It involved the real-world application of techniques that scholars advocate employing to help individuals leave cults. These days there is no shortage of articles and books dealing with radical-right populism, despots, democratic backsliding, and the tactics that authoritarian leaders deploy.
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Dozens of experts have pointed out that liberal democratic institutions need constant attention and reinforcement in order to be effective bulwarks. In their book, Defeating Authoritarian Leaders in Post-Communist Countries , Valerie Bunce and Sharon Wolchik conclude that democratization in Eastern European nations like Croatia owed much to assistance from transnational pro-democracy networks, civil society, and energetic election campaigns run by a united opposition.
In some ways this analysis offers us a modicum of hope: Trump, despite his desires, commands far less power over the political system than did any of the autocrats that Bunce and Wolchik studied, and the United States enjoys many of the elements they cite as critical, like robust civil society, energetic elections, and a mostly unified opposition.
But at the same time, the very things responsible for the success of democratic transition are under near constant assault from Trump and his Republican abettors. Democracy, especially liberal democracy, has always been dependent on the trust and belief of the self-governed. It is one thing to implement tangible measures to prevent the decay of bedrock institutions, and when it comes to voting rights, elections, the courts, and restraints on executive power, we know what these measures should look like.
The more defections they can get from voters that would otherwise side with the illiberal president, the better. If the opposition can get the other side to split, they win.
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When it comes to helping individuals leave cult-like groups, many sociologists agree: Positive social factors are more effective than negative sanctions. Testimonials from former cult members can be particularly helpful in fueling disillusionment, she says.
He argued that outsiders should work with mid-level members of the community who could simultaneously engage ordinary people and their leaders. Of the places in the world where conflict transformation has worked, Northern Ireland probably most approximates the United States, in the sense that it was part of a wealthy nation with a democratic tradition though in the s, Northern Ireland was in a far worse situation of political division and communitarian violence.
Maria Power, a researcher in conflict transformation studies at Oxford, sees strategies from Northern Ireland that could be deployed on the other side of the Atlantic.
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She said that the peace effort in Northern Ireland hinged on incredibly tough, person-to-person groundwork carried out by dozens of organizations and ecumenical groups. She emphasized above all the importance of investing effort and time into building trust, first within, and then later between, identity groups. Power said that conflict transformation in the United States would likely involve local, grassroots community development in the areas that Trump likes to hold rallies.
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I mean that there should be a focus on real community development in these areas. But there is reality, and there is perception, and the truth is that Trump voters perceive themselves as victims who have been culturally dislocated, disdained, and in danger of being left behind. Power said that, in the mids, Northern Ireland had some of these single-identity groups. Only once that step had been undertaken on a local level were people able to have cross-community conversation, and eventually to engage with each other through social action projects—schemes to bring people together, not over political discussion, but in tasks beneficial to their communities.
Power lamented that overall this is quite a long-term process, perhaps even a generational one. Elfversson told me that because trust in the state and institutions is often crucial to reconciliation, democratic backsliding in the U. Such an approach might seem fuzzy to those who seek to buttress qualitative observations with hard data, but there are concrete examples of places where community-based peace building has been effective.
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Fieschi thinks that the way to short-circuit populism is to create an environment where people can think. We need to create those spaces and times that offer the opportunity to exercise agency, to think things through. The problem for the modern left is that none of this is emotionally satisfying.
Push too hard, and you risk fostering even greater resentment and reaction. But let people off the hook, and the myths they perpetuate about race and national identity might never get punctured. Above all, it also rings as profoundly unfair. Why should a group that still enjoys the momentum of historic privilege, and is still afforded outsize political weight, be handheld through an era of demographic change? And why should minority groups, who continue to suffer from oppression, be the ones to extend that hand?
American politics, as Alexis de Tocqueville once observed, has often had a religious character to it, with the nation itself exalted in a messianic way. Con man, cult leader, populist politician: Trump is all of these, rolled into one. He has become all-encompassing, even to nonbelievers. Throughout Bretonnia there are many Grail Chapels built upon sites of holy significance, ranging from humble roadside shrines to great fortress cathedrals incorporated into a knight's Castle.
It is the sacred duty of the Grail Knights to protect these shrines and often such knights will devote the remainder of their lives to defending the Lady's holy places. These knights are known as hermit knights and spend their lives living in and defending the shrines and relics housed within. Sign In Don't have an account? Start a Wiki. For it is said that to sup from this most holy chalice a knight will become more than just a hero, he will become a saint Overview Worship of the Lady can be traced to the earliest days of the Kingdom.
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Head of the Cult. The Fay Enchantress Morgiana. Primary Orders. Grail Knights. Major Festivals.
Related The Cult of Light and Lies
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