Part One: Janja Lalich
Both J Lalich and Steve Hassan seem to be on a crusade, an anti-cult crusade. The word cult is rooted in the word culture so compelling arguments can be made that there are a myriad of “cult(ures)” on planet earth. Perhaps the anti-cult crusaders have become their own type of cult. I have been told by an anonymous source that Steve Hassan has almost a “cult-like” following, many individuals who seem to look up to him almost as if he was some kind of guru.
Cult deprogramming has used tactics that many have accused cults of using. Do two wrongs ever make a “right”? Here’s an interesting article about the innovator of cult de-programming and his heavy-handed tactics including tying a fourteen year-old boy to a chair and depriving him of sleep because he listened to too much heavy metal music and his idiot parents hired the scumbag to torture their own child,
When does a cult become a culture or a religion? Do spoke about how “cults”, once they’ve been around for awhile and start to buy property and become more established, can become religions. It’s one of those purely human designations and rather arbitrary. Is it a numbers game? Once they have so many members and so much money then do they get to be called a religion? Is Islam a religion but the Nation of Islam a cult? Who gets to make these distinctions? Sociologists who have been labeled “cult experts” because they were part of an abusive Marxist/feminist group? How does one obtain the title of “cult expert”? Is there a board that certifies these supposed experts or do they get called that by the media because the media has rather arbitrarily given them that title?
I have stated more than once that Lalich would not have had a PhD dissertation and book to write if it wasn’t for the class. In order to make her dissertation relevant she capitalized on the events of March of 1997 and tried to force her experience in the DWP onto the experience of those in the class. So, let’s examine the DWP versus the class and see what, if any, similarities there are between the two.
Lalich has stated that the DWP was a Marxist/feminist group. The class did not embrace Marxism or feminism. They did not go for ANY political philosophy and they were about overcoming all gender and sexual consciousness. The DWP did not have overcoming gender/sexual consciousness as part of their tenets. Lalich describes her time in the DWP thus,
“No vacation, no sleep, bad food, and constant criticism. We spent most of our time criticizing each other and breaking people down.”
I haven’t heard any former members of the class describe their experiences in the way that Lalich does about her own experience. I had plenty of sleep, we all went down by 10:30 p.m. and were up by 6:30 a.m. for a healthy eight hours. The food was fine. I never felt like “we spent our time criticizing each other and breaking people down”. Maybe some other former members would disagree but I haven’t heard anything like this yet from anyone who was in the class.
Lalich also states that,
“She worked 20 hour days, acting as a “foot soldier” for various local politicians”.
Also something that I didn’t experience in the class and that I’ve never heard from any former members.
She goes on,
“Members lived in a constant state of turmoil; verbal and emotional abuse were second nature. Important members who tried to leave the cult were tracked down, threatened, and even beaten. Sometimes, cult members would try to damage ex-members’ reputations by telling their bosses at their jobs that they’re pedophiles”.
No one from the class who left was EVER,
“tracked down, threatened, and even beaten”.
nor were they accused of being “pedophiles”.
“There were a number of times I wanted to leave, or I thought about escaping, but I absolutely couldn’t figure it out,”
You can ask anyone who left the class that there was no need to think about “escaping” because if you wanted to leave the door was always open. In fact, at one point Do offered anyone who wanted to leave $2,000 if they wanted to recover their lives in the world. Compare this to Lalich’s story about visiting her mother,
“Lalich borrowed money and flew to Milwaukee against the DWP’s wishes. “They called me every day, twice a day, asking, ‘When are you coming back?’”
In 1988 Do suggested to a student, Michael Conyers aka RTHODY, that he go on a visit with his family. Michael never came back from the visit and became one of the-if not the-most critical former members of the group. But in all his criticisms he never claimed that anyone from the class called him to ask when he was coming back, much less multiple times a day.
And let’s compare the leader of the DWP to Ti and Do,
“Dixon was a domineering, alcoholic former professor who sat around reading spy novels while DWP members—derisively called “petit bourgeois” when they questioned her teachings—cleaned her house, opened her sodas and emptied her ashtrays”
No one has ever accused Ti and Do of being “alcoholic” nor any of the other things that Lalich used to describe her former leader. She is projecting her experience with Dixon onto myself and others and she has very little to no data to back up anything that she says. To my knowledge she has only spoken to one former member of the class, Dick Joslyn , who is the only former member I know of who was stupid enough to go to a cult de-programmer (Hassan) and whine about how he was “brainwashed”. How strange that a guy who pays ( I wonder how much he paid, at least Ti and Do didn’t charge him for his “brainwashing” ) a supposed cult expert to find out if he was brainwashed or not will get his bias confirmed.
“Yes Dick, you were brainwashed. Now, we take cash, check or credit/debit card”.
Lalich has stated that she wants “to figure out what the heck happened to me” in regards to her experience with the DWP. She mistakenly believes that what “happened” to her is the same as what “happened” to members of the class. Beyond the practice of adopting a new name there is nothing in common between the DWP and the class. Marlene Dixon was nothing like Ti and Do other than being the leader of a group that has been labeled a cult. Members of the class were allowed to leave whenever they wanted to, I estimate that at least one hundred individuals left the group and some left multiple times. No one tried to talk me out of leaving and when Sawyer left after nineteen years Do told the students to not try to talk him out of his decision to leave.
To me it is quite clear that the similarities between the DWP and the class are superficial at best. Lalich needed to make her dissertation timely so she used the class to further her personal agenda. It doesn’t hurt that she got a book deal out of it and gets put on camera periodically as a “renowned cult expert”. I wonder how much HBOMAX paid her for her supposedly “expert” commentary. They paid me with a salad.
Lalich confirmed her biases by only talking to Dick Joslyn (if there’s others she hasn’t been forthcoming about talking to them) and has deliberately ignored what many other former members have said about their experiences in the class. She has also ignored academics like Rob Balch (arguably the foremost HG scholar) who has stated unequivocally that he saw no evidence of “brainwashing” or “coercion” in the class.
I think that one way to look at the DWP is to view it as perhaps an utterly failed version of the class. It had some lofty ideals but was lead by what seems to be a highly corrupted human. Her tactics were very aggressive and heavy-handed. Ti and Do were not human and they were not aggressive. They did not display any of the behaviors that Marlene Dixon has been accused of by Lalich.
Lalich has exploited the class to further her career and has deliberately left out the viewpoints of individuals who were in the group that don’t dovetail with her preconceived agenda. She has not and never will be an “expert” on what the class did while they were here. She should stick to the DWP and leave the class out of her personal anti-cult crusade. But she won’t because she’s invested her livelihood in finding fault with something of which she has chosen to be woefully ignorant.
In Part Two I’ll delve into Steve Hassan, the anti-cult crusader who thinks that his abusive two and a half years in the Moonies make him some kind of expert on the class.