Part Two – From Ideological Revolution to Cult Status
Chapter 8 - Internal Relations
The marriage of Rajavi and Maryam created a new order within the Mojahedin. Before this, there were no women at leadership level and the leadership took the form of a council. Suddenly, Rajavi was the leader of the organisation, not the Central Committee. His new wife was elevated above them to the level of co-leader. This had an enormous impact on the membership. Many were dissatisfied and left, or continued to work under protest. How far was Rajavi's move to Iraq and the building up of military forces outside Iran an attempt to absorb this anger into activity? Certainly the culture of the Mojahedin even at that time was such that thinking and reflection was frowned upon and members were kept busy and exhausted to prevent them from focusing their minds on what the leadership was doing. Instead they were required to fight even harder against the Khomeini regime.
The membership and supporters of the Mojahedin were made dizzy by the marriage and Ideological Revolution and they had not been pre-warned of such a move. In fact, Rajavi's tactic is always the same, and that is to divert attention by external actions when he wants to do something extraordinary inside the organisation, or when he is facing a big defeat, such as operation Forouq-e Javidan presented in 1988.
This chapter is best understood in the context of a quote from the Mojahedin's founding document:
"If any member of a guerrilla organisation begins to believe that his own individual point of view and conviction is more evolved and developed than the overall ideological foundation of the organisation, and on the basis of this belief feels that he is justified to do as he pleases with other members of the organisation, then, no scientific and rational rules and principles would be left for constituting the common ground for members of an organisation. In that case everyone in the organisation would consider it permissible for himself to commit any crime he pleases.” (Revolutionary Islam in Iran, Suroosh Irfani. Zed, 1983)
The new order within the Mojahedin
The message of the Ideological Revolution was simple. Maryam had been promoted above the heads of all the other leading members because of her unquestioning devotion to Rajavi. She gave him total obedience. This became the new criterion for ‘competence’. Now all the other members were required to give the same obedience. Simple. Except that this should have been unthinkable/unacceptable, as indeed it was for the many who left or continued to work under protest. Why should leading members of the organisation who had as much experience as Rajavi himself, submit themselves to only his and his wife's leadership, and only because he declared they should?
Rajavi's ruse was that rather than declare himself as an ordinary leader, he declares himself the ideological leader of the Mojahedin, a new concept in the organisation's structure. Maryam it was said had recognised something in Rajavi that no one else had and that was his unique ideological superiority. This explained her unquestioning devotion to him. Since she had achieved this, so could all the other members by following her example; that is, recognise and accept Rajavi's transcendent ideological qualification to lead the organisation from above with reference to no-one but God; which would of itself, demand total obedience to his commands. Again, simple. But this approach allowed Rajavi to bamboozle the members by placing himself in a position beyond criticism.
Rajavi told the ordinary members of the organisation that before the Ideological Revolution, they had acted out of hatred for Khomeini and all that he stood for. This, however, was not ever going to be enough to combat the ideology of Khomeinism. What was needed, he told them, was that they love Rajavi, the embodiment of their ideology, as much as they hated Khomeini. Only in this way would they ever be capable of making the sacrifices necessary for the Mojahedin to succeed in overthrowing the regime. Previous to the Ideological Revolution, the ultimate sacrifice had been for a member or supporter of the Mojahedin to give their life. This now was not enough. It was easy to die in these circumstances. What was needed was for everyone to become a ‘living martyr’. That is, to live beyond the mentality of possible death by torture or execution, and to offer their life to Rajavi on a continuing basis to make use of as he deemed necessary, for the sake of the struggle. This would require much greater devotion and suffering than a mere death. This concept of 'living martyr' was also important for Rajavi because he was becoming aware that the recruitment of new members was both limited and difficult. He had to convince ordinary Iranians that they wouldn't be discriminated against because they had no previous history of struggle. What Rajavi wanted were devotees, not heroes.
