Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Did I just Leave a Cult?

Did I just Leave a Cult?

Because it Feels Kind of Like I did...

“The modus operandi of every cult is to convince you there's something wrong with you and only they can fix it.”
Marty Rubin

I grew up in the era of cults. My siblings and I attended a small elementary school in Topanga Canyon back in the 1970s, when it was still a wilderness of hippies and health food stores - not a safe haven for the 1%.

We were heathens, without a doubt, raised like weeds by a former beauty queen who had dropped out of high school at 16 to have my older brother. She met my father at a nightclub called Pandora’s Box in Hollywood. If you look carefully you can see it in the background of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Pandora’s Box turned out to be just what marrying my father was like for my mother. Her whole world changed. She had three daughters right in a row and now had four kids all before the age of 24. Then my parents split and she raised us as mostly a single mom with various boyfriends who drifted in and out.

We had to look out for ourselves because danger was everywhere. Grownups were off on their own trips - finding themselves, getting drunk and naked at grape stomps, their bodies and fluids co-mingling, along with the grapes and grape juice that would one day become wine.

My mother, like so many in the counterculture, was and remains an atheist. Back then, God was uncool. Freedom was cool. Breaking free from tradition and convention rippled through the Left with tornado-like speed, destroying the past, creating a world anew.

The Boomers broke free and saw nothing but wide open spaces and a chance to remake a world without God as they launched their counterculture revolution. Eventually, though, they would be sent adrift, with no collective sense of purpose. They chased everything from sex, drugs, and rock and roll to celebrities and cults. So many cults.

Cults seemed to sprout up everywhere, all of them with the promise of a brand new way of living that fixed every problem. They would always try to lure my mom or us kids into them, always promising the same thing - happiness, a sense of belonging. They were at airports and outside supermarkets. We knew to stay away. Something about being raised as a wilding teaches you to trust no one.

Most of the cults back then always collapsed under the weight of their own utopian ideals, sex and financial scandals would rise out of the ash heap of failure.

Whatever was left swirled down the drain in the wake of Watergate, the end of Vietnam, and the failure of the Carter presidency, not to mention the more terrifying events like the Manson murders. It was not cool to be a hippie anymore. But their kids, kids like me, would grow up lost too - worse than lost. Depressed, full of anxiety, and in need of a fix.

We sought out therapy to talk about our bad childhoods. We gathered to watch Oprah every day at 3. We wanted to fix ourselves and thought we could. It was self-help books and anti-depressants. It was yoga, aerobics, meditation, juice cleanses, fasting, and gurus.

First, we focused inward, then we focused outward. Then it was climate change, women’s rights, racial injustice, cloth diapers, hybrid cars, cruelty-free cosmetics, feeding the hungry, and eventually, we had kids and then we sought about fixing them. They had to be perfect too because otherwise all of the work we did on ourselves was for naught.

Unlike us, our kids would have high self-esteem so they wouldn’t become school shooters. They would not be abandoned or abused or molested or kidnapped. We hovered. We coddled. We tinkered. Imperfect children were diagnosed with this disorder or that, even as toddlers, then we would drug them into perfection. We gave our children nowhere to escape. So they escaped online.

Eventually, though, all points led to Barack Obama. A perfect president for a perfect utopia of perfect people raising perfect kids. We were good puritans, utopians who had fixed ourselves, and our kids, and now we had a president to fix our country.

That feeling most of us had when Obama won was like a religious awakening, filling up a hole that had been left empty for decades.

Finally, what we had been searching for, working toward, and desperately craving had arrived: a collective sense of purpose embodied in the first Black president. The idea of the “first” was the high we were chasing, and would keep chasing to find ultimate purity.

But sooner or later you run out of the ones that already exist so then you have to start inventing new ones, finding new ways to define people as marginalized. Who is not accepted by Hollywood? Who is never noticed in public? Who is shamed or ridiculed or bullied? Those people needed rescuing and we were going to rescue them.

Everyone else, which was mostly everyone, was to be named as the oppressors. The more successful, the more oppressive.

Meanwhile, many of our kids began creating and inventing their own religion online, a jacked-up version of ours based solely on identity, purity, and a binary measure of people who are good and people who are bad. They didn’t realize it but they were building a utopian cult that would grow up, join the workforce, and completely overtake the Left. We saw the beginnings of it at Evergreen College in 2018.

The Democrats folded. The media pandered. Corporations surrendered. Though it took me a while to really understand what had happened to the Left, I knew eventually it would drive me away. I was with them as a loyal Democrat who really was a true believer in the Party and even the social justice movement for a time. But then it got weird. Really really weird.

I spent a few years trying to fight with them, pushing back against the many cancellations, trying to convince my friends and family that something was very wrong with the Left but none of them would listen to me. They were in a kind of “mass formation” fugue state and all they could do was try to pull me back into the fold. Even now they show up with their fingers pointed, accusing me of being a heretic, a blasphemer, a witch.

