Monday, October 02, 2006

Follow My Leader

Louise Samways wrote a book entitled “Dangerous Persuaders” which detailed the insidious way in which the always dodgy Multi Level Marketing programmes managed to entrap their members into a cult philosophy.

Once embroiled in this cultist environment, commonsense went out the window, and the members could be manipulated, or in many cases, manipulated themselves, into a state of belief. Denial of perfectly obvious facts became the norm and intelligent reasoning was replaced with an almost religious ecstasy of decrying and ignoring the obvious.

One of the more repellent examples of cultism was, of course, the Klu Klux Klan and similar White Supremacist movements, which handily ignored the fact that all human life originated in Africa.

And then there were those little yellow fellows in the Far East whose civilisation pre-dated the Western world by a good many centuries.

I was once in San Francisco and, together with an American friend, we had spent a few hours below decks on the USS Sausalito. Here we had been regaled with stories of the derring do of this submarine’s exploits during World War II and listened to the list of Japanese ships that it had managed to destroy.

As we came up on deck, it was one of those magnificent mornings and, as the sun broke through the mist, there, sailing majestically beneath the Golden Gate bridge, was a humongous super freighter loaded to the gunwales, and even higher, with Japanese automobiles.

My friend regarded this scene thoughtfully.

“We sure whipped their ass,” he said.

One of the earliest examples of cults, which were primarily religious in tone, was the worship of the Roman emperors, and even now there are similar groups, sworn to follow a leader come high water and hell. In the case of Jim Jones’ followers into the jungle of Guyana, it was the latter, only to be relieved by a generous dose of KoolAid laced with poison.

Not all are, of course, so lethal but they can be almost as disturbing.

Some six months ago my book on a fraudulent investment scheme was published. The subject became a hot topic on the various internet forums and it was interesting to read that, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that the whole scheme was “pie in the sky” fraudulent investment plan and that the principals are currently under arrest awaiting trial on money-laundering charges, there is still a chorus of believers. Many still expect that, although the operation has been closed by a Central Bank for over a year, they will receive their anticipated returns, returns which were totally unrealistic in the first place.

Any critic who deigns or dares to point out the obvious is denounced, and the master mind behind the fraud was, until he was arrested, happily signing himself as Chief Executive Officer, a touch of self-delusion if ever there was one!

No doubt the believers will continue to believe long after the final chapter has been written. But this time, unlike with the Reverend Jones, they’ll have to bring their own KoolAid.

There’s no accounting for people.


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