The Cult of MLM

Don’t Even Say It!
There are two taboo terms in the world of multi-level marketing (MLM). One is “pyramid scheme”. The other, which is even more vehemently denied, is “cult”.
Multi-level marketing has the distinction of being known for
both cult practices and perpetration of pyramid schemes. MLMs can gain the power of a cult over the members only because they are also are able to perpetrate pyramid fraud in the form of “endless chain” income promises.

The lethal combination of cult and pyramid in a multi-level marketing company was vividly explored in a recent newspaper series on the multi-level marketing company, NXIVM (pronounced like the acid reflux “purple” pill).
The four-part series in the
Albany Times Union by James M. Odato and Jennifer Gish chronicles lawsuits, accusations of sexual abuse of female members, legal harassment, possible regulatory violations and denials concerning whether that MLM company is both a pyramid scheme and what is commonly called a “commercial cult.”

How could a
business be a cult? Cults are associated with spiritual beliefs, religious movements or extreme political causes, area of life in which deep convictions, high ideals, spiritual hopes and life-long dreams are at stake. Business, on the other hand, requires rational decisions, research, services and products. Businesses are subject to measurable factors of supply, demand, saturation and competition.
How could the dark and mystical forces of a cult be instilled into an ordinary sales business?