Scientology's may be the most debilitating set of rituals of any cult in America.
- CONWAY and SIEGELMAN, "Information Disease," Science Digest,
It can be said with more than a little truth that a society is lost when it loses its greed, for without hunger as a whip - for power, money or fame - man sinks into a blind sloth and, contented or not, is gone.
- L. RON HUBBARD, "Greed," Astounding Science Fiction, April 1950
L. Ron Hubbard was an opportunist who lied consistently about his past, as partbs9-1.htm of a process of self-glorification. He was an arrogant, amoral egomaniac. Incapable of admitting his mistakes, he continually created scapegoats. The pure motives of his followers were exploited to build a secret mountain of cash. Hubbard was an outright plagiarist, who eventually could not bear to acknowledge anyone else's originality. He had a supreme distrust of the motives of all of humanity, despite his bland generalizations about man's basic goodness. This goodness would only be revealed after the individual had achieved some unspecified state of "OT." Hubbard was a paranoid, power hungry, petty sadist who paraded his inadequacies through ever more frequent tantrums. Revelling in his disciples' adulation, he spent his last years in seclusion, surrounded by sycophants. He had an alarming ability to keep all the many compartments of his life and his past separate, even, so it seems, in his own mind. Nonetheless, such a complicated man cannot be confined in such tidy definitions. Although the facts form a comprehensive picture, perhaps we have only caught glimpses of the man behind the many masks.
In February 1983, in written replies to Rocky Mountain News journalist Sue Lindsay, Hubbard said his favorite non-fiction book was Twelve Against the Gods, by William Bolitho, adding, "the introduction is particularly good." In this statement Hubbard provided a powerful clue to his most potent urge.
Bolitho's book was published in 1930, and consists of twelve short biographies. Its central point is that "adventure is the vitaminizing element in histories both individual and social." Bolitho lauded the adventurer above all others. His twelve chosen adventurers were Alexander, Casanova, Columbus, Mahomet, Lola Montez, Cagliostro (and Seraphina), Charles XII of Sweden, Napoleon, Catiline, Napoleon III, Isadora Duncan and, for topical reasons, Woodrow Wilson. Judging by the tone of the book, had Bolitho written a new edition in the 1940s, Hitler would very probably have replaced Wilson. The following quotations are all taken from the "particularly good" introduction, and clearly state Bolitho's basic thesis:
The adventurer is within us, and he contests for our favor with the social man we are obliged to be .... We are obliged, in order to live at all, to make a cage of laws for ourselves and to stand on the perch. We are born as wasteful and unremorseful as tigers; we are obliged to be thrifty, or starve or freeze. We are born to wander, and cursed to stay and dig... all the poets are on one side, and all the laws on the other; for laws are made by, and usually for, old men . . .
The moment one of these truants breaks loose, he has to fight the whole weight of things as they are; the laws and that indefinite smothering aura that surrounds the laws that we call morals; the family, that is the microcosm and whiplash of society; and the dead weight of all the possessors, across whose interwoven rights the road to freedom lies. If he fails he is a mere criminal . . .
. . . the adventurer is an individualist and an egotist, a truant from obligations. His road is solitary, there is no room for company on it. What he does, he does for himself. His motive may be simple greed.
However, as Bolitho said, "these are men betrayed by contradiction inside themselves." With his casual reference to Twelve Against the Gods, Hubbard gave his own betraying contradiction: it is a glaring admission of his deep-seated aspirations. His readiness to laud the book shows that he saw nothing reprehensible in Bolitho's sentiments. The quoted passages give concise expression to the underlying pattern of Hubbard's whole life, and to his self-image. Hubbard considered himself an adventurer, a man above morality, who steadfastly followed his goal. It is possible that Hubbard read Bolitho's book when it was published (he was nineteen at the time), and took it as his model. His mention of it in 1983 was not the first. He had already praised it, in a 1952 lecture, at the very beginning of Scientology. 1
There is powerful evidence to support this thesis. In 1938, at the age of twenty-seven, just after his failure to find a publisher for Excalibur, Hubbard wrote a long letter to his first wife. Hubbard told Polly he had received a unique insight into the nature of reality. His understanding made him superior to all of humanity. He was utterly single-minded in his objective: to be remembered in future centuries as the equal of his heroes Napoleon Bonaparte, Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great, even if every word he wrote was lost. He had no other purpose, and became depressed when he was thwarted; but in the throes of the mysterious power which stirred in him, he felt absolutely unbeatable. He spoke of the possibility of becoming a demagogue, a great political leader. He also admitted to his craving for applause.
