Premies and empowerment?
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Posted by: Livia
07/21/2003, 14:31:54


An interesting thought occurred to me the other day while listening to a radio programme about the psychology of people who believe in apocalyptic ideas, not unknown amongst premies, especially in the earlier days. 

The theory put forward was that people who believe that the end of the world is coming, and that they are the only ones who know the truth, are often those who  feel disempowered in their own lives.  Embracing a belief that only they know the real truth about what's going on gives a sense of empowerment in an otherwise ineffectual life.  In the US, apocalyptic religion is often taken up by people at the bottom of the social scale.  The born-again Armageddonists aren't usually among the university-educated high-powered intelligentsia.

The early British premie scene was made up of premies who tended to believe strongly that the end of the world was imminent and that we, the premies, were the only ones who knew the truth.  Anchored in holy name we would ride the storm, whatever it was - third world war, natural disaster, and survive to live in the dawning Age of Aquarius with Maharaji at the helm, living lord in person etc etc.  Anybody who doubts this obviously wasn't there at the time, or wasn't listening in the run-up to the Millenium festival at the Astrodome...

Could the eagerness to embrace all of this have been something to do with us feeling disempowered in our lives?   (Or am I just stating the obvious?)  A lot of us were disaffected with our families, the education system, the world of serious work, and had ended up pretty rootless and aimless.  It was a time of huge social change and we were part of that wave, but inadvertantly we had ended up cutting ourselves off from empowerment and must have sensed it deep down.  So what did we do?  Join a group of people who believed they alone had the only answer in a world that was probably about to undergo drastic change.  Exactly what so many of the current disempowered do....

I'm not trying to divert attention from the obvious wrongs that M perpetuated, but as we often discuss premie psychology as well as cult phenomena here, I think it's relevant.  Think about our contemporaries back then who heard about M but didn't jump in - what was different about them?  Did they have clearer ambitions?  Did they feel less disempowered?  Were most of us unusually alienated from our families, leading us to reject their values far more than was really good for us in the long run?

In my own case, my family were quite pushy and I ended up probably shooting myself in the foot by rejecting university at that stage and casting myself adrift.  Hardly surprising that a few years later I ended up - adrift.  This isn't to say that I should have followed the path they'd have preferred me to follow and in many ways I'm glad I did things my way, but some of it was definitely a reaction rather than a well thought-out life strategy.  No wonder I ended up perfect fodder for an "end of epoch"-style cult.

What does anybody else think?

Modified by Livia at Wed, Jul 23, 2003, 00:18:42

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