The emerging story of the Brixton 'slaves' and the obscure Maoist sect is a gift to Left-bashers.
From obsessive anarchist anti-Marxists to Daily Mail witch-hunters, there is a smug sense of told-you-so. So let's be clear - there are some truly bonkers groups on the Left. And some truly bonkers individuals too. Any activist who has been around the block will have encountered their fair share of them. And also, sadly, the needy, the eccentric and the vulnerable.
It is not a phenomenon restricted to the Left. From amateur dramatic societies, to bible groups and motorcycle clubs - some people will always try to find a haven away from the mainstream.
Society, particularly capitalists society, fucks people up in all sorts of ways and drives them towards some sort of refuge or release. And the flip-side, even more sadly, is that these havens are also a magnet for the predatory, the manipulative and the exploitative - or simply those that enjoy being a big fish in a small pond.
Throw in some sort of legitimation for authority (and all those groups mentioned above have that) and there is the potential for some pretty nasty mind games. The Brixton Maoist loony-tunes are a horrible and extreme example. But not unique - in the not too distant past the cases of the WRP and the RCP also spring to mind.
I am not going to jump on any reactionary bandwagon that rubs its hands in glee at these horror stories. But it is a salutary reminder to any activist - whatever organisation or campaign you are involved in - are you doing it simply because you want to change the world for the better - does it fill some psychological vacuum in your life - have you been manipulated into thinking it will - or even worse do you get off on the whole closed-little world?
In my experience the best revolutionaries are reluctant revolutionaries who would rather be with their families, down the pub or pursuing some unpolitical hobby. Only a peculiar cocktail of anger, solidarity and education obliges them to be active.