Freethinking versus Thought Control
The Unconscious Worship of Authorities and of the Ruling Class
Resulting in Fear-Induced and Politically-Coerced, Altered States of Mind
Is the Actual Foundation of All Thought Control in Class Societies
The wise man can learn from the fool, but the fool cannot learn from the wise man, says an old proverb. On the surface, it seems paradoxical. The role of the wise man is normally conceived of as potentially educating lesser intellects — even fools. The intended paradox or mystery of the saying is probably that if you are wise and learn to be very perceptive, you can learn from anyone, even a fool or madman. But if you are a “fool”, you are so stubborn and self-satisfied with what you think is your present knowledge, that you refuse to learn anything new.
A deeper look into this saying can result in some further questions: 1) How did society come to believe that there are “wise men” who know much more than everybody else?” and 2) Are “wise men” or “authority figures” (priests, etc.) always interested in giving out real knowledge?
Seeking advice from “wise men,” “priests” or “shamans” probably began in the times when society had no science or written history. In these early times, either no one could remember where any good social ideas (laws, customs, etc.) had come from, or there was great disagreement over who might have been responsible. This could lead to confusion as well as arguments about which individuals or whose ancestors could claim credit for the laws and even the means of livelihood of a given society. It could also allow some people to get the idea of changing the laws to suit themselves, since one individual’s ideas or one group’s ideas would be potentially just as good as another’s.
In order to avoid these conflicts which could threaten the unity of the tribe, it became convenient to attribute all of the rules, and sometimes even the arts and methods of livelihood, to some original, supernatural source. That way there could be no arguments, confusion or changes! So “gods” were invented. But since tribal or national laws were never perfect and didn’t always provide for obvious solutions to problems and since not everyone could be expected to remember all of them in detail, certain individuals were “ordained” to provide authoritative or “inspired” interpretations. These individuals were considered intermediaries between the people and the gods and they became the “priests” or “wise men” (shamans, oracles, etc). Eventually arrangement like this developed into organized religions.
The adoption of a religious system of this type tended to create the idea that ALL really good or lasting ideas had to come from “up above”, i.e., from God via the priests, shamans, prophets, oracles, etc. Really good and lasting ideas could not ordinarily come from people using their powers of reason to examine the actual situation or material conditions of life. This provided the basis for the distinction of the “spiritual” from the “material.” Mere human beings examining the world through reason was “materialism,” whereas, ideas provided from the gods or other supernatural sources constituted “magic” or “sacred” laws and techniques.
When philosophers later distinguished these two approaches to knowledge, they adopted specific terms to make this distinction. Materialism became the term for “worldly” and evolved into the basic outlook of science. The religious approach to knowledge, which demanded that ideas be brought down from the gods through the “priesthood” to the people, became “idealism.” The term “idealism” as used in this sense by philosophers is better understood as “idea-ism,” that is, as coming from an original “idea source” up in the sky (”eternal truths,” for instance) rather than from the material world . “Idealism” in philosophy does not mean having “lofty goals and values,” which is the popular meaning.
“Idealism,” (”idea-ism”) meant having a spiritual source and this was the natural outlook of religion. This also meant that people developed a natural tendency to expect that only certain individuals were capable of serious thought (because this was actually considered to be divine inspiration). “Serious ideas” were brought to the people only by privileged individuals. These privileged individuals soon learned to take advantage of this illusion. The “priests” often learned to “interpret” the teachings and laws of the gods according to their own interests. They made the teaching seem as mysterious and nebulous as possible so that the people would be discouraged from doing any serious thinking and finding answers themselves.
Most knowledge was thereby reserved for the priests and/or the ruling class. When society developed social classes where one class was privileged to exploit the others, the ruling class quickly learned to form an alliance with the priesthood. Sometimes they simply took it over completely or claimed the right to “ordain” the priests or holy men. In some cases, the rulers simply proclaimed themselves to be gods. This provided the rulers with a powerful tool of mind control over the lesser classes.
Ruling Classes Become “Divinely Inspired”
The ruling class utilized its power to establish “spiritual” authority (its own or the “priests”) to keep the rest of the population confused and divided. This state of affairs probably comes about very gradually over a period of many generations and is therefore at least partly unconscious on the part of the priests and rulers. It probably eventually becomes almost completely unconscious to the oppressed classes. This is expressed by a quote from Gibbons’, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, II, 22, “The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman Empire were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.”
In this way, the ruling class utilizes its authority figures to keep the rest of the population confused and divided. The real function of the “priests” or “wise men” is to “dumb down” the people by distributing “wisdom” in a mysterious form so that most people won’t realize that they either already know it, or are capable of finding it out for themselves. These authorities also try to suppress any original thinking that might serve to free the people from the oppression of class society. They try to make the people feel that they already live in the “best of all possible worlds,” so that they will be happy to leave all serious thinking to the rulers and their authority figures.
The Declaration of Independence vs. the Bible:
That religion endorses the absolute authority of the ruling class is shown by Romans 13 of the Christian Bible. St. Paul claimed that Rulers were given their powers by God for the purpose of doing only good! On the other hand, the U.S. Declaration of Independence proclaims the exact opposite of the total obedience demanded by St. Paul in Romans 13. The Declaration says, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.…”
The slave system of society established the idea that “might makes right.” People were enslaved by force even in tribal societies, but the existence of a slave-owning class (“aristocrats”) as the necessary basis of society made the ruling class develop an ideology to justify it. Aristotle claimed that slaves were born to be slaves. This indicates that slave-holders of his time had already formed the idea of superiority based on heredity. Whichever people were captured to make slaves must have somehow deserved this fate. (In the Hindu faith, it is maintained that social status is determined by the “karma” accrued by an individual in his previous existence.) When slavery became the basis for class society, the slave-owners soon discovered that they could coerce the slaves into believing that this social order was necessary and natural, and that the slave-owners were superior.