In this way, Rajavi placed the onus for change on his followers. They not only needed to accept a change of leader, which because they revered Rajavi, they were willing to do, but beyond that Rajavi required that they change themselves. It was a ploy, which suited Rajavi well. Firstly, it made everyone busy wondering what it meant to be a living martyr (no job description was provided!) and whether they lived up to expectations. Secondly, it allowed Rajavi to 'equalise' the status of former political prisoners and those who had had no previous political activity at all. Rajavi needed the energy of both, but he saw that a hierarchy of 'revolutionary sacrifice' was depriving him of the devoted energies of those lower down the scale. Most importantly, it enabled him to have Maryam accepted as co-leader. Rajavi held Maryam up as the example. She had never been seriously in prison or been tortured and yet she was more devoted to the ideology than everyone else, regardless of their past.
This concept changed the organisational structure profoundly. It meant that people could no longer prove themselves in clearly observable ways, such as their resistance to torture, or even how much knowledge they had. They now had to discover what Rajavi meant by ideological devotion and act accordingly. It soon became apparent for those who had close observation of Maryam, that what was required, was simply unquestioning obedience.
About the beginnings of cult culture
The organisation, which Rajavi inherited outside Iran, was different from that which operated inside the country. In essence Reza Raisi had created it with his unique and personal interpretation of the original ethos of the Mojahedin. The Mojahedin supporters outside Iran were largely educated, middle class and from wealthy, often influential, families. Raisi brought them up to think politically and to act on principle. For Rajavi, however, this did not suit his purpose at all. He didn't want his followers to think politically since this might lead them to question his decisions. Neither did he want them to act on principle, because this would hamper his mercenary ambitions.
Rajavi set about manipulating the members' idealism and readiness for self-sacrifice to suit his own needs. He pushed the members to work harder and not to ask questions. He changed the ethos of the organisation by passing messages down to the membership of what he expected of them. The major theme of the time was that ‘ideology is what you do, not what you say’. In other words, don’t speak, act. He charged the members emotionally with a diet of horror - that created by Khomeini inside Iran, and of hope - that offered by Rajavi outside Iran. By the time he announced the Ideological Revolution, he had already transformed his supporters into a highly disciplined force, ready to act on his command. Now he had to set about changing their minds, or rather, numbing their minds, so those small matters such as politics, ideology or principle would not hinder or interfere with this discipline. He shifted the benchmark for devotion from discipline to obedience, a subtle, but highly significant change. It became necessary for anyone joining the Mojahedin to first accept that they were entering a pyramid system, in which all the decisions came from the very top.
From the beginning of his association with the Mojahedin, Rajavi had been a voracious reader. He read everything he could on politics, philosophy and psychology. Using the mishmash of knowledge he assimilated from this reading, he began to emulate the tactics of Mao in the inculcation of the Mojahedin membership. The foremost necessity was to establish his own unrivalled and absolute leadership over the whole organisation. With the Ideological Revolution, he achieved this and was able to make it public on 8th February 1985. Once in this role, he could more easily manipulate the members.
Most probably Rajavi didn't set out to create a cult. But the methods he chose to employ show all the classic characteristics of cult inculcation. Some of the more important ones are described here. It should be noted that once these methods are introduced, they take on a life of their own, and become reinforced by the membership as they try to make sense of the unreality, which is created. There is no referent but Rajavi and he deliberately keeps himself and his ideas mysterious and unclear.
Meetings are the mainstays for Rajavi as his means of indoctrination. Through the means of meetings, he is able to send his ideological messages into the hearts of all the members. First he starts by speaking personally to three or four hand picked people and gives them hints on what he expects from them. He then sends them away to think. He brings them back into these small, discrete meetings, again and again until they come back with matching stories. Then in a bigger meeting of ten or twenty people, he does the same thing using the first three or four people to speak and create the example, while requiring that the others catch up with them. This works because for the second group of people, the first people seem to be more ideologically aware and tuned in since they are talking about things that the others have no clue about and have never heard of.
These secondary meetings go on as the first, until these further twenty people are 'cooked'. Rajavi notes the contribution of these individuals and their stories, plus all the reports that they have been made to write. This pattern is repeated and grows up to the big meeting. By this time, some more hints have been given out through these twenty people to all the ordinary members, who after the big general meeting, are then expected to come out with their own stories of how they have understood the new ideological development. After that comes the time for a reshuffle in the organisation so that those who have shown themselves most loyal are promoted - until the next time.
