The Psychology of Totalitarianism and Mass Formation

Totalitarian: of or relating to a political regime based on subordination of the individual to the state and strict control of all aspects of the life and productive capacity of the nation especially by coercive measures (such as censorship and terrorism)

: completely regulated by the state especially as an aid to national mobilization in an emergency

I recently listened to a very interesting Corbett Report podcast. It was an interview by James Corbett with a man named Matthias Desmet who wrote a book called the Psychology of Totalitarianism. In this book he talks about something that some of you may have heard of called Mass formation. There was a popular video about it on YouTube that the fact checkers denounced for no good reason.

The more Desmet talked, the more I realized that mass formation is similar to a widespread cult-like reaction by the general public. Mass formation refers to the hive mentality of large groups and how they lose the ability to think for themselves and also actively turn against dissenting voices. They can be convinced to believe absurd ideas and follow illogical rules such as the ridiculous restaurant restrictions during COVID that required you to wear a mask as you walked to your seat but then you could remove it at the table.

I think we are living in an age of cult-like behavior. The identity politics movement could also be thought of as a cult movement. Each one of these group identifications has very similar characteristics to the mass formation / cult indoctrination and behaviors. As you examine them more closely you see that the people are doing exactly what Matthias Desmet explains in his book; they are relating to the collective identity much more than they are relating to individual humans within the group.

For example ,consider several identity movements; LGBTQ rights, climate agenda ,critical race Theory, black lives matter, feminism, abortion rights. In each of these social justice movements the people think that they are fighting for the rights of people, but they quickly denounce and cancel anyone in the group who strays from their exact doctrine.

Such as, if you are a person who believes that women deserve equal rights an equal pay and equal opportunity but you do not believe that the government should fund abortion on demand then you will be canceled by the feminist movement. This canceling is the same thing as a the shunning that happens when a member of a religious cult does not believe a specific part of the cult ideology. Except that the canceling that is happening in these identity movements tends to be very extreme bordering on violence and with a strong punitive intention. The group is more important than individual people.

Sometimes religious cults are willing to forgive and restore wayward members, but the identity movement cancel culture does not believe in forgiving. Their identity is extremely narrow-minded and more like the mindset of victims of mass formation that Desmet describes in his book on totalitarianism.

Desmet says that people in the grip of mass formation are willing to believe the most absurd ideas if they are told that this is what everyone else believes. They lose the ability to think logically or think dissenting thoughts. This is the same behavior that results from mind control and indoctrination in religious cults. In most of the identity movement, people will believe anything but the truth given by God.

Cults sometimes use repetitive words, sleep deprivation, threats , fear and accusations on top of spiritual teachings and sometimes even Bible verses to manipulate and control their members into giving all of their income to the cult and also separating themselves from their old family and friend groups. We saw many of the same propaganda and fear techniques used during COVID .

Mass formation can develop when many people are experiencing certain conditions which Desmet describes as loneliness, a lack of meaning-making, free-floating anxiety and a feeling of not knowing what is wrong. Under these conditions if an extremely traumatic or fear-inducing event is created or spontaneously occurs many people will believe any narrative put forth that makes them feel better and relieves their anxiety. Going along with the group creates a feeling of being connected. The problem comes when people are not actually or truly connected in meaningful ways to other people or reality. And they have not actually addressed the underlying causes of their loneliness, anxiety and frustration.

What is causing the epidemic of loneliness and anxiety ? I think a big reason is the lack of meaningful connection to other people and God. We need connection with our parents, especially mothers, but also fathers. And we need a friend, and an ‘identity’ that makes sense to us. We need to belong to something bigger, something outside ourselves. Being totally self-focused is not natural. That is why ‘finding yourself’ is such a commonly misunderstood idea. It’s not yourself that you are finding, it’s where you fit in the world and with other people, but it’s based on how you see yourself as a person . Our fast-paced, individualistic, competitive, technological society has eliminated many of the traditional opportunities for simply spending time with other people with no other purpose than to enjoy conversation, food, music, and fun, especially since the pandemic.

