plus the corporatists (and their shills).
Given that more and more of the general public are being negatively affected by the uniparty, the numbers are there — by drawing the disaffected from the Dems and GOP — for a new majoritarian party; that follows your prescription of isolation and America first.
The Neocons are numerous where it matters, the NYC-DC axis of evil, all the “conservative” think tanks, the “conservative” prestige media, are all staffed by Neocons, the NY establishment has effectively taken over the GOP and Conservatism, Inc.
Read this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Intellectuals
Having the votes still matters, otherwise the yappers wouldn’t be so panic driven over Trump winning primaries 🙂
I hope so, but having the whole opinion and policy making class against you isn’t a good sign.
Also the biggets donors for the GOP are Jewish billionaires of Neoconservative persuasion, Rubio is basically a creation of Norman Braman: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Braman
“The so called neo-cons”?
You are aware that this is what they called themselves?