Lately, it sure looks like the whole Alternative News and 911 Truth movement is being subjected to the Ponerization process, so perhaps now would be a good time to take a look at how that process develops:
Lobaczewski writes in Political Ponerology
We shall give the name "ponerogenic association" to any group of people characterized by ponerogenic processes of above-average social intensity, wherein the carriers of various pathological factors function as inspirers, spellbinders, and leaders, and where a proper pathological social structure generates.
Smaller, less permanent associations may be called "groups" or "unions".
Such an association gives birth to evil which hurts other people as well as its own members. We could list various names ascribed to such organizations by linguistic tradition: gangs, criminal mobs, mafias, cliques, and coteries, which cunningly avoid collision with the law while seeking to gain their own advantage. Such unions frequently aspire to political power in order to impose their expedient legislation upon societies in the name of a suitably prepared ideology, deriving advantages in the form of disproportionate prosperity and the satisfaction of their craving for power.
A description and classification of such associations with a view of their numbers, goals, officially promulgated ideologies, and internal organizations would of course be scientifically valuable. Such a description, effected by a perceptive observer, could help a ponerologist determine some of the properties of such unions, which cannot be determined by means of natural conceptual language.
A description of this kind, however, ought not to cloak the more factual phenomena and psychological dependencies operating within these unions. Failure to heed this warning can easily cause such a sociological description to indicate properties which are of secondary importance, or even made "for show" to impress the uninitiated, thereby overshadowing the actual phenomena which decide the quality, role, and fate of the union. Particularly if such a description is colorful literature, it can furnish merely illusory or ersatz knowledge, thus rendering a naturalistic perception and causative comprehension of phenomena more difficult.
One phenomenon all ponerogenic groups and associations have in common is the fact that their members lose (or have already lost) the capacity to perceive pathological individuals as such, interpreting their behavior in a fascinated, heroic, or melodramatic ways. The opinions, ideas, and judgments of people carrying various psychological deficits are endowed with an importance at least equal to that of outstanding individuals among normal people.
The atrophy of natural critical faculties with respect to pathological individuals becomes an opening to their activities, and, at the same time, a criterion for recognizing the association in concern as ponerogenic. Let us call this the first criterion of ponerogenesis.
Another phenomenon all ponerogenic associations have in common is their statistically high concentration of individuals with various psychological anomalies. Their qualitative composition is crucially important in the formation of the entire union's character, activities, development, or extinction.
Groups dominated by various kinds of characteropathic individuals will develop relatively primitive activities, proving rather easy for a society of normal people to break. However, things are quite different when such unions are inspired by psychopathic individuals. [...]
Two basic types of the above-mentioned unions should be differentiated: Primary ponerogenic and secondary ponerogenic. Let us describe as primarily ponerogenic a union whose abnormal members were active from the very beginning, playing the role of crystallizing catalysts as early as the process of creation of the group occurred. We shall call secondarily ponerogenic a union which was founded in the name of some idea with an independent social meaning, generally comprehensible within the categories of the natural world view, but which later succumbed to a certain moral degeneration. This in turn opened the door to infection and activation of the pathological factors within, and later to a ponerization of the group as a whole, or often of its fraction.
From the very outset, a primarily ponerogenic union is a foreign body within the organism of society, its character colliding with the moral values held or respected by the majority. The activities of such groups provoke opposition and disgust and are considered immoral; as a rule, therefore, such groups do not spread large, nor do they metastasize into numerous unions; they finally lose their battle with society.
This is why such groups USE other groups to achieve their goals. They infiltrate, find weak individuals to target, begin the process of moral degeneration, etc. That is to say, just because a group operates under the banner of "communism" or "socialism" or "democracy" or "conservatism" or "republicanism", doesn't mean that, in practice, their functions are anything close to the original ideology. As we can see in the present day, the republican party (and the democrats as well, they are just pretending to be different) have been taken over by what amounts to Nazis. These Nazis use the ideology of the political parties to motivate large masses of people who still believe that the rulership of the party is aligned with the original ideology.
The same is being done with alternative news and the 911 truth movement. It is being infiltrated and turned around because it is way too dangerous to the Nazis that have taken over the U.S. political scene under the guise of being republicans or democrats or neo-conservatives, or whatever names they have created to bamboozle the public.
