In August 2021 I wrote the article
I used three current stories to describe how media was being distorted to push a particular narrative:
- SARS-Cov-2 was of natural origin while a lab leak was conspiracy theory.
- US 2020 election was free and fair while a stolen election was conspiracy theory.
- Jan 6 Capitol riot was a deadly insurrection orchestrated by Donald Trump while FBI entrapment was conspiracy theory.
Over the past 18 months, overwhelming evidence has emerged that has strengthened / proven every one of my positions, but things move very slowly in US politics, so justice has not yet been served. This article expands upon “What is dis mis?” using the works of Robert Jay Lifton and Dr. James Lindsay.
Robert Jay Lifton is the Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York.
In the 1950’s, he conducted dozens of interviews in Hong Kong and used his findings as the basis of his 1961 book:
Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of ‘Brainwashing’ in China.”
Dr. James Lindsay is an American author, cultural critic, and mathematician.
Today, Dr. Lindsay researches, writes and speaks on the modern manifestations of Marxism.
I ended my previous article – Sustainable with the argument that:
“There is no excuse for governments to bribe media and weaponise law-enforcement against their own people. When free speech is banned and dissenting voices crushed, the populace see through the lies and corruption.”
That is a useful segway into this current article. Dr. James Lindsay believes that the West is currently undergoing a Communist Cultural Revolution with American characteristics. He bases his argument on the analysis of Robert Jay Lifton’s book.
Lifton interviewed 25 American servicemen who had been held captive during the Korean War. He also interviewed 15 Chinese who had fled their homeland after having been subjected to indoctrination in Chinese universities. From these interviews, Lifton identified the tactics used by Chinese communists to cause drastic shifts in one’s opinions and personality or “brainwashing.”
He explains these tactics as “Eight Criteria for Thought Reform.”
I developed this model after reading / listening to Lifton and Lindsay. I made it simple as an aid to explaining the brain-washing process. I’m sure Lifton would identify more inter-relationships between the elements.
The group’s doctrine or ideology (the Sacred Science) is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Therefore, the leader, as the spokesperson for God or all humanity, is above criticism. The Scared Science informs many elements of the model, but primarily Milieu Control. The Milieu (or environment) is controlled through various manipulations of language, thought and relationships, many operating in vicious cycles. This provides an emergent or seemingly “mystical” psychological momentum; a self-perpetuating energy not always bound by the interests of the programme’s directors.
The group “loads the language,” i.e. interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating clichés (e.g. Black Lives Matter, Trans Women are Women), which serve to alter members’ thought processes to conform to the group’s way of thinking. This supports the elements of Mystical Manipulation and Doctrine over Person, which pressure inductees to succumb to what seems like “higher” or previously hidden knowledge. This leads to the process of Confession of sins, attitudes and faults against the group, e.g.secret racism, whiteness and other issues that they were previously unaware of. Shared secrets are exploited by leaders through guilt and shame and reinforced by the Demand for Purity where members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and to strive for perfection. Anyone able to overcome the brainwashing process and reject the group’s tactics loses all credibility and is considered unsaved, unenlightened, unconscious and has no right to exist. They are cancelled with whatever tools are available to the group and become “persona non grata.”
Lifton’s brief bio (above) and the more detailed descriptions for the “Eight Criteria for Thought Reform” (later in the article) are drawn from Wikipedia.
Dr. James Lindsay discusses Lifton’s Eight Criteria for Thought Reform in his podcast: Ideological Totalism in the Woke Cult.
In summarising Lifton’s chapter, James Lindsay said:
Well the woke pretty well damn nails all eight of them super hard, doesn’t it. …
What is happening in America is a Maoist cultural revolution with American characteristics. I stared out the window with a 1000-yard stare, a 1000-year stare, maybe, until we landed. I decided that … understanding how and why it works this way is one of those important things that can be communicated right now and eventually even studying Mao and understanding more clearly what was on the other side of this is going to be necessary.
