On Extinction Rebellion and other doomsday cults

With the news this week of a family of cloggy Kaas Kops living in the basement of a farm for nine years waiting for the end of the world, perhaps we can poke some fun at the various Bedlamites living amongst us.

There’s plenty of examples to point at, they’ve been around for as long as humans have been around.

Millenarianism and apocalypticism are versions of this and students of history will pluck examples from thousands of years ago in all corners of the globe through to the present day.

Let’s start with the infamous Manson “family”.

Their beliefs were that Charles Manson was the reincarnation of Jesus and there was a forthcoming race war. The cult ended with the Waverley Drive murders, internecine murders and the trial and conviction of Manson.

Except it didn’t; murders were still committed by the “family” until the mid-70s. The cult members really had drunk deep from the well of Manson’s Kool-Aid.

Speaking of Kool-Aid, next we have the Reverend Jim Jones. For his first couple of decades of adult life, he led various churches which had increasingly cult-like qualities. The beliefs he promulgated were a mixture of socialism, nuclear apocalyptic prophesies and, eventually “transition” to another planet after suicide.

As investigations began to close in on his activities, he took nearly a thousand followers to “Jonestown” in Guyana and eventually persuaded many to commit suicide by ingesting cyanide mixed in the aforementioned Kool-Aid (where the expression “drinking the Kool-Aid” originates) or murder each other, including the children. Jones shot himself.

Over in Japan, Aum Shinryko was established by Shoko Ashara. The YouTuber Count Dankula has an amusing video on this group here, which is well worth a viewing.

Their beliefs were a hotchpotch of Buddhism, Hinduism and Shintoism with a spicy nuclear apocalyptic theme.

After a long history of extortion, violence and murders, they released the nerve gas, sarin, on the Tokyo underground with devastating effects.

Shoko was eventually hanged in 2018.

An interesting fact about the death penalty in Japan is that, once convicted, you aren’t given a date of when the execution will occur. You go to bed every night unsure if this is your last. If you’re still in your cell about an hour after breakfast, chances are you’ve got another day on the planet.

I can’t work out whether I think that’s “cruel and unusual punishment” or fitting for the crime.

Our next cult is the comet-hopping Heaven’s Gate. According to Wikipedia, they were/are (there’s still a couple of them around, apparently) a “UFO religious, New religious movement”, which as classifications go, surely can’t be a particularly large club.

Their belief system was based on the premise that the planet would be wiped clean and they had to leave to avoid being caught up in this global spring clean.

Have a read of their Wiki page and chuckle at how the beliefs had to be modified based on the inconvenient evidence of one of their key members dying rather than hitching a ride on a spaceship.

This change of belief resulted in a mass suicide to coincide with the arrival of the Hale-Bopp comet. The mass suicide was preceded by 8 of them voluntarily castrating themselves in 1997.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s probably fine if your religious belief involves an unprovable premise. After all, a synonym of that might be “hypothesis”.

However, if your religious belief requires you to murder others, mutilate the genitals of children or commit suicide, consider the possibility you’ve drunk the modern equivalent of Jim Jones’ Kool-Aid.

There seems to have been a bit of a theme running through all these cults where they are reacting to a catastrophic threat, be it religious, nuclear or alien, resulting in escalating extreme actions by the adherents.

So, all that said, what might history make of those crazy kids at Extinction Rebellion and the Swedish Cabbage Patch Doll, Greta Thunberg?

And whose fault do we think it might be that they have managed to wind themselves up into such a frenzy of fear?

History suggests one possible destination for some of the more gullible members.

3 Replies to “On Extinction Rebellion and other doomsday cults”

  1. One of the good things about modern history and t’internet is that try as you might, the chances are that you may not be able to distance yourself from your association with what was seen at the time as a progressive leader. Of the above, the Jonestwon massacre is my favourite.

    The reason is that all of the senior US progressive political leaders of today were balls deep in it all. I am old enough to remember when California was emblematic of everything that was good about the US, this was before the era of Governor Jerry Brown.

    You can only imagine how rapidly James Jones former liberal politicians were trying to distance themselves from him following the mass murder of over 900 people and senators on the job. It was all over the press. Fortunately, the shooting of the San Francisco mayor and his assistant nine days later quite rightly over shadowed this event and took up the front pages. Feinstein was first to see them dead. Ironically the mayor’s death by gun provided her with the opportunity to take up the role of mayor following many unsuccessful attempts.


    Background Checks on Pelosi and Feinstein

    “The Jonestown Guyana Tragedy No One Wants to Talk About

    During the mid and late seventies, both politicians were part of the all-powerful political machine that was ruled and controlled by an ultra-liberal faction of the Democratic Party during the mid and late seventies. This group controlled the Bay Area and demanded unwavering loyalty from anyone who sought political office. George Moscone, Willie Brown, Diane Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi were some of the leaders of this group. Pelosi had become the state Democratic Party chairman for northern California came from the city of San Francisco. However, one name is usually stricken from the record whenever this group is mentioned— Rev. Jim Jones! Yes, the same and very Rev. Jim Jones of Jonestown, Guyana infamy!”

    “On November 27, 1978, Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated by a rival politician, Dan White, who had resigned from the Board of Supervisors two weeks earlier. Feinstein was in City Hall at the time of the shootings and discovered Milk’s body after hearing the shots. Later that day Feinstein announced the assassinations to the public. As President of the Board of Supervisors upon the death of Moscone, Feinstein succeeded to the mayoralty on December 4, 1978.”

    1. Yes, very interesting history around Jones.

      And also, yes, my how California has changed politically. Ronald Reagan was the governor for fuck sake!

      1. When I looked into this before I came to the conclusion that Feinsten was definitely in on the whackings. Don’t for a minute be fooled by her granny features when she is deliberating on gun control as she was lately with the bump-stocks brouhaha, she knows fine well about the use of guns much more than she lets on.

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