The whole thing is absurd and quite medieval. But it does raise the issue which you point out so well; how anyone would want to belong to a group which is willing to act this way and be so cruel is beyond me.
Many join when all they have been allowed to see are the happy smiles and togetherness.
I bet that there are people who leave when they catch on that a group either is
living a collective lie, and has been all along. Or they leave when they see that the group did start out well, but has been steered off course into a corrupt direction.
New converts will not be told about those who have left, or will be given distorted information.
The ones who remain, and especially those who remain in a group even when its leader has steered it into a more and more despotic direction--those who remain are perhaps those who fear the pain and loneliness of making a hard decision to leave something that is tied to good memories and idealism of youth.
Some may fear to leave dreading that their still believing spouse will put them through a ghastly divorce, especially if children are involved. So there may be a few members who silently suffer, knowing that its all wrong but keep mum, due to circumstances.
Though there are others who will leave, even if it means being crucified in a wretched divorce.
I want to make it as clear as possible that people who remain in a group whose leadership is revealed as having been despotic all along or in a group that started out well, but is being taken in a more and more cultic direction and away from its former freedom---I want to make clear that those who remain dont consciously want to be abused.
A coin sorter effect may take place. Ever see those plastic coin sorter devices, where you shake them and the different sized coins fall into and line up in different sized chutes?
When people who dislike dishonesty, dislike grovelling, dislike becoming servants to the increasing demands for largesse and who dont want to take time away from their own lives to serve a tyrant and who refuse to stick around when they hear people being gossiped about--
When people who refuse to tolerate incipient despotism or who refuse to stay aroudn when they hear others being bad-mouthed, the ones who who remain have only the group leader to look to for a role model.
And it takes guts to leave.
Often a group has started out well, and is associated with some of the best, most redemptive times in one's life. It takes courage face that a group that is associated with an idealistic, healing time in ones life is no longer in according with those ideals.
It takes courage to trust one's perceptions that one has been lied to, that a group has been deceitful all along, or that the group has taken a very bad turn and is no longer in service to one's sense of ethics. It can be horrible to face that a beloved leader of a group passed leadership on to someone who turned out to be unworthy, for that calls the judgement of the deceased and beloved leader into question.
People who can walk away and vote with their feet are not wanted by despotic leaders.
When these persons leave, their departure will remove a restraint on leader and when the free spirits leave, a leader may break free and become far more tyrannical.
If a leader relocates to more expensive and isolated quarters this can accelerate corruption. Its harder to access the leader, so favoritism kicks in. The leader gets isolated and becomes more dependant on an entourage and becomes more of a tyrant.
I read somewhere that when Americans servicemen were imprisoned by the Communist Koreans, their captors had a simple and effective way to control the large number of prisoners.
The captors kept watch and identified those prisoners who were what we would term 'live wires' - 'plucky'--those men whom the other prisoners admired, who showed steadiness, dignity and other signs of potential leadership.
The POW camp supervisors IDd those persons as quickly as possible and removed from the general population.
By removing the people who showed initiative and leadership capabilities, the larger group of prisoners fell into line and were much more easily controllable.
People who remain dont want abuse and they dont ask for abuse and do not deserve abuse.
And..persons who do leave--they need to leave. If one ignores ones hunches and remains, the regret is terrible.
Finally those who are born into a tyrannical group--they most certainly do not ask for abuse or deserve to be abused, either.
Human dignity has to be re-affirmed each day, each month, each year, each lifetime.
And...better to leave, whether one decides after one hour, a week, a month, a year, or a decade.
Freedom still tastes sweet no matter how long it has sat in the bottle, waiting to be uncorked and sipped.