Thursday, September 13, 2018

Not Wikipedia: Saving Scientology from Itself, a Thought Experiment

A few years ago we did a post on what it would take to save Wikipedia or make Wikipedia honest and worthwhile (a topic we need to revisit after I scan my copy of Myth of the Britannica and convert it into a Scribd document), so why not make plans that will never come to fruition and sketch out how the remaining members of the "Church" of Scientology could seize their organization back and get it growing again (probably a hopeless task). If Mike Stoklasa can make up an entire Star Trek show from the mere announcement that Patrick Stewart is reprising his Captain Picard character for a series on CBS' streaming service, we should be allowed to concoct pipe dreams too.

Preliminary Damage Control

First and foremost, nothing can happen without removing the present spiritual dictator of Scientology, David "Slappy" Miscavige, noted beater of staff members. He quietly took over the church as Hubbard declined into a hermit in Creston, California, then the coup was made permanent when L. Ron died in 1986. Hubbard himself wanted Scientology run by a committee, and not David Miscavige - Pat Broeker and a board should have been running Scientology, not a high school dropout from Philadelphia who had been involved with Hubbard's Hemet film crew. Once Slappy is gone, a lot of executive positions will have to be filled quickly because he abolished a lot of them in the 1990s. Scientology TV is a gigantic waste of time and the 20,000 members of Scientology worldwide are allegedly forced to watch it; it has to vanish quickly because Slappy either introduces or is a part of every video they made for TV. For the actual "publics" (members of Scientology who aren't staff), the big change would have to be the end of "disconnection", which is the nasty policy of keeping ex-members or critical non-members away from "church" members, so families would be put back together after decades of being apart. Everybody would be released from "The Hole", the prison for Scientology executives out at Golden Era Productions in Hemet, California, so Heber Jentzsch would be free after 14 years, and Miscavige's wife Shelly would be released from wherever she is, whereupon she will probably divorce Slappy. If the new operators of Scientology are smart, the Great Building Selloff will begin, starting with all the derelict properties they have around the world which they were attempting to renovate into churches ("Orgs") or Slappy's favorite kind of Org, an "Ideal Org" (a term he picked up from Hubbard; it's supposed to be an Organization that is operating the best that it can - Miscavige thinks it means a building full of Sea Org-made furniture and decorations that the mother church owns outright. David Miscavige is pulling a real-estate and funding scam on his own members.)

Speaking of the "Sea Org". . . . .

It has no legal existence - it was never incorporated. These people are the priesthood of Scientology - they also work as landscapers, handymen, ship's mechanics on the Freewinds (another thing that will have to be sold, probably for scrap), and so on. They make about $50 a week, their uniforms are owned by the "Church", and they signed a contract to repeatedly reincarnate to work their jobs for a billion years (!), and elderly members get dumped on the street ("offloading") with $500 to their name. All of this has to end if Miscavige is gone - no more SOs in the steakhouse waitstaff-style uniforms that replaced their old dirks and reefers (because the first Sea Org members were the crews of Hubbard's three ships as he sailed around the Mediterranean and elsewhere in the late 1960s-early 1970s; L. Ron had been an officer in the US Navy during World War II). There should be a fund for the elderly SOs, they should live in apartments (ex-barracks) on "Church" property under an assisted-living system, if the individuals want it. All of the young Sea Org members who are foreigners living in the US should be given their passports back and either sent home or allowed to be paid staff (I'm guessing most would leave.) The Sea Org needs to disappear, which means the Office of Special Affairs, to which it is joined at the hip, also goes away.

Religion or Self-Help Group?

This is a real sticking point; Scientology is only a religion in the United States because it won a legal war with the IRS in the early 1990s. In France and Germany it is a self-help group. The problem is that it has a creation of this dimension story ("Incident I"), and a creation of the Thetans story (the tale of Xenu) - you don't see self-help groups with their own cosmogonies. However, people do not go to the Orgs every Sunday for a church service - people are going "up the bridge" by taking levels of classes, and that's mostly on weekdays and nights. I really think Scientology should be kept from using their old claim that the lower levels ("Training Routines" aka "the TRs") help people communicate. It should be sold as a trip into self-made psychedelic experiences and other weirdness. I think they should just pay their taxes like everybody else and quit the religious angle.

Our Scientology Plan

Now remember, I'm not a Scientologist and never was - they don't accept people who have worked in journalism (me), that and I never found Hubbard's "revelations" interesting enough to shell out a quarter of a million dollars for them. What I found interesting was how this small group grew this large bureaucracy with their own insane secret police. It also didn't hurt that the area I live in has had repeated run-ins with failed Scientology outlets. That they have vaults with Hubbard's writings on metal plates inside nitrogen-filled jars didn't dissuade my interest. What can I say? I find train wrecks fascinating.

The plan is this: Scientology should give up with the shell corporations, the anti-psychiatry Citizens' Council for Human Rights (including their building on Sunset Boulevard), and any remaining front groups. They need to get back to basics, renting out small storefronts for Missions (bookstores with training areas in the back or upstairs) starting small Orgs* in houses or mall storefronts, and working their way up. Prices need to drop, as the new Scientology should be run as a non-profit. They should be honest about everything that happened in Scientology from the beginning, when Hubbard had written Dianetics and was running Dianetics groups before the term Scientology was reinvented. They need to be honest about Volney Matheson and the E-meter. They need to go back to the original books; after thirty years of David "Slappy" Miscavige, they have been re-edited/partially rewritten more than once so they all fit in the same size binding. The originals varied in size. Also, I'm not a fan of most of the original dust jacket illustrations, but they will probably be used because Hubbard approved them. Above all else, Scientology needs to create systems to keep the next Miscavige from appearing, so it isn't a crazy dictatorship again. A good way to make that feasible is to make all the local Orgs and Missions be owned by the local Scientology group and thus decentralize the system. That also means that each local group runs their own Scientology internet page again. Finally, it will have to come down to a vote to keep or sell off all the Scientology properties in Clearwater, Florida ("Flag Land Base"), including the futuristic Super Powers building. Allegedly the Rehabilitation Project Force, Scientology's punishment work battalions in the black boiler suits, has been or is in the middle of being shut down; it either ended in 2014 or has been slowly phased out since then. If it isn't by the time Miscavige is given the boot to the head, then it will also go.

So Why did you do all this?

Because nobody on the English-language internet, outside of shills for Miscavige's Scientology, thinks that Scientology is worth saving in any way, shape, or form. They want it dead, probably because of all the online wars over Scientology from the 90's to 2012-ish, including the goofy Tom Cruise video which was mocked relentlessly on and offline. Scientology is smaller than Mormonism, and those people baptized Holocaust victims posthumously into being Mormons, when they weren't doing the same to Adolf Hitler and Vlad III, "the Impaler" (and they've done it more than once in Hitler's case.)  Personally I think that nothing can save the "Church" of Scientology, but the "tech" itself will go on through the various independent Scientology movements.

A lot of what I have written could be applied to the WikiMedia Foundation; they have a lot of skeletons in closets, a clueless leadership, overhead on a building they don't need, a declining editor base in their flagship Wikipedia, and more money than sense. Things need to change in both organizations.

* I only call them Missions and Orgs by tradition - if things changed new names would be concocted. I also think that many of the Orgs they have now can be kept, if they are willing to do stuff to bring in foot traffic (have raffles, live music, anything more interesting than weird video kiosks that lecture viewers on how things work in HubbardLand.) There should always be more Missions than Orgs in an area by at least a two-to-one margin.

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