Hubbard lusted after fame, wealth and power, and was clearly willing to abandon moral restrictions to accomplish his ends.
Hubbard was a natural entertainer, able to captivate some people with his charm. It often took prolonged, close contact for those so charmed to see that he was arrogant, extravagant, eccentric and a liar on a grand scale. Even then many continued to believe in his genius.
Hubbard can be dismissed as a fabulist, a compulsive storyteller, whose exaggerations were harmless. But he was far worse than this. His avarice coupled to deliberate deceit became outright fraud. Hubbard plainly made fraudulent claims about himself and his supposed research. He also made fraudulent claims about the money gathered ostensibly to further the publicized aims of Scientology. This was not harmless puffery: it was conscious deceit designed to make him ever more famous, influential and wealthy. The poverty and suffering of those believers who sustained his opulent life-style must also be taken into account.
Although Hubbard single-mindedly pursued his ambition, he may well have believed throughout that he was doing good. Nonetheless, he laid his "road to truth" on a foundation of lies. Hubbard's long hours and obvious absorption in his work support the view that he believed in the efficacy of his "Technology." Bolitho's idea that "the magician must believe in himself, if it is only as long as he is spouting," falls short of the mark. Martin Gardner, well known adversary of parapsychology in general and Ron Hubbard in particular, made a germane observation: "Cranks by definition believe their theories, and charlatans do not, but this does not prevent a person from being both crank and charlatan." Hubbard's fraudulent claims undoubtedly make a charlatan of him.
In the mid-1960s, Hubbard began to speak of himself as the "Source" of Scientology. Having initially acknowledged a debt to Freud and a host of philosophers, and having handed out numerous "Fellowships" to Scientologists for their "major contributions," he finally decided that Scientology was his creation alone: "Willing as I was to accept suggestions and data, only a handful of suggestions (less than twenty) had long run value and none were major or basic; and when I did accept major or basic suggestions and used them, we went astray." 2
Hubbard was not truly the "Source" of Scientology; little, if any, of his work is original. Hubbard pieced together modified versions of existing ideas. Hubbard's peculiar genius was for reframing such ideas so they would fit neatly into his own belief system, and articulating them in a digestible form. For example, Scientology organizations use surveying techniques derived from Motivational Research, which was developed by psychiatrists in the 1950s. The only text referred to by Hubbard in this connection was Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders. Hubbard failed to acknowledge that Scientology survey methods derive from the psychiatric stimulus-response techniques which Packard was attacking.
Hubbard insisted that Scientology alone could save the world from a holocaust. Scientology would create "a civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper." His own survival, in an environment conducive to "research," was therefore imperative, at least until his work was complete. In his own words: "the whole agonized future of this planet, every Man, Woman and Child . . . depends on what you do here and now with and in Scientology." 3 Hubbard believed that his was a messianic mission. To quote from his obtuse poem Hymn of Asia, written in the 1950s: "See me dead/Then I will live forever/But you will/See/An Earth in flames/So deadly that/Not one will live/Fail once to stem/A hand that smites/Against me and/I die."
In his writings, Hubbard made a distinction between morals and ethics; the former being based upon custom and opinion, the latter upon reasoned "pro-survival" decisions. He advocated the pursuit of "the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics" (the eight "dynamics," or urges toward survival for self, family, groups, mankind, matter, other lifeforms, spirit and infinity). If Scientology was to save the world, and if it depended upon L. Ron Hubbard for its completion, then the "greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics" would always include as its most significant aspect the continued protection and support of L. Ron Hubbard.
To Hubbard, anyone who opposed or even criticized him was evil, their opposition to him inevitably slowing the progress of mankind. It was his published assertion that the "anti-Scientologist" and the "anti-social personality" are one and the same. His obsession with enemies sprang from his evident paranoia. A former Director of the original Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation told me of Hubbard's overwhelming suspicion about agents infiltrating the organization. A girlfriend of the early 1950s said Hubbard was forever looking over his shoulder. The trait developed, until he came to believe that the American Medical Association, the World Federation of Mental Health, the world bankers, the press barons, and the Western governments were all involved in a multi-million dollar plan to destroy Scientology and, most especially, L. Ron Hubbard.
