Bonum Certa Men Certa

Alexandre Oliva's Article on Monstering Cults

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Mar 18, 2024

GNU at 40

By Alexandre Oliva. Copyright information at the bottom.

I'm told an earlier draft version of this post got published elsewhere. Please consider this IMHO improved version instead.

There are some cults devoted to monstering individuals or groups. Followers of such cults are led to believe that the targets of the cult's reproach are monstrous.

Once cult targets are dehumanized, the cult followers feel entitled and required to destroy them, to hurt them, to make them miserable, and to self-righteously wish them to suffer, to starve, to die.

The cult followers don't perceive their own monstrosity in these actions. They're proud of the atrocities carried out on behalf of the cult.

They are led to believe that the targets brought those consequences upon themselves for being (presumed) such monsters.

This is not about any such cult specifically. I've observed it and read about it over and over and over, in history books and movies, as well as in contemporary events.

"Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it."
-- George Santayana (paraphrased)

It takes a non-follower, an external observer to question the cult's presumptions and actions, and to conclude that the cult followers' actions are monstrous whether or not their presumptions hold.

By such cults' own "justice" standards, anyone who comes to believe in someone else's monstrosity is entitled to dehumanize and to commit any imaginable atrocities against the (presumed) monster.

Analogously, by the same standards, the external observer, who realizes that the cult followers' actions are also monstrous, would be entitled to dehumanize and commit atrocities against the followers.

But by reacting with atrocities, the external observer would become monstrous as well.

Whether or not the targets of the cult are guilty to begin with, the cult followers become monstrous by committing atrocities against them. In turn, observers who react with atrocities against the cult followers become monstrous themselves, and so on and so forth.

That's not justice, it's monster apocalypse!

"Those who learn the lessons of history are condemned to watch other idiots repeat it."
-- Peter Lamborn Wilson (paraphrased)

Since the targets, the followers, and even the external observers become monstrous because of the cult, it seems reasonable to qualify it as a "monstering cult".

Fortunately, civilized justice doesn't work like that.

Even when suspects are most blatantly guilty, neither a justice officer nor a civilized people should aim to impose "justice" on them on the spot, but to bring them to face a proper trial.

Civilized justice encompasses due process, presumption of innocence, detailed and individualized charges, trained and objective defense, reliance on sound evidence, standards for burden of proof, impartial judging of adversarial arguments, and proportionality.

Civilized justice should aim not for retribution but for regeneration of the guilty, not for undue harm but for reparations to the maliciously accused victims, and for justice onto malicious accusers.

Monstering cults are not at all about promoting justice, even (and especially) when they claim to be.

Monstering cults are not about finding truth, or even facts, but about finding their targets guilty at all costs, and finding ways to punish them.

In media trials, defense is often suppressed. In witch trials, any attempt at a defense is made out to be proof of the presumed guilt.

Both are emotionally manipulative and fundamentally unjust.

People are dragged into monstering cults by emotional manipulation.

Once they're in, they can't see it's a cult, and they can't get out.

"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back."
-- Carl Sagan

"Do your own justice" works just as poorly as "do your own science." Science and justice are both social and collective endeavors, and both have long-established traditions of well-defined processes, for solid but seldom understood reasons. One can't peer review one's own research any more than one can judge impartially the case that one prosecutes. The more certain one is of what the outcome should be, before the confrontation of opposing evidence and arguments, the more partial and thus the less suited one is to judge. Taking shortcuts serves neither justice nor science, and the ill effects extend far beyond the perpetrator's own peril.

Because of faulty processes, when cult followers find their target guilty, that offers no credible evidence that the target is monstrous. But because they set out to do their own "justice", typically with their own hands, without due process, without a defense, without impartial judging, without proportionality, and aiming for harsh punishment because of their presumption of guilt supported by fabricated one-sided pseudoevidence, the cult followers become monstrous themselves, beyond any reasonable doubt.

By monstering cults' own "justice" standards, people must be expelled from society for being merely accused of doing something horrible.

The cult followers don't seem to realize how dangerous and harmful their sloppy "justice" standards are to the very society they claim to protect from danger and harm.

If we were to follow their standards, we'd ostracize the cult followers as soon as we realized they hold such dangerous beliefs and engage in such harmful behaviors.

We'd exclude them even if they were merely accused of adhering to such "justice" standards! And then, for committing the same monstrosity, we'd also have to get ourselves excluded from society.

But we'd only pursue our own exclusion if we were self-reflective enough to realize the sloppy, faulty "justice" in our own reactions.

However, after becoming part of yet another monstering cult, we wouldn't realize it's a cult.

We'd be stuck committing atrocities on its behalf, without understanding why external observers conclude that, by our own standards, we should also get ourselves ostracized.

Hopefully we'd use our self-reflection to come to this realization soon enough to stop ourselves from joining that cult to begin with.

The cult followers, who couldn't stop themselves, mindlessly escalate injustice and unknowingly become no better (often much worse) than their target, in stark contrast with the self image of moral superiority donned by monstering cult monsters.

There have been many occasions in history in which people got persuaded to join such cults.

Even the worst cults of this sort had followers who carried a delusional conviction that they were doing good, joining a good cause, self-righteously protecting good people from dangerous monsters.

History teaches us where this path ends.

And yet such cults keep rearing their monstrous heads, over and over and over, in history books and movies, as well as (or as poorly as) in contemporary events.

This is the repugnant, stinky, bamboozling nature of cancel cults.

"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history."
-- Aldous Huxley

So blong,

Copyright 2007-2024 Alexandre Oliva

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this entire document worldwide without royalty, provided the copyright notice, the document's official URL, and this permission notice are preserved.

The following licensing terms also apply to all documents and postings in this blog that don't contain a copyright notice of their own, or that contain a notice equivalent to the one above, and whose copyright can be reasonably assumed to be held by Alexandre Oliva.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons License BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) 3.0 Unported. To see a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.

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