The spring’s BLM eruption firmly demonstrated the religious nature of the left. The mainstream GOP crowd could not deny it any longer. The cult vibe was everywhere. There were tears, a martyr with a mythical story to cover up a horrible reality, religious call and response chants, self-flagellation, music and dancing, and even a dead body to venerate. The attendees were overwhelmingly white, especially the little BLM gatherings in small towns all across America where the only blacks they see are on screens. That population reveals though the subset of Americans primed for weird cult formation. The 2020s will only see a flowering of cults all across America.
This is not hard to see in history as a collapse of an order causes people to retreat into small mystery cults. The Romans went through this. Even in modern American history, the post-war arrangement had its color revolution of the ‘60s beget a decade of Americans joining communes and seeking gurus. These were small cults on remote land and some were oddball urban cults like Philadelphia’s MOVE. The story that America told itself had a massive shock, and with this doubt about America, post-war society, urban arrangements and decay, many Americans were seduced by promises of a better way.
The reason this has such fertile ground today is that we are stepping deeper into post-Christian America. These left wing whites are your spiritual but not religious crowd of years ago (that phrase is out of favor now), and religious fervor will be conserved not eliminated. The dislodging of the Christian faith was a great operation by the progressives to be holier than Christianity without the pesky sins of the church to make people feel ashamed. One of the most effective tools it used and substitutes would be the cult of Science!.
Science is what, just a method of running experiments to test hypotheses, but has become a cult. We can see it in the ignorance of its most fervent promoters online. They cannot understand nor explain the basics of actual scientific issues, but they love Science! And use it as their touchstone. Science! Is an authority that provides us with all the answers to show that the church is dumb and therefore undeserving of authority. Science!Tells us what fills the cosmos, what the heavens are, where we come from, how we formed and what started it all. It being life and existence because no silly Sky-Father did that. This cult is powerful and can be followed just as lazily as the Christmas and Easter Christians of yore. A problem with this cult is that politicization of science now makes it as repressive or angry of a faith as the church of old that the Science! cultists mock, and well, Science! does not always have the right answer as compared to science.
Science! does not fill all the religious needs. It is mere popcorn, light and fluffy, not soul-fulfilling. The circumstances of the ‘20s will provide fertile ground for real cult behavior and not just soft cult behavior. Contemporary America is a land where all institutions have lost credibility. American faith in all institutions is significantly lower than just a decade ago, forget a generation ago. No one with a label of authority has answers because they are trapped in the current regime’s approval system and must maintain the same lies to receive the rewards and perks. Americans face declining living standards, atomization, desperation for identity, desperation for a return of some strong, positive authority and of course, the touch with the ephemeral and divine.
We can see the rise of some odd cultural features as signs of this already. One is the rise of witchcraft as a playful diversion for some women and serious ritual and routine for others. This is an attempt to communicate with gods on another plane. The rise of widespread drug use for reaching a higher plane. Likewise the mass spread of yoga and meditation that has a strong overlap with the drug use communing with the vibe crowd. People want to commune with the divine and what organized religions offer as an opportunity are pathways that do not work anymore.
A factor to drive this though is the opportunity to build infrastructure for these cults. These cults do not need to be big like Science! or BLM. They just need a charismatic leader, some small bullet point slide explaining the big picture, some knowledge or texts which new adherents can learn but consider their inside info to separate from the normies, some rituals and group habits, and of course isolation and absolute commitment to the cause.
This is not hard to see in BLM right now on display across America and woke ideology in general. The greater opportunity though is for smaller cults like America saw in the ‘70s. We have an income and wealth inequality issue. We also have areas of America with significantly depressed real estate, and bubbles in major American cities. It is not hard to imagine an enterprising and devilish blue city bachelor (think a less ambitious Keith Raniere) using small slices of his wealth or even real estate equity in a blue metro to scarf up land, buildings, etc. in Appalachia, the West, the plains, remote northern climes, etc.
The marks are out there. This is an atomized nation with many only children, many adults from broken homes, many adults who have no conception of an organized religion, and many people lonely looking for belonging. People want to feel a part of something, a family or a tribe. Using the internet, one could troll for those lost souls. It would not be hard to craft a story that would appeal to specific demographics. Performing basic cult practices of praise, isolate, denigrate and re-admit, these first initiates could be the recruiting and welcoming staff for later entrants.
Is it hard to see this appealing to desperate young adults? Free room and board with a communal shared living experience eating food made on site hits the right buttons already from a material needs and left-wing ideological needs perspective. Maybe it is a poly set up to appeal to the modern academic feminist, which is just a replay of the free love communes of a generation ago. All or almost all communes and cults in American history are sex cults. These would be no different.
All needs met. A built in community. A sense of belonging. The ‘70s commune experience did not pull in all young Americans. It did pull in many. Maybe some were there forever and some were there just for weeks or even days, but there was a message that pulled them in over and over. The sheep are out there. These cults had opportunistic leaders looking to flex power. If Turchin is right about the overproduction of elites, we will see elites walking around with no way to exert power via the normal channels. Some will seek power via other means. In the last wave of cults, the broad messaging to American society had faltered and taken a beating. We face the same situation today as we look into the ‘20s. All that is needed is a class of aggressive, charismatic founders to make moves.