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The Theory Of Totalism

< Political Theory | BEYOND COMMON SENSE | Conclusions >

  • The Theory Of Thought Control
  • Brainwashing
  • Mental Health Or Just “Bitching”?

The Theory Of Thought Control
The Citizens Electoral Councils is an organisation which calls upon people to make great efforts for humanity. It considers itself revolutionary, challenging the axioms of society and battling to save the world from an impending holocaust, a New Dark Ages. It appeals to the finest traits of individuals, but in fact betrays them.
It claims it is working towards a Golden Renaissance, similar to the process in the late fifteenth century around the works of Nicholas of Cusa, Leonardo Da Vinci and the like.
The CEC-LaRouche organisation has yet to prove that it can create a Golden Renaissance through a program of thought control. It is doubtful if anything worthwhile and noble has ever come out of a thought reform-thought control operation. The CEC-LaRouche movement is merely repeating the errors of a thousand discredited sects and cults. Whilst ICLC members are willing to make the sacrifice, believing that this is the unselfish and high minded duty to humanity, what in reality is happening is that they are placing themselves into a controlled environment, and making themselves vulnerable for manipulation.
Lifton establishes an 8 point check list. In his study, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: a Study of Brainwashing in China. Whilst his study refers to China, he argues that the Chinese situation is a paradigm for revolutions in general.
His 8 point “check list” is a good start for analysing activities in the Citizens Electoral Councils.

Brainwashing
Lifton has made a study of the techniques used against a number of individuals held captive by the Communist Party of China. They refer to the process of szu-hsiang kai-tsao (ideological remoulding). This consists of two basic elements, confession, the exposure and renunciation of past and present “evil” and then the re-education program, the making of a person into the Communist image. The technique generally is to apply pressure and to make appeals on the intellectual, emotional and physical level of an individual. The aim is social control and individuai’change. (41)
The first technique is to gain control of a person’s intellectual and emotional surroundings, this is termed by Lifton, Technique one: Milieu control, a control exerted over human communications where people are deprived of a combination of external information and inner reflection. The organisation, in Lifton’s case, the Communist Party, makes exclusivist demands on an individual:

“he is called upon to make an absolute polarisation of the real (the prevailing ideology) and the unreal (everything else). To the extent that he does this, he undergoes a personal closure, which frees him from man’s incessant struggle with the elusive subtleties of truth.” (42)

There is no insinuation here that CEC people are physically held captive. But through a combination of pressures, members are required to read only prescribed literature. All need for a personal life is whittled away. All initiates enter an intense program of reading of Lyn’s works. Not all of this is bad, Plato’s work is stressed as is Schiller, and other favoured authors (James Fenimore Cooper, Cusa, Swift). The member willingly conforms, believing it to be in their best interests and there is the joy of discovery, a natural desire for more learning.The potential cadre voluntarily enters in to the “personal closure,” stage and personally makes plans for a future full-time involvement in what he or she believes is a worthwhile cause. By handing across money they prove their seriousness and commitment.
Then begins a second stage of development. By this second stage a person has become quite captivated by the new ideas promoted. LaRouche’s dominant role in the battle against evil forces has been stressed to the recruit. His heroic role as an agent of history is acknowledged.
Lifton explains the next stage that the Chinese Communist Government used to break “counter-revolutionaries,” bourgeois spies and the like: This is Technique two: Mystical manipulation:

“they are the agents chosen (by history, by God or by some supernatural force), to carry out the mystical imperative... The inevitable next step after, milieu control is extensive personal manipulation. The mans . pulation assumes a no-holds barred character, and uses every possible device at the milieu’s command, no matter how bizarre or painful. Instituted from above it seeks to provoke certain patterns of behaviour and emotion in such a way that these will appear to have arisen spontaneously from within the environment ... (the manipulating organ has a higher role as an agent of history etc, etc) ... one is asked to accept the manipulation on a basis of ultimate trust (or faith) ... like a child in the arms of its mother, as Father Luca accurately perceived.. (43)

