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Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following

People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. Become the focal point of such desire by offering them a cause, a new faith to follow. Keep your words vague but full of promise; emphasize enthusiasm over rationality and clear thinking. Give your new disciples rituals to perform, ask them to make sacrifices on your behalf. In the absence of organized religion and grand causes, your new belief system will bring you untold power.

You will find the creation of a cult-like following one of the most effective methods for gaining power. Having a large following opens up all sorts of opportunities. Your followers will both defend you and take on the work of adding new followers. This kind of power elevates you to a different realm. You can do no wrong.

People will form a cult around you, if you follow five easy steps:

To become the founder of a new religion, one must be psychologically infallible in one's knowledge of a certain average type of souls, who have not yet recognized that they belong together. Friedrich Nietzshe, 1844-1900
  1. Keep it bold, keep it simple.

    To create a cult, you must first attract attention. Attract attention not through actions, which are too clear and readable, but through words, which are hazy and less clear. Your initial speeches, conversations and interviews must include two elements: the promise of something great and transformative, and... a total vagueness. This combination will stimulate the dreams of your listeners, who will create their own connections and see what they want to see. Make the subject of your cult new and fresh, so that few will understand. Done correctly, the combination of vague promises, alluring concepts, and fiery enthusiasm will stir people's souls and a group will form around you.'

  2. Emphasize the visual and the sensual over the intellectual.
    It was to the charlatan's advantage that the individuals predisposed to credulity should multiply, that the groups of his adherents should enlarge to mass proportions, guaranteeing an ever greater scope for his triumphs. - The Power of the Charlatan, Grete de Francesco, 1939

    When people have begun to gather around you, two dangers will present themselves: boredom and skepticism. Boredom will make people go elsewhere; skepticism will give them the distance to think rationally, blowing away the mist you have created. You need to amuse the bored and ward off the cynics. The best way to do this is through theater. Surround yourself with luxury, dazzle your followers with visual splendor, fill their eyes with spectacle. This will keep them from seeing the holes in your belief system and it will attract more attention, more followers.

  3. Borrow the structures of organized religion.

    Your cultlike following is growing; it is time to organize it. Find a way both elevating and comforting. Organized religions have long held unquestioned authority for large numbers of people. Copy them. Create rituals for your followers; organize them into a hierarchy, giving them titles that resound with religious overtones; ask them for sacrifices which will increase your power.

  4. Disguise your source of income.

    Your group has grown and you have structured it to be churchlike. Yet, you must never be seen as hungry for money or power. Your followers want to believe that if they follow you all sorts of good things will come to them. By surrounding yourself with luxury, you become living proof of the soundness of your belief system. Never reveal that your wealth and power derive from your followers. Your wealth and power must appear to come from the truth of your methods.

  5. Create an us-versus-them dynamic.

    The goup is now large and thriving, a magnet attracting more and more particles. If you are not careful, inertia will set in, and time and boredom will de-magnetize the group. To keep your followers united, you must now do what all religions and belief systems have done, create an us-versus-them dynamic. First, make your followers believe that they are members of an exclusive group, unified by a bond of common goals. Then, to strengthen the bond, manufacture a devious enemy, which is intent on destroying the group. If you have no enemy, invent one.

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