Destyneo

Sharing experiences within New Acropolis

Following the defamatory article, written by a journalist from the independent media Rue 89 Strasbourg, and following the comments on their Facebook publication, I decided to share my experience and my analysis of the association New Acropolis. To begin with, it’s a shame that the article is not accessible to the public, since it does not provide access to all the information. The reader have to pay, so he will only remember the title without really analyzing the overall situation.

The association would be accused of sectarianism, proselytism, mental influence and authoritarian excesses. It is also criticized that the organization is highly hierarchical.

A deviation is considered as sectarian when it leads to harmful behavior for individuals (rape, theft, etc.) according to Didier Pachoud, president of the Group for the Study of Streams of Thought with the aim of Preventing Individuals. These facts don’t occur within New Acropolis and yet he listed it on a list of sects. Who is he ? What are his interests? How can an individual proclaim himself as God of truth, protector of the nation and defame so many people? Does he act alone? Or with other people ? Who funds this organization ? Don’t hesitate to investigate, unfortunately I don’t have enough time…

Let’s keep things in perspective: New Acropolis, created in 1957, is an international non-profit organization present in 60 countries. It has more than 400 schools, including 13 centers in France with around 500 members, including around thirty members in Strasbourg. Thousands of students participate in philosophy classes, cultural activities and/or volunteer programs around the world.

At the same time, a blog lists 4 testimonies from former students denouncing the association’s sectarianism. Many links on the blog do not work… A Facebook page has also been created by Guillaume Rosari to inform about this international spiritual movement.

Analysis of testimonies defaming New Acropolis

I’ve listed the 11 defamatory testimonies that I found on the internet, concerning the association New Acropolis, at the end of the article. I didn’t want it to take up all the space in my analytical article, so here is a numerical summary. It would be interesting to make an analysis in relation to the number of members by country, information that I do not have at my disposal.

It is unfortunate that the majority of testimonials are anonymous. As only one of the 11 testimonies was made with an uncovered face, it is difficult to verify the authenticity of the testimonies. Only Daniela dared to show herself. Either the people are afraid, or they have bad intentions and would have the mission of harming the association… In the same way that New Acropolis lacks transparency, the vast majority of testimonies do not give precise dates, specific places and names. On thousands of students the number of testimonies remains insignificant and not updated, for the most part. I’m not in the habit of giving unreliable sources… But let’s consider the worst case scenario: these testimonials are real…

Jorge Angel Livraga, founder of New Acropolis had words perceived as inappropriate concerning:

  • human groups which are not self-sufficient and which find themselves in misery and poverty. He advocated their forced sterilization. He found this idea, himself shocking, but tried to propose a solution to prevent families from finding themselves in dramatic and unfortunate situations in order to be able to survive, such as slavery or prostitution.
  • a sentence of a writing “The political ideal”: “In the New State there will be neither illiterates, nor beggars, nor fanatics, nor members of organized crime. All will be integrated into the new structures and, if it’s not possible, these people will be locked up in specialized establishments for the misfits”. These comments were made at a time when the death sentence was legal. However, he doesn’t advise killing paedophiles, terrorists and other criminals, but rather helping them to reintegrate themselves into society if possible, otherwise putting them in prison… The desire here is to suppress crime and misery, to offer education for all, to give everyone a place and a job within the society.
  • homosexuals at a time when people thought that AIDS was transmitted through them. Times change and mentalities evolve. In, I hope less than 20 years, we will also understand that it was inhuman to discriminate against unvaccinated people on the basis of beliefs that they were dangerous walking viruses… Is it still relevant to consider old and marginal remarks of a deceased person, whose the new leaders have completely dissociated themselves for 30 years now? The principle of fraternity of the international charter goes beyond considerations of sexuality and gender, which are of a private nature and are in no way part of the philosophical corpus of the association.

Each organization has its own functioning, rites, traditions, symbols, costumes, etc.

–> Rites of passage are generally symbolic ordeals to mark a change, an event, a commitment within a social group. It’s a practice that is part of the history of each community. There are many rites of passage (profession of faith, circumcision, military service, scouts’s totemization, hazing at university, graduation ceremony, driver’s license, marriage, etc.). We do not realize all the rites either because they are completely integrated into our lifestyles or, conversely, because they are not practiced within our social group. For the latter, knowing about it can shock us because we are not used to it, it’s not natural for us.
Within New Acropolis, the dates of the tests are announced but the content is not disclosed, as for any exams. There are theoretical tests at the end of each cycle to validate the acquisition of philosophical knowledge and practical tests (confrontations, challenges to develop human qualities with respect and dignity). Only the “Lives Forces”, the active members of the association, have rites of passage. New Acropolis considers that the real trials are the trials of daily life, which often come by surprise. Training within New Acropolis would make it easier to deal with hardships.