Dogmas Implanted “Like Microchips”
This was because the constant terror of the threat of displeasing the master could bring about an “altered state” in the mind of the slave. An “altered state” or “trance-induced state of mind” occurs when the reasoning power is over-ridden by some powerful force, e.g., either fear or some form of hypnotic state. The mind then reverts to a child-like state of total acceptance without reasoning. But the kind of “altered state” produced in the minds of the slaves and other “inferior classes” had a much more severe character than one produced by “shamans” under tribal society. This is because it was based on an on-going “life or death” adversarial relationship between the slaves and slave-owners. The punishment imposed for religious crimes (esp. those which might threaten the class system, i.e., denying “God” is equal to denying all political “authority”) were usually severe enough to create “hell on earth” for the offenders. This made it easy for the people to fantasize a supernatural hell in the “afterlife.”
Under this extreme pressure, the “altered state” produced in the minds of the oppressed served another purpose: that of “confession.” When reduced to a childlike state, the mind tends to give up any intimate information, even if it is incriminating. The ruling classes needed to know what was in the minds of their slaves and other underlings. the “altered state” could be used as a method of revealing rebellious acts or ideas. This could be done either by the ruling class itself, or its “priests.” It became an established routine for the “authorities” to pry into the minds of the people, either directly or more subtly. (The “priests” became adept at the more subtle approach.) In this way, a “prurient interest” (”nosiness”) became a habit with the authorities. The people tended to imitate the authorities in an unconscious attempt to share in their power, or as a way of “helping” their family and friends to be aware of their “sins” before they committed an offense which would get them caught and punished!
The long-term result of this mind-set was to create an unconscious compulsion to “confess” or give up their privacy. This would apply to their family and friends at first, but then this tendency would be skillfully exploited by the authorities. The authorities could put on pressure through various degrees of threats and thereby increase the “confessional” tendency. Over time, it came to seem as if human beings had an inherent tendency to be nosy and to confess. In fact, it is only as a result of long-term class antagonisms that these tendencies became permanently imbedded in the psyche of the common people
Ruling classes throughout history as well as the lesser, partially privileged classes have always had professional and scientific/technical secrets that they needed to keep from the masses. The ancient builders’ societies which later evolved into the Freemasons are an example. These all had special rituals and secrets. However, secrecy and esoteric mystery can eventually further the cause of the privileged, ruling classes when it evolves into “thought control.”
It is well known that very young children “soak up information like a sponge.” This must be either because the brain is physically much more inclined to accept information at this age, or because, lacking knowledge, the child has not yet learned how to argue. When mothers educate their infant children, it is a process that is completely one-sided in the beginning. The mother teaches; the baby learns. This one-way, seemingly automatic transmission of vital information gives the infant education process an almost “magical” quality (like “idea-ism”).
The Religious Impulse
There must be something appealing about this childish mental state of total acceptance which makes people unconsciously desire to return to it later in life. Dogmatic ideas are most easily implanted at an early age. In ancient times, parents sometimes had to substitute for the “official authorities” in the indoctrination of the children. This made the idea of a “higher power” a reality to the children. Apart from direct indoctrination, children are bound to pick up on the fears of their parents with respect to politically-backed authority. The existence of a “higher power” which must be feared and respected is sometimes unconsciously learned by children, as well as adults. It is almost impossible for a child to form an objective opinion regarding the truth of any of these parental attitudes. And because they have “learned” in this way as children, they may retain the habit of “learning” in this way as adults whenever certain stresses are applied which can reactivate the “childlike” state of mind or “altered state.”
Once having had ideas implanted via an “altered state,” it is very difficult to get rid of them or even to modify them. It is as if a microchip were somehow implanted in the brain. Psychologists call this ‘cognitive dissonance.’ It means that if a person with deep-seated beliefs encounters new information contrary to those beliefs, he will have a very strong tendency to reject the new information. People who think they have modified, replaced or gotten rid of these implanted ideas often revert back to them without realizing it. The pressures to conform to a group or to please an “authority figure” can cause a person to suppress his own opinion and slip back into the “altered state” which was imposed when the idea was originally implanted. It doesn’t matter which trance-inducing technique was originally used. Forced recantations of “non-approved” ideas do occur, but the unconscious recantation of ideas in the absence of physical coercion is probably far more frequent. Of course, in many cases, there is a combination or alternation of force or threats of force with milder forms of persuasion, e.g., the “carrot and the stick” or the “good cop/bad cop routine.
As the child gets older, it begins to question the mother’s teachings, and the ability to question teachings of all authority figures is essential for the child to achieve maturity. But ruling classes demand that some ideas or teachings not be questioned. Certain laws and religious dogmas are not supposed to be subject to the questioning process, at least not by common members of the society. This maturing of the child’s reasoning comes into conflict with the “official doctrines,” unless it can be curtailed. Therefore, religious or ideological “authorities” of all types tend to resort to a “hypnotic” mode of instruction that subtly encourages a trance-like, mental regression to childhood which dulls the mind’s rational ability.
This is the same state achieved by the fear-based indoctrination of slaves by slave-owners, but is much less direct. Therefore, it is harder to recognize by the victim. This less intense “altered state” can be continued over a much longer period without “stressing out” the slave or other victim, therefore it can be even more deeply engrained in the victim’s mind. Indoctrination relies on this induced weakness of the mind to get the people accustomed to accept that some things need to be “inserted” into their brains by force of authority. It is made to seem that this process and the resulting state of mind are natural and/or “sacred.”
Priesthoods Gain Judicial Power
When the people succumb to the spell of this mental regression to childhood, then the “priests” can dispense “wisdom” as they see fit. The rulers often gave the priesthood extraordinary powers to discourage and even to punish people who tried to think for themselves and act in any way contrary to that which the rulers wanted. These powers were most effectively applied by the forced indoctrination of children into religious beliefs. To make sure of this happening, parents were coerced into assisting the “priests.” It may be that the “wise man” figure of folk lore is really a kinder and gentler alternative to the potentially oppressive priest. The “wise man” will supposedly teach without threat of punishment.
