Has Barak Obama become a “cult” leader, with a following of brainwashed disciples?
But the word “cult” has a much more specific and objective meaning, which should not be confused with Obama voters.
Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton published a paper in 1981 through Harvard University titled “Cult Formation.”
This well-known expert on “thought reform” (commonly called “brainwashing”) said, “Cults can be identified by three characteristics:
- a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power;
- a process I call coercive persuasion or thought reform;
- economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.”
How does Barak Obama measure up as a cult leader given these three criteria?
Well he is charismatic, but when Obama talks about “change” he doesn’t mean that he should be worshiped as an absolute leader like Jim Jones. Instead, he subscribes to democratic principles and not authoritarian rule. He represents a choice through a democratic process.
Rather than coercive persuasion, Obama depends upon his rhetorical skills, advertising and propaganda. There is a distinction between these types of persuasion and thought reform, which depends largely upon control of the environment, information and deception.
Finally, Barak Obama cannot unilaterally exploit Americans like a cult leader through the use of unfettered power, but instead if elected is limited by the US Constitution, the checks and balances of other branches of government, a free press and continuing election cycles.
It might be said that Obama has a “cult following” of ardent fans that cheer him on like a rock star.
However, such fans didn’t make Elvis or Kurt Cobain “cult” leaders, but rather enduring cutural icons.
It might be plausible to compare excited so-called “Obamaphiles” to “Trekkies,” but not to “brainwashed Moonies.”
Meanwhile, Noth Korea is a genuine political cult with its “Great Leader” Kim Jong II creating serious concerns around the world.
And there is also the fading personality-driven movement of Fidel Castro that in Cuba, which appears cult-like.
History is strewn with destructive personality-driven dictatorships including Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia and the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.
But Barack Obama?
So as the political rhetoric heats up and each party’s spin machine goes into high gear, perhaps it would be meaningful to remember the facts when using the word “cult.”