In recent weeks and months, a common term used for many supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, like the group Momentum, was ‘cult’.
Unsurprisingly, the accused were quick to attempt to deny these ‘smears’ as they call them.
So, in an attempt to settle this, I went in search for a, for lack of a better word, checklist for identifying a cult.
The best list I found was from CARM. While this list applies mainly to Christianity, it can easily be adapted for the purpose I’d like to use it for. I’ll only be listing the parts that I feel apply.
- Complete, almost unquestioned trust in the leadership.
We can see this in many Corbyn supporters through ignorance of abysmal polling of the public about Corbyn and the Labour Party in general. No matter what they say, his core supporters will always defend and excuse him.
2. Leaders are often seen as prophets, apostles, or special individuals with unusual connections to God. This helps a person give themselves over psychologically to trusting someone else for their spiritual welfare.
We’ve seen marches through streets with people holding massive pictures of Corbyn, we’ve seen Corbyn be compared to the ‘messiah’. Similar images have been seen across the globe, and they aren’t in thriving democracies, they’re in North Korea, they were in the Soviet Union, they were in Nazi Germany.
There’s even been serious attempts to compare him to a fictional superhero.
3. Increased submission to the leadership is rewarded with additional responsibilities and/or roles, and/or praises, increasing the importance of the person within the group.
When the Shadow Cabinet went through reshuffles, MPs weren’t necessarily replaced by someone better suited for the job, they were replaced by MPs who were more supportive of Corbyn’s leadership.
- Their group is the only true religious system, or one of the few true remnants of God’s people.
Substitute “God’s people” with the term “true Labour Party” and you have another point.
In Corbyn’s Labour Party, if you oppose the leadership, then you are a Red Tory, you are a neoliberal, you are a warmonger. I’ve been called all three, and much much more. I’ve been told that I endorse the murder of innocent children because I disagreed with Corbyn’s view on airstrikes against Daesh in Syria.
MPs who do not support Corbyn are frequently bombarded with messages on social media telling them to leave the party and to join the Tories. A local Momentum page had this to say on the possibility of an MP leaving:
Corbyn appears to be seen as what would in religious terms be called the ‘one true God’, like the passage quoted above describes. I have personally seen and debated with many people who have only joined or will only vote Labour because of Corbyn.
3. Persecution complex
- Us against them mentality. Therefore, when someone (inside or outside of the group) corrects the group in doctrine and/or behavior, it is interpreted as persecution, which then is interpreted as validation.
This is evident from the institutionalized skepticism of any media outlet or any person that reports negatively on Corbyn. Bad polling, critical accounts from MPs etc are dismissed as mainstream media (“MSM”) lies. MPs who are critical are immediately labelled Red Tories.
- Control of members’ actions and thinking through repeated indoctrination and/or threats of loss of salvation, or a place to live, or receiving curses from God, etc
Labour MPs who have opposed Corbyn have been threatened with deselection from people even beyond their CLP – a threat of loss.
- Minimizing contact of church members with those outside the group. This facilitates a further control over the thinking and practices of the members by the leadership.
Refusing to cooperate with ‘Tory media’, banning/blocking of dissenters on social media.
10. Group Think
2. There is an internal enforcement of policies by members who reward “proper” behavior, and those who perform properly are rewarded with further inclusion and acceptance by the group.
As mentioned earlier, MPs who oppose Corbyn will get heckled on social media – those who support him however, will be love-bombed.
11. Cognitive Dissonance
- Avoidance of critical thinking and/or maintaining logically impossible beliefs and/or beliefs that are inconsistent with other beliefs held by the group
- Avoidance of and/or denial of any facts that might contradict the group’s belief system.
Where do I start?
- Ignoring the polls
- Ignoring accounts from MPs
- Ignoring public opinion from doorsteps etc
- Ignoring the past
- Dismissing any critical reports on the leadership, even those trying to help
- Ignoring actual facts
- Ignoring how Parliament works
- Those who do not keep in step with group policies are shunned and/or expelled.
Owen Jones suddenly became part of ‘the establishment’ and part of the ‘right wing media’ after he published his article which gave some very valid criticisms of the Labour leadership.
Owen Smith was celebrated when fighting the welfare bill as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – now he’s apparently a ‘Red Tory’ and a ‘sellout’.
So, was it a smear, or was it a valid observation?