There is also a strong desire for an ‘escape from reality’ on the part of the oppressed. Religion can provide this through the “trance-like state of mind” that it fosters. In this “altered state,” the oppressive social relations can actually seem necessary and good. This explains why people came to be more and more under the influence of “spiritualistic” or supernatural thinking. They acquired the habit of seeking a “wise man” or other authority figure to provide answers to serious questions. Breaking what the ruling class or the priests considered to be “the rules” could have serious consequences therefore it was best to consult an authority figure. The people had lost most of their ability to think for themselves because this of intimidation. The ruling class then achieved domination over the minds of the people.
“De-Sensitizing”: The Systematic
Assault on Privacy and Morality
As a result of the need by the various authority figures for some dogmas and laws to be unquestioned, these ideas and laws are taught by a special process that differs from the straight-forward logical teaching of knowledge. These ideas are put into the minds of the people through a process of brainwashing (getting rid of unwanted ideas) and indoctrination (instilling the new, “politically correct” or “theologically correct” ideas). It involves an exceptional degree of coercion and intensity of repetition not necessary in the mature natural learning process. Pain or threats of pain, as well as promises of reward are used in accordance with a very strict routine. This is done in a setting and/or sometimes according to a ritual procedure which is meant to impress on the minds of the ”trainees” that these teachings are eternal and unquestionable, as is typical of the infants’ early instruction from its mother. “De-sensitizing” people to many of the morals and customs they have learned since infancy is the first step in reinstating this “supernatural” or “mystical” attitude.
Hypnotic “regression to infancy” is the essence of the state of mind required for ALL types of forced indoctrination, i.e., ”brain-washing.” Calling this “Satanic” (as a figure of speech) is very appropriate because the mind must be methodically ”desensitized” or “numbed down” in order for a trance-like, superstitious mind-set to take hold. This is the common conception of what the “Satanic” cults (real or imagined) do. The brain is “washed” by systematically contradicting or even “violating” established ideas so that the “new” ideas may be implanted. This is true of both ”religious” rituals and indoctrination or cultic (“Satanic”) ritual and/or indoctrination. A “Satanic” mind-set implies regressing the mind to a primitive “tribal” or even “animal” level. (Many of the gory or disgusting acts “Satanists” are said to perform (whether true or not) are actually things that are characteristic of the tribal magic and ritual of certain tribes, although it could be pointed out that the Christian ritual of ”eating the body of Christ,” (the “Eucharist”) is derived from tribal cannibalistic rituals. Both “cultic” and “religious” rituals invoke the mind-set of infancy so that we may experience “rebirth” of our mind (so to speak) in the new doctrine (being “raised again” as we were “raised” in infancy by our mother). Thomas Paine and other Enlightenment thinkers referred to this (deliberate or unconscious) creation of ideological illusions as “priest-craft”.
In order to achieve its hold on the people, religion must set people against each other without seeming to do so. The people must be convinced that whatever the “priesthood” says is moral must be true morality. To do this, it creates a morality based on theology which contradicts, in many ways, the instinctive, common-sense morality of the people. this is done by making numerous rules that are virtually impossible to follow and therefore result in the continuous feeling of guilt by the people. People are taught, either directly or indirectly, to “police” each other. They are pressured to confess their sins according to what is recognized as “sin” by priesthoods. This confessional mentality tends to intrude on the customary sense of privacy and also indirectly creates a source of feedback to the authorities concerning any potential rebellion.
Penalties imposed by the “priesthood” (although sometimes enforced by secular authorities) serve to reinforce the feeling of inferiority of the people. It is always much harder for the people to live up to the theology-based rules then for the ruling class. the system is designed this way deliberately. Religious penalties also can have a severe impact on the well-being of the common people which is out of proportion to their impact on the rich.
All of these pressures tend to make the common people self-effacing (disguised as “humility”) because of the long-term “altered state” which is gradually engendered. “Guilt” becomes the normal state of mind in the masses of believers, but NOT necessarily of the rich or the priesthood itself. The guilt burden tends to make the poor oblivious to their suffering (”desensitized”) and to that of others; even the suffering of family members can sometimes be ignored.
Modern Mass Media De-Sensitizing
The saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ is nowhere better exemplified than in today’s mass media. It seems to be determined to break down most previous notions of privacy, at least in regards to revealing personal feelings to the public. It is when people have been subjected to trauma that they are most vulnerable to hypnotic “altered states.” News programs, “talk shows” and other “testimonial” programs resort to having interviewers systematically pry into what used to be considered the most private areas of a person’s emotional life (for both celebrities and non-celebrities). This tends to recreate the psychological situation of childhood where the child is unable to hide (or to completely hide) his emotions from the parent(s). (At this age, it is usually better for the child if he confesses his sins and exposes his weaknesses to his parents.) This allows the viewers to either adopt a superior “parental” or “judgmental” attitude, as ruling classes do, or to “identify” with the unfortunate individual whose “private” problems are exposed.
Viewers also gradually become “traumatized” by endless accounts of tragedy which they can to nothing about. This leads to “de-sensitization” or apathy. Over a period of time, this tends to create one group of “superior-feeling aristocrats” (who are “above it all”) and another group of viewers who feel like part of an “extended family” or “tribe” (and take a “personal” interest). (A cult of “victimhood” is often created.) When people have become habituated to feeling this way, they are strongly inclined to let “Big Brother” get “inside their heads.” Instead of being critical and demanding proof, they will tend to accept the views of the media people and celebrities as being trustworthy. They unconsciously feel that they “know” them.
This cozy “family” feeling is also the basis for the “global village” illusion. If we are all part of the same village or tribe, we can rely on informal gossip to keep us informed. We feel that an informal “consensus” is all that is needed to solve social and political problems. No objective or scientific standards of reason and investigation are necessary. This makes everything seem nice and simple –and our minds get lazy. Being “dumped” into the “global village” drags everyone down to the lowest “common denominator” to which the mass media decides to bring us. Once our modern standards of reason have been broken down, it is then easy for the people presented by the media to “get inside our heads.” They can then begin to exercise the technique psychologists call “pacing and leading“ They establish “common ground” with us by a casual attitude of familiarity (”pacing”), then begin to “lead” our minds with their own type of “reasoning” (often very casual logic! We begin to unconsciously accept them as a more mature “friend” (”Big Brother)” and we become complacent and easily satisfied with the meager amount of relevant information provided by these ersatz ”authorities.”