–> All groups have a logo, a symbol, a sign of recognition to create unity.
In terms of “costumes”, I could see some sort of gardening t-shirts and New Acropolis caps, nothing shocking. The pictures from the “Nueva Acropolis Secta” blog show old photos of costumes and symbols that would be Nazi, once again unverifiable information…
Each group has its history, its values, its symbols and its traditions which are transmitted from generation to generation. We are in a world that is constantly breaking apart. There is a desire here to create fraternity.

–> The structure of the association is hierarchical and authoritarian. Personally, I haven’t seen anything authoritarian so it remains to be proven. Hierarchical systems are present in the majority of organizations. I know very few structures that operate in shared governance mode. If hierarchical and pyramidal operations is an issue for us, nothing prevents us from creating more horizontal structures with a shared governance model. This is happening more and more!
Within New Acropolis, each association is financially independent and autonomous in proposing its program of activities, both culturally and in terms of volunteering and partnerships. All that is required is adherence to the international charter and signature of the internal regulations in order to guarantee compliance with ethics, consistency and the image of New Acropolis, as well as the use of all of its training programs. Only the teaching transmitted in philosophy courses follows an identical international program.

–> Concerning volunteering actions, they certainly require a little effort… But everyone is free to participate or leave if it’s not suitable. I imagine that the values ​​of the association are not idleness or laziness, but rather that everyone participates in common tasks. There are no cleaners, cooks or room attendants who come to make the beds and take care of everyone… It’s about learning a sense of responsibility, autonomy and the development of values ​​such as altruism, generosity, mutual aid. Afterwards, it all depends on whether the person had to do everything while the others took it easy, for example… The last time I went to the permaculture garden to see the members of New Acropolis Strasbourg, while the teacher was weeding, I was discussing, so it’s rather me who hasn’t done anything… It would be interesting though to compare volunteering at New Acropolis with scout volunteering or even participative construction sites in eco-places for example?

Perhaps New Acropolis should also avoid integrating minors, especially in Latin American countries, and take precautions by ensuring the good psychological and emotional state of its members as nuns are doing? But how? And who really owns this responsibility? Aren’t we supposed to be responsible for our own choices? Don’t our choices at a time respond to a need to experiment a situation at that time in order to evolve?

Nevertheless, some testimonies describe unethical influences, situations of psychological abuse, even formatting of minds to control the person. The goal would be to train people to be obedient, submissive and devoted. If these testimonies turn out to be true, it will be obviously necessary to denounce the aggressors/rescuers one by one. Because no pressure should be exerted on an individual for the exercise of a hobby nor voluntary work. It should be fun. Everyone must be free to do what they can, when they can, what they want, when they want. And there are other ways to change the world. New Acropolis doesn’t have a monopoly on creating a better world. This type of behavior is counterproductive and in total contradiction with the values ​​promoted. Perhaps we could find a happy medium, denouncing inappropriate facts, acts, words on the part of particular individuals and not an entire organization and thus make humanity evolve upwards? Because there are good and bad people everywhere and we know that human beings are not infallible and are far from perfect. Do we have the necessary evidence to generalize this kind of behavior and incriminate the 400 schools of New Acropolis?

“The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Criticism is good when it’is constructive. In these testimonials, there is unfortunately nothing verifiable and no constructive criticism to find improvement solutions. One can legitimately doubt the validity of these stories in the face of the thousands of people who have followed the activities and teachings of New Acropolis for more than 60 years and who have personally benefited from them.

The big ideas of New Acropolis

“The main objective of New Acropolis is to promote the elevation of everyone’s abilities, to awaken the potential of human beings, so that they can be better in society”. New Acropolis attempts to reconnect the human to his true being, to his heart, to nature and to connect beings beyond all differences (sex, culture, religion, etc.). The organisation fully assumes being “against the current of a materialistic and consumerist society, which has lost its humanist dimension in favor of a hedonistic and selfish individualism, which only promises illusory happiness”.

It is based on 3 fundamental principles : fraternity, knowledge and human development.

The purpose of the association is to build a better world by providing solutions rather than talking about problems.

It is above all a circle of reflections inspired by various currents of philosophical thought. It leads to the development of our thinking, our critical spirit.