The meetings after Forouq-e Javidan (Rajavi's failed military coup of 1988, and his second bid for power) were no different, except that after suffering such losses and emotional damage, the members were more willingly looking for some justification which would allow them to be forgiven by their ideological leader. This was in the hope that if they could get past this phase, the next time would give them a victory. It is taboo to even think about blaming the ideological leader, even in your mind.
Since the Ideological Revolution in 1985, Rajavi has sought to impose more and more control over members. Beyond the organisational discipline there emerged a mental and spiritual discipline that had little to do with the task at hand. A basic requirement of all members was to write a daily report. This was not just to report what work a person had done or the problems they had encountered performing their duties. It was also a requirement that the members wrote about their relations with other people, quarrels they had or disagreements about any issues, or even whether people had a particular friendship with one another. This ostensibly allowed the responsible person to progress work, resolve conflicts and put right people's erroneous ideas or misconceptions. As a simple example, a person might write that a colleague had spoken angrily toward them and that they had been offended. The person in charge might then call them into a meeting in which the first person could explain that they were angry because of something unrelated to the issue at hand. They would then apologise to the other colleague and resolve to deal better with their angry feelings.
However, these daily reports gave much more information than the writers intended or knew. It showed the weaknesses and strengths and points of resistance or capitulation of individuals, both the writers and those who were written about. This allowed the massuls (those in charge) to use the most suitable psychological methods by which to manipulate members.
However, these instructions to manipulate, always came from the very top. A massul who received a report about which they had doubts as to how they should handle the information, would always pass this information on to their own massul and so forth. Any answer would come from above and be passed down to the relevant level. This is where the original organisational discipline instilled in members from the beginning of the struggle was used, and which had been necessary to protect the members and the organisation from its enemies.
Members were happy to exist in a hierarchy of command, so that they never allowed themselves to take a decision on their own behalf, or to deal with someone in a way they personally deemed appropriate. They always referred problems to someone higher up the command, who had more ideological competence than they did. This was fine as long as the problem was about work or methodology etc, but it soon began to be about the thought processes of the individual and whether they were thinking correctly. Not only about their work and activities, but also about their place in the organisation and in particular about their relationship toward the leader.
The major change too was in what was meant by ideological competence. In the original Mojahedin organisation this meant someone who had political, social and moral knowledge and experience. Someone who had undergone ideological instruction as had the first members way back in the 1960s. Since the Ideological Revolution, however, it came to mean someone who is, more than others, unquestioningly obedient to Rajavi, with no ability or desire to think for themselves, who will suppress any previous knowledge or experience they had in order to parrot what Rajavi requires of them.
The daily reports are part of the hold Rajavi has over his membership. If people express dissent or disaffection with the organisation, the information in the reports can often be used to blackmail someone into silence. As the membership has widened to include anyone who would obey Rajavi, people have written about past crimes, drug addiction, wife beating, and child abuse or about strange sexual fantasies, and are afraid of these things being made public.
Daily reports have been used during every phase of the imposition of the Ideological Revolution. For example, a person would be arbitrarily demoted at some point and sent away just to write reports about themselves and to question themselves as to why they were demoted. This would be continued in meetings in which the person would be questioned publicly and humiliated. The purpose is to unbalance the person's critical abilities to the point that they would write anything that has been suggested to them, including any lies about themselves. These papers are required to be signed by the individual and are then kept for future reference.
Later, in a neshast, the person is given hints as to what to write in their reports, and when they submit the report they should imply that now they have 'got it', i.e. grasped the message, and passed the phase. They then undergo extensive video and meeting sessions, during which they must speak in public to the other members about their ideological mistakes and how they have betrayed the leader. How they have now eliminated these erroneous thoughts from their mind, and in their place, cemented in the new understanding.
One of the most effective methods used by all cults is to encourage the membership to cut off all contact with the outside world and with other people, so that the only information that the person receives is from within the organisation.