In order to have a chance to develop into a large ponerogenic association, however, it suffices that some human organization, characterized by social or political goals and an ideology with some creative value, be accepted by a larger number of normal people before it succumbs to a process of ponerogenic malignancy. The primary tradition and ideological values of such a society may then, for a long time, protect a union which has succumbed to the ponerization process from the awareness of society, especially its less critical components.
When the ponerogenic process touches such a human organization, which originally emerged and acted in the name of political or social goals, and whose causes were conditioned in history and the social situation, the original group's primary values will nourish and protect such a union, in spite of the fact that those primary values succumb to characteristic degeneration, the practical function becoming completely different from the primary one, because the names and symbols are retained.
This is where the weaknesses of individual and social "common sense" are revealed.
That is why Sartre and Judy Andreas and others decrying the "name calling" in the 911 Truth Movement are either agents themselves or woefully naive and will never survive the nazification/ponerization of the movement. The so-called "commonsense" that they subscribe to is NO DEFENSE against psychological deviants! But such "commonsensical" sayings and motifs will be brought up and flung around with great abandon by agents seeking to put the more critical members of the public back to sleep.
Ponerogenic unions of the primary variety are mainly of interest to criminology; our main concern will be associations that succumb to a secondary process of poneric malignancy. First, however, let us sketch a few properties of such associations which have already surrendered to this process.
Within each ponerogenic union, a psychological structure is created which can be considered a counterpart or caricature of the normal structure of society or a normal societal organization. In a normal social organization, individuals with various psychological strengths and weaknesses complement each other's talents and characteristics. This structure is subjected to diachronic modification with regard to changes in the character of the association as whole. The same is true of a ponerogenic union. Individuals with various psychological aberrations also complement each other's talents and characteristics.
The earlier phase of a ponerogenic union's activity is usually dominated by characteropathic, particularly paranoid, individuals, who often play an inspirational or spellbinding role in the ponerization process. Recall here the power of the paranoid characteropath lies in the fact that they easily enslave less critical minds, e.g. people with other kinds of psychological deficiencies, or who have been victims of individuals with character disorders, and, in particular, a large segment of young people.
At this point in time, the union still exhibits certain romantic features and is not yet characterized by excessively brutal behavior. Soon, however, the more normal members are pushed into fringe functions and are excluded from organizational secrets; some of them thereupon leave such a union.
An example would be a paranoid character who believes himself to be a Robin Hood type character with a "mission" to "rob from the rich and give to the poor." This can easily transform to "rob from anyone to gain for the self" under the cover of "social injustice against us makes it right."
Returning to Lobaczewski:
Individuals with inherited deviations then progressively take over the inspirational and leadership positions. The role of essential psychopaths gradually grows, although they like to remain ostensibly in the shadows (e.g. directing small groups), setting the pace as an éminence grise.
In ponerogenic unions on the largest social scales, the leadership role is generally played by a different kind of individual, one more easily digestible and representative. Examples include frontal characteropathy, or some more discreet complex of lesser taints.
A spellbinder at first simultaneously plays the role of leader in a ponerogenic group. Later there appears another kind of "leadership talent", a more vital individual who often joined the organization later, once it has already succumbed to ponerization. The spellbinding individual, being weaker, is forced to come to terms with being shunted into the shadows and recognizing the new leader's "genius", or accept the threat of total failure. Roles are parceled out. The spellbinder needs support from the primitive but decisive leader, who in turn needs the spellbinder to uphold the association's ideology, so essential in maintaining the proper attitude on the part of those members of the rank and file who betray a tendency to criticism and doubt of the moral variety.
The spellbinder's job then becomes to repackage the ideology appropriately, sliding new contents in under old titles, so that it can continue fulfilling its propaganda function under ever-changing conditions. He also has to uphold the leader's mystique inside and outside the association. Complete trust cannot exist between the two, however, since the leader secretly has contempt for the spellbinder and his ideology, whereas the spellbinder despises the leader for being such a coarse individual. A showdown is always probable; whoever is weaker becomes the loser.
The structure of such a union undergoes further variegation and specialization.
