A valued contributor to this blog, Richard, said something that made me realize a whole bunch of things about Tony Ortega and his Underground Bunker, ESMB, and all the other outlets of the Anti-Scientology Mafia Network (ASMN)
“Classifying all people participating on the Underground Bunker as cultists seemed to have a shock effect, imo.
Yeah, and it’s also false. And dumb.
If there is any useful definition for the word ‘cult’, it is when it is used to mean “sub-culture”.
From my social science studies in college, I learned that a culture is the social repository of knowledge, skills, and moral values of a group of human beings. It contains their ‘tribal narrative’ and all their attitudes and acceptable moral behaviors which go along with it. The first thing you learn in social science is that cultures are different all over the world. Same humans – different cultures.
A cult can be thought of as a smaller culture inside the wider culture around it. It has different knowledge, skills and moral values, with a different narrative and different attitudes and acceptable behaviors.
The second thing you learn in social science is that human beings who live under different cultures have a hard time understanding each other. They are usually disrespectful and disgusted with each other, rather than curious or tolerant. Social science teaches you to watch out for that human disgust and to remain tolerant, to keep observing and to keep learning, and to try to keep an open mind and to see things from their cultural viewpoint. Social science teaches that if you can do this, you can learn from the differences between cultures and come away much richer for the experience.
Social scientists actually believe that if they can promote greater understanding between cultures, they can create a better world. Imagine that.
This is the reason I took off to Egypt when I had the chance in my early 20’s, and traveled to Israel to live on a few Kibbutzim. Then hitchhiked through the Sinai desert through the first Intifada and went to Crete, and then Morocco. I was remaining open to what these other cultures could teach me. My best achievement was spending a day or two with a tribe of Bedouin in the middle of nowhere in the Sinai desert. I learned never to use my left hand for anything social like eating or grabbing food from the communal bowl – even though I am left-handed. (In their culture, you always use your left hand after going ‘Number 2’.) Big faux pas!
So a cult is another culture sitting in the middle of a wider culture around it. And because humans have this innate intolerance for people with different moral values than theirs, there is always tension and misunderstanding, and even the potential for violence, between the cult and the culture.
The antiCult movement exploits these innate intolerances in human beings and they inflame the ignorance of people in their attempt to create a moral panic around the minority religions they target as ‘cults’. The AntiCult Movement, and all its attendant ideas, beliefs and morals, is almost directly opposed to social science. And that’s why I believe the anticult movement is largely destructive – they actually instill anti-science and anti-tolerant behaviors and attitudes into their members.
Marty Rathbun, for all his contribution to exposing the real abuses in Scientology, knows none of this. And he simply fights against people he does not like. He is a “warrior” after all. Many of his fights are valid. He has done a lot of good things. And I believe he should get more respect than he does.
But I believe it is cruel to blame a mother for her daughter’s suicide, too. So what do I know?
If there is one generalization that can be made about the Underground Bunker, (and the rest of the Anti-Scientology Mafia Network ASMN) it is that they are rabid anti-cultists operating under the ideology and beliefs, and cultural values, of the anti-cult movement. Like Marty, most of them don’t even know they are doing this. They are just out to get rid of a “vile” cult and all its moral differences. To the degree they expose real deception and real criminal activity so others can’t be harmed, their work is good. But anything beyond that – and they go WAY beyond that every day – their work is bad, and can potentially lead to future Waco-like disasters.
I was a member of the anti-cult movement for many years. But I kept bumping up against the same things, over and over. They really didn’t like being questioned. And they really don’t like tolerance and understanding for people who live in cults. In the end, for all its social justice warrior behaviors, the anticult movement is an incredibly pinheaded pursuit. And I have come to see very clearly that their sub-culture can be very damaging to our society in the long run – if we wish to have a free one.