Because no one challenges them, it becomes a one-way indoctrination. The more “casual” it seems, the less likely we are to insist on strict logic and proof (we wouldn’t want to “get technical about it,” would we?). Because the mass media is completely monopolized, the same kinds of views get repeated over and over from coast to coast, and even “globally.” The same kinds of “soft-ball” questions are given to the ”authority
figures.” These can then seem to easily refute any objections, and thereby make casual, “soft-ball” reasoning seem acceptable. The questioners, of course, are also completely reliable creatures of the mass media. Having TV viewers seem to “socialize” with “talking heads” and celebrities is another way of having people accept “one-way” passivity. There is no opportunity to argue or object and assert ones reason.
All of this seems perfectly reasonable once we have accepted the “extended family” or “village” point of view. (The “village” can be the “global village,” but it can also be a national, regional or local “village.”) But the “village” concept of faithfully following the “casual” reasoning of the “traditional” authority figures can only exist insofar as people have no practical means of obtaining critical information, and no practical means of thorough debate. (Genuine free debate could also expose and establish the need for much better sources of information than the monopolized mass media provides.)
By de-sensitizing sexual modesty and privacy, the mass media elite have again lowered the standards of the masses to an infantile level. The extremes it goes to would probably not even be tolerated in most “village” or “extended family” cultures. It is more a case of mentally reducing us to the animal level regarding sexual morality. “Satanic” seems the proper word for the cumulate effect of this, but most people don’t seem to notice because it has been brought on so gradually, and because it is rationalized (”justified”) by all sorts of “experts” spouting social pseudo-science. The masses are portrayed by the media as if they live in a “global village” which has very weak morals and very modest living standards! This makes violation of these morals by the ruling class and the state seem less outrageous. On the other hand, the rich and the elite seem to live in a ”castle,” high above the “village,” which excludes both the masses and mass culture that the elite has imposed on them.
The Banality of Evil
Another method of “desensitizing” us to the better standards of our civilization is to bore us with a never-ending stream of trivia. This also has a “hypnotic” effect and can produce an altered state, i.e., the “banality of evil.” When under this type of media influence, people tend to act as if everything is equally trivial. Nothing deserves an intense effort of reasoning. When reason is put to sleep, it is easier for people to be provoked and manipulated on a purely emotional level. Ideas seem to be “revealed” to the people without any great effort of reasoning or investigating.
Even modern education utilizes trivia in this way to lull the students into a semi-trance state. This makes the few important ideas seem like a “revelation” by the authority figure or “official text,” rather than an exercise of rational thinking. It becomes “idea-ism” rather than scientific materialism. In fact one of the major developments of modern times is a trend towards unconsciously promoting the development of “secular religions.” These have established dogmas and procedures of “worship” which are never officially identified as such. These “secular religions,” in turn, have developed their own specialized interpreters — a virtual “cultural priesthood,” whose judgments are sometimes as influential as those of established “priesthoods” (or even more so). it includes everything from the interpretation, criticism and “education” in the field of literature and the other arts (including “pop” philosophy), to the leaders of “social science.” All of these fields, both formal and “pop,” have their leaders who become virtual “priests.” These designate which individuals are to be virtually worshipped as “idols” (now called “icons”). This virtual “cultural priesthood” is taken very seriously by the ruling class as a means of thought control. It often has great influence among the people.
Some other typical methods of using “banality” to produce “altered states of mind” which result in evil (undermining reason) are:
A. Hypnotic devices of repetition, loudness, and reinforcement by positive (or negative) surroundings are examples of “the banality of evil”: 1) In the “horror” genre of movies and television dramas, simple child-like music themes played over and over, followed by a violent visual and/or aural shock; 2) pedagogical techniques which use much more repetition than necessary, such as in the Dick and Jane primary readers. This “spoon-feeding” or watering down subject material continues throughout the schooling process in order to maintain a hypnotic or trance-like state, and reinforces it with gentle, positive images. This is another way of minimizing any natural curiosity or possible rebellion by the young rational mind; 3) Trance-inducing techniques involving repetition are also noticeable in mass media news, and even in Public Radio and Television news, documentaries and science programs!
B. Fear as a means of causing regression to a childlike state: 1) the news media always emphasize frightening or depressing events; 2) nationalism as taught in schools and as presented in the mass media often portrays the evils of other countries (especially “non-Western” ones) as being much worse than “our” evils (and often as threatening to us). “Internationalism” or “World Government” (“Global Village”) thinking tends to do the exact opposite – denigrating “Western” culture and civilization. In this approach, the fear is of various catastrophes resulting from failure to “think globally;” and create an unconscious fear of where a non-successful student might end up – lost in the “global village,” perhaps?
C. Miraculous solutions to problems. In religious scriptures, this is taken for granted. But in popular mass media fiction, far too many things occur which are highly improbable. Important historical events are often treated as if they were the result of “divine intervention”, like events in the Bible. Even history books often leave the impression that God, or some form of supernatural “eternal virtue” is the motive force of history, rather than mankind’s struggle with material conditions. The constantly-increasing use of medieval, tribal and supernatural themes in all kinds of mass media fiction, including cartoons for children, greatly increases portrayals of violence. This generates feelings of fear and helplessness which help induce the childlike “regressive” mind-set. Our decaying culture is being directed toward the “Dark Ages.” These cultural trends create an appetite for the “miraculous,” especially a “miraculous” leader or leadership, i.e., “Big Brother.”
