One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from writer and director Oliver Stone, who once said that “Hell is the impossibility of reason.” In other words, if truth and logic are eradicated within a society then any hope for redemption or peace is lost. The world becomes a perpetual nightmare.
I was reminded of this recently as I watched a documentary series called ‘Wild Wild Country’ about the bizarre events surrounding a cult that actually tried to hijack the state of Oregon in the 1980’s.
I have had a long time fascination with religious cultism, mainly because these groups show us how easily and how far modern humanity can fall into the madness of collectivism and zealotry given the right circumstances.
Wild Wild Country is an examination of the Rajneesh cult, which was a global news phenomenon that had infiltrated the US in 1981. The movement was led spiritually by a man known as Rajneesh who would later call himself “Osho.”
Osho’s religion revolved around a mish-mash of eastern philosophies and an odd political ideology in which he praised the use of “capitalism” to create wealth as long as the ultimate end goal was socialism (the forced redistribution of wealth).
I was particularly struck by the number of similarities between the Rajneesh and today’s iteration of progressive social justice leftists. This is not some loose association on my part; where leftists like to falsely compare everyone that disagrees with them to “Nazis” in order to diminish their views and criticisms, the comparisons between them and religious cultists are so evident it’s mind boggling.
I have long said that in order to understand social justice groups we must also understand how cultism works.
However, I think this needs to be examined in more detail and the story of the Rajneesh is a perfect allegory.
How is the political left like a cult? Let’s count the ways…
Elitism in the Name of “Equality”
A rather clever ploy by Osho was his praise of capitalism for the sake of socialism. This allowed Osho to amass a considerable fortune by pilfering the pockets of his followers without looking hypocritical in the process.
He owned at least 93 Rolls Royces, if this gives you any indication of his personal priorities.
Wealth in the pursuit of socialism is actually a common idea among the elites. In other words, it’s okay for SELECT people within a socialist/collectivist society to retain large amounts of property because they are special.
We have seen this most recently with leftists in the form of BLM. The founders of one of the largest BLM groups have been caught on multiple occasions misappropriating donations and funds for their own personal gain rather than the support of the “movement.”
This is not at all surprising to me, but many people who donated to the cause are now incensed to discover that BLM founders are openly drinking champagne to celebrate their “victory” over “white supremacy” while sitting in a $6 million mansion they secretly purchased with donation funds.
In every communist/socialist project in history the call is for the redistribution of wealth and power to the people but all that happens is the formation of a new elite lording over a new peasant class.
And as with most cults, this dynamic is justified as if the new elite is representative of a “victory” for equality. The peasants or underlings are supposed to live vicariously through the elevation and extravagance of the leaders.
Filling the Spiritual Void With Narcissism
On the religious side, the Rajneesh movement was not at all unique. They followed the same exact model as the Theosophical movement which was founded in 1875; slapping together various elements of misaligned religions as well as the occult into a single entity which they called a “world religion.”
In fact, I would venture to say that Rajneesh was nothing more than a rip-off or reiteration of Theosophy.
The goal of theosophical movements is essentially to appeal to one principle – Do what thou wilt. That is to say, there are no boundaries in life and anything that creates boundaries is an unjust suppression of your “true potential.”
Another factor which comes up very often in these philosophies is the idea of self worship. Any notion of a god or a greater design takes a back seat to the pursuit of one’s own greatness or comfort, no matter the cost.
It is this underlying mantra of zero boundaries and the demonization of self control, discipline and responsibility that permeates cults and world religions, and not surprisingly the same attitude is ever present within social justice movements and the political left today.
Of course, the promise of individual freedom and self exploration without restrictions is always false. There tends to be far more control and oppression within cults than in most mainstream religions.
These movements buy followers by offering them a place to act on their darkest impulses without consequence, but once they are hooked into that life, they become enslaved in other ways.
The vast majority of social justice arguments revolve around the worship of victimhood. It is a religion of self aggrandizement through self immolation. Activists see themselves as living martyrs and expect to be treated as such at all times.
Beyond that, victim status is seen as a currency that allows a person to buy attention, adoration and the right to bad behavior. The more of a victim you are, the more you can do whatever you want without being held responsible.
Some of the behaviors of the Rajneesh crossed into the realm of authoritarianism and even terrorism, but the entire time the cult asserted that THEY were being attacked and victimized by the people of Oregon.