Before the Ideological Revolution, members were actively encouraged to contact their families and friends as a means of extracting money and support from them. Families, which expressed their opposition, should be rejected by the member as having sympathy with the regime - even where this was patently untrue. After 1985, this ethos still held true, as long as families could be of benefit to the organisation or perhaps be recruited, then contact was permitted, even required. However, members were also encouraged to believe that contact with their family would corrupt and demean them because these were ordinary people and couldn't possibly understand the true meaning of the revolutionary struggle; families were looking at the issue emotionally rather than rationally and therefore shouldn't be listened to.
This extreme idea was widened to cover the outside world in general. Newspapers and media couldn't be trusted because they were all biased. The British Broadcasting Corporation was referred to as the ‘Ayatollah BBC’ because it would not grant the Mojahedin editorial control over interviews it held with them. This resentment was further exacerbated when the BBC began to report the changes which were occurring in Iran over the years. In the same way the BBC's John Simpson was also dubbed Ayatollah Simpson because he had interviewed Khomeini on the plane in which he travelled to Iran in February 1979. Simply the fact of such an interview was enough to condemn him in the eyes of the Mojahedin as an apologist for the regime and all its actions. Amnesty International, because it didn't respond to all the Mojahedin's 'exposures' of the crimes of the regime, was biased.
Up to a certain point, Rajavi didn't need to create this isolation in a particular way. It is a common theme among extreme groups that they see themselves as different from the rest of humanity and as possessing a unique and superior understanding of the realities of life. However, as Rajavi's role in the Mojahedin became more and more defined as the ideological leader, it became more important for him to create a kind of internal isolation within the organisation too. In this way, criticism and analysis did not take root and allow a faction to grow against him or to challenge his leadership.
All outside contact was cut. The reason given was that members were being protected from the corrupt world, when their access to families, friends, radio, newspapers, and even books was denied them. No member could have any money, passport or other identification documents. Any helping hand, any possible ties with those outside, were cut. The later separation of spouses and children further added to this isolation. Those who were in Iraq were left completely isolated. But there were many that still worked and travelled in the West undertaking political activities. How could they be isolated?
This is where the psychology of internal isolation was really put to use. From the beginning of the organisation there developed a culture of overwork. People 'proved' their devotion by working impossibly long hours, even to the extent of going without sleep for days at a time. This was continued, even when it became obvious to all involved, that in fact less was being achieved by such exhausted people as could have been achieved had everyone worked on a shift rota and had eight hours sleep each day. The chronic fatigue of members served to disorientate them and dull their capacity to think. This suited Rajavi very well.
In addition to this, he devised a system by which members were moved from place to place regularly, whether inside Iraq or abroad. People lived out of a small suitcase and changed their place often. People's responsibilities were changed regularly and frequently, and they were not allowed to stay in one job for any length of time. This meant that people didn't work together for long, so that even where a person did undertake a single task for several years, the people around them, and in particular their massul, changed frequently. No friendships were allowed to build up between members, although people had known one another for years and an intrinsic trust existed between all members as if they were all ‘family’.
People were not left in highly exposed positions such as being the organisation's representative in a country, for very long. This would give the person too much power. But promotion and demotion was also part of the plan to disorientate members. Praise and criticism would be used to manipulate a person's thoughts. Those who expressed doubt or showed unwillingness were demoted and criticised, often publicly to act as a lesson for others.
All in all, this policy of isolation means that members find it extremely hard to string a coherent thought together, let alone critically analyse their current situation. The knowledge too that other people might report your behaviour or speech in a daily report adds to this inability for the person to think properly about anything. It is very hard to test an idea without a 'mirror' to bounce it off. When an idea is kept revolving round and round in a person's own mind and the prevailing external message conveys the opposite meaning to the one the person is gaining, this is truly disorientating and debilitating. That this has led to the mental breakdown of several members is hardly surprising. Many of those affected are highly intelligent, highly educated people, whose minds are now expected to atrophy at the behest of the leader. How can this be achieved without damage?
The culture within the Mojahedin of not sleeping originally arose from the need for more work to be done than there were people to do it. Those who had risen in the organisation and were able to be given more responsibility, were not as many as the amount of work which needed to be done. Rajavi simply exploited this willingness to sacrifice their health and well being for his own ends.