“Satanic” Ideologies and Cults
Religion becomes oppressive in class-based societies (“civilizations”) because it always has the function of helping an elite dominate the minds of the “common” people, in the guise of “protecting” the common people. This happens in spite of the fact that much wisdom is contained in the “scriptures” of organized religions. The moral teachings of religion were probably invented by human beings over a very long period of time, from their material life experiences, i.e., they are passed on in various forms of folklore. But these are often distorted by organized religion through “mystification” in order to help the ruling classes maintain their hold on power. This hypocrisy sometimes causes people to sometimes rebel against religious authority.
These cultural “rebellions” sometimes take on a satirical form where evil is substituted for good. This may involve common jokes and sarcasm which may eventually grow into a cult. De-sensitizing the individual or group to the conventional values of a given society is standard practice in “Satanic” cults, i.e., any kind of cultural movement or cult whose aim is to empower a select group of people in ways that are not acceptable to the larger society. This often involves systematically breaking moral and ethical laws. These kinds of cults are “tribal” in the sense that they have rules which only apply to their members, but not to outsiders. These cults utilize a kind of extreme brainwashing – a “regression” to primitive tribal values or even to the animal level. Cults do not have to be literally “Satanic,” as portrayed in the mass media in order to function this way, but the popular idea behind “worship of evil” has appeal as a kind of satire on, and/or rebellion against, organized religion and its authority. The term “Satanic” makes sense, at least as a figure of speech.
Of course people sometimes wanted things to happen that were NOT condoned by authority. That meant that in these cases they had to resort to magic and/or a “witch” type person to get the result they wanted. This could sometimes be carried to the extreme of forming “demonic” rituals and cults. Often ancient gods (having been rejected by the “authorities”) were conjured up for this purpose. These ancient gods therefore often came to be considered devils or demons by the priesthood.
“Cult experts” often say that “cults” don’t reveal all that is involved (and required) to their new converts. But how could a young child have any idea of what will ultimately be required of them, even in an “established” religion? “Established” or “orthodox” religions don’t reveal the full extent of beliefs and duties to adults (especially those who are “converted by the sword”) let alone to children, therefore, inducting young children into religious beliefs is ALWAYS equivalent to brainwashing. (Of course, this is also true for ANY belief system, religious, political, or just simple attitudes and prejudices.) For instance, teaching children of the “danger of eternal hell fire” is a perfect example of applying extreme stress to create an “altered state.” It even works for adults as is proven by historical accounts of the extreme effects of the sermons of Jonathan Edwards in 17th century America. Deep depression and suicide were the effects often experienced by parishioners, but no cult expert (at least in the “West”) seems to have thought of calling his congregation a “cult.”!
In books and articles on this topic, ‘cults” are usually defined as groups which focus on the leader’s personality and therefore virtually put the leader in place of God. But this can also happen in any “established” or “orthodox” religion and often does, especially in countries where people are poorly educated in the modern scientific outlook. One has only to think of the mob actions of established “civilized” religions (including Christianity) against “non-believers” or “heretics” over the centuries, to realize that not only are the “priests” sometimes unconsciously accepted as “God,” but that the people themselves can be provoked into “playing God.” These cases involve a reversion to the childlike, unquestioning acceptance of the judgment of the “priests” or the spontaneous, childlike adoption of the role of the authority by the people themselves, when they are worked up to a fever pitch of hatred.
“Cult” behavior is more easily attributed to “Eastern” or “New Age” religions and their derivatives by the “experts,” than to Christianity or Judaism. (Islam may occasionally, but rarely, be classed as “Western.”) What is NOT considered is the possibility that what Christians call “reverence,” which is the expected attitude towards the faith and its rituals, can produce an “altered state of mind” just as much as the “meditation” of the Eastern religions. “Reverence” demands that the analytic or rational mind be turned off, or at least pushed into the background. “Guided imagery” is actually performed by priests and preachers in sermons. This is why cowboys and miners in the 19th century West called them “sky pilots.” They “guide” or “pilot” the mind on a trip through the theological heavens, or else through some fictional drama which is supposed to illustrate or reinforce the religions morals or dogmas which originate “in heaven.”.
These practices can certainly lead to thought control by the Christian authorities, although the method might seem much milder (most of the time!) and the results more slow to develop than in what are termed “cults.” Many Christians also recognize the existence of “abusive” or “controlling” churches, which they think have degenerated to the level of “cults” (at least in some respects). Indeed, the milder, more slowly developing forms of “trance induction” are said to be more effective by Margaret Singer (see Endnote No. 5). That the more slowly-developing indoctrination of the established cults (”religions”) is not only more effective, but can cause misery for many more people, is proven by history. To the persecution of any persons convicted of heresy and other theological crimes, must be added the victims of ALL of the religious wars which used theology as a primary motivation for the soldiers. And the victims were by no means limited to the soldiers of the offending country or sect! “Official” Christianity likes to pretend that it “knows better” now, but even “liberalized” religion continues to implant unconscious justifications for persecuting those of other faiths. The current anti-Muslim hysteria in the mass media is a case in point. There is really no way of drawing a line between what is a “religion” and what is a cult.” One man’s cult is another man’s religion, and vice versa. (Identifying “secular cults” is just as difficult.) Some sort of tests should be done on extremely pious Christians to find whether they can develop an “altered state” without realizing it, and whether this can carry over into everyday life.
What is forgotten by the authorities on cults, is that the passive acceptance of beliefs and directives from authority can eventually result in a spontaneous, aggressive response when people later revert to the altered state to which they have become conditioned and accustomed. Altered states are always potentially passive/aggressive states. They may begin as passive acceptance of the indoctrination or conditioning, but may later switch to the aggressive mode when the mind has completely internalized the “teachings” or “programming.” On the other hand, aggressive, violently abusive “trance-induction” can create aggressive activity (by extremely aggressive, often physical indoctrination) right from the beginning. This may later spontaneously switch to passivity (even apathy) when the inductees get worn out from the aggressive behavior and abuse of their “indoctrinators” or “trainers,” or from trying to abusively and violently assert the doctrines of the cult.
