by Paul Morantz (C) February 2022

In 1977, the same year the FBI behavioral unit started to study the profiles of serial killers, I began the art of profiling dangerous cult leaders. I was led in this direction by Charles Dederich of Synanon, who warned: “Don’t mess with us. You can get killed dead. Physically dead.”

Mr. Dederich kept his word and tried to murder me with a large Rattlesnake, rattles removed, placed in my mailbox. I was bitten but survived. And today, many believe I am the leading cult expert in this country. I have simply explained: “A bona fide movement exists to serve the followers. In a destructive cult the followers exist to serve the leader.”

Typically, the profile I developed consists of a leader who would initiate programs to liquidate the useless, to re-educate those needed in the new society, to purge the unfaithful to consolidate his power, to satisfy the leader’s insecurity demands for unanimity and loyalty; a need to upgrade self to savior and judged favorably by history. He lives to pontificate in front of adoring crowds. Such person is primarily characterized by conviction he has perceived some imminent law of social development to which he is mystically dedicated to and that no one else can accomplish. He is insecure and as a result preoccupied with security and power. When the insecurity is childhood-rooted, the leader becomes pre-occupied with reassurance greatly out of proportion to the usual.

He lacks flexibility in thinking and has activity proneness. This, in turn, leads to the purging of taints. His successes cause fear of revenge, leading to paranoia. Moreover, he must fulfill his utopian promises. Any failure increases his insecurity.

And in today’s world, he is likely to play a lot of golf.

While Synanon, which had 88 violent confrontations, and 3 attempted murders, has been called the most violent cult in American history, in the beginning of my research and investigation, whenever I was asked, I would say in my opinion that Scientology was the most dangerous cult in America. This was based upon its wealth and political influence, control of followers and history of trying to destroy critics.

I also initially believed that the heart of the problem was brainwashing programs. People were subjected to group interrogation which tore away at self and then directed to a new set of beliefs. The conversion generally created a fanatic. As Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, the first to write about the same, stated these programs lead to extreme polarization resulting in holy wars.

As time moved on, I realized that brainwashing was not a necessary ingredient. Give a malignant leader some charisma and a platform and you might be amazed at how many intelligent people become fanatical followers. And when I wrote my memoirs, “Escape: My Lifelong War Against Cults in 2012, after having explained how the chaos of the revolutionary 60s led to the offspring of destructive cults in the 70s and 80s, I stated in current times terrorism, economic collapse, the threat of technology and the rise of social media all created a perfect storm for global rise of totalitarianism… Even in the United States.

Of course, if I had been asked are you referring to Donald Trump I would have responded that things were not yet that bad. But they were.

I had been taught at the U.S.C. school of journalism that as reporters we seek truth because we believe that the people armed with the truth will make the right choices. To my dismay, time has proven this belief false. Journalists pre-the 2016 election had done their job in presenting the truth to the public about Trump, but as Sigmund Freud predicted, the public was more interested in lies and slogans.

When Trump was elected I became greatly depressed. It felt like Charles Dederich won. Dederich always bragged he could run a country, and now he was President of United States. For every speech of Dederich’s on violence, or any other subject, I could find a match in a speech by Trump.

His worship of Putin and Un were alarming. Not only was he not bothered by the fact they murdered, but he admired the loyalty they received. I would suspect his ultimate hero would be Charles Manson. Who else could command such loyalty and followers who would do anything he desired. So I prayed that for the next 4 years that those around Trump could control him. Those prayers went not answered as the death toll rose steadily from the virus, global warming and other policies. Minority children were removed from their parents for no other crime than their parents seeking a better life.

Trump policy and actions were all designed to promote himself at the expense of his followers. They were expected to donate their earnings and attend rallies without masks or social distancing. To promote himself and further his control, he fired and demoted critics, and split the country in two creating the most dangerous environment in America since the Civil War.

And yet over 70,000,000 still voted for him in 2020. And even after the big lie, and his efforts to overthrow the government, he still has followers who are like those famous monkeys– “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil.” Not even after thousands of middle class worshipers violently invaded the White House with the intent to harm and make Trump Lord and Master countless still worship him..

So who do I say is the most dangerous cult today? It’s an easy answer. Trumpism. And that includes his Republican Party, white supremacists, QAnon and those gullible who believe that Antifa was responsible for January 6 by disguising themselves as Republicans. Democrat progressives are not far behind. I had always agreed with experts who stated that a good deal of the population preferred a dictator that would stomp on his enemies.

But it wasn’t until the aftermath of January 6, that I realized just how great the share of the population that so desired. I now know like religion, itself, the desire is ingrained in the human psychology of many. And so we have Trumpism preference for gun ownership over human life and its politics of no mandatory vaccinations or masks over human life. And profits over global warming. All they seem to care about these days is the demonization of Democrats and the accumulation of power by any means possible, no matter how unethical and inappropriate, all in the name of returning Donald Trump to what will no longer be a representative democracy, but an authoritarian oligarchy with Trump as its unquestioned leader.

There’s nothing new about this. Sigmund Freud long ago explained the vulnerability of groups. For George Orwell it is the nature of things. Freud, in explaining the Nazis stated: “A group is extraordinarily credulous and open to influence, it has no critical faculty … Inclined … to extremes, the group could only be excited by excessive stimulus. Anyone who wishes to produce an effect upon it needs no logical adjustment in his arguments; he must paint in the most forcible colors, he must exaggerate, and he must repeat the same thing again and again… It respects force and only can be slightly influenced by kindness, which it regards merely as a form of weakness… It wants to be ruled and impressed, and to fear its masters … And, finally, groups have never thirst after truth… They constantly give what is unreal precedence over what is real; they are almost as influenced by what is not true as by what is true. They have an evident tendency not to distinguish between the two… A group is an obedient herd, which could never live without a master. It has such a thirst for obedience that it submits instinctively to anyone who appoints himself as its master.”

Orwell said “One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution in order to establish a dictatorship… People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf…If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face – forever…Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. ”

Having failed on their January 6 coup attempt they are planning to try again: The harassment and death threats from Trump supporters have driven honest election officials in several states to quit. They are being replaced, of course, by Trump stooges. Trump supporters in GOP- controlled state legislatures are pushing through Draconian voter suppression bills. And no one—not the President, not the Congress, not the Justice Department, not the judicial system— can really stop these outrageous violations of our Constitutional rights. It is up to us. We need to stop worshiping sociopathic dictators. We need to act now to stem this rising tide.

The elections of 2024 will be here before we know it. Hopefully, more information will come out of the Congressional investigation that will stop the Trumpism existing threat in its tracks. If and until that occurs be afraid.

Be very afraid.