A chasm opens between the somewhat more normal members and the elite initiates who are, as a rule, more pathological. This later subgroup becomes ever more dominated by hereditary pathological factors, the former by the after-effects of various diseases affecting the brain, less typically psychopathic individuals, and people whose malformed personalities were caused by early deprivation or brutal child-rearing methods on the part of pathological individuals.
It soon develops that there is less and less room for normal people in the group at all. The leaders' secrets and intentions are kept hidden from the union's proletariat; the products of the spellbinders' work must suffice for this segment.
An observer watching such a union's activities from the outside and using the natural psychological world view will always tend to overestimate the role of the leader and his allegedly autocratic function. The spellbinders and the propaganda apparatus are mobilized to maintain this erroneous outside opinion. The leader, however, is dependent upon the interests of the union, especially the elite initiates, to an extent greater than he himself knows. He wages a constant position-jockeying battle; he is an actor with a director. In macrosocial unions, this position is generally occupied by a more representative individual not deprived of certain critical faculties; initiating him into all those plans and criminal calculations would be counterproductive.
In conjunction with part of the elite, a group of psychopathic individuals hiding behind the scenes steers the leader, the way Borman and his clique steered Hitler. If the leader does not fulfill his assigned role, he generally knows that the clique representing the elite of the union is in a position to kill or otherwise remove him.
We have sketched the properties of unions in which the ponerogenic process has transformed their original generally benevolent content into a pathological counter-part thereof and modified its structure and its later changes, in a manner sufficiently wide-scale to encompass the greatest possible scope of this kind of phenomena, from the smallest to the largest social scale. The general rules governing those phenomena appear to be at least analogous, independent of the quantitative, social, and historical scale of such a phenomenon.
It is a common phenomenon for a ponerogenic association or group to contain a particular ideology which always justifies its activities and furnishes motivational propaganda. Even a small-time gang of hoodlums has its own melodramatic ideology and pathological romanticism. Human nature demands that vile matters be haloed by an over-compensatory mystique in order to silence one's conscience and to deceive consciousness and critical faculties, whether one's own or those of others.
If such a ponerogenic union could be stripped of its ideology, nothing would remain except psychological and moral pathology, naked and unattractive. Such stripping would of course provoke "moral outrage", and not only among the members of the union. The fact is, even normal people, who condemn this kind of union along with its ideologies, feel hurt and deprived of something constituting part of their own romanticism, their way of perceiving reality when a widely idealized group is exposed as little more than a gang of criminals. Perhaps even some of the readers of this book will resent the author's stripping evil so unceremoniously of all its literary motifs. The job of effecting such a "strip-tease" may thus turn out to be much more difficult and dangerous than expected.
A primary ponerogenic union is formed at the same time as its ideology, perhaps even somewhat earlier. A normal person perceives such ideology to be different from the world of human concepts, obviously suggestive, and even primitively comical to a degree.
An ideology of a secondarily ponerogenic association is formed by gradual adaptation of the primary ideology to functions and goals other than the original formative ones. A certain kind of layering or schizophrenia of ideology takes place during the ponerization process. The outer layer closest to the original content is used for the group's propaganda purposes, especially regarding the outside world, although it can in part also be used inside with regard to disbelieving lower-echelon members. The second layer presents the elite with no problems of comprehension: it is more hermetic, generally composed by slipping a different meaning into the same names. Since identical names signify different contents depending on the layer in question, understanding this "doubletalk" requires simultaneous fluency in both languages.
Average people succumb to the first layer's suggestive insinuations for a long time before they learn to understand the second one as well. Anyone with certain psychological deviations, especially if he is wearing the mask of normality with which we are already familiar, immediately perceives the second layer to be attractive and significant; after all, it was built by people like him. Comprehending this doubletalk is therefore a vexatious task, provoking quite understandable psychological resistance; this very duality of language, however, is a pathognomonic symptom indicating that the human union in question is touched by the ponerogenic process to an advanced degree.
The ideology of unions affected by such degeneration has certain constant factors regardless of their quality, quantity, or scope of action: namely, the motivations of a wronged group, radical righting of the wrong, and the higher values of the individuals who have joined the organization. These motivations facilitate sublimation of the feeling of being wronged and different, caused by one's own psychological failings, and appear to liberate the individual from the need to abide by uncomfortable moral principles.