By this stage the CEC cadre has willingly submitted to join the cause, to join the ICLC and hence volunteers to work under LaRouche, who is an agent to change history.
The movement takes an intense “personal” interest in the new member who is often flattered by this attention. e new member is unaware that this is psychological profiling. Deep psychological probing begins. Firstly, in a friendly (“soft cop”) manner, and the participant even welcomes the intrusion, believing that it is necessary for personal development, “toughening up” forthe coming battle, and so on. Thus “consent” is “obtained,” but the target really has no idea of what is going on. It is doubtful if anyone would consent to mental rape.
And who can resist the caressing by a political force that already has changed the course of history, knows everything about everything and is “the greatest mind since Leibnitz.” The recruit’s inner most secrets are probed for, a spotlight is turned onto the dark hidden corners of the recruit’s mind. Everyone has something unpleasant to hide.
Sometimes a recruit is reluctant to participate, indicating that there really is something to hide. Backsliding occurs (the “psychology of the pawn”, as Lifton refers to it), and the backslider “feeling unable to escape from forces more powerful than himself, he subordinates everything to adapting to them. “ (44) This means that the pawn testifies to outrageous acts in the past in an attempt to end the interrogation and please the Inquisitor.
At the CEC office, psycho-sessions were held regularly, under the control of Alien Douglas, and a successful one had been held when a violent emotional response was elicited: crying, anger, rejection. The aim was to find out the mother-child dimension. LaRouche was well aware of the dangers present in such sessions and warned against the possibility of suicide. Follow-up sessions were promised, and behavioural patterns in the intervening period were monitored. Abovbe all a deep emotional response had to be elicited, if the next stage was to be reached.
Technique Three is, as Lifton describes it, The Demand For Purity.
Lifton claims this to be the most malignant element of thought control,

“...for by defining and manipulating the criteria of purity, and by conducting an all-out war on impurity, the ideological totalist creates a narrow world of guilt and shame. This is perpetuated by an ethos of continuous reform, a demand that one strive permanently and painfully for something which not only does not exist but is in fact alien to the human condition. “ (45)

A “guilty milieu” and a “shaming milieu” are created...

... guilt and shame are all basic to human nature, but it is a matter of degree ... Each person is made vulnerable through his profound inner sensitivities to his limitations and to his unfulfilled potential,. in other words each is made vulnerable through his existential guilt...
“Some ideological totalists become the ultimate judges of good and evil within their own world, they are able to use these universal tendencies towards guilt and shame as emotional levers for their controlling and manipulative influences. “ (46)

Lifton points out that the “odious influence” is located outside” of the individual and it can, therefore, be chased and denounced. By scourging that problem and expelling it from the person’s life, then remoulding can take place. In the CEC it is The Witch Mother or her surrogate and partner in historic crime The Witch Wife, who is blamed and hunted down for exorcism. Like a medieval demon possession the Witch is exorcised. If a recruit denounces his mother, recruits his wife to the cause, or leaves his wife and family, then he (or she) will be declared “unblocked,” “potent,” and a “beautiful” person. Failure at this vital stage means expulsion from the ranks of the ICLC elect, and inevitable damnation. As Alien Douglas has pointed out, those who leave the organisation are “destroyed.” The probing during the many psycho sessions is to gain a confession about hidden inner secrets. This is Technique Four: Cult of Confession.
Confession, as a mystic once said is “good for the soul.” Confession is the “purging milieu” it is “an act of symbolic selfsurrender,

(a) policy of making public (or at the very least known to the Organiser) everything possible about the life experience, thoughts and passions of each individual and especially the elements which might be regarded as derogatory. “ (47)

What is assumed here, as Lifton points out, is that

“private ownership of mind and its products ... becomes highly immoral. “ (48)

At the Larouche dominated headquarters, CEC individuals were encouraged to “confess” their childhood experiences and search for the guilt that prevented them from becoming effective people. It was this inner secret that had to be located. Once this inner secret is located - incest, masturbation, child abuse, or whatever, then a person can be “unblocked.”
In some cases such problems were indeed located, but if they weren’t located, then, those conducting the session invariably believed something was being hidden. More sessions followed. In the best of these outcomes, the leaders of the psychological session would latch onto a few traits of the recruit and form a judgement which was simply “made-up.” His (or her) personality was then arbitrarily categorised by these selfappointed “experts” and this became an axiom of the organisation’s belief in future interfacing with that individual. Any deviation from organisational goals, any dissent, any individual behaviour was immediately denounced as “aberrant,” but, of course, explained in terms of LaRouche Psychoanalysis. A formula for corrective behaviour was implemented.
The philosophy behind the interrogation at CEC was that everyone had something to hide. Everyone had a dark side. The probing was carried out on every office worker (ICLC member) and would-be aspirants to work full-time. If you didn’t reveal it then you were “blocked.” According to Lifton, it was the victim who adopted the “psychology of the pawn,” but the reverse could happen whereby character traits were invented by the CEC inquisitor. In exasperation, to prove the psycho-political theories of LaRouche, people were “forced” into convenient categories by the self-appointed psychoanalysts, Douglas and lsherwood.

