The story of Keith Raniere, NXIVM and The Knife of Aristotle

In an age marked by the near-collapse of the institutional legitimacy of much of the mainstream media, an alternative media circle is there to suit your need for the journalism that seems to be lacking in the mainstream media. Or just tell you what you want to hear about how crazy those damned far left libtards are. And within that circle you have an outlet called The Knife, which bills itself as a website dedicated to deconstructing media bias and spin and reporting the truth. The problem? That website seems to be linked to an organization by the name of NXIVM (pronounced Nexium), and this organization seems to be, in all likelihood, an actual sex cult. I discovered this story not long ago when I discovered a story about how the perennial pseudo-philosopher Elon Musk was caught promoting the cult as an alternative to mainstream media.

Originally referred to as The Knife of Aristotle (God what is it these names), The Knife Media bills itself as a “fact-based subscription news website”, aiming to filter news stories and deliver, supposedly, fact-based versions of them. For the totally inconspicuous price of $15 a month (which is higher than the median subscription fee of £10 a month), The Knife claims to offer a rating system for news outlets and stories based on their numerical scores for qualities such as “spin”, “slant” or “logic”, based on what it calls a proprietary rating. In that sense, it seems The Knife is trying to be something like Snopes if it had a paywall, and according to their critics a noticeable conservative bias. But if you go and check out their website looking for their methodology, you will find not find much information about their process. They have a section entitled “Our Process“, in which they attempt to demonstrate their “scientific” method of news analysis in action, but all they do is describe such things as “story”, “spin”, “slant” “logic”, and “raw data”, but no real methodological framework by which they filter the mass of facts given in an article from the biases or spin. Put simply, they tell that they “extract the most relevant data from a news story to provide a more objective overview of what happened”, but without any real explanation as to how they’ve done so, unless that’s another thing I have to shell out $15 a month to find out rather than them being upfront about the thing they’re selling.

And if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Back in May 2017, journalist Brock Wilbur wrote an investigative piece about The Knife for Paste Magazine. Wilbur applied for a job at The Knife (then known as The Knife of Aristotle) and began correspondence with the organization via email. The Knife told Wilbur that applicants are to be subject to a five week period of “advanced training in communication, logic and ethics” in Albany, New York. One wonders what you could possibly learn from that course that you can’t simply learn by taking a degree in journalism, but such information was never divulged. When Wilbur investigated the website itself, signing onto a free account trial, he found that the website offered a feed of news stories from a wide range of sources and a button saying “Request Analysis” (which required payment). Then, on the staff page, he discovered some bios that seemed too poorly written to reflect actual believable personalities working at a company that values their work. Then he found out through The Knife of Aristotle’s Facebook page (which has since been deleted) that a multi-week training program was available to help people “perceive the world”, and that this program was free for future employees, and that there was even a scholarship program available, priced at $7,000. After that point, Wilbur discovered that The Knife of Aristotle was, in reality, an arm of NXIVM: a cultish organization that bills itself as a multi-marketing business.

The Path, a Hulu TV series that Wilbur uses as an analogy for his expectations of The Knife of Aristotle

The Knife of Aristotle was tied to NXIVM by one of their staff, Nicki Clyne, an actress best known for playing Cally Tyrol in the 2004 TV series Battlestar Galactica, who is also a member of NXIVM. In fact, if you’ve followed the news about NXIVM, you may have seen Nicki Clyne’s name come up, as it is alleged that Nicki Clyne married actress Allison Mack (who will come up later on) on orders from the cult as basically a slave to Mack. And they’re not even the only actresses said to be involved. More recently it is reported that Kristin Kreuk, who stars in a TV series called Burden of Truth and was also in Smallville, is reportedly attempting to hide her alleged involvement in the cult by refusing to do interviews where she might talk about the subject. It is alleged that Kreuk recruited Allison Mack to become a member of NXIVM. Beyond Hollywood celebrities, there’s also Rosa Laura Junco, who seems to be the CEO of The Knife. She is connected to NXIVM through her contacts with Laura Saltzman and Karen Unterreiner, both members of NXIVM. Junco is even alleged be both a master and a slave within NXIVM. The “lead analyst”, Leah Mottishaw, apparently lists Executive Success Programs as an interest of hers on her LinkedIn profile. One of their writers, Luis Diego Salas, apparently attended a sham university ran by NXIVM. You can find a little more information on these connections on a thread by The_War_Economy, but the point stands – The Knife is almost certainly an arm of NXIVM. And there are several other organizations apparently operating under the auspices of various NXIVM members – there’s an acting class group called The Source ran by Mark Vincente, a yoga group named Exo/eso ran by Siobhan Hotaling and Evan Zimmerman, a women’s group named JNESS, and a men’s group called the Society of Protectors, But who are NXIVM?

