Honey, Are We Starting a Cult?


We are starting a podcast called “Honey, are we starting a cult?”

As you might have guessed based on that title, we think we are basically starting a cult.

We look around right now and see a world that is on the brink of collapse. And the general sentiment that most people have about this coming collapse is one of two things:

  1. There’s nothing we can do about it.

  2. There must be something that can be done about it, but I don’t know what.

The pessimism inherent in these answers is exacerbated by the lack of institutions for us to have faith in. The suggestion that huge problems like climate change might be solved by traditional institutions such as governments or corporations is laughed off by most people, and rightfully so. But there is too much to lose for losing to be an option. We have to do something and it has to be big.

As far as we can see, the only path forward is to bring many people together with a shared vision of the future and do the work necessary to create that future. Of course, for anyone who has studied cults a bit, that last sentence should raise some red flags.

Cults have a pretty terrible track record for beginning with some beautiful utopian idealism and ending with very real-world violence and abuse.

Many of us recently watched Wild, Wild Country. We saw a group of passionate people build a city in the desert and then green that desert. It was exciting to watch and gave a lot of the people who watched it a rush: it wasn’t so hard to imagine coming together with our friends and doing something similar. But, as the show goes on and the cult does worse and worse things—figuratively and literally poisoning people—our excitement starts to feel misplaced.

It seems like no matter how good an organization that dreams of utopia begins—whether it is the Rajneeshis or Christianity—it always ends up being extremely harmful to people within and outside of the organization. History gives us the impression that big dreams are doomed to fail in the worst ways.

But there is another way to see it. We are under the impression that the problem with utopian movements and communities isn’t their obviously good dreams of a better world, but the obviously bad ways that they use their power to control and abuse others. In this way, the relationship between the people within a cult who have power and those who do not is distinctly similar to one of domestic abuse. Likewise, there are similarities between the beautiful potentials inherent in a romantic partnership and a healthy community.

We want to make Real Hedonism a movement that empowers everybody and doesn’t empower any one person above another. We are just two flawed humans who only know about our small corner of the world. We are not gurus. We don’t have some special wisdom that no one else has.

Our format for the podcast will be mostly interview based. We want to talk to people who are doing really amazing work about the intersections between their work and pleasure, Hedonism, the creation of a Hedonist community and paradise on Earth.

With any amount of success, Real Hedonism will be branded as a cult by people who do not want it to succeed. We want to recognize the cult-like qualities of our organization up front and do everything we can to make sure that it does not become an abusive one. We want to use this podcast to create transparency and accountability in order to make sure that we don’t fuck this up.

We think that by designing Real Hedonism with other people, publicly and transparently, we just might be able to get it right.

When we say “Honey, are we starting a cult”, the term of endearment isn’t just about Rayla or I talking to each other and reflecting on what it is that we are creating. “Honey” gets at our partnership, but it also refers to the partnership of everyone who comes to the table to design this movement. There is something romantic about coming together with friends to try and realize a utopic ideal.

This is why we ask each other, and anyone else who wishes to come into partnership creating Real Hedonism, “Honey, are we starting a cult”?

Do you have some wisdom or ideas that you would like to share with our community? Do you want to be a part of the Hedonist revolution? Do you just wanna have a conversation with Cameron and Rayla and then hear that conversation at a later date in the form of a podcast?

Let us know!

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Cameron DawsonComment