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The Monkey Master

February 24, 2011

I ran across the following fable in a book by Gene Sharp, called From Dictatorship to Democracy (available as a free download here).

Sharp, Professor Emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, is known for his extensive writings on nonviolent struggle, which have influenced numerous anti-government resistance movements around the world. Known as the  “Clausewitz of nonviolent warfare,” Sharp  has influenced resistance organizations around the world, most recently the protest movement that toppled President Mubarak of Egypt as well as the movements in Tunisia and Libya. This fable, a Fourteenth Century Chinese parable by Liu-Ji, offers insight into the nature of political power.

In the feudal state of Chu an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service. The people of Chu called him “ju gong” (monkey master).

Each morning, the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard, and order the eldest one to lead the others to the mountains to gather fruits from bushes and trees. It was the rule that each monkey had to give one-tenth of his collection to the old man. Those who failed to do so would be ruthlessly flogged. All the monkeys suffered bitterly, but dared not complain.

One day, a small monkey asked the other monkeys: “Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and bushes?” The others said: “No, they grew naturally.” The small monkey further asked: “Can’t we take the fruits without the old man’s permission?” The others replied: “Yes, we all can.” The small monkey continued: “Then, why should we depend on the old man; why must we all serve him?”

Before the small monkey was able to finish his statement, all the monkeys suddenly became enlightened and awakened.

On the same night, watching that the old man had fallen asleep, the monkeys tore down all the barricades of the stockade in which they were confined, and destroyed the stockade entirely. They also took the fruits the old man had in storage, brought all with them to the woods, and never returned. The old man finally died of starvation.

Yu-li-zi says, “Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles. Aren’t they just like the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddleheadedness. As soon as their people become enlightened, their tricks no longer work.”

The lesson is clear: dictators only rule because we allow them to rule. Dictators require our assistance to maintain their power.  We go along with dictatorships because we believe, for whatever reason, that their authority is legitimate, and that we have a moral or ethical duty to support them. Some obey them because of fear of punishment, imprisonment, exile or even death.

“On the other hand,” Sharp points out, “withdrawal of popular and institutional cooperation with aggressors and dictators diminishes, and may sever, the availability of the sources of power on which all rulers depend. Without availability of those sources, the rulers’ power weakens and finally dissolves…Over time, the withholding of the sources of power can produce the paralysis and the paralysis and impotence of the regime, and in severe cases, its disintegration.”

So, Scientologists, ask yourselves, what do you really need your monkey master for?

Actress Karla Zamudio Quits Church of Scientology

February 22, 2011

The following press release appeared on one of the free press release sites:

Karla Zamudio Joins Jason Beghe, Paul Haggis and Other Notables in Departing Scientology

Actress Karla Zamudio joins Jason Beghe and director Paul Haggis in publicly departing the controversial Church of Scientology.

Los Angeles, CA, February 21, 2011 – Karla Zamudio, an actress, who has appeared in many TV shows including, General Hospital, ER, and Lincoln Heights, has announced her resignation from Scientology after 17 years. Ms. Zamudio’s spokesperson states “Karla left Scientology because she felt that the organization had become overbearing and actually interfered with her personal life, career, and spiritual growth.” Ms. Zamudio’s spokesperson further added “for Karla, Scientology had become more about profit and recruiting new members than helping people. Karla was also deeply disturbed to learn that several of her personal friends who previously worked for Scientology had been mentally and physically abused by the organization.” According to a recent article in the New Yorker, Scientology is now under investigation by the FBI.

According to posters at ESMB, Karla was in the Dianetics DVD released last year and was in the tech film TR-16: Ultimate Beingness. Damn! More reshoots!

As I said before, “Out is the new In.”

Reality Check

February 21, 2011

A poster at ESMB, “dianaclass8,” wrote about the latest issue of Flag’s Source Magazine, Issue 213, which she just received in the mail. Interestingly, their completions are listed as follows:

Clears – 5
OT 1s – 1
OT 2s – 2
OT 3s – 1
OT 4s – 5
OT 5s – 7
Class 5 grad auditor course completions – 3
Class 5 grad auditor internship completions – 1
Class 8 auditor course completions – 1

Source Magazine comes out six times a year, so this represents two months stats, eight weeks.  Impressive, eh? Seems like every time someone slips up and gives actual stats, it gives the lie to their “unprecedented expansion” claims.

Here’s my prediction: Look for the Church to stop printing their completion lists in their magazines. There, that handles it.

Just like they stopped printing org and mission address lists in the magazines and books. It used to be you could look on the back page of the Auditor Magazine and see a complete list of orgs. And you used to be able to look in the back of any book and see a complete list of orgs and missions. Well, you can’t do that anymore.  They don’t even list them on their websites. You have to go to their handy-dandy “org locator” to find an address. Why? It’s obvious. They have claimed “over 8000 orgs, missions and groups.”  If they actually published address lists, anyone could see the lie. As it is, you have to laboriously go through their “org locator” to discover that there are fewer orgs today than there were ten years ago.

Same reason they don’t show stats at events any more. Remember, they used to show actual stats? With actual numbers and dates on them?  Not any more. Now they just talk about “unprecedented expansion.” And if they do mention any stats, it’s things like “square feet of renovated space,” or “Ideal Org fundraising,” or “number of books printed,” or “number of trees chopped down to make all of our promotion.”

Why? Well, if they showed the actual stats, things like Clears made, auditors made,  Releases made, they would get ridden out of town on a rail. Because then anyone, even the most self-blinded Scientology true believer, could see that the Church is failing, that all of this “unprecedented expansion” is a lie.

