OLD QUESTIONS…NEW ANSWERS? 03
Old Answers: Second of three IVy Excerpts
In the introduction to this new series which I’m calling “Old Questions..New Answers?”, I undertook to look at some basic questions about how Scientology delivered on some of its basic promises. That post posed the questions and concluded by saying that I had already written on matters relevant to the questions and would follow that first post with a “reprint” of an article published back in the early 2000s, before adding some new material.
I have divided the old article into three excerpts for ease of reading. And I have left the text alone except for relatively unimportant changes, mostly punctuation.
In the title of the old article, quoted below, the words “Inside Scientology” reference the name of the first part of the book under review, A Piece of Blue Sky, the 1990 edition; I was using that name as the jumping-off point for my article. I should probably also explain that “IVy on the Wall” was the name of the regular column I wrote for the journal. [I’d wanted to call it “IVy off the Wall” but another’s superior judgment prevailed, sad to say.] And in those years, I lived in the USA, although no longer.
IVy on the Wall
by Ken Urquhart, USA
Outside “Inside Scientology”, Chapter Five in a consideration of A Piece of Blue Sky, the 1990 book by Jon Atack
[Second of three excerpts from the Chapter]
LRH Viewed as Source of All
Jon was not alone in not understanding how someone whom he accepted as being exceptional, LRH, could create such a bumbling, autocratic bureaucracy. It seems to have been a fairly common delusion that everything any staff member did was at the express instigation of LRH himself, and that LRH was aware of all that was being done all the time. The truth was that he had little awareness of what was being done in his name and that staff had great freedom to impress on others that the source of their bumbling was LRH himself. From my personal experience of LRH in his dealings with subordinates on the ship, and earlier at Saint Hill, I am certain that had he been on the ground and seen for himself what people were doing in his name and claiming that he was responsible for, he would have been unrestrainedly outraged. He would have torn into those bumblers like a tornado; they wouldn’t have known what had hit them. Unfortunately, he didn’t go there and he didn’t do that.
However, the bumbling was not altogether the bumblers’ fault. A great deal of LRH’s “research into administration” was valid and valuable; some of it was nonsense. Likewise, some of his management style was valid and admirable, and some of it was nonsense. The nonsense enabled the bumbling and autocratic bureaucracy; it empowered the little Hitlers; it institutionalized the bureaucracy and the Hitlers; it gave them ammunition for self-protection.
[NB. Lest it appear that I lay all blame on LRH for the way in which his organizations developed – or deformed, one might say – I should clarify here my opinion that the evolution (or deformation) was a cooperative effort. The sanity in what LRH set out to do in itself triggered people. Any nonsense in his behaviour would have triggered further material. The activity triggered people in the environment. Experience tells us that triggered people working closely together usually trigger each other. These crosscurrents and interactions triggered everybody, including LRH; he responded with some sanity and some further nonsense. And so it went, around and around, up and down, in and out, across, over, under, amongst, and through. He coined two words for it later: over-restimulation and cross-restimulation. The presence and influence of these two factors throughout Scientology – and throughout Planet Earth, indeed – affect all manifestations of sanity within Scientology (and over all of Planet Earth) but reduce or alter any underlying sanity only when we agree that they do so. It is a great sadness that people like Jon Atack see something of the sanity within Scientology and then come to agree that the insanity within the subject utterly overrules the sanity.]
Validity vs. Nonsense
I can’t undertake a review here of the policy LRH issued as to what is valid and what is nonsense, and I don’t know that I would be qualified to do that anyway. But as a bumbling insider who had a position both central to but paradoxically mostly external to the nonsense, I have opinions about what was the nonsense in LRH’s management style and how the nonsense helped to pervert what was valid:
- LRH seemed to know and trust no other organizational structure than that of the military model – with its rigid verticalities of authority and consequent horizontal infighting over practice and performance. At the top of the structure is the commander-in-chief, whose word is law throughout the structure. The structure owes him instant and exact compliance, without exception. Any disagreement with, or opposition to, or non-compliance with the commander’s word is treasonous.