The Rajneesh hyperfocused on the idea that boundaries are a violation of the spiritual and emotional life of the activist or cultist. But many boundaries exist for a reason; they protect us from being assimilated into mass insanity and the crimes of madmen.
Discrimination in some forms is good. Discrimination is a biological imperative, but leftists want to be able to do all things at all times no matter how irrational or destructive and if you say no, then you are a “bigot.” They victimize you, and then if you try to stop them, they cry out that you are victimizing them.
Leftism is at bottom an organized cult of narcissists.
Assimilation Posing As “Democracy”
The story of the Rajneesh might seem bizarre without context, but if you understand the social and political ideals involved it makes perfect sense. Think of it in terms of the natural tendency of collectivists/leftists to do these four things: Invade, indoctrinate, dominate and then eradicate.
The cult was a relatively unknown element in the west through the 1970’s, except within the hippie movements. Fueled by drugs and socialist ideology, thousands of westerners were traveling to India to gain “enlightenment.”
Surrounded by some of the worst poverty in the world, they would inevitably discover the Rajneesh and their extravagant garden compound. The problem was that the government of India was not too happy with some of the activities of the cult and investigations were underway.
It was not all that surprising that Osho was suddenly struck with a revelation that the cult needed to relocate to America. He was facing potential prosecution for tax evasion and other crimes in India, and so he simply up and disappeared, waiting for word on the building of a new ashram in America.
This is where we start to see the real people in charge of the cult and why their system of belief was completely incompatible with western values.
While Osho was the religious figurehead of the cult, all day-to-day affairs were managed with an iron fist by an Indian woman named Ma Anand Sheela, and the power structure of the cult was rather akin to a matriarchy (another example of why matriarchies always fail).
Osho obviously had knowledge of many of the criminal enterprises underway within the cult, but was apparently more content to stay in the background when it came to worldly decisions and technical operations.
I’ll say this about Sheela – I don’t think I have ever seen a more clear case of narcissistic sociopathy in my life. To this day she remains adamant that she did nothing wrong and all of her actions were justified.
The move of the Rajneesh from India to the little town of Antelope, Oregon in 1981 was planned primarily by Sheela, who not only had a knack for sheering Osho followers for money in sophisticated ways, but also had a knack for finding and exploiting people with high level skill sets such as law, architecture and land management.
I will admit that the Rajneesh movement had an impressive ability to plan and execute projects with efficiency, like little worker ants.
Another area in which Sheela and her cohorts excelled was in marketing and branding. The compound in Antelope, called “Rajneeshpuram,” was sold to the public as a kind of libertarian paradise where people just wanted to be free. The opposite was actually true.
Antelope, Oregon and the surrounding areas were primarily conservative at the time, and this was the real genius behind the Rajneesh relocation. You see, in conservative regions of America there is a continuing respect for individual liberty and this is something we must never abandon.
That said, our habit of accepting people’s intentions at face value and assuming that discrimination is the same as authoritarianism sometimes gets us into trouble. Democracy without skepticism and discernment is a recipe for disaster.
Here is where I would start making more direct comparisons with the political left and their common behaviors. The takeover of Antelope by the Rajneesh is a striking parable to what we are dealing with now in the US in terms of the leftist attempt to take over our country and fundamentally change it into something unrecognizable
The people of Antelope were wary of the Rajneesh, but accepting of their presence. There was no initial uprising of angry farmers trying to run the hippies out of the county.
To their credit (or detriment), the conservative residents were simply resigned to keep to themselves and let the cultists be. This changed when the rural area was overrun with tens of thousands of Osho’s followers and they moved to seize control of the local government.
Using the very election laws which local conservatives sought to protect, the cult’s population completely overwhelmed the voting power of the small town merely by moving their people from all over the world and concentrating them in a single place.
Many of them were foreigners with temporary visas, and Sheela advised them to commit immigration fraud through false marriages to gain citizenship.
The cult was rather successful in taking over the region, but faced stiff opposition and less population advantage when it came to trying to take over the whole county.
In an attempt to increase their edge in elections, Sheela (and possibly Osho) came up with a plan: They would offer the homeless of America safe haven in the Antelope commune.
They would feed, clothe and put a roof over the head of anyone who showed up off the street… but for a price. In exchange, the homeless who arrived would have to vote in the county elections the way the Rajneesh wanted them to vote.
Leftists understand that they don’t necessarily need a majority to take power, all they need is a majority in the RIGHT PLACES to take power. Their ability to use organized mobs as a weapon to attack weak points in the structures of a particular culture is their primary survival mechanism.
