Russel and his followers were a byproduct of the religious orthodoxy revolt that originated in Europe. This revolution of ideas crossed over to America seeding all the fringe groups who Russel then became a part of. This resistance to the establishment is similar to what we have seen recently with the Q annon phenomena. When the poor and lower class masses reach the tipping point, they turn to upper class benefactors who feel themselves losing status to start the revolution.
It's been said that by today's standards, Russel was probably a millionaire in partnership with his father. We know that many fringe religious groups were spawned during this era including but not limited to the Mormons, Adventists, Scientologists, and others. Whatever political and religious forces pushed this upper middle class down, it was the perfect storm to rebel against the establishment.
If one looks at the pictures of Russel and his followers, they were lower class poor people. The only admission into this group was purchase of Russels books and a pledge of slave labor to disseminate this propaganda of the world ending and recruitment of new followers.
Russel's first followers were a small tribe who labored at following his example and implied orders. He was the prophet through which God spoke to mankind. As humans, primitive tribal dynamics soon followed. Russels wife, Maria, knew him to be just an ordinary guy who claimed special status so she began to compete with him for status. This of course created political factions and she had to go. During this early stage in any tribe, status begins to form though being the most powerful, (how many placements and hours logged), the most pious (acts of sacrifice in behalf of the tribe), and the most successful (the public speakers who were business owners, etc). We know the pathological powering over by Rutherford who led this growing tribe after Russel died.
This hub of a small tribe were brainwashed into believing they were the chosen of mankind. As this elite specially class of God, they had to follow in Russels footsteps and go start other tribes throughout the world. I remember the yearbooks being nothing but gloating stories of these Herculean special pioneers.
As the tribes (congregations) grew Russelites became a nation. This nation would hold international conventions lasting days on end to indoctrinate more people with displays of God's favor. Attending these events became a status symbol to be present at the release of new propaganda and new messages from God.
At the local level hierarchies of status were formed. At the top were the elders who were below the circuit and district overseers. Next came all men as women had no status at this level. A subset of this group was the ministerial servants who who did the elders' bidding. The next level I would argue was on the same tier, elders wives and pioneers with male pioneers having one leg up on females. Finally, came the lowest cast, the publishers.
Every class status even the lowly publisher were made to be someone with class distinction coming from God. In general, many recruits were people who had no societal status in the community and were social outcasts. But being love bombed at the initiation and made to feel special with a promised paradise where all are equal is a powerful motivating force.
Once baptized though, publishers quickly find out that they must play political hunger games. This is crazy making and many end up suffering mental and psychological problems.
Exiting the organization or being expelled one starts the tribal group membership all over again. This is through joining another religion or subscribing to exJW groups.
Having been a part of most modern day exJW groups, they status seeking just continues in finding one's tier of status. Can we escape this twisted trap? No, the human experience is about fighting for status. Even hermits fight for status as the most freed status seeking animal.
If you look at group dynamics through this lens, you being to see why we play the games we do.