I posted something last week about how some people were seemingly building a pseudo-religion around the Covid virus and its vaccines. Here is a more in depth look from someone who studied the psychology of religion on how a different topic in society, “Wokeness”, resembles a brand new religion or even a cult:
The Cult Dynamics of Wokeness – Cult indoctrinations tend to follow very predictable stages. First, there is initiation; then there is indoctrination; and then there is reprogramming.* Wokeness is a cult. It might even be, in its broadest functions, a proper religion with a describable and fanatic cult element. Antiracism, in particular, under its auspices is explicitly framed religiously and with clear patterns of cult initiation written all over it.
*These stages do not have to occur in sequence, but can mingle and overlap.
Exploit a core vulnerability
Vulnerability is often deliberately inflamed or manufactured for the purpose of doing a cult initiation.
Would-be indoctrinators ask manipulative questions and try to catch people on the spot in a feeling of discomfort that is usually rooted in their morality and sense of being a good or adequate person.
“Did you know you’re complicit in racist systems?”
“Your objection to being called a racist is your white fragility.”
Resolve the vulnerability with Woke doctrine
“Be an antiracist. Help us dismantle the system and build a better world.”
The cult indoctrinator makes the mark feel (morally) welcome and good. Now they are doing the right thing where they were doing the wrong thing before.
“You’re on the right side of history.”
Then they will deepen the doctrine while informing their mark that they’ll be surrounded by temptation, especially from broader society. This is the surest first sign that a cult initiation is taking place. It is when this warning starts being applied to friends and family who will be described as failing to understand the depth and value of the cult’s doctrine and, in fact, the mark themselves.
“They’re white supremacists.”
Usual cult-deepening methods include public pronouncements of faith before the in-group community, which bonds the mark to them socially and emotionally, and sunk costs.
This will often involve rituals such as group prayers, singing, or outright initiation rituals, which dramatically deepen commitment to a group very quickly. There will also be requests to make costly personal sacrifices to be considered a full part of the new group. When the mark is sufficiently committed to begin uncritically consuming massive quantities of the cult’s doctrine, they are well into the indoctrination phase. They lose all trust in outsiders.
“Do the work.”
“[A]ntiracism is a lifelong commitment to an ongoing process of self- reflection, self-critique, and social activism”. – Critical whiteness educator Robin DiAngelo
Reprogram an us-versus-them world-view
Cult indoctrinators now try to make the mark’s thinking get completely in line with the view of the world described by the cult doctrine. This will let the mark see the “truth” of the doctrine for themselves everywhere in the world. That’s being “Woke.”
In the cult of Woke, the mark now has a “critical consciousness” and is able to see the “problematics” in everything. This includes in speech, writing, institutions, thoughts, people, systems, knowledge, history, one’s past, and society itself. Society is broken into different groups or classes (social group identity) that are oppressive on one side, oppressed on the other, and in conflict over this. That is, conflict theory is the belief that different social groups in society are always in conflict with one another for power and dominance, and that rather than working together in complex, dynamical ways that can be mutually beneficial, they are at war.
A critical consciousness means realizing this and that you are somehow personally complicit in creating the material conditions for that war and need to “do better,” either by renouncing your dominance (if dominant) or by agitating for a full-on revolution (if oppressed).
“Silence is violence.”
“The question is not Did racism take place? but rather How did racism manifest in that situation?”
Critical consciousness is therefore a very cartoonish, us-versus-them reading of the world. This mentality, of course, tweaks various psychological and social impulses in people as described in social identity theory, for example, and dramatically increases what’s called “parochial altrusim.” This means strongly favoring the in-group (here, the cult) and forgiving it for every excess and abuse while becoming overtly hostile to the out-group (here, everyone else in society and society itself) and reading everything it does in the worst light possible. This is obviously core to the present sociological dynamic! It also dramatically increases cult commitment, adding an overtly warlike tenor to the us-against-them mentality, which in critical cults like Wokeness is us-against-the-world.
With traditional religions with some sort of god(s) involved, people tend to recognize them for what they are and try to keep some degree of separation between them and their governments – at least that’s how it goes with many countries in the world (separation of Church and State and all), theocracies in the middle east notwithstanding.
These new, modern types of religions with a social ideal such as “Wokeness” as the figurehead/godhead are harder to recognize for the average people, since there are no obvious gods involved. In the specific case of “Wokeness”, it also hides behind the taboo subject of Race, making it all the harder to criticize. Combined with social media, these new social religions are capable of growing, rising meteorically and quickly get embedded in various public and government institutions. Left unchecked, they can do a lot of damage to the world.
The source of the above essay, which contains a lot more detail, is available here: https://newdiscourses.com/2020/06/cult-dynamics-wokeness/
It’s a great read if you’re interested in a more in-depth analysis of Wokeness as a cult, and its world views.
Original infographic, which does not include the last 2 paragraphs of the above quoted essay (those were from the above link, instead):