Predatory organization seeks power over people instead of serving them. All predatory organizations are a threat, but not every predatory organization is equally dangerous. Size of the organization and intensity of predatory behavior matter of course, but I am more concerned with qualitative differences that determine ultimate threat the organization poses.
I classify predatory organizations into five levels of increasing threat based on what the organization tries to control:
- Level 1 predatory organizations control human behavior, but they don't try to control communication or thoughts. Shady company tries to trick customers, but it usually does not have the means to prevent customers from complaining and organizing. Mafia is mostly level 1 predatory organization with aspects of level 2. Mafia primarily needs to control what its members and victims do, but it also tries to prevent them from talking to the police, which places mafia between levels 1 and 2.
- Level 2 predatory organizations control communication, but they don't go as far as controlling thoughts. Dictatorship is a good example. It uses censorship and propaganda to control communication, but citizens are usually aware of the nature of the dictatorship and they don't hold any grandiose beliefs about it. Some extreme dictatorships like the one in North Korea use intense propaganda to reach level 3.
- Level 3 predatory organizations control what people think. The main tool here is lying, of course, but that's not all. Many religions, including Christianity, try very hard to make people believe their thoughts can be seen and that there are harsh punishments for those who believe the wrong ideas. There is also a suggestion that believing the right ideas will magically bring luck, success, or other rewards. Aside from lies, extreme terror, torture, and total control over information can produce level 3 control over people.
- Level 4 predatory organizations try to change human nature. They change what it means to be human. This is mostly sci-fi stuff like DNA and brain manipulation, but we see first signs of level 4 control of people in mass use of psychiatric drugs to achieve questionable results like student obedience in schools. Some level 3 predatory organizations aspire for level 4. Both religions and dictatorships attempted to change human nature in the past (think cure for homosexuality). They failed for lack of technology, but the technology will be available one day.
- Level 5 predatory organizations do away with humans altogether. Since predatory organizations view humans as mere tools and materials, they are keen to replace them with machines and artificial intelligence. Rogue AI from sci-fi movies is rather unrealistic, but gradual marginalization of humans is plausible. The whole process can be an unintended side effect of competition among humans.
I think qualitative classification like this better represents ultimate threat any given organization poses. So for example religions that are at level 3 and aspiring for level 4 are ultimately more dangerous than dictatorships at level 2 and aspiring for level 3. The way to understand this is to look at time frames. Brutal dictatorship is a smaller but imminent threat while religion is a more distant but more grave threat. Similar comparison can be made between crime and dictatorship. Dictatorship can sometimes suppress crime more effectively, which provides temporary relief in extreme situations, but in the long term, dictatorship will prove to be much bigger problem than any kind of organized crime.