In the world full of real injustice and human humiliation, making it conducive to the formation of an ideology containing the above elements, a union of its converts may easily succumb to degradation. When this happens, those people with a tendency to accept the better version of the ideology will tend to justify such ideological duality.
The ideology of the proletariat, which aimed at revolutionary restructuring of the world, was already contaminated by a schizoid deficit in the understanding of, and trust for, human nature; small wonder, then, that it easily succumbed to a process of typical degeneration in order to nourish and disguise a macrosocial phenomenon whose basic essence is completely different.
Note: From the Communist Manifesto
: "By proletariat [is meant] the class of modern wage laborers, who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labor-power in order to live."
Additional note: Fascism seems to be the diametric opposite of Communism and Marxism, both in a philosophic and political sense, and also opposed democratic capitalist economics along with socialism and liberal democracy. It viewed the state as an organic entity in a positive light rather than as an institution designed to protect collective and individual rights, or as one that should be held in check.
Fascism is also typified by totalitarian attempts to impose state control over all aspects of life: political, social, cultural, and economic which accurately describes what was passed off under the name of Communism.
The fascist state regulates and controls (as opposed to nationalizing) the means of production. Fascism exalts the nation, state, or race as superior to the individuals, institutions, or groups composing it. Fascism uses explicit populist rhetoric; calls for a heroic mass effort to restore past greatness; and demands loyalty to a single leader, often to the point of a cult of personality. Again, we see that Fascism was passed off as Communism.
So, what actually seems to have happened is that the original ideals of the proletariat were cleverly subsumed to State corporatism. Most people in the west are not aware of this because of the Western propaganda against Communism.
The word "Fascist" has become a slur throughout the world since the stunning failure of the Axis powers in World War II. In contemporary political discourse, adherents of some political ideologies tend to associate fascism with their enemies, or define it as the opposite of their own views. There are no major self-described fascist parties or organizations anywhere in the world. However, at the present time, in the U.S., the system is far more Fascist than Democratic which probably explains the existence of the years of anti-Communist propaganda. That would demonstrate an early process of ponerization of Western democracy which, at present, has almost completed the transformation to full-blown Fascism.
For future reference, let us remember: ideologies do not need spellbinders. Spellbinders need ideologies in order to subject them to their own deviant goals.
On the other hand, the fact that some ideology degenerated along with its corollary social movement, later succumbing to this schizophrenia and serving goals which the originators of the ideology would have abhorred, does not prove that it was worthless, false, and fallacious from the start. Quite the contrary: it rather appears that under certain historical conditions, the ideology of any social movement, even if it is sacred truth, can yield to the ponerization process.
A given ideology may have contained weak spots, created by the errors of human thought and emotion within; or it may, during the course of its history, become infiltrated by more primitive foreign material which can contain ponerogenic factors. Such material destroys an ideology's internal homogeny. The source of such infection by foreign ideological material may be the ruling social system with its laws and customs based on a more primitive tradition, or an imperialistic system of rule. It may be, of course, simply another philosophical movement often contaminated by the eccentricities of its founder, who considers the facts to blame for not conforming to his dialectical construct.
The Roman Empire, including its legal system and paucity of psychological concepts, similarly contaminated the primary homogeneous idea of Christianity. Christianity had to adapt to coexistence with a social system wherein "dura lex sed lex" , rather than an understanding of human beings, decided a person's fate; this then led to the corruption of attempting to reach the goals of the "Kingdom of God" by means of Roman imperialistic methods.
The greater and truer the original ideology, the longer it may be capable of nourishing and disguising from human criticism that phenomenon which is the product of the specific degenerative process. In a great and valuable ideology, the danger for small minds is hidden; they can become the factors of such preliminary degeneration, which opens the door to invasion by pathological factors.
Thus, if we intend to understand the secondary ponerization process and the kinds of human associations which succumb to it, we must take great care to separate the original ideology from its counterpart, or even caricature, created by the ponerogenic process. Abstracting from any ideology, we must, by analogy, understand the essence of the process itself, which has its own etiological causes which are potentially present in every society, as well as characteristic developmental patho-dynamics.