Volunteering actions allow individuals to become agents of change, to put themselves at the service of the common good in a concrete way by adopting a responsible and respectful attitude and behavior for our planet and our environment.

New Acropolis claims to be apolitical. It doesn’t get involved in political affairs, via the elections. Nevertheless, every act and every word is political. As an example, the international organization New Acropolis, has positioned itself as a pacifist regarding the war in Ukraine. It promotes and actively participates in the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015, which are political objectives. Would New Acropolis be a controlled opposition? (I don’t think so, since they denounce pedophilia.)

Actions of New Acropolis Association

New Acropolis offers different activities:

I took practical philosophy courses for a few months in 2021 because I’m a curious person by nature, who’s passionate to learn. And here’s what I can tell you:

  • students interested in the association’s philosophy courses are there by choice.
  • they pay a contribution to the non-profit association, which has nothing to do with the sale of services by a company with private interests.
  • there is no humiliation, but respect and everyone is free to express their opinion at the end of the course.
  • we are all adults (didn’t see any children) so we are big enough to defend ourselves if there should be a problem.
  • nobody forces us to take these courses, we are free to go or not. The teacher encourages students to come to class, to carry out voluntary actions such as marauding in order to put the lessons into practice. (in the same way that a sports coach would encourage his players to train themselves…) The teachers are volunteers, so certainly try to motivate the students to attend the lessons so as not to prepare lessons for nothing…

Inconvenient teachings ?

Who can be bothered by those who teach people to think, to express their thoughts, to reconnect with the essential, with their intuition, etc.? We can easily guess that the transhumanist globalist capitalist neoliberals who see us as cattle for money and want to turn us into robots disconnected from our soul and connected to artificial intelligence are not of the opinion that we’re raising our consciousness

Couldn’t the capitalist society we live in, led by blackrock and vanguard, worshiping the God of Money, also be called a cult? Between the capitalist cult of competition, nudity and profit and the idealistic collaborative cult in the service of the common good and humanity, who do you think does the least harm to the planet?

I contacted the authors of the blog “Nueva Acropolis Secta” and they told me that it’s only the teachers who are part of “Lives Forces” and who volunteer in the association who would be in a “sect (not the students). They also agreed 100% when I told them about the biggest capitalist globalist sect.

On a personal level, I couldn’t commit myself further within New Acropolis than the pleasure of learning and exchanging on philosophical concepts. I was there only one year so my testimony has little relevance. I also regret that New Acropolis allowed itself to be indoctrinated by the Big Pharma sect and asked for the green pass so the pupils could continue to participate in the courses and thus exclude some of its members who did’nt submit to these new discriminatory rules… In its teachings , New Acropolis denounces the danger of dictatorships, tyrannies, ideologies that are prejudicial to human rights and all attacks on the dignity and integrity of humans. And yet the members conceded to the totalitarian injunctions of the State… certainly for fear of being branded as sectarian once again? But there was even no need for that… I wish they had the courage of their convictions…

Everything is sect

A sect simply designates a group of individuals following the same doctrine. Thus, there are many “sects” and sometimes some people can belong, by their ideas to several sects. Certain ideologies, beliefs, schools of thought are not new. Others emerged less than a century ago.

Feel free to give me other examples of groups having the same doctrine. Any individual belonging to one or more of these groups will act according to the beliefs of this group. All these beliefs govern a way of behaving in relation to food, family, money, sex, etc. So who holds the absolute truth? Aren’t beliefs interpretations of each other’s truths or wishes? Perhaps we should keep an open mind to accept that everyone has their own beliefs, their own essence, and that we are all constantly evolving? Rather than going to war, shouldn’t we rather try to dialogue with each other in order to try to understand and accept each other?

Let’s not forget that no one is perfect. It’s up to all of us to pull each other up and gradually decondition ourselves from dogmas that serve us in order to find our true essence! Instead of defaming, criticizing, let’s bring constructive criticism, concrete solutions to implement to improve everyone’s life. Many individuals need a framework and a group to evolve. Maybe it’s because, alone, we feel helpless and we all have a need to belong to a group? New Acropolis responds to these needs and enables individuals to become agents of the change they wish to see in the world. If the way of doing things is not suitable, improvement solutions can be suggested. And if the association is rigid and doesn’t want to question certain things that would have been democratically expressed by a collective of members, for example, these members could create another structure with their vision or join existing associations to act according to their desires and appetences?

And you, what would you advise all these people of goodwill and committed to creating a better world? Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and imagine that this is the only place they’ve found that meets their aspirations. Do you not think that defamation is harmful and forces these people to choose between: staying within New Acropolis despite the negative reviews or potentially entering into depression if they don’t find another meaningful activity?

