June 26, 2005

· Sociology

What with Tom Cruise and his Scientology-driven antipathy to psychiatric medicine in the news recently, it might be worth revisiting an old post about the claims that Scientology makes for its founder, the appalling L. Ron Hubbard.

Was there ever a more entertaining belief system embedded in a more ruthless organization? (Apart from the obvious one, I mean.) And then there is L. Ron himself — a man whose abilities and achievements are quite literally incredible. But don’t take my word for it. Instead, read and ponder “L. Ron Hubbard: A Chronicle,” the official summary of Hubbard’s life and legacy from the Church of Scientology itself. There are many juicy bits, but my favorite section is the period between 1970 and 1973, when L. Ron turned his gargantuan intellect and penetrating insight to sociology and philosophy, two subjects close to my heart:

Having developed a successful and standardized pattern of organizational form and function, Ron turns to resolving the problems of how to manage an international network of organizations. Ron streamlines organizational management technology – laying out highly workable principles of personnel, organization and financial management and handling which are found today in the Management Series volumes.

Naturally, this work now forms the cornerstone of graduate-level reading in the sociology of organizations. Whenever I teach Orgs, L. Ron gets the first six weeks to himself. Then maybe we move on to Weber or Herb Simon or one of those other, lesser people. Interesting and all as it is, though, the sociology of organizations is not as fundamental a subject as, say, logic. L. Ron was working on the foundations of logic at around the same time that we was doing the drug research that Tom Cruise admires so much:

His breakthroughs at this time include the first significant advances on the subject of logic since ancient Greece.

Consult your local copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica or any standard history of the field for further information. Bandwidth constraints mean I can only make passing mention of Hubbard’s Begriffsschrift, his Calculus of Logic, the Hubbard-Skolem theorem, Principia L-ronica, his famous autocritique “On Formally Outrageous Propositions of Principia Lronica and Related Systems” and finally Hubbard’s Completeness Theorem for Modal Logic. The latter proves Scientology correct in all possible worlds.

While all this is going on,

Ron conducts a comprehensive study of all existing public relations theories and practices and also releases his discoveries in the field of public relations, providing an entirely analytical and ethical approach to the subject.

L. Ron’s ethical approach public relations is exemplified by this very Chronicle.

In 1972 L. Ron Hubbard carries out a sociological study in and around New York City. Through the remainder of the year and into 1973, he researches vitamins and nutrition which will later become significant in his breakthroughs in the handling of the residual effects of drugs.

L. Ron’s attentions shift to the Arts in 1974. If you’ve done six impossible things before breakfast then it’s time to shake your booty:

In February 1974, while aboard the Apollo [his ship, not the spacecraft—KH], Ron forms a music and dance troupe to provide entertainment and goodwill at Spanish and Portuguese ports of call. He personally instructs the musicians and dancers in artistic presentation, music, composition, sound, arranging and recording.

But then it’s back to the serious stuff, later to be cited extensively by Tom Cruise, the well-known professor of psychopharmacology:

Ron discovers that drugs remain in the body even years after usage has ceased. Consequently, he develops the Purification Program to rid the body of harmful residual substances. … These techniques [are] used by churches of Scientology and drug rehabilitation organizations around the world…

Incidentally, just in case you thought he was slacking off with the Iberian Cabaret,

It is also in 1979 that Ron isolates and solves the problem of increasing illiteracy.

You have to love this guy. I mean, until his organization comes by and ruthlessly attempts to suppress any criticism you may have, of course, while ripping off huge amounts of money from its members.

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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