Political Cultism – Is it akin to religious cultism?

Jeremy Corbyn is often referred to as having a cult following and the same is said of Nigel Farage of course. Brexit itself seems to be cultish too but our view of cults is often more likely to be connected with religious extremism rather than politics. So the question is do political cults have a commonality with religious cults?

According to Wikipedia in sociological terminology, sects are products of religious schism and therefore maintain a continuity with traditional beliefs and practices, while cults arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices.

Well Brexit certainly fits the ‘novel beliefs and practices’ definition as it is based very much on belief rather than facts/reality and it’s proponents (Brexiteers) can be fanatical in their following of it despite strong evidence challenging their often seemingly emotional based stance.

But what of Corbynism? Is it akin to say Thatcherism or Reganism in that its followers see themselves as the true believers whilst they look upon the scepticism of others who do not subscribe to their beliefs as being, in religious terms, heathens? Certainly, in my experience Labour Party members and supporters who see themselves as Corbynistas will often refer to anyone else, even fellow Labour members who are not in the Corbyn sect, as ‘Tories’, the political alternative terminology to the religious heathen I guess. Subscribers to the political sect known as Blairism are particularly hated by Corbynistas yet both Blairism and Corbynism have both been the majority view within the Labour Party in the past 20 years. I’ve heard it said that some Corbynistas hate Blarites more than their traditional ‘enemy’ Thatcherites!

Interestingly though, Johnson, whilst probably being more of a Brexiteer than any members of the Brexit Party, does not seem to have a cultish following. Indeed, he seems to be widely unpopular other than with extreme right wingers. Is that because he switched from being an EU supporter and because he is seen to be a politician who follows the crowd. In other words not a true believer in Brexit?

What makes some of us look upon Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters as being akin to cultists is that they will back their leader no matter what. No criticism of him is acceptable in any form from any quarter and they ‘know’ that anyone who does question Jez is a ‘Tory’.

As a Liberal who likes to hold a healthy scepticism of all political leaders, often particularly Liberal ones, this defence of ‘The leader’ come what may is hard for me to get my head around. I think I smelled something worryingly like cultism with the people who surrounded Nick Clegg during the Coalition Government days. They, like Jez Corbyn’s backers, were not for hearing the noise outside of their seemingly closed group and the consequences were dire for liberalism as it is now starting to prove for Labour too.

To conclude I think it is perfectly possible for political cultism to exist as an extreme form of the political sects which clearly exist within some political parties. The other interesting point to consider here is that those who look to be backing what seems to others as being a cult will probably deny that they’re cultists. Is that because they don’t see themselves as cultists? Is it only those outside of a cult who can see cultism for what it is?

And finally when does a sect, political religious or otherwise, become a cult?

Labour privatisation in Haringey

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/19/lives-torn-apart-assets-labour-privatisation-north-london-haringey

The Guardian has the story on its web site – see link above

Seems that Labour still has a significant Blairite following despite Corbyn’s socialist agenda. But what is this all about as it looks to me like mass privatisation and by a Labour-run council too!

Quote from the article – ‘Lives torn apart and assets lost: this is what a Labour privatisation would mean’

Guest Posting by Jen Robertson – Stella Creasy checked out

First an article in the New Statesman – see link below:-

www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/08/stella-creasy-rages-against-political-machine-can-she-break-it

The more I read about this woman the more I seem to like her. Labour’s mistake in their Leadership election wasn’t electing Corbyn, I think it was not electing her. She’d have been a good foil to him (whatever you think of him it is a little dispiriting to see yet another political party being run by middle aged men) and a sign the party was actually going to take women seriously.

A Creasy quote:-

“We can’t afford to waste anyone in the Labour party,” she says. “Most of my adult life in the Labour party it has been Brownite, Blairite, Trot. . . It’s a machine on all sides, that says ‘unless you can conform to our gang, we’re not interested in working with you’. That has got to stop.” – have you ever seen anyone in Labour see their major problem so clearly and cite it so honestly?

Her comments about working on specific issues you believe in with anyone who will work with you is so counter to how I normally see Labour as operating and so much more how these things should work. I don’t agree with her on everything (but then we are sat in different political camps so no big surprise there) but she would have been a wonderful break from the Old Boys Club Labour struggles to escape from.

I also feel Corbyn would have had an easier job selling that cabinet with someone at his side who has such clear and uncompromising passion when it comes to fighting for women’s rights. What really angered me about that cabinet though wasn’t the potential sexism of his choices but that the press didn’t really care if the cabinet was sexist or not, it was just a convenient stick to beat Corbyn with which devalues the very serious, very real, issues that women face in politics.

Tony’s Editors Note:-

The quote above “Most of my adult life in the Labour party it has been Brownite, Blairite, Trot. . . It’s a machine on all sides, that says ‘unless you can conform to our gang, we’re not interested in working with you.” could have been written by me as an observer of the Labour Party in action on Merseyside. Factions that seem to hate each other more than the Tories, tribal beyond belief and ruling clans who guard their fortress walls against all internal Labour members unless they have pledged allegiance to the clan in blood I assume.