Later in this article, I list all eight criteria, add Lifton’s detailed descriptions and Dr. Lindsay’s commentary regarding Lifton’s Eight Criteria and today’s cultural revolution in the West. Please read these and listen to Dr. Lindsay’s podcast for more detail.
Current examples of Milieu Control
Lifton’s work describes brainwashing in China under Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Let’s examine some manifestations in recent history.
Domestic Terrorism in the US
Hundreds of Trump supporters have been locked in a DC jail for over two years, labelled as “domestic terrorists.”
During his March 6 2023 episode, Tucker Carlson provided video evidence of the January 6 2021 US capitol riot that had been withheld for the past 26 months. This is a telling example of milieu control within the cultural revolution currently underway in the US. It was designed to have a chilling effect on anyone daring to protest the outcome of a US election.
Instead of the riotous footage shown exclusively by mainstream media,
we see video evidence of police escorting people peacefully through the capitol building, even trying to open locked doors for them.
Officer Brian Sicknick, was reported as being bludgeoned to death by Trump supporters that day.
However, newly released video has him directing people out of the building after the alleged event.
And finally, in this March 14th video, we see Daniel Goodwyn enter the Capitol building and exit within one minute of being instructed by Capitol police. He is looking at one year in jail for this.
Tucker went on to say (despite the tight Fox News muzzle) that:
“January 6th, I think is probably second only to the 2020 election as the biggest scam in my lifetime.Tucker Carlson (March 14 2023)
And you know it is because they become completely hysterical when confronted with any facts that deviate from their lies.”
The Establishment politicians and the legacy media obviously lied in order to create the narrative of a “Deadly Insurrection.”
This narrative was based on an allegation that five police officers were killed that day. No police officers were killed that day, although several Trump supporters died at the hands of Capitol police. Sicknick died the next day from natural causes and four other police committed suicide afterwards. This milieu control, continuing for over two years, is an ongoing attempt to link Trump to the events of January 6 2021, indict him and disqualifying him from running for President in 2024.
Why are the establishment politicians and media so mad at Tucker Carlson for releasing the previously hidden footage?
Safety and the Environment
Major decisions in the US and the West over the past few years have been made as a necessary part of achieving a “Sustainable and Inclusive future.” They were taken “for our safety” and for “climate justice.” Some of the more significant decisions include:
- Disregarding existing pandemic preparedness plans to execute CCP-style lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations simultaneously around the world, destroying economies, crushing supply chains, lives and livelihoods. The number of people “in poverty” rose by 25%.
- Denying any attempt to identify the definitive origin of SARS-COV-2; calling it Chinese as “racist.” Millions have died from COVID and many millions more from the ensuing COVID-induced government mandates.
- Shutting down oil and gas exploration and drilling for the sake of “Net Zero” and depleting strategic oil reserves to create energy dependence and inflated oil prices, exacerbating the supply chain crises and boosting inflation.
- Starting a new “forever war” in Ukraine, driving Russia into the arms of China and bringing the world to the brink of WW3.
- Removing Germany’s access to cheap Russian gas by blowing up Nord Stream 2, thereby forcing their hand on the Ukrainian war with Russia. This was declared an environmental disaster, and one of the largest emissions of Methane gas in history.
No, the Russians did not blow up their own pipeline.
6. The decision to spill tonnes of toxic chemicals from a train derailment in Ohio into a ditch and burn it off to expedite the rail line’s re-opening. Then pretending that there was nothing to see and ignoring the residents for over a month. This created an environmental catastrophe which will negatively impact the East Palestine community for decades to come.
7. Diversity hires across virtually all sectors of industry. One of the most dangerous examples is Southwest Airlines hiring pilots on the basis of their LGPTQ+ status, not their ability to fly planes. Watch the 10 Mar 2023 Tucker Carlson episode from the (22:35 – 25:00 min marks).
8. On the same episode of Tucker Carlson (30:55 – 36:30 min mark) Jordan Peterson describes the Sustainability cult, Gaia-worship and makes a shocking statement about how we are being shown the world through manufactured narratives (milieu control).
