This question pertains to radical environmentalism or movements like Gaianism, for example, in which the official premise of belief would be peaceful. What types of cult-like strategies might turn a peaceful movement into a manipulative one?

Where do you see there being a breaking point between allure to join and control to stay?

(This is to initiate a TRANSITION between political regimes.)

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    $\begingroup$ "Cult-like tactics" are arguably non peaceful, as they often involve abuse to force compliance. $\endgroup$ – stix Feb 23 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ Seriously, just look up (1) the French Revolution: started with peaceful philosophy and the most lofty goals and principles, evolved into a bloody civil war complete with an actual Reign of Terror, finished by involving almost all Europe into decades of war; or (2) the Great October Socialist Revolution which Took Place in November: started with even loftier goals, evolved into nightmarish civil war followed by 50 years of totalitarian terror. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 23 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ ... The avowed original ideology and motivations of the revolutionary movement don't matter; once the peaceful noble revolutionaries actually seize an opportunity to contend for power it takes enormous luck to avoid the risk of degenerating into an authoritarian, totalitarian regime. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 23 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ Does your movement use a literal interpretation of the word "peaceful"? Refraining from physical abuse doesn't stop them from gaslighting people $\endgroup$ – nullpointer Feb 25 at 3:46

No serious cult would publicly admit to be a manipulative one, which forces its adepts to stay, because it would kill any hope of attracting followers.

They all look friendly and welcoming from the outside, only when inside one faces the harsh reality of how hard is to leave.

The same happens for your movement.




Tribalism implies the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates one member of a group from the members of another group. Based on strong relations of proximity and kinship, members of a tribe tend to possess a strong feeling of identity. Objectively, for a customary tribal society to form there needs to be ongoing customary organization, enquiry and exchange. However, intense feelings of common identity can lead people to feel tribally connected...

Tribalism is alive and well in the modern world. Persons can act in ways that are opposed to their own economic self interest, or even in ways that defy common sense if they are motivated by the interests of the tribe where these persons derive some or all of their self-identity.

In your group which is becoming a cult, members increasingly define themselves or come to be defined by their membership in the group. It could help if there were a charismatic leader such that membership in the group was membership in his group. As the social connections with group members are more and more involved with the group and its leader and less with other entities in the outside world (family, church, jiu jitsu league) pressures from within the group will be more significant and members will be less willing or able to leave the group.

Important to note: this process does not mean the group has nefarious intent! This sort of thing can happen with any group, and cult-like influences might be very important for one individual and unimportant / unnoticed for another. It depends on the relationship of the individual with the group.


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