The Ponerization Process
Observation of the ponerization processes of various human unions throughout history easily leads to the conclusion that the initial step is a moral warping of the group's ideational contents.
In analyzing the contamination of a group's ideology, we note first of all an infiltration of foreign, simplistic, and doctrinaire contents, thereby depriving it of any healthy support for, and trust in, the necessity of understanding of human nature. This opens the way for invasion by pathological factors and the ponerogenic role of their carriers.
This is the present danger to the 911 Truth Movement and Alternative Media. Such claims as those made by Sartre, Judy Andreas, Dimitris, etc, that weeding out the cointelpro factors amounts to "infighting" and "backstabbing" and "petty differences" and so on, amount to nothing more that simplistic and doctrinaire concepts that do not take into account the complexity of human nature and most especially the existence of deviant psychopathologies. In short, it just isn't realistic based on a reasonable observation of how things work in the real world, historically speaking.
So, are they "useful idiots" or conscious agents?
We don't know. What we can know is that taking their simplistic and doctrinaire paramoralisms as truth is setting a dangerous example.
The example of the Roman legal system vis a vis early Christianity mentioned above, is a case in point. The Roman imperial and legal civilization was overly attached to matter and law, and created a legal system that was too rigid to accommodate any real aspects of psychological and spiritual life. This "earthy" foreign element infiltrated Christianity resulting in the Catholic church adopting Imperial strategies to enforce its system on others by violence.
This fact could justify the conviction of moralists that maintaining a union's ethical discipline and ideational purity is sufficient protection against derailing or hurtling into an insufficiently comprehended world of error. Such a conviction strikes a ponerologist as a unilateral oversimplification of an eternal reality which is more complex. After all, the loosening of ethical and intellectual controls is sometimes a consequence of the direct or indirect influence of the omnipresent factors of the existence of deviants in any social group, along with some other non-pathological human weaknesses.
Sometime during life, every human organism undergoes periods during which physiological and psychological resistance declines, facilitating development of bacteriological infection within.
Similarly, a human association or social movement undergoes periods of crisis which weaken its ideational and moral cohesion. This may be caused by pressure on the part of other groups, a general spiritual crisis in the environment, or intensification of its hysterical condition. Just as more stringent sanitary measures are an obvious medical indication for a weakened organism, the development of conscious control over the activity of pathological factors is a ponerological indication. This is a crucial factor for prevention of tragedy during a society's periods of moral crisis.
For centuries, individuals exhibiting various psychological anomalies have had the tendency to participate in the activities of human unions. This is made possible on the one hand by such group's weaknesses, i.e. failure in adequate psychological knowledge; on the other hand, it deepens the moral failings and stifles the possibilities of utilizing healthy common sense and understanding matters objectively. In spite of the resulting tragedies and unhappiness, humanity has shown a certain progress, especially in the cognitive area; therefore, a ponerologist may be cautiously optimistic. After all, by detecting and describing these aspects of the ponerization process of human groups, which could not be understood until recently, we shall be able to counteract such processes earlier and more effectively. Again, depth and breadth of knowledge of human psychological variations is crucial.
Any human group affected by the process described herein is characterized by its increasing regression from natural common sense and the ability to perceive psychological reality. Someone considering this in terms of traditional categories might consider it an instance of "turning into half-wits" or the development of intellectual deficiencies and moral failings. A ponerological analysis of this process, however, indicates that pressure is being applied to the more normal part of the association by pathological factors present in certain individuals who have been allowed to participate in the group because the lack of good psychological knowledge has not madated their exclusion.
Thus, whenever we observe some group member being treated with no critical distance, although he betrays one of the psychological anomalies familiar to us, and his opinions being treated as at least equal to those of normal people, although they are based on a characteristically different view of human matters, we must derive the conclusion that this human group is affected by a ponerogenic process and if measures are not taken the process shall continue to its logical conclusion. We shall treat this in accordance with the above described first criterion of ponerology, which retains its validity regardless of the qualitative and quantitative features of such a union: the atrophy of natural critical faculties with respect to pathological individuals becomes an opening to their activities, and, at the same time, a criterion for recognizing the association in concern as ponerogenic.