Secondly, humans need a connection to the natural world, the seasons, mountains and oceans , animals and other creatures, which is missing from the lives of many people who live in crowded cities. And natural places are often overcrowded as well due to everyone trying to visit at the same time. 

Most important, we need spiritual connection. The increasing popularity of new age and pagan religions is proof that people are searching for meaning even in a supposedly post-religious world. This need can only truly be met by connecting with God through his son Jesus. 

During the so-called Age of Enlightenment scholars began to reject the idea that there were things that could not be seen or known. Belief in the supernatural was seen as primitive and unscientific. Obviously the effects of rejecting our creator have been catastrophic to human social functioning even though we have seen great breakthroughs in science and technology. 

In the old days one of the ways people dealt with uncertainty and fear and difficulties in life was through turning to God. In the modern world prayer has been rejected and we have been left with no way of coping that is satisfactory. This left a hole for science and government to move into to bring comfort and assurance to the public. With addition of the internet and smart phones, the conditions are right to control the masses with information from purported experts and scientists under the authority of the government. All we needed was a crisis. Enter COVID .

What does this have to do with totalitarianism? The conditions that allow mass formation can lead to the rise of totalitarian leaders if the public does not fight the mass. If we continue to speak truth even when they don’t listen, the mass will eventually die out, says Desmet. But if we go silent , the mass will get more aggressive and eventually violent. Those who didn’t go along will be considered as a threat to the mass. Like with Stalin and Hitler, the lack of dissenting opinions makes it easier for a powerful leader to take over when a mass becomes too strong. Desmet warns that speaking out, even if no one agrees with you, is essential to preventing totalitarian oppression.

What do you think? Is there more willingness to go along with the mob these days? Are more people disconnected? Do you think the world is in danger of totalitarianism? Are people less able to think independently?

13 comments

  1. Well done! Yes, I can see that people embrace the “truths of culture,” which are man-made. They hold onto those truths for security, much like holding onto the armrest of your airplane when it’s crashing. Anyone who deviates from those *truths* risks splintering the facade, so they must be cancelled. Only by holding onto God’s love and care will we experience the true peace that eliminates our anxiety. Unfortunately, so few choose that route.

  2. Obviously people are feeling more isolated. Look at the rising numbers of suicides and young people having anxiety and depression. Our younger generation does not look to God. They look to government and socialism to solve their problems.

  3. Thus, Revelation 22:11 says, “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” The masses that accept the Mark of Revelation 13:16 will be so deceived that they will refuse to repent, even though Father is still willing to forgive.

    • I’ve thought of this verse a lot lately. Looking back through history we can see the way the devil has worked in various movements. People try to stop the progress of evil and then they end up dead or becoming part of the problem.

      • I am convinced Father is SOOO merciful, He would even forgive Lucifer … IF Satan could repent. But he is so demented he still will think through eternity that somehow he will overthrow The Most High.
        His minions, including those who fall in this world, will keep on blaming God throughout eternity. So sad.

  4. “Sometimes religious cults are willing to forgive and restore wayward members, but the identity movement cancel culture does not believe in forgiving.” Good! As more and more people dissent and get canceled, the cult will get smaller and smaller until they’ll have to admit they are a very small minority. Right now, with the news media complicit, they appear to represent the majority of people, but I seriously doubt it.

    • I think people want to get back to normal. I was thinking about how the left lost their minds after Trump was elected. I think there will be a continuous roller coaster until Jesus returns. Calm, chaos, calm, chaos….

