Monday, July 05, 2010

Would you like some Scientology with your libertarianism?

A few years ago, I noted that popular and wealthy libertarian investment writer Douglas Casey was making tacit references to L. Ron Hubbard doctrine in his writing.  For example, I noted that he wrote (in an article titled "The New Praetorians" in the March 1996 issue of Liberty magazine):
I have long believed that about 80% of the human race are basically people of good will.  About 17% can be classified as potential trouble sources--PTS's--who will basically bend with whatever wind prevails.  Only 3% are actively destructive sociopaths.  But that 3% tend to gravitate toward politics, the military, the media, the financial system, and other centers of power."
I noted that the term "potential trouble source" (PTS) derives from Hubbard, who also identifies a similar percentages of the population into the categories of PTS and "suppressive persons" (SPs).  In a letter to Liberty which they refused to publish, I noted:
L. Ron Hubbard wrote much about "potential trouble sources" (PTS's) and "suppressive persons" (SP's) whom he claimed made up 17.5 and 2.5 percent of the population, respectively (see Jon Atack, A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed, 1990, Carol Publishing Group. p. 155).  Hubbard's views on PTS's and SP's are set out at length in his book An Introduction to Scientology Ethics, where his definitions of crimes and suppressive acts make it clear that he is no friend of liberty.  The Church of Scientology has a long history of harassment and barratrous litigation against its critics which continues to this day on the Internet (see Spy, February 1996; Wired, December 1995; Skeptic, June 1995; and the Internet resources linked from http://www.thecia.net/~rnewman/scientology/home.html).
I've further noted that Casey was on the financial committee of Libertarian Party presidential candidate Harry Browne in 1996, along with Michael Baybak.  Baybak is a Scientology OTVIII who played a major role in a sidebar story to Time magazine's famous 1991 "Cult of Greed and Power" article about Scientology, titled "Mining Money in Vancouver."

Finally, I noted that a Scientology-critical website that publishes Scientology service completions shows multiple Scientology courses completed by a Douglas Casey, who may well be the same libertarian investment writer.

My objection is not that Casey is a Scientologist, though I think it is legitimate to criticize anyone who knowingly supports the unethical activities of the Church of Scientology.  Rather, my objection is to his making unfounded claims based on Scientology and Hubbard doctrines without being open about his sources.  It's a common tactic by the Church of Scientology and other cults to use front groups and try to conceal their nature until after they've persuaded someone to participate in a program--the Unification Church calls it "heavenly deception."  I've also wondered to what extent Scientology principles are used in Casey's investment advice, and whether Casey has promoted investment in Scientology-related companies, and whether there were any other Scientologists on Browne's financial committee, but I haven't seen any evidence of those things.

A recent interview with Casey on his own website points out that he is something of an apologist for the Church of Scientology and Hubbard:
L: It actually sparked something of a religion for a time. People were adopting Heinlein's Martian philosophy and starting "crèches" around the country. Do you know if it's true that L. Ron Hubbard, another SF author, founded the church of Scientology as a result of Heinlein betting him he couldn't do it and make it stick?

Doug: There's no way to know the actual facts, of course, other than Hubbard started researching Dianetics just after World War II. But they were friends, after all, and both SF writers. The model for the character of Michael Valentine Smith was supposed to have been Hubbard – there were supposed to be a lot of similarities between the two. The religion racket can be an easy way to make a million dollars, but I don't think that was on Hubbard's mind when he founded Scientology. A surprisingly large percentage of the human potential movement was a direct result of his work. He was sincere in promoting it, notwithstanding a lot of negative PR surrounding the subject.
Hubbard's sincerity may be legitimately questioned by anyone familiar with his biography.  And I'm not sure "a surprisingly large percentage of the human potential movement" being inspired by Scientology (e.g., est, Landmark Forum, Eckankar, etc.) is to its credit.

Last month, the website The Daily Bell published an interview with Casey titled "Doug Casey Revisits the Greater Depression" in which Casey referred to the Roman emperor Tiberius as "a degraded being," another use of Scientology terminology.  This prompted a commenter who identified as an ex-Scientologist to ask if Casey was a Scientologist, and another commenter to point to my website on Casey.  This prompted a response from The Daily Bell:
Doug Casey is the author of numerous hard-money/free-market best-sellers and has established himself as a reliable and prominent libertarian-oriented commentator over years and years.

He may or may not have Scientology connections (we have no idea) but unlike DC we don't see any overt or even covert evidence of specific dogma infecting his commentary - which is concise, to-the-point and in-line with the free-market message that he's been purveying for decades.

Scientology is alleged to be a "bad church." But modern Western governments inflate economies to ruination, cost tens of millions pensions and savings, freely wiretap, prosecute and imprison millions, foment endless authoritarian regulations and illogical laws, mandate poisonous vaccines, engage in punitive taxation and serial warfare, etc. ...

We think we would be more concerned if Casey were an apologist for modern Western regulatory democracy rather than a courageous and principled opponent of it. We are grateful for his voice and message, especially during the 20th century when very few spoke out.

