I haven't been following the FLG discussion closely, but having read Patsy Rahn's message re FLG, I have to say that I have two reactions:
As a scholar, I am intrigued by the lack of originality and almost repetitive nature of Li and the FLG. Some of the quotes seem to me (I do't have the sources handy, I'll admit) to be quotes from Taiping and earlier mass religious 'unorthodox' societies in China. The major difference appears to be the innovation of using a website as the formal mouthpiece, allowing for greater control. It also appeares that Li has taken a page from his CCP opponents in the relams of data management and semantic manipulation.
As an individual, looking at the same material, I have to admit I am appalled. Li appears to be aiming at what can only be considered a variant of the emotional/ideological 'total institution' (to use Goffman's phrase) system characteristic of many cultic new religions: AumShinKyo, the Jim Jones cult, Hare Krishna, etc.
And so, to a question: are there any ethnographic reports _from the inside_ about FLG activities? And has (as is usually the pattern) the first buds of leadership/ideological struggle in the post-Li years begun to show? How does the FLG retain control over members, and do these control patterns differ for Chinese in the PRC and for followers elsewhere (as again, is usually the case in similar movements)?
Dr Michael Ashkenazi
Original text from: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=h-asia&month=0010&week=b&msg=pqwl3HVcsiY4Adl3PWo0vw&user=&pw=