Thursday, August 14, 2014

The pernicious nature of “totalitarian" belief systems

Image: Equilibrium (film) edited by Sharka Todd

“Totalitarian" belief systems are those which claim to contain the one and only truth.  They claim that other viewpoints are not only wrong, but are in fact, evil.  This can lead to the persecution of people who hold onto alternative beliefs. 

Such “totalitarian" belief systems tend to be created by those who wish to have power over others.  By claiming their truth as the only truth and all other viewpoints blasphemous, they set up divisions in society and provide rationale for the persecution of others.  

We find this feature in political philosophies, mainstream religions and fringe cults.   In each case those inside the movement are taught that their way of looking at the world is not only the best way, it is in fact the only right way, and that all other views are not only wrong, but evil.  Often the concept of "the will of God" is invoked.  Those belonging to these "cults of belief" are told that their view is the only view that God approves of.  All other views are taught to be not only against God's will, but in actual opposition to God, and therefore, evil.
This is an effective way of creating an "us and them" mentality.  This can help with group bonding but has the effect of isolating the group from outsiders who sense the disrespect and intolerance these cultish groups hold for their views.  Also, insiders to the cult begin to fear and loathe outsiders because of their "evil" beliefs and behaviors and their fear these may "infect" them.  This sets the scene for future conflict.

These cultish belief systems deny the individual the inborn right to hold their own unique perspective on the world.  Such independence of thought is seen as a great threat to totalitarian belief structures as it makes people uncontrollable.  Therefore, independent thinkers are vilified by such "cults of belief" and independent thinking in general is labelled as evil by such groups.  

This kind of attempt to control people's thinking is clearly the effort of fear-laden people with control issues and only by seeing it as such can we free ourselves from their efforts to enslave our minds!

Sharka Todd

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