You MUST WATCH this 5.5 min clip of Peterson as he summarises the concepts of Simulacra (see SIMS for more details), the Sustainability Cult (see Sustainable for more details) and Milieu control (this article).
Either Mr. Peterson has been reading my blogs or we are using similar source material. I think the latter is more likely the case.
And while Sustainability has hogged the limelight over the past decade, what, pray tell, has happened to Safety and the Environment?
It appears they have been sacrificed on the altar of Sustainability.
I hope this puts a fire under every single reader (please pardon the pun) and we do something about this!
Details of Lifton’s Eight Criteria and Dr. Lindsay’s Commentary
The remainder of this article includes more details of Robert Jay Lifton’s writings on the Eight Criteria and Dr. James Lindsay’s key comments. The text is quoted from Robert Jay Lifton’s book, unless there is a (JL) suffix, meaning that it is a James Lindsay comment. The podcast is over two hours long (but well worth listening to if you have the time). I’ve included time-stamps below to help you locate particular topics of interest.
From Dr. James Linday’s podcast page:
“Woke is a cult in exactly the same way Maoism was and is a cult. Ideological cults like Woke and Maoism operate in an environment Robert Jay Lifton labelled ‘ideological totalism.’
James Lindsay connects it both to the Maoist context Lifton is describing from the outside and to the Woke Marxist revolution we’re currently suffering from the inside.”
(05:00) The similarities to what we are experiencing are so obvious as to be uncomfortable. (JL)
(05:55) “Ideological totalism or thought reform has a psychological momentum of its own; a self-perpetuating energy not always bound by the interests of the programme’s directors.”
(06:10) There is not a lot of daylight between Maoist Communism and Woke Communism. Rather than using economic themes, they woke focus on identity and sexuality. (JL)
(08:50) “Similarly, any ideology, that is any set of emotionally charged convictions about man and his relationship to the natural or supernatural world, may be carried by its adherents in a totalistic direction. This is most likely to occur with those ideologies which are most sweeping in their content and most ambitious or messianic in their claims, whether religious, political or scientific. And where totalism exists, a religion a political movement or even a scientific organisation becomes little more than an exclusive cult.”
(10:30) Note: this is from one of the biggest experts in cults and cult thinking and cult dynamics and cult indoctrination that’s ever written on the subject. The term “scientific organisation” can be applied to today’s institutions including universities and three-letter agencies (e.g. FBI, CDC). (JL)
(11:00) “… on the basis of this study of thought reform, features common to all expressions of ideological totalism, I wish to suggest a set of criteria against which any environment may be judged; a basis for answering the ever-recurring question: ‘Isn’t this just like brain-washing’?”
1. Milieu Control
This involves the control of information and communication both within the environment and, ultimately, within the individual, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large.
(13:00) You’re [the cult is] going to control the environment around you totally. (JL)
(13:10) “The most basic feature of the thought reform environment; the psychological current upon which all else demands, is the control of human communication.”
(13:30) Some major modes of human communication (today) include: the media, entertainment, education and teaching, religion and preaching, dialogue between one another, the words that we use, what the words mean, the language that we use and social media – whether or not that’s censored. (JL)
(14:03) “Through this milieu control, the totalist environment seeks to establish domain over not only the individual’s communication with the outside, all that he sees and hears, reads and writes, experiences and expresses, but also in its’ penetration of his inner life, over what we may speak of, as his communication with himself.”
(16:40) An example of milieu control is cancellation: you could be banned for life from social media for saying something like “women are not men.” (JL)
(17:50) “At the centre of this self-justification is their assumption of omniscience, the conviction that reality is their exclusive possession.”
(18:00) This is a trait of a gnostic cult. (JL)
(18:40) “They consider it their duty to create an environment containing no more and no less than this ‘truth.’”
(18:55) “In order to be the engineers of the human soul they must first bring it under full observational control.”
(20:30) A quote from Mao Zedong “Not having the correct political orientation is like not having a soul.” (JL). See Dispensing of existence below.