Organized religion, by taking its beliefs and dogmas to extremes, or by emphasizing the tribal aspects of its scriptures, can also be “Satanic,” i.e., mentally take their participants back to the tribal stage, where moral rules only apply to others within the tribe, and sometimes not even there. Many cults, including “abusive churches,” force members to spy on each other and commit other offenses at the bidding of the leadership. This hypocrisy could also be a reason for the “Satanic” rebellion. Most cults do not apply this to ALL aspects of culture. “Regression” and “rebellion” may be applied to only one area. Of course, many cult-like groups will not admit to being cults, let alone “Satanic” cults.
Freethinking Interpretations of
“Scriptures” and Folklore
According to tradition, the Buddha told his followers NOT to believe some doctrine just because their teacher said it was true, but only after thoroughly examining the doctrine. The early U.S. Labor Movement sometimes spoke of “organized religion” as if that were different from what could be considered the “true religion” of the people; i.e., that which the people develop of their own free will, based on their own life experience. It is possible that at a certain stage of human mental development, religious ritual actually plays a positive role (in tribal societies, perhaps), just as a mother’s teaching of the infant is mainly positive. However, when a privileged group is able to coerce us, physically or mentally, into allowing ourselves to be treated as infants or young children, then the function of ritual is primarily negative – overriding our ability to reason.
The free interpretation of folklore, “scriptures” and history by the people can result in independent, even scientific thinking (which in turn could lead to rebellion). That is why ruling classes try very hard to suppress freethinking. There are some teachings and folk tales that have become “proverbs” because the people have found them to be very useful to their thinking about morality. “Judge not, that Ye be not judged;” probably means that individuals (and maybe even rulers!) should remember their fallibility and refrain from “playing God.” The ruling classes and the priesthoods have power over the common people and usually cannot resist being “judgmental” (“playing God”). Therefore the social-political system is constantly provoking and coercing people into behaving judgmentally in imitation of their rulers. “Swear not at all,” could be a way of telling the individual that he cannot invoke God to be his personal advocate, even though participating in the rituals of organized religion might give him the illusion that he has this power. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I come not to send peace, but a sword;” might mean that when the whole truth is told, it will divide households (because some will accept the “new” truth, but others won’t). It might even set “nation against nation.” Because social institutions and ideologies are usually imposed by force by the ruling class, directly or indirectly, and are therefore false from the standpoint of true morality, i.e., the freedom and welfare of the people, the rebellion against the official ideology is potentially violent. The internalized violence is turned back against “authority.”
“The Emperors New Suit of Clothes”, (Grimms’ Fairy Tales) implies that people can be brainwashed into believing almost anything! The beliefs and actions of many extreme contemporary cults prove this. Mark Twain noted that “training is everything.” He had grown up in a slave-owning society and, as a child, had not noticed anything wrong with slavery. The Christian saying of “hate the sin, not the sinner” and the Stoic saying that “a man should be able to love the one who is beating him like a donkey” may express the idea that ALL people are morally corrupted by the social-political system and it is really the system which is at fault. A modern way of saying this might be “hate the system, not the people who have been trained or conditioned by it.”
Separation of Ideology and State as
Extending the First Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution
All dogmatic political doctrines are examples of “idea-ism,” just like religious dogmas. They tend to create “cult-like” tendencies just like “organized religion.” They assume the “correct answers” can only be found by applying the principles of the given political dogma, e.g., liberalism (“left-wing”); conservatism (“right-wing”); libertarianism (total freedom from government interference for the capitalist only); or “populism.” In modern society, these dogmas, which assume that all fundamental ideas are “pre-existing,” find their way into education, “social science” (which is really pseudo-science if it is dogmatic); and the mass media. Any of these can be the basis of indoctrination and brainwashing, therefore the ruling classes find ways of promoting these dogmatic ideologies, just as they promote religion, etc.
Social science (sociology, psychology, “social studies,” political science, etc.) can be made into an ideology that can manipulate people’s minds when it is based on abstract generalizations. The generalizations can be frozen into dogmas that are then presented as facts from which real world conclusions are deduced. These are assumed to be “eternal truths” which are basic to “human nature,” which is itself a purely subjective, abstract concept. This subjectivity means that this type of social science can lead to many different and contradictory “correct” answers. Imposing contradictory ideas is another method of producing an “altered state,” and therefore can be used for brainwashing and indoctrination subject to the will of the “educators,” or by other exploiters at a later time.
These things might be hard to understand for most people who are accustomed to today’s educational system. While it is very obvious that brainwashing could occur in public schools if history books are distorted, or if any particular religion or philosophy is forced upon the students, it is sometimes harder to see the potential harm of allowing false “social science” to be passed off as real science. But under today’s political conditions, the domination of monopoly capital can pressure the school systems to pick and choose whatever text books are favored by the ruling class. The theoretical foundation of social sciences most favored by the actual rulers of the decaying monopoly capitalist cultures of the present time is purely arbitrary. The interpretation of history and literature can also be easily used for indoctrination of the people. It may be influenced by or even contain false “social science.”
Class “discussions” are an especially deceptive form of thought control because they give the appearance of allowing the students to think for themselves. In reality, Teachers and the educational authorities are always in control. The materials provided for discussion are controlled and ideas the students may have picked up from the mass media are controlled as well. But these are normally the only things allowed in a discussion, except for whatever the teacher is willing to allow from the personal reading, personal experience and heresay introduced by the student. The teacher always has the final word regarding the validity and/or interpretation of these.
In addition, an opportunity is created for the teacher to “spy” on the mind of the student. A perceptive student will take this into account when making a decision to either speak his mind or give an opinion he thinks will be acceptable to the teacher. Giving “acceptable” opinions are much more likely to satisfy the teacher and make him think the student is “college material.”