LRH’s words as commander were many – very many – but not well prioritized. He had a very bad habit of originating one high-priority project after another, so that few could come to completion; the resources allocated to the last urgent handling would soon be ripped off to man up the latest new one. Over the years, a new policy would contradict an older one that would remain in force but perhaps not actively. LRH created volumes of policy that anyone could explore. The bureaucrat could always find in those volumes a line or page or two that supported his/her position and attacked a rival’s; bullying personalities could set themselves up as mirror-image copies of the commander and few would dare to give them the lie. The game in any bureaucracy can become survival within the structure at others’ expense and with minimal expenditure of energy in only the absolutely unavoidable change. The professionals working at the public level, those who knew their jobs and why they were doing them, fought a losing battle with their own side.
The higher up, the more intense this confusion and the infighting which “resolves” it. At the Commodore’s Staff level, close to the commander, the professionals had to do their jobs despite the elbowing for attention and favour, the jealousy, the manipulations and intrigues, the stabs in the back, and the propitiation, of the dedicated courtiers. [Perhaps this phenomenon took place at all levels, in parallel.]
All the same, the core of professionals, the ones who had seen in Scientology something of real value to real life, wanted that real value to reach out into the world. They wanted that for the world’s sake, and they worked very, very hard to bring it about. Had LRH remained true to his earlier intentions, the result of their work would have been a proud and effective, helpful organization.
- As he aged, LRH could not tolerate the idea that anyone else could do a good enough job to actually take over from him, despite the obvious fact that he could not go on forever. He overloaded himself in denying others responsible authority to act. He prevented the most able around him from developing into future leaders. He kept his management levels in constant frustration and turmoil. And he ruled them by fear of his wrath. He created incompetence around himself instead of potential leadership. We all got competent as courtiers and bureaucrats.
- LRH always knew best, even when the size and scale of the organization removed him from contact with the realities of life in the organizations delivering to the public. The people on the front lines never knew what radical changes would hit them next. They were constantly ordered this way and that as though what they had been doing beforehand was wrong and their fault. He created incompetence in his remote offices and centres.
- LRH encouraged staff, despite all the above, to feel that they were part of an elite group with an elite purpose. That the world they dedicated themselves to saving insisted on being uncooperative and ungrateful reinforced their self-perception as elites. It could not occur to them that the world had any right to not want to be saved, or need to be saved, or that they could do nothing to save it without developing real affinity, agreement, communication, and understanding with that world. As “elites”, they scorned any such affinity, agreement, communication, or understanding.
- LRH shamelessly and shamefully pushed what he thought were panic buttons to hopefully get people to flood into the orgs to buy lots of services. First it was the Communists, then atomic war, then World War III. With regard to people’s cases, it was the horrors of not getting to OT III and doing it right.
- His paranoia has often been remarked on, and sometimes documented. It coloured his view of the world as it related to himself and to the organization he created. He used the Guardian’s Office to protect against his perceived attackers. He gave the GO seniority in the organization, and its activities influenced every aspect of the organization’s life; all staff and public Scientologists were subject to the movements and requirements of the GO. The paranoia and the supremacy of the GO had to be justified by the size and extent of dangers within and without the organization. LRH was at times obsessed with his perceived “opposition” – the SPs, PTSes, R/Sers, and, above all, the associated ogres of government and the psychs. To this extent he reacted with unnecessary force to real barriers, and unnecessarily created many enemies for himself and for Scientology – both within and without.
- LRH treated his Sea Org followers as slaves for economic exploitation. He never paid anyone who joined him more than a pittance (exception: some forceful salespeople). From the ’70s he demanded that his people work for money that could not house and feed them decently – let alone their families. For some, this was all part of the exciting game, a proof of an elitism whose rewards would come later. But others became bitter and resentful because it abused them and they knew it.