(25:20) This is a major feature of how we’ve been having to live life for a long time, at least three or four years. Perhaps, since 2015 when the culture wars really kicked off. (JL)
Note: Conservatives and those “cancelled” by social media will likely resonate with this thought above. Others may not fully realise what is being spoken of.
2. Mystical Manipulation
The manipulation of experiences that appears spontaneous but is, in fact, planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders to demonstrate divine authority, spiritual advancement, or some exceptional talent or insight that sets the leader and/or group apart from humanity, and that allows a reinterpretation of historical events, scripture, and other experiences.
Coincidences and happenstance oddities are interpreted as omens or prophecies.
(28:25) This includes gaslighting, and extensive personal intellectual, emotional and moral manipulation on the part of the woke zealots. There are “no holds barred” tactics from within the milieu that have the appearance of mystical knowledge. (JL)
(29:50) “This element of planned spontaneity directed as it is by an ostensibly omniscient group must assume, for the manipulated, a near mystical quality.”
(30:00) These people are no longer “Initiates.” They are now the vanguard of the movement.
(31:36) “They are the agents ‘chosen’ by history, by God or by some other supernatural force to carry out the ‘mystical imperative,’ the pursuit of which must supersede all considerations of decency or immediate human welfare.”
(32:30) This is a religious ritual like chanting or dancing around a fire, hypnotising themselves. (JL)
(32:35) “The same mystical imperative produces the apparent extremes of idealism and cynicism which occur in connection with the manipulations of any totalist environment, even those actions which seem cynical in the extreme can be seen as having ultimate relationship to the ‘higher purpose.’”
(34:08) We’re dealing with a gigantic cult, possibly the largest cult startup in human history and it is not just a cult, but it is a power-hungry destructive cult in which the participants believe they have perceived a higher truth and they’re are on a holy mission to beat it into everybody. They’re controlling the milieu and they use the contents of the milieu control to do this mystical manipulation and they feel completely justified in manipulating you through what seems like mystical power. (JL)
3. Demand for Purity
The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection. The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here.
(38:56) The philosophical assumption underlying this demand is that absolute purity or the “ideal communist state” is attainable that we can achieve “justice” in our day, that we can be perfectly “sustainable” in our behaviour. Absolute purity is attainable and that anything done to anyone in the name of this purity is ultimately moral. However, this is not attainable, leading to a “guilt milieu” and a “shame milieu.” (JL)
(44:30) “Moreover, the sense of guilt and the sense of shame become highly valued. They’re preferred forms of communication, objects of public competition and the bases for eventual bonds between the individual and his totalist accusers.”
(46:12) So the cult is creating a “vulnerability to affirmation” cycle that drives you deeper and deeper into the cult because every single time you get a hit of “I knew I was worthless, but now I feel redeemed.” (JL)
(46:30) “People vary greatly in their susceptibilities to guilt and shame … but since guilt and shame are basic to human existence, this variation can be no more than a matter of degree.”
(47:00) “Since ideological totalists become the ultimate judges of good and evil within their world, they are able to use these universal tendencies toward guilt and shame as emotional levers for their controlling and manipulative influences.”
Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentiality; members’ “sins,” “attitudes,” and “faults” are discussed and exploited by the leaders.
(52:15) Diversity, Inclusion and Equity training is a great example of this. A cult of confession – you must admit that you are a closet racist, transphobe or sexist etc.
(59:28) “The totalist confession takes on a number of special meanings. It is first a vehicle for a kind of personal purification, a means of maintaining a perpetual inner emptying or psychological purge of impurity. This purging milieu enhances the totalist’s hold an existential guilt. Second, it is an act of symbolic self-surrender. The expression of the merging of the individual and the environment or in this case, the collective. Third, it is the means of maintaining an ethos of total exposure. A policy making public or at least known to the organisation everything possible about the life, experiences, thoughts and passions of each individual and especially those elements which might be regarded as derogatory.”
