Saturday, October 4, 2014

Cults like ISIS

Growing inequality and a general lack of concern for civilians living under ISIS's rule could eventually spell the end of the group, Elizabeth Palmer and Khaled Wassef report for CBS News.
In Raqqa, Syria, ISIS's de facto capital, civilians chaffing under the jihadist's strict rule are becoming disenchanted with the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Residents are poor and disenfranchised — while fighters for the group are living lavishly. "

From the book The False Messiahs, by Jack Gratus, it's easy to see that ISIS is nothing new in history. Someone like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, comes along, gathers a religious following, builds a movement, and then the whole thing collapses. I suspect, based on how ISIS is utilizing short-term strategies that will alienate most people, it will not last very long either.
A short example from the book is the Pastoureaux movement beginning in 1251 in France. "They were led by one of the three original preachers, a man who claimed to have received a direct call from the Virgin Mary to summons the Crusade. He was said to have come from Hungary and was known as Jacob, the Master of Hungary." Jacob had great sway over those who heard his message, and he gained a large following. "He claimed that his elect would never go hungry or in need because he had the power to increase their provisions indefinitely. In fact, the Pastoureaux provisioned themselves by going into towns and villages and taking what they wanted." They quickly looted over 100 communities.
"Town after town welcomed his people as holy and Jacob as Christ himself." Jacob's movement grew as he plundered and preached. But when he began to preach against the nobility and proclaimed them the enemy, the authorities chose to end his reign, and he was captured and hacked to death. (pp. 74-5).
Several such movements are related in this remarkable book. These movements, like ISIS, had a leader claiming religious dictatorship, claimed to be the restoration of past glory, were extremely violent, and were completely intolerant of outside ideas. They all failed.

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