I don’t think too many people will be surprised by this comparison.
Courtesy of The Daily Beast:
Cult leaders may seem crazy, but they are cunning masters of manipulation, employing an arsenal of these techniques to render their followers dependent and obedient. It’s what I call the cult leader’s playbook.
As I argue in my upcoming book, The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How The President Uses Mind Control (Simon & Schuster), Trump has gotten where he is today in large part because he has exploited tactics straight out of that playbook. These include his grandiose claims, his practice of sowing confusion, his demand for absolute loyalty, his tendency to lie and create alternative “facts” and realities, his shunning and belittling of critics and ex-believers, and his cultivating of an “us versus them” mindset. These are the same methods used by Moon, Jones, and other cult leaders such as L. Ron Hubbard (Scientology), David Koresh (Branch Davidians), Lyndon LaRouche (LaRouche PAC), and, most recently, convicted trafficking felon Keith Raniere (NXVIM).
Of all these tactics, the “us versus them” mindset is probably one of the most effective. From the moment you are recruited into a cult, you are made to feel special, part of an “inside” group in opposition to unenlightened, unbelieving, dangerous “outsiders.” Playing on ancient human tribal tendencies, cult leaders extend this “us versus them” mindset outwards to an almost cosmic struggle.
Many campaigns—political, military, athletic—pivot around the idea of conflict between parties. Even in literature there is a hero and a villain. But cults take this human habit of viewing the world in binary terms and infuse it with a kind of all consuming passion, which they reinforce in the minds of followers using cliches, platitudes, lies, and endless repetitions. You come to believe that you are superior to the rest of the world. In fact, everyone who is not in the group is, at some level, in the words of the eminent psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, dispensable.
The most effective tactics of all are those that play upon followers’ emotions. For this reason, cult leaders often begin by making new recruits feel special, part of an “inside” group in opposition to unenlightened, unbelieving, dangerous “outsiders.” Playing on ancient human tribal tendencies, cult leaders encourage a kind of dualistic “us versus them” mindset, which they then extend outwards to an almost cosmic struggle.
This is one of the most enlightenign descriptions of Trump’s cult of personality that I have ever read.
Of course this is what Trump is donig, and of course this is why it is working.
Blind faith, whether it be to a religion, a political party, or a single person, opens you up to all kinds possible manipulations that your critical thinking skills would protect you from if they were not rendered impotent.
Trump’s ability to influence the emotions of these people makes him quite dangerous, and ultimately a threat to this country and its institutions.
The real Trump derangement syndrome does not afflict those who criticize Trump, but rather those who still support him despite all that we have learned in the last two and a half years.