They whisper about me behind my back, they gossip and worry and fret about what happened to me, why I went so wrong. They seem to think that nothing is quite as bad on the Left as Trump. So they keep asking me, “are you a Trump supporter now?” And “Are you voting for Trump?” If I answer yes, then they have their confession and they can feel satisfied that they were right to throw me away like human garbage. But I don’t answer because I don’t know.

What I do know is that it was a lie that we were the resistance. We were always the empire. It was a lie that Trump was a fascist. We’re closer to fascism now than we’ve ever been as a country with the Democrats in power. And it was always a lie that Trump World was a cult.

What kind of cult leader takes credit for the vaccine and then can’t get his supporters to take it? Wouldn’t they have complied like everyone on the Left? Did Jim Jones allow anyone to not drink that flavoraid laced with cyanide?

The cult of the Left is ruled by fanatics, zealots, and true believers. While there really are people who suffer from gender dysphoria - and trans people do exist, in my view - they aren’t part of the cult of the Left so much as they have become sacred symbols of it.

To be a member of the cult you have to be always deferential to the sacred and protected groups. America is still majority white, majority Christian and majority heterosexual nation. That means cult members have to either “cross over” as non-binary or trans to be “saved” or they have to be good allies:

The women are bad enough - trading their journey of empowerment for endless self-punishment over their whiteness. So now their children are being used as sacred symbols for their path toward salvation. They might not be sacred themselves but they are “holy mothers” of the sacred which gives them some status.

Cults separate children from parents. Cults separate mothers from their biological impulse to protect their children. Watching Democrats wear pins to the State of the Union that said “abortion” was yet another sign that the cult seeks to destroy the bond between mother and child.

The cult seems to want less power for the mother, for women. No one decides the gender of their child at birth. Mothers don’t know, can’t know their children. They aren’t to be trusted, after all. They are earthly, not sacred, people. Their gender doesn’t really mean anything anymore - their status as mothers is only useful if it produces a sacred being.

But that’s nothing compared to the “Good White Men” of the Left. They have had to erase themselves in real time, as though they alone can roll back thousands of years of men being in charge.

This poor guy, like someone please find his balls. They were here a minute ago:

Their only outlet is to take to Twitter and unleash all of their pent-up frustration at their own muted masculinity. They can call Marjorie Taylor Greene “white trash” and feel perfectly justified in it. They know no one will call them a sexist. They can openly mock Justice Clarence Thomas knowing they will not be called a racist.

It must feel so good to beat their chest and cosplay being the men they once were, instead of the melted goo that they are now.

This is why Joe Biden must flank himself with Black women and why Hollywood hides behind Black actors in their films, their advertising, and their award shows. Biden and the Democrats believe they really have changed things by re-ordering the social hierarchy.

If you don’t think it’s a cult, just today, the Hollywood Reporter published a letter from celebrities demanding the already OH SO WOKE COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE MORE WOKE New York Times change their coverage of transgender issues:

The letter, which was expected to be delivered to the paper Wednesday morning, includes more than 100 individual and organizational signatories declaring a need for significant changes to how the Times reports on the trans community across its desks. Other entertainment signatories include Hannah Gadsby, Jameela Jamil, Jazz Jennings, Jen Richards, Joey Soloway, Johnny Sibilly, Jonathan Van Ness, Lena Dunham, Margaret Cho, Peppermint and Zackary Drucker.

That they believe they can control what people think if they bully the New York Times into compliance, or they silence dissent is, well, the stuff of cults. Their latest witch hunt is David French, of all people, a guy you almost can’t even recognize as a Conservative. They think the Times should instruct him and everyone on what they must say and what they must think.

Years from now when all of these young people come to us to ask, Where were you? Why didn’t you protect us? What are we going to say? That we were too afraid? Many of them are going to have major health problems for life and probably not be able to bear children or breastfeed them and we’re supposed to sit idly by and say nothing?

What it is we’ve been searching for on the Left is simply a way to replace the religion we lost long ago. I know that now. That is something I am going to have to find a way to reconcile in my own mind and heart.

One person who has stood firm - JK Rowling. Somehow, through it all, she has managed to push back and allow the many dehumanizing attacks against her, the burning of her books, the destruction of her games, and their attempts to destroy her memory and her legacy to simply pass her by like a hard rain. She has enough education and enough true grit to understand that there is nothing new about what’s happened to the Left.

The Free Press has just launched a new podcast series called The Witch Trials of JK Rowling. Silencing dissent only works for so long. Sooner or later, reality comes knocking.

We should never have to live in a country where we are afraid to express ourselves, to have conversations about complex topics, and above all, have the courage to stand up and protect kids. I can’t think of any higher purpose than that.

Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Essays on politics and culture from Sasha Stone's Substack. A former Democrat and Leftist who escaped the bubble to get to know the other side of the country and to take a more critical look at the left.