Learning to grow up  

Every six lines or so, Massimo Introvigne tells us that the "terrorists" are all "anti-American" and against "globalization." The "terrorists", we are told, all live in Europe (he also lists "left-wing guerrillas" who supposedly attack Mormons in Latin America). True or not, it is certainly the diplomatic thing to say when presenting a paper in Chicago. However, Introvigne's diplomacy goes a step further. 

As far back as anybody can remember, Introvigne has been at war with what he calls the "anti-cult movement". However, in this study he constantly distinguishes between "mainline anti-cult activists", prevalent in the USA, and "extreme anti-cultism" with its "lunatic fringe". Interesting - hitherto, "anti-cult", along with "apostate", was the worst insult in Introvigne's category. The "mainline" people are warned not to associate with the "extreme" people. 

However, we have seen that by "extreme", Introvigne simply means - in eight cases out of nine - anyone distributing critical information on CESNUR, that is on Introvigne himself and his private organisation. 

Recently, Steve Hassan, the toughest of all anti-cultists, asked Introvigne whether he too was on CESNUR's terrorist list. Introvigne apparently answered that he wasn't, since Hassan did not fit into his definition of a terrorist. 

There is something wonderfully amusing about this Turin lawyer handing out "non terrorism" patents to people. However, the episode is also very interesting. Steve Hassan, to use Introvigne's loaded language, is an "apostate", a former deprogrammer, a cult critic who attacks the "deed, not the creed", a believer in "mind control" and who stands for every idea Introvigne has been fighting against over the last 15 years. 

I have no idea what Steve Hassan thinks about other issues that interest Kelebek. In "cult" matters, I am far more moderate than Dr Hassan. He uses the term destructive cults; I even put quotes around the word "cult" when I am forced to use it. So obviously it is not the intensity with which one "attacks cults" that makes a "terrorist", but simply the fact that one provides critical information on Massimo Introvigne. 

Now trying to divide one's enemies is an excellent military tactic, and I admire Dr Introvigne for trying to apply it. However, I wonder whether most scholars would agree that an "academic paper" is the right place to do so, especially in such a blatant fashion. 

Some time ago, Introvigne boasted of having been invited to speak to a group of psychologists at Turin University, telling them that brainwashing was a myth. If Introvigne knows enough in this field to be able to teach psychology to psychologists, he should also know one of the basic rules of pop psychology. Little children think the world owes them everything and that they are always right. As they grow up, however, they discover the hard reality - no amount of temper tantrums will make everybody obey them. 

Now, there are people who do not agree with Dr Introvigne. So far, he has tried to deal with this unpleasant fact by threats, insults and this study which labels all his critics as "terrorists." Of course, he can go on in the same way forever: we think we have shown we are not at all afraid. But it would be healthier for him if he simply learned to accept the facts of life. It's a big world, and you can never dominate it all. 

Miguel Martinez 

September 1st, 1999