These tweets got me thinking about more parallels between my experiences having been raised in the Jehovah’s Witness cult, which I eventually escaped in my mid-twenties.
During my time as a member, many of the publications and presentations would talk about things from the perspective of people who had converted as adults as far as them having a point of reference about what it was like “to be worldly” (one of their code phrases to indicate someone who is not a Jehovah’s Witness).
I had very little reference material available because my parents started converting when I was a toddler and fully committed by the time I was five.
So when I would get told that the Jehovah’s Witnesses offered the best way of life, what argument could I make? It’s the only life I had ever known. It was familiar, it’s where all of my friends were, and my whole life was structured around it.
They portrayed “worldly” people as undesirable & dangerous outsiders who would convince me to abandon the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In the mid-90s, I had saved up and purchased a home computer. I had been online on work computers for several years at that point. It took me a year to sneak a modem into the thing because my 1st wasband tried to stick to the JW advice and there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm for the internet then. I started on AOL like a lot of people did back then. There was a Star Wars simming forum which was basically playing the tabletop RPG using threaded message boards. I got to know people on there and I realized they weren’t the total demonic shitstains I had been indoctrinated to believe.
I also started to question the foundation of my beliefs If the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves recognized the ease with which members could be swayed against those by outsiders.
I had been raised to believe that the JW’s were the only true religion and only hope for a livable future. But if that was true, why was it so easy to debunk what they were teaching me?
The last few years of my existence in the Jehovah’s Witness cult were miserable because I was what is now called PIMO: Physically In, Mentally Out. It was physically painful at times to attend meetings because I knew I didn’t believe it anymore, but I had to pretend to because I felt stuck. I had gotten married very young to a newly converted JW, my own parents were going through a separation, and my entire social structure had been constructed around the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had to pretend that I was still a believer so that I wasn’t constantly nagged, policed, and disciplined by my then-husband and other members, including the “clergy” level (although they do not call it that, that is their function.)
I finally decided that there were more cons than there were pros to sticking around. I realized that my marriage would not endure my departure from the cult and that was probably for the best. As it turns out, it was, but I was scared at the time as to whether leaving the familiar was the right choice, even though I knew it was hurting me. I even had a little bit of concern that maybe the JW’s were correct about Armageddon being imminent, and that might mean that I got killed at the final battle and become “bird food” for the avian cleanup crews JW’s like to “joke” about when referencing unbelievers on what they believe to be the day of judgment. It took a couple of years for me to shake all of that indoctrination but I kept facing down my fears because every time I did, I realized that they were mostly an oppressive construct that had been inculcated in my mind by a small group who wanted control of my thinking and behavior.
All of this in light of the tweets above is to demonstrate that within capitalism, many of these same cult tactics are used to control us. It can be scary to confront them, particularly if you are surrounded by people who are true believers in the system. They will use the same group policing tactics to try to get you to conform. They will also react when you say or do things outside of conformity. The reason for this is that we have all been trained to protect the interests of the ruling class, the small group that holds most of the wealth and power in our world. They are a parallel to the JW Governing Body, and they have created a social order much like the JW’s that actively combats dissent.
We are living in a time when Capitalism’s contradictions have been laid bare. If you cannot already recognize the injustice that must exist in order for capitalism to function, you must not be very affected by it. You are probably white, middle class, and mostly comfortable in your life. This means you are especially targeted by the system to help reinforce it with your social power and privilege. Familiarity and comfort do not on their own justify your unchanged existence especially when you only have those due to someone else’s suffering.
Just as the Jehovah’s Witnesses forbid members from reading or listening to anything critical of their beliefs, for fear of it causing them to recognize lies and faults in those, the ruling class of capitalists have demonized socialism and especially communism, because they know it means the end of obedience to them. This has resulted in our living in the most propagandaized nation on the planet here in the US, complete with a generations long anti-communist disinformation campaign. I have pointed out in previous blog posts and podcast episodes how they’ve distorted history, and they even use our advertising and media to condition us.
So as we live in these unprecedented and dangerous times, be very mindful of whether your actions serve the system, or the people trying to survive it. Think about how most of the news media in the US is controlled by billionaire owners, including the ones you think are “on your side.” The majority of them are selling you a narrative that serves the ruling class. We do not have a chance at a survivable human future unless we abolish capitalism and the classes that it requires.