Again, we have no knowledge of any affiliation of his with Scientology, but we do know what we can read on the printed page. We believe that Casey has contributed greatly to an understanding of free-markets, especially in the 20th century when he emerged courageously as a prominent spokesperson at a time when there were very others.

But let us reverse the issue. What is the agenda of those who are bringing up a Scientology link? Casey doesn't mention it. His arguments are the same as they have always been - lucid, elegant and inspiring.

In fact, it seems to us a despicable canard - and an obscene red-herring - to read an honest interview freely given and then drag someone's alleged religion into it. It is like questioning one's veracity simply because he or she is Jewish or Roman Catholic.

Please respond to what is on the page, not to some malicious or false gossip about someone's supposed religious affiliation with a church that is alleged by some to do bad things - with many accusations coming from Western governments such as France, Germany or the United States.
I've submitted the following response comment to The Daily Bell:
Since I am here accused of "some malicious or false gossip about someone's supposed religious affiliation with a church that is alleged by some to do bad things" and of "a despicable canard - and an obscene red-herring" and asked "What is the agenda of those who are bringing up a Scientology link?" I would like to respond.

My criticism of Casey is not for being a Scientologist, but for injecting Scientology doctrine and claims from L. Ron Hubbard into his writing without being explicit or open about it.  This criticism is neither malicious nor false, but is backed up with specific citations.  Further, the Church of Scientology is not merely "alleged by some to do bad things," it has been caught doing so, which has been repeatedly and thoroughly documented (e.g., its breaking into numerous government offices and engaging in wiretapping, its attempt to frame author Paulette Cooper for a bomb threat which led to her arrest, its illegal covert operations against the mayor of Clearwater, FL, its attempt to cover up its responsibility in the death of Lisa McPherson, its formal policy of harassment using the legal system, and on and on).  Many of the documents that expose Scientology's involvement in such activities were seized in FBI raids in the mid-1970s or have been leaked by ex-members and are available on the Internet at locations such as http://shipbrook.com/jeff/CoS/index.html, http://www.xenu.net/, and http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Secrets/index.html
This week will offer an opportunity for many to hear Doug Casey speak at the FreedomFest in Las Vegas, July 7-11 at Bally's/Paris.  If you have some familiarity with Scientology and the writings of L. Ron Hubbard, listen carefully, and let me know if you hear anything of interest.

6 comments:

Einzige said...

Your point is apparently too subtle for most people, Jim.

The whole problem would go away if Casey were just up front about things - "Yes, I am a Scientologist" or "No, I am not, but they have some good things to say." Refusing to comment at all just seems odd.

Jim Lippard said...

I'm not sure the problem would go away, but I'd have more respect for him if he were open about his views.

I have yet to actually meet a Scientologist (apart from freezoners) willing to admit that the Church of Scientology has done a lot of unethical and stupid things, whereas it seems relatively common for Catholics to be critical of failings of their church.

chuckbeatty77 said...

Sadly, a concise accurate definition of Scientology's religious spiritual activities is still not settled on.

Scientology is a talk therapy spiritual improvement religion.

The "lower levels" deal with each of us as the spirit that we are. Scientology believes we ARE our soul, spirit.

The "upper levels" of Scientology deal overwhelmingly, timewise, with exorcism of dead space alien souls that Hubbard believed infest all human beings unbeknownst to us.

The "upper levels" (OT 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7) are high volume dead alien soul exorcism, with the aim of making life simple again for us as the individual souls that each of us are.

Scientology is a talk therapy religion, and a high volume dead alien soul exorcism religion.

I'll gladly simplify the soul improvement therapy religion of Scientology for anyone wishing a simplified understand of the guts of what the spiritual practice of Scientology.
Chuck Beatty
ex Scientology staffer (1975-2003)
412-260-1170 Pittsburgh, USA (anyone call me after 9pm east coast time)
http://tinyurl.com/49g722
http://tinyurl.com/295khy
http://tinyurl.com/cgrg7

FreeZoneThetan said...

I think one should make a distinction between the Church of Scientology and the philosophy of Scientology.
I am a practicing 'Freezone' Scientology, also influenced by objectivism, and an anarchist libertarian (as Casey is). I do not approve of the CoS's use of state legal powers such as lawsuits on libel, intellectual property and so forth.

Jim Lippard said...

FreeZoneThetan: I did in fact make that distinction two comments before yours. I'm glad you reject the Church of Scientology's authoritarianism, though I think you're still on the wrong track in terms of your model of reality. But that doesn't mean we can't get along.

FreeZoneThetan said...

"I did in fact make that distinction two comments before yours."
Yes, I see that now.

I would say that, while they do things which are immoral and contrary even to what LRH stated himself, the CoS should be pretty irrelevant targets for libertarians. In terms of philosophical corruption, IP Nazism and outright advocacy of Statism they come nowhere near the Ayn Rand Institute; and unlike the ARI the CoS was not founded specifically in opposition to Statism. The creeps like Peikoff and Brooke are basically advocating a global holocaust under the guise of Objectivism, which is far worse than anything the CoS ever did.