Lyndon LaRouche vs. L. Ron Hubbard: Why Two Paranoid Cults Tried to Redefine Music

Today, we’ll take a look at how paranoid, far-right fringe political cult leader Lyndon LaRouche attempted to intimidate the musical world into redefining one of the fundamental aspects of musical physics. In some sense, LaRouche’s efforts are similar to what Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard did when attempting to reinvent the sound recording process as part of his own aesthetic theory.

The two stories are good for a few laughs. But ultimately, the moral of the story is quite serious. First, cults behave like totalitarian states in their attempts to control artistic and creative expression.  Second, these examples remind us that cults are able to get their followers to believe strange things and to engage in quixotic quests that accomplish little save stroking the egos and lining the wallets of power-mad cult leaders. Scientology is far from alone in this regard, and combining our experience in Scientology’s ability to get members to do bizarre things with what we learn about similarities between cults can help the cult awareness community to help people more generally in the future. Continue reading “Lyndon LaRouche vs. L. Ron Hubbard: Why Two Paranoid Cults Tried to Redefine Music”

Opening an Inquiry: Do Cults Always Abuse Women?

News over the last week or so on the cult front has featured multiple cults who seem to focus on sexual abuse of women members.  We wrote extensively a week ago about the arrest of Keith Raniere, founder of Albany, New York-based Nxivm (pronounced “Nexium”).  The indictment alleges that Raniere headed a secret “master/slave” group where the all-female membership were branded with his initials in their pubic region.  Be Scofield, a journalist specializing in new-generation Internet gurus, recently published an article on yet another abusive group.  Scofield looks at the followers of Padma Aon Prakasha, who leads various workshops in the US; 15 women and 2 men have accused Prakasha of physical and emotional abuse and other things.  And the well-received Netflix documentary Wild, Wild Country about the 1980s Rajneeshee cult in Oregon recounts stories of physical abuse aimed at women.

We are writing to start a discussion about treatment of women in cults, including in Scientology.  For those of you who are ex’s, we would be interested in understanding what happened to you, for both former staff/Sea Org and for rank-and-file members.  And we’re particularly interested in whether high-control groups always end up committing abuse of women (and, probably equally of children).  What general inferences can we draw and what can we do about it? Continue reading “Opening an Inquiry: Do Cults Always Abuse Women?”

NXIVM Cult Leader Arrested: Parallels with Scientology?

Earlier this week, Keith Raniere, the leader of Nexium (pronounced “Nexium”), a cultic group headquartered in Albany, New York, was arrested in Mexico after fleeing the US and swiftly extradited back to the US for trial. He’s accused of sex trafficking in conjunction with a secret “sorority” made up of Nxivm members who agreed to function as slaves for him, and who were branded in their pelvic region with his initials. There are other investigations pending that may result in further charges.

Though Nxivm never achieved the success of Scientology in its 20-year history, there are some interesting parallels between Nxivm’s modus operandi and Scientology’s as well as some parallels between Keith Raniere and L. Ron Hubbard’s claims about themselves. We look at some of these parallels and try to determine whether there’s any way to use the accelerating collapse of Nxivm to predict the endgame for Scientology, particularly in seeing how activists can target their efforts to hasten its demise. Continue reading “NXIVM Cult Leader Arrested: Parallels with Scientology?”

Scientology’s Empty Boycott Threats

A few months ago, Scientology “targeted” a few national advertisers whose ads appeared on Leah Remini’s hit A&E show “Scientology and the Aftermath,” implying a boycott might be lurking.  Earlier in 2017, Scientology announced a boycott of Clearwater businesses to show their economic impact on the city after losing the land deal they wanted.

What kind of pressure could Scientology bring to bear on an advertiser, to bend them to its will?  How rapidly can their ire affect a big company and show Corporate America who’s boss?  We analyze the effectiveness of consumer boycotts in general and Scientology’s whine-fest in particular.

Continue reading “Scientology’s Empty Boycott Threats”