top of page

Mattias Desmet: Mass Formation as the Basis of Totalitarianism

The part of the population that is in the mass formation and fanatically believes a narrative is what helps the elite seize control of society. This will eventually create and maintain a dictatorship different from what we’ve seen in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, which is called a totalitarian state.

Totalitarianism can be avoided, according to the guest of this Crossroads episode, Mattias Desmet, a professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University in Belgium, and a practicing psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Host Joshua Phillip and Desmet discuss the mechanism of mass formation, its connection with the totalitarian state, and the ways in which such a crisis can be avoided.

Main Characteristics

“Mass Formation is a specific kind of group formation which has very specific effects at the level of individual psychological functioning.” One major characteristic is that the individual loses the capacity to have critical distance on what the group believes in. It goes even further with people in the mass formation starting to believe the most absurd things.

Desmet gives the example of an Iranian woman that lived there during the Revolution of 1979. She told him how people started to believe that Ayatollah – the former supreme leader of Iran – had his portrait printed on the surface of the moon. During the full moon people would stay out in the streets, pointing at the moon and showing each other where exactly they could see the portrait of Ayatollah.

Another characteristic is that people become willing to sacrifice everything that used to be important for them before the mass formation started. This had been seen since ancient times, with the crusades and witch hunts, to the modern days of the French Revolution, or the mass formation of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

A third and very important characteristic is that people in the grip of a mass formation become radically intolerant of dissident voices. In the end stages, atrocities will be committed towards the people that do not go along with the masses, as if it were an ethical duty to do so. To exemplify how the end stage of a mass formation manifests, Desmet continues with another example from the Iranian Revolution, when a mother reported her son to the state. He was arrested and condemned to death. She put the rope around his neck when he was on the scaffold, and when the son was hung, she claimed to be a heroine for doing what she did.

Desmet wrote his book, “The Psychology of Totalitarianism,” because he considers it crucial to understand the process of mass formation and its mechanism. If the correct analysis is made, one will know what actions to take. The people who do not go along with the masses will survive. If the wrong analysis is made and one goes along a wrong strategy, there’s a good chance one will be destroyed by the masses.

Scientific Ideology and the Covid-19 Pandemic

The recent crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic was the first time when a real, full-fledged phenomenon of mass formation emerged on a worldwide level for the first time in history. The essential characteristic of a real mass formation is the emerging of two new groups in society; the end group (a mass), and the out-group (people that do not go along with the mass). The new group formation is energetically so strong that it redistributes and reorganizes all preexisting social bonds.

According to Desmet, Dr. Fauci and other experts that took the lead worldwide do not represent science, but a scientific ideology, which is exactly the opposite of science in many regards. He further details how science was originally an open-minded way to listen to the phenomenon of nature, by putting aside all dogma and prejudices. Because of its success and huge potential of control and manipulation of nature, science eventually changed from being the discourse of a minority going against a dominant discourse, to becoming the dominant discourse itself. That defines the moment when science lost its characteristics of open-mindedness and speaking the truth, and became an ideology.

Desmet has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and statistics. According to his studies, up to 85 percent of the papers published in the medical sciences today are false or intentionally manipulated. He continues by pointing out that the so-called science during the Covid-19 pandemic had failed us, by not being science at all, but manipulative propaganda of global institutions that wanted to use the situation to coerce people to accept the ideological changes imposed on society. All this was done for the purpose of replacing a democratic society with a technocratic society.

“The main weakness of our population is that in one way or another we’re not capable anymore of tolerating the idea that someday we might suffer, and that someday we will die.” Desmet encourages us to ask ourselves what type of society we wish to live in—a technocratic transhumanist society, in which people receive universal income, and they’re subjected to the social credit system that imposes all kinds of ‘treatments’, or a society in which there is a risk of dying, where nature might not be as friendly as we want, but in which we have freedom as human beings.

He goes on to further explain the transhumanist philosophy that believes human beings can live eternally in a state of constant happiness. But technocracy actually won’t bring us safety, and it will not take away the risks. It is only enticing us with the illusion that one day we will be safe, we will not be sick anymore, and we will not suffer anymore. The eternal life and biochemically induced happiness brought forth by transhumanism are things that Desment would rather not have.