In the past, it was easier for indoctrination in education to be done based purely on the “authority” of the teacher. But because the masses have become more rebellious these days, the indoctrinators need to make it seem that the students are really thinking for themselves. One way of creating this illusion is the doctrine of relativism: each person has his own truth (your truth, my truth, somebody else’s truth, etc.) This seems more democratic. But skillful teachers and writers of textbooks can easily learn to subtly manipulate the minds of those whose reasoning is not highly developed. This is done by playing off the relativistic ideas of one person or school of thought against others, thus wearing down the will and confidence of the students to think for themselves, and then falling back on the implicit dogmas that were pre-selected by the authorities. The mind that is fatigued by the “wild goose chase” of pursing “relative values” (with no absolutes allowed to define the relativity of those values) is more receptive to dogmas, old or new. “Orthodox” or conservative doctrines, on the other hand, tend to teach “absolutes” without allowing for the relativity with which these are necessarily interconnected. Confining all ideas within boxes consisting of “absolute values” is also fatiguing and makes the mind susceptible to falling into the altered state which in turn makes it susceptible to dogmas. Dialectics teaches that the relative is contained in the absolute and vice versa. These interpenetrate and inter-connect. Materialist Dialectics (as formulated by Karl Marx) maintain that this is true in the material world, and that includes the laws of history and society. In the real material world, “liberal” and “conservative” positions on issues are often interconnected, even though the ideologues and their followers can’t see this. All of nature and human experience is potentially explained as being “material” by materialist dialectics.
“Ultra-conservative” dogmas such as “free-enterprise,” nationalism and eugenics (“Social Darwinism”) used to be routinely included in the curriculum, directly or indirectly. But in recent years, conservative Christians and Jews have complained that a “liberal” doctrine called “Secular Humanism” is being forced on public school students. Ironically, these contain some of the same dogmas formerly espoused by “conservatives.” Since all new ideas about science and human freedom since the Middle Ages have been violently opposed by the established religions, they could all be called “secular” or “humanist.” (“Humanism” means being centered on mankind, not on God). Questionable curricula may include “New Age” religious doctrines: a “spiritual” form of “evolution,” as well as a seemingly “non-racist” form of eugenics. Various aspects of what is known as “thought reform” and some doctrines from New Age Religion have also been smuggled into the curricula in various ways. These are sometimes referred to as “cutting edge” techniques: “psychological therapy,” study techniques, “counseling,” meditation, “consensus building,” “conflict resolution” and “values clarification.” In the U.S. this should be considered a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the doctrine of separation of church and state in the first amendment to our Constitution. Groups that call themselves “secular humanist” may in fact be basing their ideas on ultra-liberal dogmas (“political correctness”) rather than proven scientific facts.
This trend is noticeable in the publications of groups that call themselves secular humanist, as well as many others which don’t openly identify themselves this way. They usually orient themselves in almost knee-jerk fashion towards Utopian Socialism, i.e., welfare-state monopoly capitalism, and Global Government by elite. These are, to some extent, merely reactions against the previously established conservative dogmas or “conservative political correctness.” But “ultra-liberals” tend to promote change for the sake of change. They assume that virtually any social experiments will lead to equality and the end of social conflict. They forget that the end result is usually the loss of whatever freedom-affirming laws and institutions that we already have, i.e., “anarchy.” But “anarchy” is just as readily promoted and just as easily exploited by “ultra-conservative” fascists as by “ultra-liberals.” This was proved by the situation in Germany in the 1930’s which enabled the Nazis to come to power. But it may be that a temporary breakdown into anarchy is what their cynical leaders actually intend in order to imposed a new tyranny on a confused and frightened people. Covert Agencies call this strategy “de-stabilizing.”
“Ultra-liberal” trends are already beginning to provoke some serious “ultra-conservative” reactions or “backlash.” A “conservative” thinks that no change is necessary at the present time of for a given situation. A dogmatic conservative thinks that no change ever will be necessary. An “ultra-conservative” carries dogmatic conservatism to its extreme conclusion: that no change ever was necessary and therefore desires to return to some ancient system of social-political relationships. For the “ultra-conservative” (also known as a “reactionary”) all social or political progress is bad. Examples of “ultraconservatism” are the Nazi doctrine of destroying the democratic republic and restoring the social values of the ancient Germanic barbarians. Other fascists wanted to restore their respective country’s ancient “glory” by bringing back the social relations of the Middle Ages or even earlier. This dogma leads to the absurd conclusion that human society never should have progressed since the stone-age or earlier. In actual practice, ultra-conservatives tend to accept whatever amount of “reaction” they can get. Both “ultra-conservatives” and “ultra-liberals” leave real economic capitalists power in the hands of the monopoly capitalists. This is true in “communist,” “socialist” and “fascist” countries.
In the long run, it is damaging to democracy for established authorities to force any doctrines whatsoever onto students (and ultimately, onto adults). It is far better, in the long run, to allow for complete democracy (“direct democracy” as far as possible) regarding control of public education through local school boards. This would mean that people in local communities can learn how to think for themselves ONLY if they are allowed to make educational choices for themselves. Forcing Darwin’s ideas down their throats (for instance) even with the best intentions of educators, can only undermine their ability to think for themselves. More importantly, it gets them accustomed to being brainwashed and indoctrinated. And this is the real purpose of all types of brainwashing and indoctrination for children: getting them used to being mentally dominated by the ruling class and its agents who treat people like robots and herd them like cattle.
This has always been the case with organized religion in class societies (including ours). But it is also the case today, with mass media and schools. All forms of brainwashing and indoctrination must be resisted, but it is only with respect to government involvement that we have the principle for this opposition written into our Bill of Rights. Until now, this has only been applied (and not always consistently) to orthodox religion. But it should also be applied to social science and any other subject matter that can be treated subjectively. Government should not be allowed to give subsidies or tax breaks to any kind of institutions, either religious or secular. Neither churches nor foundations should get tax breaks. Neither charities nor “think tanks” should get subsidies. Only by employing the principle of separation of church and state consistently can we avoid the ruling class policy of divide and rule based on reducing all social and political ideas to incompatible dogmas, such as “liberal” or “conservative”.