Keith Raniere and Nancy Saltzman formed NXIVM in 1998, offering a service known as “Executive Success Programs” to wealthy clients. These programs functioned as work camps or retreats designed to “change the way people think, make decisions, react, and perform in various [areas?] of life” and “help individuals develop the emotional and intellectual skills necessary to reach their maximum potential in all areas of life” based on a principle they term “Rational Inquiry”. In practice, the whole point of these exercises is to deconstruct your self-esteem in order to turn you into a slavish follower of Keith Raniere, as one unfortunate participant found out. It involves a lot of mind control, paramilitary command structures and rituals, mandatory praise of Raniere and contact with superiors on a daily basis, idiosyncratic jargon built on distortions of the English language, and “thought reform” programs designed extract confessions from members through inducing unnecessary guilt and fear in the psyche of the individual, and all over the course of sixteen-hour days. As is standard for cults the Executive Success Programs operated in secrecy and impose strict limits on the ability to receive feedback or contact from anyone outside of the program, with no explanation as to how such secrecy benefits the organization or its leaders and members.

It’s actually pretty similar to Scientology in certain respects, in that both belief systems aim at destroying your self esteem through their programs (in Scientology’s case that’s what auditing is for), encourage distance from friends and families members outside their sphere of influence and they both try to pretend that their practice is entirely scientific when really it’s hardly scientific at all. Hell, I think Raniere and his followers even borrowed (read: stole) the term “suppressives” from Scientology to describe people who question their program. In addition the cult has a profoundly self-serving ethos, encouraging that telling their friends about the cult harms them morally and spiritually, taking credit for “technology” that they never invented and imposing high fees on those wanting to join the organization, and encourage people to climb the ranks of the organization by paying further fees to the organization, the last of which incidentally is a lot like what the Church of Satan has been doing since 1975. It’s all documented in cult expert Rick Ross’ profile of NXIVM, which was published back in 2003 and over which NXIVM tried to sue Ross. It’s interesting to note, as a quick aside, that the self-serving ethos of the cult is complimented by a strong pressure to conform to the group, to the point that questioning the group is discouraged through intense psychological pressure and nonconformists are referred to not only as suppressives but also, I shit you not, Luciferians! They use the term Luciferian not as a brand of any particular spiritual philosophy (as I would for myself), but for people who leave the cult and thus become lost, sociopathic people for whom good and bad become reversed. That alone should tell you how insane and ignorant the cult is. And if that’s not enough, did I mention that members are required to refer to Keith Raniere as “Vanguard”, an entirely self-appointed title that Raniere derived from military terminology to mark himself as the unquestioned leader of the group? I must say it’s not the sort of thing you’d think to call him when you actually look at him.

Imagine it, this dollar store Walter Becker lookalike wants you treat him as though he were a military commander and spiritual guru all in one. Otherwise you’re a Luciferian somehow.