Education, awareness, prevention against the influence of a group or a person

In order not to be manipulated, the first thing to do is to inform yourself, either by taking lessons or by yourself. It would be really great if we could be encouraged to think for ourselves from an early age at school…

Here are some tools that will help you to better understand human psychology: Maslow’s pyramid, Barrett’s pyramids, childhood wounds, etc. This will allow you to understand your individual needs (need to be loved, to belong to a group, to be free, to exercise your passions, etc.). Thus, you’ll be able to meet your personal needs with consciousness without being influenced or manipulated.

After knowing how your mind is working, it’s important to become aware of the mechanisms of mass manipulation and unconscious social phenomena. You can learn about Milgram’s experiment, Asch’s experiment, Stockholm syndrome, psychological biases, Karpman’s drama triangle, social engineering, crowd manipulation, the factory of consent, etc.

Then, it would be interesting to study different doctrines as listed above in order to compare them and to form your own opinion. Ask yourself what morals and values you agree with and what are your limits.

Finally, you can find out about pyramidal hierarchical structures, whether political, religious, philosophical, etc. People who enter a hierarchical organization, and who are therefore at the bottom of the pyramid, often don’t know what’s happening in the upper levels. They can be manipulated or used. These organizations lock you into a pyramid and do not let you spread your own wings. You can be suspicious about them when you see that they are not transparent, that they claim to hold the truth and despise other thoughts or even when individuals placed higher in the pyramid do not act in an exemplary manner.

Even if it’s easier to understand certain things when we experience them, the study of all of this will allow you to keep your critical thinking in all circumstances and to realize that knowledge is vast. It will also lead you to show humility and empathy and not fall into the trap of the spiritual ego which would make you feel superior to others. It’s up to all of us to ensure that the world evolves towards more horizontality, benevolence and transparency! Let us free ourselves from all influence and all domination! It’s up to everyone to adopt a posture which inspires respect… I therefore invite people who play the role of the victim to step out of the Karpman’s dramatic triangle. Take on the role of an observer to become aware of these unconscious relational phenomena. Then, become an actor of awareness and prevention, for example.

Concrete examples of positive constructive actions

Guillaume Corpard observed that human beings are anthropocentric and exploit animals.

He founded the association Happy Earth and has been giving conferences “A cry for the earth” for more than 5 years.

His objectives are to sensitize human beings on the animal cause, to help people to lead the vegetal transition in their personal life and to allow them to leave the pyramid of animal domination for a harmonious world that respects the living.

–> It’s by adopting a constructive criticism and proposing concrete improvement actions that we will be able to change the world!

–> We could also create transversalities between the different associations that want to change the world in order to mutually enrich each other?

To conclude this article, I would really like to support the fact that everyone should have the right to be respected, without being called “high” or other denigration, just like LGBT people, student prostitutes, anti Monsanto or even Covid antivax.

What if we learned to communicate non-violently to share our points of view on different subjects? What if we learned to love and tolerate each other despite our differences? What if we learned to respect our differences in choices for our bodies, for our thoughts, for our lives? The one and only way is the way of love. We must learn to control our hatred, our anger or any other negative energies to transform them into positive energies of compassion and tolerance.

“Nazism will use the oldest means of mobilizing crowds, namely hatred and bigotry, which is the opposite of the message of Love and Brotherhood of any true Church or Tradition.” Jorge Livraga (1986)

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Annexes

Quantitative sociological study of outgoing members of New Acropolis France

The Cesnur (Centre for the study of new religions) carried out a detailed study, in 1999, of the outgoing members of New Acropolis France. Out of the 530 outgoing members between 1986 and 1997, 22.6% responded to the questionnaire sent by the Cesnur. The purpose of the questionnaire was to collect informations on life within New Acropolis, the reasons for leaving NA and opinions on the most common criticisms about the association. Nearly 90% of respondents do not consider New Acropolis as a dangerous cult and around 68% felt they had “always been free”. The study also analyzes the perception of New Acropolis by former members after having been in contact with an anti-sectarian movement.

Testimonies defaming New Acropolis (type III stories described by the Cesnur)

Argentina

Xandra : would have been part of the association for 14 years. He indicates that techniques of manipulation and coercive persuasion would have been used in a progressive manner as one entered the circles and that only individuals accepting the restrictions of thought and behavior would enter the most intimate circles.