  5. RE mass formation and Desmet

    The official framing of this “phenomenon” is misleading and wrong. The false hope-addicted psychologists and their acolytes want you to believe this is “just some temporary occasional” madness by the masses that has been going on for a couple of centuries when it is but a spike of a CHRONIC madness going on for aeons with “civilized” people — read “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room –The Holocaustal Covid-19 Coronavirus Madness: A Sociological Perspective & Historical Assessment Of The Covid “Phenomenon”” …. https://www.rolf-hefti.com/covid-19-coronavirus.html

    One of these mainstream psychologists who have been spreading this whitewashed reality, Dr. Desmet, also fails to see that the PLANNED Covid Psyop is a TOTALLY deliberate ploy because he doesn’t think (after more than 1 year, even 2 years, into this total PLANNED scam!) it’s ALL intentionally sinister as he stated in a prior podcast (this makes him witting or unwitting controlled opposition).

    In the May of 2022 podcast with James Corbett he stated that “some people tend to overestimate the degree of planning and intentions” (behind the COUNTLESS, VERIFIABLE, FULLY INTENTIONAL, FULLY PLANNED atrocities by the ruling tribe of psychopaths over the last century alone) and see all of it as being planned which Desmet called “an extreme position” … Sound logical thinking is “extreme” and therefore false and sick in his demented delusional view!!!

    In his overpriced misleading whitewashing book the psychology of totalitarianism he too states that “There are countless … examples that seem to point in the direction of a plan being implemented, such as the fact that the definition of ‘pandemic’ was adjusted shortly before the coronavirus crisis; that the definition of ‘herd immunity’ was changed during the crisis, implying that only vaccines can achieve it … [he continuous with several other obvious facts of an ENTIRELY PLANNED event, especially discerned through the totality of all these facts].” “SEEM to point in the direction of a plan”??? No! They most evidently, clearly, and irrefutably DO demonstrate and prove it’s a COMPLETELY AND FULLY DELIBERATE PlanDemic! A big scam. An Entirely Planned Holocaust against the non-ruling herd of people (see cited link above). A coherent 12-year old kid can figure that out.

    It clearly shows Desmet’s own complete lunacy. But because almost everyone in the culture is a member of mass formation (madness), including the “woke” people of the alternative media domain, hardly anyone recognizes Desmet’s lunacy. Not surprising that he has even become some type of popular “guru” among the adherents of the alternative media landscape.

    With his false use of language Desmet obscures or hides the true reality instead of directly and uncompromising exposing it — aiding the obfuscation of the vital reality of what the ruling authorities really are. He does the same thing when he speaks of ‘the elite’ (as he does in a number of podcasts) when, in reality, they are THE SCUM OF HUMANS because they are REALITY-VERIFIED PSYCHOPATHS (see referenced source above).

    This all means Desmet is ALSO a member of the masses of lunatics, an ACTIVE CARD-CARRYING MEMBER of mass formation!!! When, if at all, will he wake up from his state of mass psychosis? When, if at all, will he face the TRUE and FULL reality instead of hiding behind fantasies such as his whitewashed “reality” of human civilization?

    It shows we live in a global mental asylum with criminal and/or delusional mainstream psychologists, scientists, and docs as the guards, “teachers” and “therapists” … The blind/criminal/mad leading the blind/criminal/mad; the blind/criminal/mad adhere to the blind/criminal/mad = the human madhouse.

    Worst of all, perhaps, the mass formation/mass psychosis notion frames the problem as the public being a mere unaccountable non-culpable victim in this phenomenon (the gist of the circular argument is: the masses should change their thinking but they got brainwashed so they’re victims). Nothing could be further from the truth (see referenced source above).

    Desmet is right in that truth-activists must fight against mass formation psychosis (human madness). That also means exposing HIS deeply destructive mad part of it. This comment serves, in part, that objective.

    • Not sure I agree with you that he’s purposely defrauding anyone, but I will reserve judgment. You could be right. I like to wait and see. I believe that he said that phenomenon has been around since humans formed social groups. It’s not new. However I have not read the book. He could be choosing his words carefully to avoid being censored. Hannah Arendt was much less careful with her words and she was criticized .

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