Going back to lawsuits, when you do a Google search on NXIVM or Keith Raniere, you might come to understand that Raniere and his cult were very litigious entities, particularly with people who opposed them. Frank Report offers a list of lawsuits that Raniere has been involved in, and it seems to number at around 50. Apparently he has frequently sued his former girlfriend Toni Natalie, attempting to sue her over various issues. He frequently sues people who publicly criticize him and his company, including journalists. This to me is another noteworthy similarity NXIVM has to the Church of Scientology, with its notorious tendency to get pursue lawsuits against just about anyone who might present a threat to the church no matter where in the world you are. Raniere had even been involving in litigation with his business before NXIVM started, going back to 1990 when he started a company called Consumers’ Buyline and it was sued by New York state officials for allegedly operating an illegal chain distribution scheme.

But perhaps the worst thing about this cult, and the center of why Keith Raniere and his organization are being investigated by authorities, is the sexual abuse and even slavery that seems to run rampant within the organization according to people who were once affiliated with the cult or are investigating it. It has been reported by several sources that Raniere would gather female members of NXIVM, collect incriminating or personal information from them, and then blackmail them in order to get them to perform sexual acts for him or shower him with love.  There is a detailed article from the New York Times which outlines a ceremony conducted within NXIVM in which women were chosen to be branded by an official named Lauren Saltzman. The women would be invited to the location of secretive sisterhood wherein they were required to submit naked photographs or incriminating information, ready to be used against them if the sisterhood’s location was revealed, then the woman would undress and lie atop a massage table, they would be physically restrained by other women, and had symbols representing Keith Raniere’s initials branded on their hips with cauterizing devices. The women were apparently recruited as slaves by their “master”. The slaves would frequently be ordered to correspond with their “master” and have sex with Raniere, and were constantly pressured to provide more collateral for NXIVM in the form of incriminating information and stories about themselves and friends and family, whether true or false.

Allison Mack, who was arrested by the FBI in April on sex trafficking charges, is said to have recruited various women including other actress into NXIVM and had them branded as slaves, as is Seagram Heiress Clare Bronfman who was arrested more recently and is presently demanding exemption. Mack has also claimed that the branding ritual NXIVM performs on women was her idea. Whether or not this is true or simply a ruse to protect the leadership of NXIVM remains to be seen. On the same month as Mack’s arrest the FBI has also conducted a raid on a townhouse in Hale Drive in Halfmoon, New York, where it is alleged by court records and interviews that Keith Raniere used the property as some kind of sex lair. Frank Report has also outlined the vile sexual acts Raniere is testified to have performed on his followers and others.

An apparent example of the symbol branded on women within NXIVM

One detail you might have noticed about NXIVM is that many of its followers appear to be well-to-do young and middle-aged women, and on the scene of Raniere’s arrest he was said to have had many women follow him. One possible reason for this is that the women are tricked into thinking they will attain some sense of empowerment from NXIVM. In an interview with Vanessa Grigoriadis in the New York Times, Mack outlines various practices that “masters” would tell their slaves to do, such as cold showers, calorie-counting, general service (worded as “acts of care”), getting up from bed at 4am, abstaining from orgasms, all supposedly ordered by the “masters” in order to move the women away from previous eating, sleeping and sexual habits. From the seems of it, you are basically in a position where you have a master tell you what some dumb women’s magazine can tell you what do already except you aren’t forced to correspond with the master, hand over information and have sex with a 51 year old upper class hippie with a messiah complex. But I guess just going online and looking for lifestyle tips doesn’t give you the sense of commitment to a group that only a deranged master-slave sex cult can provide.

Speaking of master-slave relations, from what I understand, it’s possible that the name The Knife, or The Knife of Aristotle, might be tied to this theme of women being subservient to men. According to Frank Parlato writing for ArtVoice, a possible origin of the name “The Knife of Aristotle” is in a metaphor from Aristotle’s Politics, which reads as follows:

“Therefore the feminine and the slavish are distinguished (for Nature makes no such thing as the blacksmiths make the Delphic knife, in need of something, but Nature makes one thing for one thing.  For in this way each tool will turn out most splendidly, not serving many functions but one)”

Apparently Aristotle used the analogy of the Delphic knife to reinforce a point of women being supposedly naturally subservient in contrast men being naturally dominant. If this is indeed where The Knife of Aristotle acquired their moniker, then it at least suggests that somebody over there was thinking of the whole master-slave thing that goes on with Raniere and his women. It definitely seems like an obvious echo of the way NXIVM views and treats women.