Devotion to the Leader
As a complementary part of the concept of isolation, love of the leader is used to 'fill the gap'. Helplessness and hopelessness are encouraged. The prevailing ethos is that you are nothing and can do nothing. You owe everything to Rajavi and will collapse and fail without his guidance. If you leave the Mojahedin, you will quickly become corrupted and end up as a prostitute or drug addict or a murderer. The only key to survival and a decent life is to give complete obedience to Rajavi (via Maryam). You are evil unless you follow Rajavi, and you must remind yourself of this every day, write it in your daily report and say it in every neshast. The purpose of this is to safeguard the rights of the leader and not let any individualism creep in. If you have your own thoughts or feelings, you are stealing from the leader. Your body and mind belongs to the leader, not to the individual. Only he can use it for good, you will use it for evil.
The basic concept that governs the organisation is that every moment a person spends for the leader, whether in thought or in deed, is spent for good, and every other moment, even when you are asleep or believe you are doing good, is spent in favour of evil. You do not have the right to decide what is good, only Rajavi can do this. If you help other people using your own decisions you are helping evil. Yet if you kill and bomb and maim and kill people on 'Massoud and Maryam's legs' you are doing good.
After some time, this becomes a way of life and members become comfortable in this atmosphere. In fact they lose their volition and become irresponsible like a child. They are responsible to the leader only and he is responsible for good and bad and making every decision. Even in religious belief, they are only questioned in respect of how much they have followed the leader. Members will not be responsible before God for Rajavi's mistakes. He has sacrificed himself and taken the blame so that they will be free. (This, of course, has echoes of the role of Jesus Christ in the Christian faith, but this is not Rajavi's intention or meaning at all.)
All these methods not only confuse and disempower people, but they also isolate people. You can never be sure of doing the right thing; you must always doubt yourself. Members are instructed not to compare themselves with others and only to use the leader as a guide to their behaviour. Again this breaks down the connections between people and denies them a 'society' within which to fit. There is total trust between all the members of the Mojahedin, as a group of people facing an outside enemy (the rest of the corrupting world) they must trust one another completely. But, there is also a total absence of trust between all the members because no-one can ever be sure what anyone else is really thinking, or even what oneself is thinking and therefore it is easy to lose trust in oneself as a rational being. The only certainty that remains is to listen to and obey Rajavi.
When Rajavi made himself sole leader and elevated himself to the point where he is now, it is certain that he hadn't the intention of creating a cult from the organisation. He merely used the organisation for his own aggrandisement in order to be in a position to seize power more totally. And yet, it is a cult, and exists as one in an organic sense. A cult takes on a life of its own and follows its own dynamic. Once Rajavi instigated the changes in the organisation, these changes took on a dynamic life of their own as they are filtered down the ranks and met with all the various individuals who make up the membership. It is inevitable that people interpret and act out these changes in as many ways as there are people involved and that this is out of the range of all Rajavi's planning and control. The more extreme the interpretation, the more corrupting that is of the person and thereby the environment around that person.
Ideological indoctrination and psychological manipulation
These are the two methods by which Rajavi has imposed his control over the organisation, and are the cornerstones underpinning all cult activities. All activities in the Mojahedin are group activities. No one is left to work, rest, eat or sleep alone. And this community life enables Rajavi to foist the most outlandish ideas onto people. This is because of the 'example of others' principle or 'peer pressure' whereby if you see that everyone else is conforming then you do so too. It is also because of the system of daily reports and daily neshasts in which people report on one another and themselves, and so a certain degree of conformity is necessary just to survive. Yet there is no 'society' in the organisation, no one enjoys friendships or relationships with anyone other than the leaders. Sitting and chatting is scorned as the base behaviour which only supporters indulge in through their ignorance. Indeed, when the massuls do sit and talk, it is precisely to denigrate the supporters as lesser, weaker human beings.
