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We are all in “NXIVM”

It was improv comedy for me, but it’s been Western culture for awhile.

It’s NXIVM but it doesn’t have to be (from ArtVoice)
  • Technocratic self-contained knowledge and vocabulary, with levels and hierarchies.
  • A monetized/free labor system of growth with a promise of profiting eventually.
  • A vague cause that is described in relation to community and being a force of good (when it’s usually really profit or control).
  • A core foundational belief that “success” is a matter of personal growth and commitment and is measurable.
  • Charismatic leaders who present themselves as innovators, cultivating inspiration on the surface but obedience under the surface.
  • Usually male leaders, often with women who handle the work for them.
  • A culture of shame around people who struggle with reaching benchmarks or question leadership.
  • A core foundational belief that physical, cognitive, or emotional issues that interfere with completing group assignments are signs of failure.
  • A culture of outcasting and defaming people who leave the cult. (Did I mention how many times I really actually saw this happen with improv theaters?)
  • Exploitation of women, POC.
  • Pretense that the group is blind to difference, despite constantly advancing white men.
  • High value placed on the recognition of well-known people.



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Justine Barron

Crime, politics, culture, personal essays, humor (but I’m sad). Twitter: @jewstein3000.