So, to summarize. We have a cult that is built on a Scientology-esque doctrine of “self-improvement” through humiliation, mind control, self-abasement and leader worship, as well as a master-slave hierarchy with an intensely perverted businessman and psuedo-prophet on top and masters and their slaves on the bottom, that exists to suck up as many well-to-do upper class personalities and even celebrities into its influence as possible, that goes out of its way to recruit new sexual slaves throughout North America while suing any detractors and withholding and collecting any information that can be used to harm anyone who might reveal its secrets, and has its own media arm that, at best, exists almost entirely to shit on liberal media outlets for being opposed to conservatives, and, at worst, is available for NXIVM to downplay or even deny their cultish activities. This makes for a very dangerous and pernicious cult indeed, one that I hope will soon be destroyed within the next few years by the ongoing investigations.

What is all the more peculiar about this whole situation is how well-trusted an actual sex cult seems to be among a lot of the internet personalities and political commentators who generally align themselves in opposition to the political establishment, even despite the already established links between The Knife and NXIVM. Guys like Joe Rogan, Tim Pool and Ian Miles Cheong are all said to have promoted the website (in Cheong’s case, though, he did eventually figure out that The Knife was linked to a cult, after which he still praised their articles), Eric Weinstein has apparently praised them on Dave Rubin’s YouTube show even as he says the site has a shadowy backer, and their supporters seem to like The Knife, unaware of its connections to NXIVM. Oh and of course Fox News cites them as examples of people fighting back against anti-conservative bias within the media because why the hell not. Apparently this has something to do with the fact that they treat mainstream outlets, typically with a liberal tilt of course, very harshly based on their dubious criteria. So we have not only Elon Musk but also conservative media and online “anti-establishment” personalities unwittingly promoting a sex cult as a credible alternative to the mainstream media because The Knife, frankly, tells conservatives and people who dislike modern day liberals what they want to hear: namely that the liberal media is wrong about everything and are simply attacking their political opponents for no good reason oh and please don’t follow the money. Can’t say I’m surprised, having also learned that The Knife is not even the first conservative media outlet to be financed by a cult.

And so we are left with a very peculiar situation where, as mainstream media becomes distrusted more and more, people tend to fall into just about anything else that appeals to that distrust, and with conservative populism in the ascendancy and a well-established conservative media circle that appeals precisely to distrust of the liberal media, people will begin to see that circle as honest and truthful, even though in reality it’s just a decadent circle jerk set up to tell right-wing chuds what they want to hear and push to get their guys in power. When that happens, the people who fall for this will just believe whatever they want as opposed to anything outside of that, even if it means supporting a literal cult that holds women as sex slaves and literally brands them!

Of course, this is by no means a defense of the mainstream media, other than I guess you could say at least they’re not just puppets of a shadowy sex cult.

6 thoughts on “The story of Keith Raniere, NXIVM and The Knife of Aristotle

    1. I’d argue it’s people like Allison Mack who are the Tom Cruises, being actual members of the cult. Mack even went so far as to promote NXIVM to other celebrities on Twitter. Elon Musk might be more of a patsy. He even acknowledged that The Knife was ran by the NXIVM cult once he got told about the connection by people on Twitter, but just like Ian Miles Cheong he still praised The Knife’s analysis, saying something to the effect of “it’s a sad state of affairs when a cult is better than the media”.

      1. If that hierarchy is the state, I wouldn’t worry: I doubt that critical thinking will lead to the destruction of the state as a concept. If that hierarchy is the architecture of corporate media, then the main threat is that people will stop consuming their outlets. Under capitalism, the state need not worry so much about brainwashing people because they have a conglomeration of media networks to practically do that for them, on all fronts, and not even because the state wants that to happen, but because it’s the inevitable result of their value for profit – they chase the stories that their donors or backers want to see or whatever is in high demand, and not necessarily all of the truth.

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