In his ruling in the Armstrong suit in California, Judge Breckenridge called Hubbard "schizophrenic," but was he really insane? Avoiding the sometimes contradictory definitions of psychiatric authorities, it seems safe to take the legal view that a madman is someone who cannot be considered responsible for his actions. He suffers from delusions, and has no clear sense of right and wrong. Psychiatrist Frank Gerbode, who practiced Scientology for many years, feels that Hubbard was not schizophrenic, but rather "manic with paranoid tendencies" (which is not a classification of psychosis, but of tendencies towards psychosis). However, Gerbode suggests that the best description is the lay diagnosis "loony." Even if Hubbard was manic with paranoid tendencies, he was still sane in the eyes of the law, and therefore still responsible for his actions.
Hubbard borrowed the expression "anti-social personality" from psychiatry, where it is synonymous with psychopath and sociopath. Professor of psychiatry Hervey Cleckley, who became famous with his co-authorship of The Three Faces of Eve, was an acknowledged authority on psychopaths. In his book The Mask of Sanity, he listed sixteen telling characteristics, the majority of which are found in psychopaths.
Cleckley pictured psychopaths as superficially charming and of good intelligence. Their thinking is logical, and has a basis in reality, which is to say they do not suffer from delusions. They are not nervous or neurotic. They are unreliable, untruthful and insincere. They feel no remorse. They perform anti-social acts without any real motive. Psychopaths do not learn from experience. They have "pathologic" egocentricity, an incapacity for love and are unresponsive in relationships. They cannot comprehend the response generated by their antisocial actions. Psychopaths demonstrate uninviting behavior, and tend to drink or take drugs. Finally, they do not respond to any sort of therapy. According to Cleckley, psychopaths have a remarkable ability to evade punishment. A psychiatrist could construct a powerful case to support the diagnosis that Hubbard was a psychopath, or anti-social personality. At least in Cleckley's terms.
Of course, Hubbard had his own version of the anti-social personalities, Suppressive Persons or anti-Scientologists: they speak in generalities ("everybody knows"); deal mainly in bad news; worsen communication they are relaying; are surrounded by "cowed or ill associates or friends"; habitually select the wrong target, or source; are unable to finish anything; willingly confess to alarming crimes, without any sense of responsibility; support only destructive groups; approve only destructive actions; detest help being given to others, and use "helping" as a pretext to destroy others; they believe that no one really owns anything; and fail to respond to therapy.
Hubbard conforms to a number of the characteristics in both his own and Cleckley's summaries. Hubbard's clinching point for the recognition of an anti-social personality was the inability of the Suppressive to see in himself any of the listed deficiencies. There is no suggestion that Hubbard ever saw himself as a Suppressive Person.
However, as another authority, Robert G. Kegan, has pointed out, the traits of the psychopath are also true of many ten-year-olds (in "The Child Behind the Mask: Sociopathy as Developmental Delay"). Hubbard was very much an overgrown child, and it is easy to see aspects both of his behavior and of Scientology as projections of this dangerous immaturity. Hubbard's self-obsession fits neatly into the psychopathic type known as a narcissist.
Judge Breckenridge called the Church of Scientology Hubbard's "alter-ego," a perceptive comment. Indeed, the whole of Scientology can be seen as an externalization of Hubbard's temperament.
Scientology makes more sense when seen in the light of Hubbard's psychopathic tendencies and his paranoia. His bouts of exhilaration in the belief that he had conquered some deficiency, and his bouts of intense and usually private depression when his deficiencies once more took hold, created a pattern which runs throughout Scientology.
Hubbard had promised a release from stimulus-response behavior through Dianetics, yet most of his work was itself a predictable response to some immediate threat. The Guardian's Office came into being as a consequence of Lord Balniel's 1966 question in Parliament. The "technology" of counselling was an ongoing attempt to cure Hubbard's own ailments. Various early techniques designed to cure what Hubbard called "terror stomach" were surely an attempt to relieve his ulcer. Despite Dianetics, his ulcer, his poor eyesight and his bursitis persisted. In the 1960s, he suffered periodically from pneumonia, probably worsened by his drug abuse, definitely worsened by his chain-smoking. He promised that OT3 would cure such respiratory problems; it certainly did not work for him. Hubbard suffered from a catalogue of disabilities.