The county responded to the obvious tactic the only way they could, which was to block all new voter registrations until an investigation into election manipulation could be completed.
Some people would argue that this is contrary to the conservative standards of constitutionalism and free elections, but this is not the case. When you are faced with a movement that seeks to use the constitutional framework as a means to destroy the constitutional framework, then gatekeeping is the only option. You have to block those people from the process because their intent is malicious.
We see this familiar strategy within the political left as they consistently try to violate the spirit of free elections. They fight ID requirements in every state that legislates them because they KNOW that a large number of votes for the left come from illegal immigration, and if people have to prove they are citizens of the US then the left loses a potential edge.
By extension, leftists aggressively fight for the permanent use of mail-in ballots for the same reason. Fraud is much easier with such ballots and no proof of citizenship is required in most cases.
Furthermore, the exploitation of the poor is a pervasive tactic among cults and among leftists. They pretend to care about the struggles of the downtrodden, but in the end all they are really after is power and they will happily use the poor as cannon fodder to get that power.
The Normalization of Depravity and Insanity
With mounting investigations into the practices of the cult and county and state officials considering a move to obstruct the operations of Rajneeshpuram, Osho, Sheela and the cult were getting increasingly desperate.
Winning local elections was now a priority for them. Their solution to the problem was to start a hidden lab on compound grounds with the purpose of developing biological weapons.
The plan was to poison as many residents of the county as possible with Salmonella planted in multiple restaurants and buffets using hidden spray canisters. They hoped that so many people would have to stay home from sickness that the elections could be manipulated in favor of the cult.
The scheme failed, but over 751 people suffered from food poisoning that week in 1984. Everything was justified as a means to an end.
Leaked film footage of some of the “therapy sessions” within the compound gave the public a startling view into what happens when you build a society around the removal of boundaries and the lack of consequences for engaging in excess.
The film contained images of a large group of Rajneesh followers fully naked and wailing, raging, kicking and punching each other, then running about wildly before the men began raping some of the women.
This turned into a grotesque orgy, which was then followed by insane singing and disco dancing. It sounds darkly hilarious in a way, like it’s all a joke, but watching it I find that I lose my sense of humor.
It’s really not funny when you actually see complete and utter madness on full display in front of you without anyone stepping in to say “that’s enough, time to stop.”
Unbridled emotional aggression is what we tend to expect from unbalanced children, not full grown adults. And sexual addiction has always been a taboo in the US exactly because we understand that this leads to many other problems in society including the destruction of healthy families, the core pillar of any civilization worth a damn.
It also tends to lead to the sexualization of children, which is always an indicator of a culture in steep decline. Activities with children were a problem within the cult and it’s one that the documentary series decided not to mention.
The Rajneesh were very proud of their free love society, but rarely talked about many of the dangers associated with it. Birth control and even abortion were often enforced within the cult, and relationships and marriages rarely survived.
Furthermore, the encouragement of unchecked emotion as if it is an “act of purity” can lead to delusions of victimhood and justifications for criminality.
I can’t think of any behavior more common among leftists than their penchant for emotional outbursts bordering on the schizophrenic, and all of this stemming from an ideology which promotes personal excess.
By extension, they view any words or actions that make light of their emotions or that are critical of their excesses as the same as physical violence. Meaning, words are the same as sticks and stones, and reacting to words with violence is therefore acceptable.
I won’t get into the internal split within the Rajneesh and all the drama that ensued. Needless to say, leftists have a tendency to eat their own.
Osho was eventually booted out of the US for immigration fraud (among other things) while Sheela and a few others were arrested for a variety of crimes including attempted murder. Sheela was unfortunately given a short sentence of a few years while her minions spent far longer in prison.
To this day, many of the followers of Rajneesh still live in denial and delusion and continue to promote the cult. But, I see this strange event in US history as a learning experience and a warning.
The political left is in so many ways a cult very similar to the one that tried to hijack Oregon 40 years ago. Their tactics are the same, their justifications are the same and their ideologies are much the same. Back then Americans responded first with a wait and see approach, and then with resounding rejection. They were not wrong to reject the Rajneesh. Not at all.
Gatekeeping in this case was a good thing, because if they had allowed the cult to continue there could have been irreversible damage. We must treat social justice leftists with the same uncompromising attitude, because if we do not our culture will die from lack of reason and the spiraling collapse into hell will be complete.
By Brandon Smith, Guest writer