Spain

Ana : left New Acropolis 6 years ago (in 2016). She entered at age 19. At 21, she was part of the “Lives forces”. She explains that not everyone can enter the inner circle so it creates rejection from some people and others who have the privilege to access it might feel superior. Ana has undergone many violent ordeals that would have the purpose of controlling emotions, she was beaten by a man with boxing gloves, had to do exercises in pairs to slap each other, undress blindfolded to go to a stunt , suffered insults and humiliations from teachers, etc. Men and women performed ceremonies separately. Often, after undergoing trials there was a reward or comfort, which suggests that it’s indeed manipulation techniques. Ana has done some cleaning and feels that it would be moonlighting rather than volunteering. She felt like she had become a slave. She sacrificed her studies and grew up with the idea that there are too many of us on the planet and that she could not start a family. She discovered that the leaders of New Acropolis receive money to travel. After 10 years, she finally left the organization.

Zuhal : would have been part of New Acropolis for 5 years. She felt bought with the values of honesty and kindness. She says she has lived little by little, a hell: household chores that never end, contributions to the association that grow according to the level of commitment, revisions of courses and exams, summer camps of difficult volunteering,  poor quality dormitories with many people causing poor sleep etc.

France

Françoise : psychologist in her forties, would have entered New Acropolis in 1998. She gradually felt mentally manipulated. She was asked to participate in more and more activities and felt guilty if she did not participate. She only stayed there for 3 months.

Liliana : would have been part of the French women’s brigade and would have been within New Acropolis for 5 years between 2010 and 2020. She was victim of guilt for her leisure activities by the trainers. She testifies that from the 2nd cycle, the courses became more serious and rigid. It was difficult to ask questions and they were some mysteries to discover. She spent almost all of her journeys with them and grew further and further away from her relatives who were not taking lessons at New Acropolis. There were also lessons on the superiority of the white race, etc.

Noélie and Julien : would have been part of New Acropolis between 2015 and 2020. They testify that when you take courses for several years, it can make you want to invest yourself fully. She evokes things, resembling a rite of passage towards groups more committed to the approach of the association (fasting, sleepless night, ice water bath, oath, etc.). Then, the humiliations suffered by people who couldn’t invest more time in the association to the point of having to clean the toilets for a whole day, are related. There would also have been attempts to make people feel guilty to get people involved. Finally, she expresses that she had the conviction of being part of an intellectual elite through the teachings received.

Julien: I don’t know if it’s the same Julien as above so I’m sharing his experience just in case. He belonged to the “Security Corps” of the “Lives Forces”. He meticulously describes the pyramidal functioning, the doctrines and the phenomena of influence and manipulation of New Acropolis.

Italy

Miguel Martinez : would be the former ruler of New Acropolis Italy. He was a member of New Acropolis for 14 years and left it in 1990. He was commissioned to open a center in Egypt. He realized the arrogance, racism and oppression of the organization to which he had given his whole life. He had reached the top of a very complex hierarchy. He felt manipulated and exploited. He has become an expert in understanding the telling of stories that relate to violence and power and cult apologies.

Mexico

Esteban : was head of security in Mexico. He had paramilitary training, was humiliated and punished his followers with ice water baths. He was willing to give his life to the organization. He had found a purpose in his life to try to make this world a better place. He allegedly received death threats and an agent of the Mexican public prosecutor’s office dissuaded him from denouncing the association through intimidation and endless bureaucratic procedures.

Peru

? : would have entered New Acropolis in 2012. To be a member of the association, you must meet 3 requirements: never miss classes, pay your dues, participate in other school’s activities. She felt honored to access the “White Program”, etc. She discovered the symbols, the inner hymn, the salute, etc. She began to be observant and saw guilt-ridden looks when she didn’t attend certain activities. Each year, a meeting was held in a country house, supervised by the active forces, to introduce the new members to the National Director. The accounts of the association were not transparent, money was requested for voluntary actions. There were insinuations made by the director to dissuade the members from having children. She felt indebted because they had been there in difficult times and at the same time if she left New Acropolis she knew that she would never see anyone again so she felt very alone, brotherhood was not friendship.

Uruguay

Daniela (videos) : joined the association at the age of 14 and remained there for 11 years. She expresses that she has experienced years of mental and emotional exhaustion. Members of the association told her how she should behave with newcomers, how she should dress, who she should socialize with, and so on. She notes a lot of frustrations at not being able to say, think and be what she wanted to be. She also noted homophobic remarks. She felt guilty, harassed especially by the director. She denounces dogmatic esoteric teachings.

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