Therefore, what is claimed to be science in our society is not the solution to the problems, but the cause of them. Desmet doesn’t want to say that he is against science, but that today its believed that rational understanding is the cornerstone of our human existence. To better explain this concept, he gave the following quotes from several major scientists.

“This part of reality that can be rationally understood is very limited, and the rest of reality we can only understand by emphatically resonating with it,” René Thom.

“When it comes to atoms, language can only be used as poetry. In the end, even the material world, elementary particles, material particles, behave in an irrational way. The essence of the behavior of elementary particles can never be grasped in a rational way,” Niels Bohr.

“I spent my life studying material particles in the laboratory, and in the end I concluded that science arrives when religion once started, in an original, personal encounter with that what transcends every rational understanding,” Max Planck.

These scientists came to the same conclusion, that rational understanding is important, but it is very limited, and it is only the first step in gathering knowledge. The essence of life always escapes rational understanding. Only by circling an object long enough until getting to the point of developing a resonating knowledge, will one arrive at a certain feeling for the eternal principles of the essence of that object. But even that knowledge will never be definitive. And it is that knowledge that will put one in contact with what Max Planck called God, or something that transcends all rational knowledge.

The basis for humans living together, and for human existence, are ethical principles that are eternal and universal. Everyone needs to rediscover them or otherwise, they will become dogmas, and they can only be found at the end of the road of rationality, Desmet said.

The New Kind of Totalitarianism and the Mechanism of Mass Formation

The root cause of totalitarianism comes from the human illusion that everything in life can be controlled, rationally understood, and manipulated, and that we can create an artificial new universe and an artificial new human being that won’t suffer or die anymore. Desmet considers this kind of thinking will eventually destroy the essence of humanity and the essence of life.

He further explains how we’ve seen fascist totalitarianism and communist totalitarianism, but what we are dealing with today is something that was predicted by Hannah Arendt in 1951. She said, “We’ve seen fascist and communist totalitarianism collapse, but we will see the emergence of a new kind of totalitarianism, and this totalitarianism will not be led by gang leaders such as Stalin and Hitler. It will be led by dull bureaucrats and technocrats. It will be a technocratic totalitarianism.”

The people that believe that everything can be controlled in a rational way are the root cause of this new totalitarianism that disconnects us from our natural and social environment through many different psychological mechanisms. As a results, this makes the subjects feel lonely and turns them into atomized people, who will further suffer from a lack of meaning-making, anxiousness, frustration, and aggression without no apparent cause. This psychological condition is the perfect breeding ground for mass formation.

Under these conditions, if a narrative that provides an object of anxiety and the strategy to deal with that object of anxiety are distributed, such as a virus that could be fought by lockdowns or mask-wearing, people will connect with the object of anxiety and start to follow that strategy. In this way, they will feel connected in a heroic battle and feel a new social bond. This is the mechanism of mass formation. This is only an illusion though because in a mass people are not connected to each other, but to the collective.

Desmet further develops this principle, mentioning that solidarity in a mass formation is never between individuals. It’s solidarity between every individual separately and the collective, meaning that everyone demands from the other that he or she sacrifices all individual interests for the collective. The more the mass formation lasts, the more the energy is sucked away from the bonds between individuals, and it’s all invested in the bond between the individuals and the collective.

When we start to understand this mechanism, that totalitarianism is based on mass formation, and that mass formation is a kind of hypnosis, we can also understand that it is the dissident voice that will disturb the mass formation. Desmet encourages us to always continue to speak out so that we can avoid repeating what happened in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

It was a captivating conversation, as Desmet explained the psychological mechanisms unconsciously developed due to some emotions triggered when the connection with life and nature is broken. It was also a sharing of life experience, knowledge, and information that makes this episode very engaging for curious minds. It’s important during these times to stay rational and unaffected in order to make good decisions, and this episode gives some good points on exactly how to do that.


Watch the trailer:

Watch the full video: How to Save Society From Mass Formation: Mattias Desmet

31 views0 comments