(1:01:00) “… the environment’s claim to total ownership of each individual within it. Private ownership of the mind and its products of imagination or memory becomes highly immoral.”
(1:02:55) “… the sharing of confession enthusiasms can create an orgiastic sense of “oneness” of the most intense intimacy with fellow confessors and of the disillusion of self into the great flow of the movement.”
5. Sacred Science
The group’s doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or all humanity, is likewise above criticism.
(1:09:30) This is a cult (JL).
(1:09:50) “The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic dogma, holding it out as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. The sacredness is evident in the prohibition, whether or not explicit, against the questioning of basic assumptions and in the reverence which is demanded for the originators of the word, the present bearers of the word and the word itself.”
(1:11:42) “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.’”
(1:12:00) Recall the more recent appeals to “The Science” for COVID, transgenderism, racism etc. (JL)
(1:21:10) However you deal with this, the person adopts toward this blend of counterfeit science and back-door religion. This is basically the definition of a gnostic cult. (JL)
6. Loading the Language
The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating clichés, which serve to alter members’ thought processes to conform to the group’s way of thinking.
(1:22:00) Communists share your vocabulary but do not share your dictionary. (JL)
(1:22:50) “The language of the totalist environment is characterised by the ‘thought-terminating cliché.’”
(1:23:45) “These [thought-terminating clichés] become the start and finish of any ideological analysis.”
(1:24:40) Richard Weaver has called these “Ultimate terms” – “God terms” representative of ultimate good or “devil terms” representative of ultimate evil. (JL)
(1:23:15) Some examples of these include:
God terms: “Love is love.” “Black Lives Matter.” “Trans rights are human rights.” “Trans women are women.” “Anti-Racist.” “Gender-affirming.” “Progressive.” “Liberation.” “Proletarian standpoints.”
Devil terms: “Check your privilege.” “Capitalist.” “Imperialist.” “Bourgeois mentality.” “Racist.” “White fragility.” “White supremacy culture.” “Transphobe.” “Homophobe.” “Xenophobe.” (JL)
I’ve added a few more: “Election denier.” “Two weeks to flatten the curve.” “Ivermectin is horse-paste.” “Anti-Vaxxer.” “Conspiracy theorist.” I hope you see just how pervasive this is.
(1:25:35) “Totalism’s language then is repetitiously centred on all encompassing jargon, prematurely abstract, highly categorical, relentless judging into anyone but its most devoted advocate; deadly dull.”
(1:26:00) Lionel Trilling’s quote: “the language of non-thought.” This is “Newspeak” from Orwell’s 1984.
(1:26:30) Cliché are normal in any affinity group. (JL)
(1:26:40) “The loading is much more extreme in ideological totalism however, since the jargon expresses the claimed certitudes of the sacred science. Also involved is an underlying assumption that language, like all other human products can be owned and operated by the movement. No compunctions are felt about manipulating or loading it in any fashion. The only consideration is its usefulness to the cause. For an individual person the effect of the language of ideological totalism can be summed up in one word: ‘constriction.’”
(1:28:45) I want you to be moved for a moment as I am moved and feel for the woke, because their life is hell. The point of a critical theory is to derange a human being. (JL)
7. Doctrine over person
Members’ personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.
(1:31:52) “This sterile language reflects another characteristic feature of ideological totalism – the subordination of human experience to the claims of doctrine.”
(1:32:08) It’s all about experience, experience, experience, right? Lived experience. No, it’s not. It’s all about reinterpreting that which you’ve experienced in the world through doctrine, so that it becomes “lived experience.” (JL)
(1:32:20) “This primacy of doctrine over person is evident in the continual shift between experience itself and the highly abstract interpretation of such experience. Between genuine feelings and spurious cataloguing of feelings.”
(1:33:00) “Stock characters like capitalist, imperialists from abroad, feudal and semi-feudal reaction at home and the resistance and liberation movement of “the people” enact a morality play. This melodrama sees aggression, injustice, exploitation and humiliation engulf the Chinese people until salvation comes at last with Communism. Mass revolutions require an historical myth as part of their “black and white morality” and this is the ideological myth of one of the great revolutions of world history.”
