The Corporate Cult evolved in the United States as a hybrid of the sales force of the corporation and the religious devotion of the cult. This type of entity might be a cult like Scientology, which used the aggressive and organized sales tactics and marketing campaigns of a corporation, or it could be a corporation like Apple, whose employees earn little, but feel a sense of satisfaction at being part of a meaningful entity.
The Obama Campaign is a fantastic marketing machine. It is constantly discovering new ways to sell things to people. But the problem is that it has no actual product. A company that goes corporate cult uses some of the tactics of a cult to inflate the value of its product. But a cult has no product except the sense of satisfaction that comes from being in the cult. The only things it sells are images of its leader, emblazoned everywhere, his books, speeches and photos, and these are used as tokens of membership in the cult.
In retrospect, the Cult of Obama had much in common with other cults. Like them it recruited young volunteers on campus. Its recruitment materials leaned heavily on books by its beloved leader. It promised them that a new age was coming and that they could be a big part of bringing it about. And its vector of introduction to older viewers was through a woman who has been accused of promoting cults on her popular television show.
Strip away the politics, forget the push and pull of the election issues, wipe the polar identities of the parties from your minds and take a fresh look at the 2008 campaign. Then compare the pitch to any of the major cults in the seventies and eighties. There really isn’t all that much of a difference. They’re all “Transformative” movements that promise to solve society’s problems by using new insights to create a wave of change that begins with “us”.
Even the political angle isn’t new. Jim Jones and his murderous child-abusing cult started out as community organizers for California Democrats, and leading politicians, including saintly hero Harvey Milk, covered for his crimes until the whole thing got too big and Jones got too crazy. Long before Obama, Lyndon LaRouche went the campus cult route and if you are morbidly curious, you can find videos where “LaRouche Youth,” who have broken ties with their families and friends, shout insane slogans while their glazed eyes stare fixedly into the camera.
The pitch is “Transformative” but it isn’t the world that is being transformed, only the participants, and the method of transformation is constant labor and omnipresent awareness of the program. That is where the Cult of Obama’s retention efforts fell through. Successful cults maintain control over a core cadre and use them to expand their base, but projects like Americorps did not come close to meeting those goals.
The corporate part of the Corporate Cult deals with adversity by redoubling the sales pitch. If sales fall, it finds more things to sell. The Obama Campaign is insanely intensifying its sales efforts, without understanding that its sales are falling because the value of the brand is failing. Many cult survivors dropped out during a similar phase when the cult supervisors pressured them to increase sales and recruitment, even as the cult was no longer relevant. When the history of this campaign is written, we will likely discover that the people on the inside were being just as ruthlessly pressured to achieve impossible goals to compensate for the failings of their candidate.
When businesses hysterically deluge you with offerings for their product, it’s a sign of fear. Obama’s campaign rolling out invitations to dinner with him and suggestions that you use your wedding to raise money for him stinks of that same fear. It’s ingenious from a marketing standpoint, but from that same standpoint, it’s also a bad tactic. The last thing that a company or a campaign wants to do is wear people out. But that is exactly what Obama is accomplishing by burning through his base for a short-term cash grab, when what he really needs is to have those people committed to him at the end.