Such a state of affairs simultaneously consists as a liminal (watershed) situation, whereupon further damage to people's healthy common sense and critical moral faculties becomes ever easier. Once a group has inhaled a sufficient dose of pathological material to give birth to the conviction that these not-quite-normal people are unique geniuses, it starts subjecting its more normal members to pressure characterized by corresponding paralogical and paramoral elements.
For many people, such pressure of collective opinion takes on attributes of a moral criterion; for others, it represents a kind of psychological terror ever more difficult to endure. The phenomenon of counter-selection thus occurs in this phase of ponerization: individuals with a more normal sense of psychological reality leave after entering into conflict with the newly modified group; simultaneously, individuals with various psychological anomalies join the group and easily find a way of life there. The former feel "pushed into counter-revolutionary positions", and the latter can afford to remove their masks of sanity ever more often.
People who have been thus thrown out of a ponerogenic association because they were too normal suffer bitterly; they are unable to understand their specific state. Their ideal, the reason they joined the group, which constituted a part of the meaning of life for them, has now been degraded, although they cannot find a rational basis for this fact. They feel wronged; they "fight against demons" they are not in a position to identify. The fact is their personalities have already been modified to a certain extent due to saturation by abnormal psychological material, especially psychopathic material. They easily fall into the opposite extreme in such cases, because unhealthy emotions rule their decisions. What they need is good psychological information in order to find the path of reason and measure. Based on a ponerologic understanding of their condition, psychotherapy could provide rapid positive results. However, if the union they left is succumbing to deep ponerization, a threat looms over them: they may become the objects of revenge, since they have "betrayed" a magnificent ideology.
This is the stormy period of a group's ponerization, followed by a certain stabilization in terms of contents, structure, and customs. Rigorous selective measures of a clearly psychological kind are applied to new members. So as to exclude the possibility of becoming sidetracked by defectors, people are observed and tested to eliminate those characterized by excessive mental independence or psychological normality. The new internal function created is something like a "psychologist", and it doubtless takes advantage of the above-described psychological knowledge collected by psychopaths.
It should be noted that certain of these exclusionary steps taken by a group in the process of ponerization, should have been taken against deviants by the ideological group in the beginning. So rigorous selective measures of a psychological kind taken by a group is not necessarily an indicator that the group is ponerogenic. Rather one should carefully examine what the psychological selection is based on. If any group seeks to avoid ponerization, it will want to exclude individuals with any psychological dependence on subjective beliefs, rites, rituals, drugs, and certainly those individuals that are incapable of objectively analyzing their own inner psychological content or who reject the process of Positive disintegration.
In a group in the process of ponerization, spellbinders take care of "ideological purity". The leader's position is relatively secure. Individuals manifesting doubt or criticism are subject to paramoral condemnation.
Maintaining the utmost dignity and style, leadership discusses opinions and intentions which are psychologically and morally pathological. Any intellectual connections which might reveal them as such are eliminated, thanks to the substitution of premises operating in the proper subconscious process on the basis of prior conditioned reflexes. An objective observer might wish to compare this state to one in which the inmates of an asylum take over the running of the institution. The association enters the state wherein the whole has donned the mask of ostensible normality. In the next chapter, we shall call such a state the "dissimulative phase" with regard to macrosocial ponerogenic phenomena.
Observing the appropriate state corresponding to the first ponerological criterion - the atrophy of natural critical faculties with respect to pathological individuals - requires skillful psychology and specific factual knowledge; the second, more stable phase can be perceived both by a person of average reason and by public opinion in most societies. The interpretation imposed, however, is unilaterally moralistic or sociological, simultaneously undergoing the characteristic feeling of deficiency as regards the possibility of both understanding the phenomenon and counteracting the spread of said evil.
However, in this phase a minority of social groups tend to consider such a ponerogenic association comprehensible within the categories of their own world view and the outer layer of diffusing ideology as a doctrine acceptable to them. The more primitive the society in question, and the further removed from direct contact to the union affected by this pathological state, the more numerous such minorities would be. This very period, during which the customs of the union become somewhat milder, often represents simultaneously its most intensive expansionist activity.
This period may last long, but not forever. Internally, the group is becoming progressively more pathological, finally showing its true qualitative colors again as its activities become ever clumsier. At this point, a society of normal people can easily threaten ponerologic associations, even at the macrosocial level.