Re: virus: Cult of Personality.

Duane Daniel Hewitt (
Thu, 14 Sep 1995 14:56:09 -0600 (MDT)

On Tue, 12 Sep 1995, David McFadzean wrote:

> I'm reading a book now called "True Believer: thoughts on the nature
> of mass movements" by Eric Hoffer (thanks to Deron Stewart for the
> loan). Though I'm only just over half done, the author has yet to
> mention Cult of Personality or charasmatic leaders. His thesis lies
> more along the lines that mass movements provide people with means
> to escape themselves because of their guilt, inadequacies, poverty,
> powerlessness, self-hate, etc., etc. I'll post a more detailed review
> when I've finished reading it.

These conditions always exist in one form or another but there are not
always mass movements associated with them. In Third World countries an
attitude of fatalism develops in response to poverty and powerlessness
rather than large scale mobilization. There
still seems to be a requirement for a catalyst or figurehead who may be
charismatic or may just be at the right place at the right time.

Are all mass movements constructive rather than destructive?
Are some born out hope rather than despair?

> I don't think it is necessary to incorporate a cult of personality into
> Virus. People should not submerge their individuality nor self-sacrifice
> in the name of any movement, society, or authority. Virus advocates
> the opposite.

A cult of personality does not necessarily advocate submission of
individuality. As I understand the term it refers to a leader figure
being the centrepiece of a movement and the driving force behind it
either intellectually or symbolically.

Virus advocates critical thinking but is it wise to overlook an effective
strategy of memetic propagation. You could conceivably use a leader
figure (even a fictional character) to draw people to Virus and encourage
critical thinking after you have captured their attention.

I guess the following questions arise:

Is Virus going to have multiple vectors and who will these vectors target?
Is Virus only for the already rational or
will it attempt to make converts of the irrational (most sucsceptible first)?

> >Another question arises as to the source of this propensity to seek for a
> >leader/mentor.
> I don't see any mystery here. Or perhaps I don't understand your question?

Are there some undercurrents beyond the adbication of personal
responsiblity or laziness?

Why are some leaders followed to obviously self destructive ends? (Jim
Jones, David Koresh)
Is this memetic natural selection in operation? Actually it seems like a
meme complex self-destructing while simultaneously destroying its hosts.

You could assign following a leader a formula like the equation for
becoming a ruler that you gave but again those variables become very complex.
Are there some insights from memetics that can be applied to a
better understanding of those variables?