(1:33:38) It’s just such a shame that for so long we’ve missed that what’s happening here is a particular type of gnostic cult happening at scale and running people, often by the millions, through the blender. (JL)
(1:33:54) “The enspiriting force of such myths cannot be denied, nor can one ignore their capacity for mischief. For when the myth becomes fused with the totalist sacred science the resulting “logic” can be so compelling and coercive that it simply replaces the realities of individual experience.” Matrix picture.
(1:34:20) “Consequently, past historical events are retrospectively altered, wholly written or ignored to make them consistent with the doctrinal logic.” [e.g. 1619 project]
(1:35:42) “The same doctrinal primacy prevails in the totalist approach to changing people, the demand that character and identity be reshaped.”
(1:37:35) Doesn’t that sound familiar? It’s how the woke treat you if you disagree with them. They say: You don’t understand. You just wanna keep being racist. That’s not really even happening. You’re crazy. You’re a conspiracy theorist. (JL)
(1:40:16) “Rather than modify the myths in accordance with experience the ‘will to orthodoxy’ requires instead men be modified in order to reaffirm the myth.”
8. Dispensing of existence
The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious, and must be converted to the group’s ideology. If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the members.
Thus, the outside world loses all credibility. In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also.
(1:43:30) This is intense. (JL)
(1:45:10) “The totalist environment draws a sharp line between those whose right to existence can be recognised and those who possess no such right.”
(1:46:10) This is Gnosticism. Those not in the cult are considered to be like soul-less animals. This justifies inhuman treatment of such people in the eyes of the cult leaders. (JL)
(1:46:32) If you believe my thesis, that this is what the woke is about and this is what the sustainable agenda is about, think about what that says. The people who are in on the programme have a right to exist and the people who aren’t, possess no such right. (JL)
(1:48:39) “Under conditions of ideological totalism in China and elsewhere, non-people have often been put to death, their executioners then becoming guilty of “crimes of logic.”
(1:49:30) Non-members of the movement can’t get jobs, can’t participate in society. China’s Social Credit System. (JL)
(1:50:14) You can easily imagine the woke doing this. They could say: You can travel again in two years’ time or you’ll never travel again unless you get on board with the sustainable agenda. (JL)
(1:51:35) Communists could stand on stage and say that they believe in every single thing that the American experiment believes in – life, liberty and property but that only applies to “the people.” (JL)
(1:54:14) “The function of “the people’s” state is to protect the people.”
(1:54:20) It’s always about safety. Patriot Act – Safety. Mis and Dis-information campaigns (COVID lockdowns, masking, vaccines) – Safety. Woke-skewing of ChatGPT – Safety.
(1:57:00) I’m just trying to keep you safe (activist screaming at a policeman who apprehended her while she was disrupting a seminar).
Summary of Lifton’s chapter
(2:01:15) “The more clearly an environment expresses these eight psychological themes, the greater it’s resemblance to ideological totalism.”
(2:01:24) Well the woke pretty well damn nails all eight of them super hard, doesn’t it. Ideological totalism, meaning gnostic cult. (JL)
(2:01:32) “And the more it utilises such totalist devices to change people, the greater its resemblance to thought reform or brain-washing.”
(2:01:40) That’s the environment in the schools where they’re using SEL to foster directly into psychological and emotional manipulation. That’s what you experience in DEI training. (JL)
(2:02:00) On a plane, reading about Nazi stuff. I’m thinking, this can’t happen here, this can’t happen in America and it hit me. It already is. This is DEI training. This is SEL. (JL)
(2:02:42) What is happening in America is a Maoist cultural revolution with American characteristics. I stared out the window with a 1000-yard stare, a 1000-year stare, maybe, until we landed. I decided that … understanding how and why it works this way is one of those important things that can be communicated right now and eventually even studying Mao and understanding more clearly what was on the other side of this is going to be necessary. (JL)