MK10ART's brilliant painting of Keith Raniere.

Smith: Like any true sociopath, Raniere’s need to act overwhelms any sense of pragmatism

By Smith

Everything I have seen about Keith Raniere suggests he will avoid judgment at all costs.

This man has lived his life casting himself as an idealist and a visionary. A guilty plea invalidates that constructed identity in an irrevocable manner he could never accept.

Consider how he never paid the judgments against him for Consumer’s Buyline and the way he constructed his assets. Everything was kept in someone else’s name for a reason, and it’s not financial. It’s his contempt for anyone or anything that challenges the authenticity of his world view.

He flees the consequences of his actions because of a deep-seated belief they are the result of outside suppressive forces. This is someone who has been living for decades in his own story, where he’s the hero being put upon by backwards thugs that can’t understand the grand plan. That person doesn’t accept fault and apologize for anything, that person just constructs a new narrative to explain why everything but him is bad.

Consider the social structures he put in place around him to enforce a hierarchy where he is on top. Aside from the boisterous claims of excellence and reincarnation mythos he established at the upper echelons, NXIVM’s DNA is centered around financial domination of adherents.

This isn’t someone spreading the good word, this is someone who finds validation in the sacrifices of others. This is proven by the way he incentivizes believers to do it to each other; nothing speaks louder to one’s true beliefs than leading by example. That person doesn’t apologize for anything, that person takes other’s participation as validation of his ideas and self. Those sacrifices are more true than some abstract judgment from disinterested parties, precisely because it’s something that came from him.

Consider the attacks made on those who sought to leave NXIVM, the concept of the suppressive, and the lengths his organization went to in order to attack journalists.

These aren’t the actions of someone who hears criticism and dismisses it, these are the actions of someone profoundly affected by disagreement and unable to accept ideas that do not harmonize with his own. Like any true sociopath, his need to act overwhelms any sense of pragmatism and compels him to behaviors that harm others and, ultimately, himself.

Look at what the other defendants are being charged with – it’s not for corrupting the justice system, it’s not for harassing people looking to leave the group, it’s for financial and sexual crimes that are embarrassingly foolish. Raniere could have achieved the same/superior financial and ‘physical’ outcomes in a number of other ways that are not criminal. But that person acts in a manner that degrades and destroys those involved precisely because he’s compelled to do so; anything less diminishes the harmonious sacrifice he seeks in all adherents (to ultimately validate himself.)

Socrates drank the Hemlock instead of escaping because he did not want the state erasing all he had contributed to the culture. He was not content to be branded a criminal when he could live on as a martyr. Raniere is no Socrates, nor is he someone who will let others rewrite his story to turn him into a monster.

Raniere has a limited set of options for what to do next. We’re not privileged to any discussions that may be continuing between him and NXIVM hard-liners or those outside the USA. A lot of what he does depends on whether or not he still has a network in place to support him. Here are the potential outcomes.

– Raniere will hang himself in his cell before sentencing, avoiding judgment

– Raniere will be killed by someone else in prison before sentencing, avoiding judgment

– Raniere will plead out in exchange for a more lenient sentence, receiving judgment and a shorter sentence

– Raniere will go to trial and have his friends testify against him in open court, receiving judgment and a longer sentence

– Raniere’s super lawyers find a way to get the charges dismissed and he walks

Of those outcomes, what sounds like the most likely for the person described above? I don’t see any upside for him in going to jail, decades of his life are wiped away in the eyes of everyone who matters. I can’t see the value in having his closest allies testify to the things he’s done because making it all public destroys any credibility he ever had. I can’t really see him taking a deal to save his own neck, mostly because there’s not much waiting for him on the other side.

Then again, I don’t know what else is going on with his Cult. Maybe Gillibrand wins the presidency and pardons him as her first act. Who knows?

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Frank Parlato

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  • Let’s face it, Keith thinks he’s the second coming of Jesus Christ. His miserable experience at the hands of Judge Garaufis, his Caesar, and his authoritarian government most likely proves him correct in his own mind. He’s even been betrayed by Clare and Nancy, his Barabbus and Judas. “Forgive them father, for they know not what they’ve done.” Vanguard will plead innocent and await his crucifixion at the hands of the other inmates.

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