No matter how much Tech he developed, he continued to suffer from the same difficulties, both mental and physical. Various prescriptions for mega-vitamin therapy, and a bizarre (and potentially dangerous) bulletin about antibiotics came out of his 1972 illness. In 1978, he suffered a second heart attack, and NOTs was developed in an attempt to assist his recovery. It is often possible to trace Hubbard's obsession with a particular new counselling "rundown" to some disability of his own.
Yet from 1950 onwards, Hubbard was to insist again and again that he had the solution to all human problems. When the method of the first book failed to Clear anybody (despite the claims that 273 people had been counselled and many Cleared as part of an exhaustive research program), new methods were released. Alphia Hart, who published his own journal after leaving Scientology in 1953, called the device "This is It," and suggested that each claim should be carefully dated so that "This is it! 1955" could be distinguished from "This is It! 1959," and so forth. There were tens of Clearing procedures, all promoted and sold as The Answer, and all superseded after a few months. Nibs Hubbard says his father produced a new technique every six months. The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology (available in twelve bound volumes, with half a dozen supplementary folders) prove the truth of his assertion.
Hubbard seems to have believed himself cured every time. There are a series of excuses built in to Scientology to explain each failure, and to justify Hubbard's relapses. These are enshrined as "correction lists" and "rundowns." Where all of these fail, the individual is given "ethics handling" (something Hubbard certainly never received!). The final solution for any failure to improve is that the individual who has received, and paid for, all of these correction lists, rundowns and handlings is a "no case gain case," that is, a Suppressive Person.
All of these responses to stimuli accumulated to become Scientology. They are the incidents (or "engrams," perhaps) which make Scientology: procedures designed to solve Hubbard's own immediate problem, and then used on all Scientologists, whatever their difficulties. Nothing written by Hubbard could be removed from the literature without his approval, and he was too busy churning out new material to revise old, so these ingrained responses were rarely relieved.
Hubbard read voraciously, mostly pulp fiction. There is nothing to suggest that he studied any serious subject in depth. It is doubtful that he read much Freud, or Korzybski (he claimed Heinlein had explained Korzybski to him, though his second wife, Sara, says she did). He read popularizations. In a lecture on study he complained that the contemporary Encyclopaedia Britannica was too difficult for him, it was written by experts for experts, so he used the pre-World War One edition. In what appeared to be a joke, he said he intended to use children's textbooks in future. This parallels his self-confessed method of story research, described in a 1930s article called "Search for Research." He would read the Britannica entry, and then skim through any readily available books referred to in the entry's bibliography. The story had to be written in a couple of days, so research had to be fast. Whole sections of Scientology also seem to have been fashioned in this way. The original Dianetic techniques can be derived almost entirely from three short Freud lectures. Hubbard's statements about Buddhism also show a lack of study. In fact, he only started to incorporate what he believed to be Buddhist ideas in the early 1950s, after he had been given an extensive library of mystical and religious books. One of his staff read and summarized the contents. 4 Hubbard displayed no specialized knowledge of any subject, except of course Scientology.
Hubbard created a curious amalgam. Dianetics came from Freud (with echoes of Fodor and Rank), Korzybski and possibly from certain wartime, psychiatric work in abreactive therapy. The origins of Scientology are in Aleister Crowley's Magick, a smattering of schoolboy science, demon exorcism and science fiction. The Sea Org derives directly from Hubbard's naval experience; not only does it have uniforms, ranks and campaign ribbons, but also Fitness Boards, Committees of Evidence, Compliance Reports and Commendations. These diverse elements were rounded out with touches of behavioral therapy, Chinese brainwashing techniques, references to Machiavelli (Hubbard said The Prince was one of his favorite books, and even claimed to have written it), and possibly some acquaintance with Gustave le Bon's crowd psychology. All of this disparate material was synthesized through the personality of L. Ron Hubbard.
Hubbard spent his life searching for one particular experience. From the early 1950s, he had insisted that "exteriorization," or out-of-the-body experience, was the crucial element of Scientology. He was convinced that he had such an experience in 1938, under the influence of nitrous oxide, which led to the writing of Excalibur. Hubbard desperately wanted to repeat that experience and, according to those who audited him, was never able to do so, despite his glib claims about Scientology techniques which would readily and rapidly produce "exteriorization." Hubbard published numerous techniques, and, of course, made elaborate claims for their efficacy. Indeed, the stated purpose of Scientology is to create a "stable" exterior state, whereby the individual consciously achieves immortality.