Mental Health Or Just “Bitching"
But confidences were not respected. Everyone was “let into the secret” about so-and-so. The confidences of the LaRouche Clinic were betrayed, especially if the individual proved “blocked” and was to be eliminated. The information so obtained could be used to discredit them and hound them out of the movement. People’s inner secrets and “problems” became common knowledge throughout the office. One person’s alleged problems” was used in psycho sessions as an example to help reform” other delinquents.
One former member, who had undergone some 40 hours of LaRouche psychoanalysis has called this “mass mind plumbing,” and “collective under pants sniffing.” He has since been thrown out of the organisation and denounced as “fear ridden,” “mother dominated,” and “blocked.” Cults, religious orders, sects, freemasonic clubs, the boy scouts, even bikie groups have ways of enforcing group conformity. The CEC is no exception. Thus we come to Lifton’s Technique Five: The Sacred Science, and here we come to the totalist’s claim on a person’s life:

“The total milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic dogma, holding it out as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence... a prohibition against the questioning of basic assumptions ... reverence which is demanded for the originator of the Word, the present bearers of the Word and the Word itself ..an exaggerated claim is made for airtight logic of absolute scientific precision.
“Thus the ultimate moral vision becomes an ultimate science; and the man who dares to criticise it, or to harbour even unspoken alternative ideas becomes not only immoral and irreverent, but also unscientific. In this way the philosopher kings of modem ideological totalism reinforce their authority by claiming to share in the rich and respected heritage of natural science. “ (49)

Lifton is pointing to Maoist practices from Communist China but he might well have been referencing the sacred texts of Lyndon LaRouche.
In one incident, at HQ, when one person appeared to uestion the psycho theory outlined in a LaRouche article, a carrier of The Word (the American Controller) angrily exclaimed:

“Do you question this? Are you challenging Lyndon LaRouche, are you actually challenging Lyndon LaRouche?”

A dull conformity is cultivated in the organisation, it is easier not to question. It is easier to go along with what is demanded. LaRouche’s book The Science of Christian Economy, lays claim to being an explanation of human existence back before time and forward to infinity, this is The Word of the organisation. The book is claimed to hold the sacred “method” of LaRouche within its covers. The book outlines how the universe was made, that God’s plan has become manifest. All are expected to read and understand The Method contained within.
ICLC members gain a higher level of approbation by mouthing clich6s, although Al Douglas defends them as “higher level clichés. “ Using the clich6s is “proof’that one is an unblocked loyalist, but in fact it is simply another technique of thought control. Lifton refers to this as Technique Six: Loading of the Language A lexicon of clichés are invented to stop thought. Lifton terms this “the thought terminology cliché.’ Or in Lionel Trilling’s phrase:

“The language of non-thought. (The consequences of this process, of relying on clichés is that “...his imagination becomes increasingly dissociated from his actual life experiences and may even tend to atrophy from disuse.“ (50)

Lifton’s Technique Seven is that of a movement establishing Doctrine Over Person.
A peculiar aura of half reality is created, and Lifton cites Albert Camus: this
“puts an abstract idea above human life, even if they call it history, to which they themselves have submitted in advance, and to which they will decide, quit arbitrarily, to submit everyone else as well. “ (51)
Members were often told that it was their joyful opportunity to be present at this time of history, to be able to wilfully intervene and change the course of history, this opportunity only comes once every millennium. That there was nothing to fear in this challenge as you only had “death” to confront and that doesn’t count because you’re dead and then there’s nothing to be fearful about. The alternative was to remain passive and not intervene, because then you would be complicit in the New Dark Ages and become a “beast,” a traitor to humanity.
By submitting to the movement, LaRouche’s historic insights (post Marxist), and undergoing psychological reformation then you as an individual would lead an historically useful life, to eternal immortality.
In the final stage the Communist Party practised technique Eight: The Dispensing of Existence.
“Existence comes to depend upon creed, believe in the creed and you will have life more abundant, disbelieve and you are doomed.
This means that in a Communist state, the party can murder you. In the LaRouche movement it simply means that you are expelled and live outside the pale. Ex-members are denounced and demonised. No one is allowed to speak to them, they are the enemy leading doomed lives.
These are the eight psychological factors Lifton outlines, and the more closely an environment expresses these eight psychological themes, then the greater it resembles ideological totalism. The CEC-LaRouche operation rates high on most of these criteria.

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Page last modified on June 01, 2012, at 01:13 AM