- LRH brought great confusion to the organization’s major product-delivery and income activity – the delivery of Scientology technology. There are arguments today that the technology and its delivery are severely flawed at best. Some say it is all based on LRH’s own case alone and has nothing to do with anyone else’s. Be this as it may, I argue neither for nor against these points: things change; technology good yesterday may not apply today. No matter what the reason, technology that doesn’t help a person is not the right technology for the person, and that’s that. Nonetheless, when someone complains that Scientology didn’t or doesn’t work, we don’t know the truth of the matter until we know what was done, why it didn’t work, and whether it was Scientology or something else.
Nonetheless, the technology was what it was and the organizations had to deliver it. In the late ’70s, the philosophical and technical underpinnings of the State of Clear, the Excalibur by which Scientology lived or died, started to unravel. Hubbard issued more than one “clarification”, each of which confused the issue further. Now the whole organization was operating over uncertainty as to its own integrity; I don’t think it has ever regained its integrity. In losing its integrity, a group loses its soul.
This concludes the second of the three excerpts of Chapter Five of the IVy series, “A Consideration of A Piece of Blue Sky” (written in 2001), reprinted here in 2018 on the urqbones blog. In the next and last excerpt, which begins with the subtitle “Whose wants are we focusing on?”, I attempt an objective and, I hope, charitable review of some of the brokenness that so disturbed Jon Atack, and just about everybody who has been seriously involved in Scientology.
* * * * *
Eleven chapters of this IVy series (there are twelve altogether, with the final chapter yet to be written) are available at:
and the IVy website is here: http://home8.inet.tele.dk/ivy/%20
The 2013 edition of A Piece of Blue Sky is offered on Amazon UK:
and the original of 1990:
For amazon.com, the respective links are:
N.B. These links are not ‘affiliate’ links and I will in no way profit from any purchase using
“Outside ‘Inside Scientology’” is reproduced by kind permission of the IVy publisher, Antony Phillips. Thank you, Antony.
© Kenneth G. Urquhart, 2001, 2018CATEGORIESOLD QUESTIONS…NEW ANSWERS?, UNCATEGORIZEDTAGSCHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY, KEN URQUHART, KENNETH G. URQUHART, L.RON HUBBARD, LRH, LRH PERS COMM, LRH PERSONAL COMMUNICATOR, SCIENTOLOGY, SCIENTOLOGY ORGANIZATIONS
2 Replies to “Old Questions…New Answers? 03”
- Vinay AgarwalaStaff was simply following LRH policy as written under great pressure to raise stats. That policy often changed, and that provided the room for arbitrariness. Arbitrariness in following the policy simply means that the logic underlying the policy was either missing or not very clear. It was not understood by the staff. LRH was supposed to be fully aware of this, else his claim to be OT comes under doubt. The truth is that LRH was simply experimenting with policy. He was forging ahead with a lot of suppositions.It is not a matter of blaming staff or blaming LRH. It is simply a matter of perceiving the IS-NESS. The situation demanded that a big impact be made on the society in a hurry. The result was Scientology as it developed.
- Vinay AgarwalaThe military model suited LRH because he was in an experimental mode. Therefore, others had to suffer when things didn’t go right. He himself had to suffer too by constraints put on him by various governments. All the problems came from the tremendous rush of time constraints that he put on himself, and from his trial and error mode of operation.LRH made efforts to consolidate the hard earned knowledge from his trial and error approach, but he did not fully cancel or update the outmoded procedures and policies.For example, he never updated DMSMH. Thus, the training route became unnecessarily long. People had to study all his trials where he did not try to isolate his errors.LRH’s key button was that he wanted to be thought of as right always. He promoted himself in that manner. It was just his nature that he could not admit to be wrong. He never tried to isolate errors in his earlier computations. LRH blamed the environment. The staff members of the orgs copied this trait..
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