Now we all know that mind control is impossible. Right? A person can’t actually make another person do what he or she wants. Religion though, in some aspects could be considered a form of mind control. People use religion to dictate almost everything they do. Many say it is the cause of their fortunes and if they do not prescribe to their religion in the correct manner, the cause of their ailments.
So, what if a man could create a religion, and make himself a key component of it. If he could get people to follow his religion, one where he creates the rules, could he then in a sense control the mind of all those people? Is this possible though; how would one go about creating a religion and would this work to control the people?
In chapter 12 of Leviathan, Hobbes proposes answers to all these questions. Before getting into that, it is essential to recognize one of Hobbes preliminary ideas: a cause happens to a man, and from there he begins to search for the cause of that cause, and so forth. He comes to the conclusion that there must be one first mover—God. However, when he begins to care about his fortune, this leads him to fear, and the creation of invisible spirits.
A man who arrives this conclusion has sealed his fate (at least according to Hobbes). He is now susceptible to mind control. How? First, this man will use previous events to judge what will happen in the future. This causes him, to attribute good or bad luck to things, or men, that have nothing to do with the actual endeavor.
Secondly, this man truly believes in these invisible powers and naturally will worship them. He will do this in the same way that he would praise or respect a man. Though gifts, thanks, good behavior ect.
So, as Hobbes says, men are devout toward things they fear, and take minor events to have great significance. Taking control of a man’s mind is now possible. First one must be thought of as a wise man. This takes away some contenders for mind control, but there are those with the ability to be thought of as wise. What should they do from here? They must be thought of as holy, as someone who speaks the voice of God. My best bet on getting people to think you’re a voice of God, or a spirit, is do like Numa Pompilius and do a convincing act pretending that some greater power commands you, or like the priest at Delphi and give vague answers to people’s questions that are hard to interpret (as men will find a way to fit these words to their situation and give you credit for it.)
Now, you are able to create spirits for things invisible, such as bad or good luck. Like the Gentiles, you can make laws that just happen to coincide to what your spirits say will lead to good luck or fortune and make anything against your laws lead to misfortune. Thus, in a way, it can be said the one can control the mind of men, as they will truly want to please these spirits and do or think whatever it says.
Hobbes, Thomas. “Leviathan.” Modern Political Thought. Ed. David Wootton. Hackett Publishing Company, 2008. 152-157