Having decided in 1952 that most science fiction is actually a recounting of real past-life experience, Hubbard's own preoccupations as a science fiction writer became the cosmology of his religion. He was an egomaniac who generated an egomaniacal philosophy, which had at its core the belief that whatever happens to others is their own fault. Whatever happened to L. Ron Hubbard was the fault of a great Conspiracy. He advocated personal responsibility to his followers, but almost uniformly failed to practice what he preached.
The most alarming aspect of Scientology is the barely concealed thrust towards world domination. Sea Org members are told that when World War Three finally happens, they will be the only group which is well enough organized to take over. At various times Hubbard and his followers have courted different governments - in the 1960s in Rhodesia (for which he wrote a proposed Constitution), and in Greece (with the would-be University of Philosophy in Corfu); in the 1970s in Morocco and later Mexico, where members of the government opposition travelled to Florida for counselling. China and several African nations have been approached, with offers of help with educational policy. Ron Hubbard would have liked to rule the world. He believed, and said, that benevolent dictatorship is the best political system, and saw himself as the only natural candidate. His successors possibly suffer from the same conceit.
In the mid-1970s while in Washington, DC, Hubbard inaugurated a secret project to find out all he could about the "Soldiers of Light" and the "Soldiers of Darkness." The notion that people are born either good or evil and engage in a cosmic spiritual war can be found in Zoroastrianism, and in the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Essenes, whence it found its way into certain Gnostic Christian sects. In the early 1950s Hubbard had talked about people being "players," "pieces" or "broken pieces" in the "game" of life. This concept is fundamental to Scientology. He later spoke of "Big Beings" existing in a ratio of one to eighteen compared to "Degraded Beings." Separately from this estimate, he said that Suppressives make up two and a half percent of the population, and Potential Trouble Sources (PTSes) who are in their sway a further 17.5 percent. He categorized some people simply as "robots," incapable of decision. In short, there are a small number of "players," some Soldiers of Light, some Soldiers of Darkness. They are engaged in an eternal battle, using the "pieces" and "broken pieces" to achieve their ends.
In confidential issues, Hubbard dismissed Christian teaching as an "implant." Psychiatrists and Christian ministers are the Soldiers of Darkness, the suppressives, returning life after life 5 to torment the degraded beings, robots, and PTSes, and destroy the handiwork of the Soldiers of Light. Of course, by Hubbard's standards the Soldiers of Light were those individuals currently in favor with the Scientology Church. Hubbard is their Emperor, the "Source." Hubbard believed in the Nietzschean Superman, the OT or Big Being and the right of the "good" and the "just" to abuse the "evil."
Most of Hubbard's thousands of followers regarded him as more brilliant than Einstein, more enlightened than Buddha, and quite as capable of miracles as Christ. Perhaps there was a more sinister motive underlying Hubbard's actions. Some Taoists believe that human beings can achieve immortality by becoming the focus of worship; some of the Roman Emperors had a similar belief. The deification of Hubbard seems to be taking place in the Scientology Church throughout the world. Maybe he thought he was gathering up all of his devotees' shed body-Thetans so that he could use them for magical purposes (in his secret Affirmations, Hubbard asserted that elemental beings were completely in his power). Given his fertile, and often juvenile, imagination, and an awareness of his duplicity, it is hard to decide what Ron Hubbard really did believe.
Hubbard was a fabulist and a mesmerist, a spinner of both tales and spells. A charismatic figure who compelled the devotion of those around him, despite his cruelties and eccentricities. Some who worked with him say he was "compassionate." On the Apollo he was seen working remarkable hours on Preclear folders. He spent thousands of hours lecturing and writing about Scientology.
He also masterminded, organized and directed a series of crimes on an international scale, yet escaped punishment completely. Unless his belief in karma (carefully repackaged in Scientology) turns out to be true.
Sources: Bolitho; Hubbard letter to his first wife, 1938.
1. Philadelphia Doctorate Course 16, transcript, p. 145
2. Organization Executive Course vol. 0, p.35
4. Interview with witness
5. HCOB, "Pain and Sex," 26 Aug 82