If parents demand the elimination of dogmas through their local school boards, or at least the right to remove their children from classes that they deem to be brainwashing or indoctrination, confidence in democracy will greatly increase. The people will NOT always choose ignorance or religious dogmas if left to its own free choice. They will learn by trial and error, as well as by their practical life experiences, to choose what is really valuable to them. This is education, NOT indoctrination.
In order to make this practical in a capitalist society, it may be necessary to pass laws which force government and corporations to accept employees WHO HAVE NOT UNDERGONE BRAINWASHING or INDOCTRINATION OF ANY KIND! It is these organizations that impose the necessity of taking certain courses and achieving certain diplomas or degrees. Let these organizations rely solely on testing the abilities of applicants for a specific job, rather than forcing educational institutions to do their training and indoctrination for them.
- ENDNOTES -
 The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Frederick Engels, International Publishers (www.Marxists.org; www.Amazon.com) makes the argument that a ruling class developed when some people became wealthy enough to join together and hire a permanent army with which to impose their rule on the other classes and exploit them.
 Foundations of Christianity, Karl Kautsky, Monthly Review Press, theorizes that the ruling class assumed the highest positions in the Christian Church hierarchy because of their large financial contributions, and because they were the only ones educated enough to be able to handle the more complex financial matters of the Church.
 “The basis of religious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet found himself or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being encamped outside the world. Man is the world of man, the state, society. This state, this society, produce religion, an inverted world-consciousness, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of that world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in a popular form, its spiritualistic point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, its universal source of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realisation of the human essence because the human essence has no true reality. The struggle against religion is therefore indirectly a fight against the world of which religion is the spiritual aroma.” Karl Marx, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.
 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God:….3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil….6 For this cause, pay tribute also: for they are God’s ministers,….” 1 Peter 2:13 says, “Submit yourself to every ordinance for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto Governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers,….” [All quotes from the King James Bible.]
 A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Leon Festinger, 1957, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA
 See the essays, ”The Character of Man” (1885) and “Corn-Pone Opinions,” (1901), by Mark Twain.
 For in-depth study of the techniques used by modern “cults” in the U.S., see: Cults in Our Midst, Margaret Thaler Singer, and Janja Lalich, 1995, Jersey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 350 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104 (415-433-1740 for bulk orders). “Altered states of consciousness,” “trance-like states,” “indirect trance inductions,” or simply “spacing out” are some of the things discussed and documented in Singer’s book. These are considered as forms of hypnosis. She also refers to “regression to childhood” as another way of describing these states, Among other things, claims are made that: 1) meditation, when carried to extreme, can become involuntary and can then be described as a “self-induced trance state of meditation;”.2) “guided imagery” is a technique proven to be effective in bringing about these states; Combating Cult Mind Control, Steve Hassan, 1988, Park Street Press, One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767, also refers to adults being “age-regressed” and told to “become like little children” by cults. Cults also “…put a person into a situation where his senses are overloaded with noncoherent (sic) information, and the mind will go “numb” as a protective mechanism.” “It is in this weakened state that people become very suggestible to [the ideas of] others.” (p. 47). (See also, The Cult Awareness Information Center in Australia, www.CAIC.org.au for an extensive listing and examination of cults of all types, and www.freedomofmind.com)).
 See the essay, “As Regards Patriotism” (1901) by Mark Twain
 Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and also the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people. Karl Marx, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.
 To abolish religion as the illusory happiness of the people is to demand their real happiness. The demand to give up illusions about the existing state of affairs is the demand to give up a state of affairs which needs illusions. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the vale of tears, the halo of which is religion.” Karl Marx, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.
 History as Mystery, Michael Parenti, 1999, City Lights Books, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133 or [MichaelParenti.org].
 Churches That Abuse, Ronald M Enroth, 1992, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI
 Tribalism is found in the customs of the ancient Hebrews, if Biblical accounts can be accepted. Numbers 31:13-17, and many other Old Testament accounts give lurid descriptions of the Hebrews’ barbarian disregard for the lives of civilians, woman and children of the conquered tribes, just as any other tribe could be expected to do. Ancient Hebrew laws [according to the Old Testament] can be seen to be very similar to those of any other primitive tribe in history, e.g., they could impose the death penalty for adultery, cursing parents, witchcraft and sacrificing to any god other than Jehovah. See, Exodus 21:17; and Exodus 22:18-20. Child sacrifice is also demanded in Exodus 22:29.
 Matthew 7: 1; The King James Bible..
 Matthew 5: 34; The King James Bible.
 Matthew 10: 34-5; The King James Bible.
 “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” – 1 Peter 2:19, King James Bible.
 Give Us the Young, by Erica Carle, 1981, Echoes and Shadows, PO Box 241, Elm Grove, WI 53122, focuses on the negative and demoralizing effects of the way sociology is being taught to children in U.S. Schools.
 The following example of extreme “relativism” (which is popular in universities these days) is quoted from: Literary Theory: An Introduction, (concerning “Post-Structuralism”) Terry Eagleton, 1983, University of Minnesota, MI “It frees you at a stroke from having to assume a position on important issues, since what you say of such things will be no more than a passing product of the signifier and so in no sense to be taken as ‘true’ or ‘serious’ […] it is mischievously radical in respect of everyone else’s opinions, able to unmask the most solemn declarations as mere disheveled plays of signs, while utterly conservative in every other way. Since it commits you to affirming nothing, it is as injurious as blank ammunition.”
 Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy, Frederick Engels, and Fundamental Problems of Marxism, George V. Plekhanov, are two key works which define and explain dialectical materialism; New World Paperbacks, International Publishers; and www.Marxists.org.
 For a detailed explanation of this and other arcane ideas from the teachings of Alice Bailey (who was a disciple of Helen Blavatsky (The Secret Doctrine), see: The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, The New Age Movement and Our Coming Age of Barbarism, (esp. pp. 104-120 and p 190) Constance Cumbey, 1983, Huntington House, P.O. Box 53788, Lafayette, IN 70505.
 Brave New Schools , Berit Kjos, (chpt. 3) 1995, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene , OR 97402 .