When Rajavi addresses his closed and captive audience and presents them with the latest in his ideological twists and turns, he is addressing a willing audience. People want to accept what he says because they believe in the Mojahedin and they believe in his leadership. So, there is a willingness to accept whatever is being told them. Those who question or do not understand what is being said, are often willing to believe that this is because they haven't the capacity to understand and that they need guidance and enlightenment. This is provided through local neshasts with the massul or other competent people. Every individual in the organisation has their own profile, built up from the information contained in their reports. When required, this profile is used as the basis for individual guidance. That is, the person's strengths and weaknesses are manipulated until they come around to the correct way of thinking.
Rajavi's explanations are vague and swathed in mythological religious references. The second phase of the Ideological Revolution, the so-called, ‘Internal Revolution’ in 1989, for example, was introduced during a five day neshast, which was exactly that, five days of Rajavi addressing the membership in Iraq. Rajavi took five days to introduce and explain his simple requirement, which was, 'divorce your spouse, divest yourself of sexuality and devote your undivided self to me'.
This five-day neshast is shown to those newly involved in the organisation, that is, the refugees who are recruited as supporters in the West. Once a person shows enough capacity to be fooled, they are flattered by being told that they are ready to understand what Rajavi requires. However, the video is only shown in the same environment as the actual meeting was held. That is, over five days, in a dark enclosed room, without adequate breaks and when the persons watching are tired and vulnerable. Where possible, the massul then works with this person intensively in order to inculcate the ideas more deeply into their mind.
The person is semi-isolated and treated with a degree of kindness and affection which is not offered to others. With careful treatment and attention, the person is lulled into a false sense of security and soon reveals to the massul, their innermost thoughts and feelings. From this, the leadership can extract the person's weaknesses and possible points of resistance to the ideology. The weaknesses are usually expressed as needs, and most refugees are needy not of food and shelter, important as these are, but of contact with same language speakers, people of the same culture, and needy of support, love and affection. Even families, where it might be expected that they could offer one another this love and affection, while struggling to survive as refugees, are often under severe strain and cannot always support one another.
The Mojahedin know this and offer them a safe haven and reinforce their cultural background and the need for social contact. Parties, celebrations, and all these activities are part of the organisation's efforts to reproduce the Iranian cultural and social atmosphere for which refugees are most homesick. Although the ideology has required members of the Mojahedin to separate from their spouse and children, families and particularly children are welcomed into the organisation's Western bases. It is this kindness and warmth, which draws the new people in. An atmosphere of uncritical support taps into the weaknesses and needs of vulnerable people.
Since the 1989/90, second phase of the Ideological Revolution, those who have joined as supporters of the Mojahedin, have mostly been uneducated refugees from Iran. They have either been supporters of the Mojahedin inside the country and have just managed to escape, or they are young people who have escaped because they see no future for themselves in Iran. Usually they don't yet have the knowledge or opportunity to work out a better future for themselves in the West. They see the existing Iranian community in the West as completely out of touch with their country and strangely complacent about its past sufferings and its future. For a young person having undergone the hardship of growing up under severe restrictions, repression and war, this can act as a fire to light the fuse of their anger and passion. This is exactly what the Mojahedin want and need in order to sweep this person's mind off its feet and indoctrinate them with the Mojahedin's ideology.
Those who are already established in the West and/or are educated, but still join, are often running away from another problem. An example of this was a man from the north of England who with his English wife, had three children and ran a successful sandwich shop. He wanted to escape his wife and current lifestyle, so he put the house and business in his wife's name and simply disappeared off to Iraq to join the army. Whatever protest or resistance his wife raised was quashed, not by the husband, but by the women massuls in London. It was they who refused the wife access or argument on the grounds that she was preventing her husband from fulfilling his true calling in life. Her, and their children's rights, were trampled upon by other women who otherwise purported to be 'free' of male domination.
