I had an enlightening experience this past weekend that I want a few other viewpoints on.
I was out shooting a short film in downtown Sacramento last weekend, where I found the Democratic convention across the street from where I was filming and found myself constantly being harrassed by various liberal groups (i.e. "Old Broads for Peace" picketers, among others who had stuck long PVC pipes down thier clothing mounted with banners). I turned my camera from the architecture on my side of the street to the activity on thier side of the street. When I go back and watch the footage, you can see the picketers on the other side of the street with my audible conversations in the foreground with various passerby who would accuse me of being a 'warmonger' when I told them that I would not carry signs with them. I switched the focus of my video and started interviewing on tape members of this group called the "Youth Movement for Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.", a few members of which had made passing sneers about how it wasn't like I was 'doin' anythin' impo-tent' (ebon-ified) with just a camera and tripod...
I grew up in a conservative-Republican household and had never understood this other point of view, so when I was invited by the members of this 'movement,' who beleived that they were recruiting a skeptic, to 'hospitality appetizers' and a town meeting, I took them up on it. I had always assumed my lack of understanding of this other type of 'thinking' only to be a reflection of my own naivety. This many people can't be just ignorant.
After I got to the hotel where all of this was to take place, I spoke breifly with an older lady in the back of the meeting room then went to sit in the front, and within 5 minutes I was surrounded by 4 younger people who all knew my name (they were talking about me in the back of the room apparently). In discussion with a few of them over appetizers I understood the main ideology of this guy's (LaRouche's) campaign to be the faulty idea that the workers are exploited by the capitolists, and that the reason why the workers don't rise up and take action against the capitolists is that they've been brainwashed to accept this way of living as virtuous. HOWEVER, this 'youth movement' group (interestingly, this info took some serious prying to get out of anyone) is made up of mostly ex-students who had dropped out of school and work to follow the movement. They get paid $30 per week for food, and to pay for lodging for the places they travel they 'solicit donations' (i.e. beg). Obviously they do this because they beleive thier purpose to be virtuous. When I pointed out the contradiction, I was told I focused too much on money. (The girl I spoke to for the longest kept saying repeatedly in a breathy-mystical voice, "Heather, What is money? What is wealth?)
Okay, the purpose of this post...The way this group of people interacted was incredible. For about an hour I sat at a table having a discussion with one (1) girl trying to understand the basic foundation of this way of thinking. I was stumbling across more holes than basic facts or ideas to support anything. I would ask for clarification, or for the hole to be explained, and the conversation topic would either shift to something completely unrelated or I would be accused of being 'too concerned' with it. However, the entire time we were surrounded by 7 or 8 people, all part of this movement. At no point in time did any one of them speak up to clarify, to fill in a hole, to restate an idea so that it might make more sense or even be more effective in brainwashing. At one point the girl I was speaking to threw her head back in laughter at my 'over-concern' with money, and she turned to the group. They all broke out into forced laughter in unison, then all silenced at the same instant, and the girl went on speaking. This was creepy--it seemed to go way beyond group-think. It was like the existence of a hive-mind, except that the way they interacted didn't suggest any concern for one another or friendship on any level. The word 'cult' came to mind, except that they seemed more malicious toward one another than anything else.
These are all behaviors and states of mind that I've read about but had never experienced in this extreme. I'd like to know your thoughts on what type of person snaps into this type of being. Do you think it's just a complete lack of self, that they have to find a world outside thier bodies to try to fill that vacuum of needing to belong and needing a purpose? (recall the "It's not like you be doin' anythin' impo-tent" remark...) It seems that these types of 'movements' have existed off and on throughout history, but do you think that our generation is any more susceptible? (I keep remembering the masses honking and screaming in support of the "old broads for peace"...) I have faith this particular Presidential pre-candidate will never be voted into office because too many Americans think with thier brains, but this 'youth movement' seems to be picking up power exponentially. It is a bit disturbing and it makes me wonder about the type of country I will be living in in twenty years...
If any of you have never seen this type of existence that Objectivism completely denies, and want more experience of the reason why it is denied, I would recommend that you go find the "LaRouche Youth Movement' if they pass near your town. Ask too many questions and see how they react. I may have been validating thier 'point of view' by trying to understand it, but this was an incredible (though admittedly disgusting) opportunity for my own understanding of my own principles and why they are correct.
Read more here: LaRouche Youth Movement