A different problem that many spouses, mostly women, suffered came after the Forouq-e Javidan operation when the Mojahedin refused to issue any death certificates. They found it impossible to prove that their husband or wife had died and that they were left the estate. So, for example, where a mortgage on a property was in joint names, the spouse couldn't sell it or redeem the mortgage or even claim social security without the spouse's co-signature. This also arose as a problem when one spouse agreed to divorce and the other didn't. These divorces were not legal and have no legal status. So, if one spouse left and arrived in the West to seek asylum, they also experienced difficulties over custody of children and control of property. It also meant that they couldn't marry again. One man who had married in Iran, but had been naturalised in Britain and had British citizenship solved this. His wife remained in the Mojahedin, but he could not remarry in Britain where his marriage was legally recognised, as he had no divorce settlement. So he fled to Sweden and claimed asylum there so that he could marry again in Sweden.
Indoctrination is performed both communally en-masse, and on a more personal level, depending on the propensity of any one individual. Videos are shown to people according to the areas of doubt or criticism. These are used to impress the person with the might and success of the Mojahedin throughout its history. Rajavi is portrayed as a kind of stern, but avuncular, almost mythical charismatic character. He is portrayed as having a superior level of understanding, which he deigns out of love for humanity to share with the lesser beings of the Mojahedin. The rest of the world are of course, lost souls and couldn't possibly even begin to understand. So, Rajavi is doing everyone a great honour by considering them worthy enough to share a little of his great vision and wisdom.
Most people respond positively to this flattery even though it is unreal; that is, it has no basis in what is really true. The Mojahedin make their own reality and live it out for themselves. They will allow themselves to be indoctrinated because that is the only way they can continue to make sense of the anathema that the organisation has become in the Iranian political scene. The twist is that the rest of the world is wrong and only Rajavi and by implication, his followers, are right. So, they continue convincing themselves that Rajavi is right.
The psychological manipulation of members springs from Rajavi's avid interest in using psychology as a means of controlling people. He has read voraciously from the time that he left prison, books on politics, psychology and history etc. His ideology is a mishmash of all these books, and not a single part of it derives from original thinking. Rajavi uses psychological manipulation to control people. The massuls are instructed to behave in particular ways towards individuals according to what is required of them or in response to a problem they might have. On a simple level, the warmth and affection shown to newcomers is a basic method of attracting them, fulfilling a basic need, which they lack. The person is told - and this is the ideological element - that if they look for love and affection outside Maryam they will become corrupt and 'nothing', they will be condemned to a life of obscurity, drudgery and meaninglessness. A picture of ordinary married life is portrayed as a hellish prison for both sexes. Children are the ultimate burden, removing the person further and further from the glorious joy and happiness that could be theirs if they give all their love to Maryam. She will return their love a hundred fold, and only inside the Mojahedin will they be able to fulfil their true potential as a human being.
Once a person is inside the organisation and has cut their links with the outside world, the manipulation becomes both more complex and at the same time, easier. It is easier because the person is deprived of any external reference point to test out the validity of their perception. They can only accept what is happening to them and being said to them, is a true representation of life. So, if, one day, everyone around them suddenly decides to ignore them, they will accept a self-explanation that they have done something wrong and will try to make amends so that they are acceptable again. If the person questions or objects to the behaviour of others toward them, their perceptions are dismissed as fantasy. The other people, the member is informed, are busy working all-out for Rajavi and the member himself, should work harder and not think about what others are doing. So, the member begins to accept that their perception of reality is somehow wrong and they try to adjust their thoughts according to the analysis of their massul. That is that the problem must lie in the individual himself and that the only solution is to work harder and not to think. After a while a person can find a very comfortable existence like this.
Later Rajavi used the public perception of the marriage as scandalous, to test and break the members. In a way it was a sacrifice that he allowed himself to be judged so that the members who could accept that for the ideological leader nothing is a sin, would be freed from sexism. Of course, it has always been emphasised that this only applies to the leader and nobody else. Rajavi thought that the ones who accepted this would be thoroughly devoted to him, but he later found that he had to separate families as well as concentrate on their thoughts and minds. Of course this works for some time because if you accept this you feel a relief and some sort of personal irresponsibility. The problem is that it does not last long and every now and then you will need another injection of this dose. That is why the Ideological Revolution of Rajavi has never ended and as Maryam Rajavi puts it, 'You do not know how much you have to give. You think you have given what you had but I know what you have and I will get all of this out of you for the revolution' (i.e. Rajavi).