So the Church continues with more and more elaborate events, more and more empty “Ideal Org” shells, more and more claims of huge expansion.

As every magician knows, one key to fooling the audience is misdirection. Put their attention on something else, so they don’t see your deception. “Look over here! Shiny! Shiny!”  Look at this nice event backdrop. The big podium. Miscavige’s $5000.00 Italian suit.  Another posh building façade.  Look! Look! Look!

Everywhere but at the actual statistics.

Five Clears in eight weeks? Great, at that rate, they’ll Clear everyone in Clearwater in the next three thousand years.

Wake up, people. All that “unprecedented expansion” doesn’t exist.  No matter how many shiny distractions they wave in your face.

Think Out Loud – OPB

February 14, 2011

I was on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud program with Emily Harris this morning. Interesting program.  You can download the program or stream it here.

Here’s the comment I posted to the OPB website:

The Church of Scientology did their standard boilerplate handling for whistleblowers or critics: deny everything; attack the critics personally.

Their lame attack on me is to say I am associated with or running with or even leading Anonymous, which they brand as a “terrorist organization.”

I was able to read the following reference on the air, which is from Hubbard’s Church Policy Letter of 17 February 1966, “Public Investigation Section”:

“Associating the attacking group’s activities with reprehensible groups in the past by using familiar descriptive words will be found very effective. For example, if the word “white” has been made hateful to the public by some past criminal group we use “white” in our descriptive terminology concerning the group that is attacking us…”

They’ve chosen to use the word “terrorist” to associate with me. “See? He pals around with terrorists. Therefore he’s a terrorist.”

Anonymous, of course, is the loose term used to describe the community of online activists who oppose internet censorship. It is not “an organization” as such. They have no leaders, no meetings, no structure. Factually, anyone who does anything anonymously on the internet can call themselves “Anonymous.”  And any authoritarian regime that wants to censor the flow of information on the internet and keep their own misdeeds secret hates “Anonymous,” of course, whether that is Mubarak’s government in Egypt or the Church of Scientology.

My entire connection with Anonymous is that I showed up at one of their protests at the local Portland Church of Scientology. The Church’s intelligence arm, OSA, photographed me from all angles and then concocted their story to try to smear me by association.That five minute chat with peaceful, law-abiding protesters then became, with the Church spin, “palling around with terrorists.”

It’s the standard Church handling. Deny everything. Attack the critics personally. Try to discredit them with negative buzzwords, implied associations and vague allegations.

Rather than attacking their critics, Scientologists should be looking for ways to reform their church and cease the abuses of human rights.


OSAs ultimate weapon – Copypasta!

February 12, 2011

There was an interesting comment on Marty’s blog that didn’t get the attention it should have. Someone noticed the same phrase popping up again and again in the comments sections of the current spate of online Scientology news stories.

The phrase was “This article is another thinly veiled tabloid piece repeating old and new rumors from people with an axe to grind with the Church of Scientology.”

It was found copied and pasted word for word into comments placed on dozens, even hundreds of news sites.

Well, of course OSA is in a bind. They forbid Scientologists to actually read any of these articles, yet someone has to plant derisive comments on them. And it has to be done as soon as the article appears.

Well, that someone is the staff at OSA, probably Gloria Idda. They are thin on the ground and overworked, so of course they write the comment once and then just copy and paste it onto every news site. It’s an easy way out, it gets the comments posted. Unfortunately, anyone with Google can instantly see it for what it is – copypasta.

“Copypasta” is internet slang for any block of text that gets copied and pasted over and over again, typically disseminated by individuals through online discussion forums and social networking sites. It’s akin to spam. It’s looked down on.

If Scientology really had “millions” of members, as they claim, and if those members had free unrestricted access to the internet, which they claim they do, then of course you’d get hundreds of very different comments.

So OSA, if you want to pretend to be a lot of different people, you can’t copypasta. Sigh, more work for you, more late nights and all-nighters…

Or, come join us out here where you can comment or not, say anything you want, or not write at all. Or just go get a good night’s sleep.

“I don’t know why I couldn’t see it”

February 9, 2011

One of the most telling comments by Paul Haggis in the recent New Yorker article was this one: “Everyone else could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t.”

It’s a question a lot of us have asked once we leave Scientology. “Why didn’t I see what was going on?”

In an interview today with NPR’s Terry Gross, Larry Wright was asked what impact he thought his article would have on Scientologists.  His reply was very perceptive:

“It’s hard to measure, because we’re dealing with a religion,” he said, “and people are drawn to it because of faith. And if it were simply a matter of reason, then one could put this [document about Hubbard’s service] down in front of you and say, ‘Here is conclusive proof that the founder of Scientology lied about his military record and lied about his injuries and lied about the fundamental principles out of which he created the Church of Scientology.’ But that may not matter to people who are involved in it, who may feel they are gaining something from their experience — either because they feel like the truths of Scientology enhance their lives or because the community of Scientologists that they live among is something like their family. So they intentionally shield themselves from knowing these types of things.”

They intentionally shield themselves. It’s an interesting way to put it. It really is a willful blindness.

As Orwell pointed out  in his novel 1984, “mind control” isn’t really someone else controlling your thoughts, it’s you learning to control your own thoughts according to the group’s dictates. Members are expected to filter their perceptions, thoughts and attitudes through an ideological framework. And they do. Why? Because, as Wright points out, they value the community. They value the professed ideals of Scientology, the stated goals, the promised gains.

So if anything challenges their faith, their religion, they just won’t listen. They won’t look. And they have plenty of ready-made mechanisms that help them to do that:

If information comes from the Church or its leadership, for instance, it’s always true and good.

If it comes from those labeled by the Church as “enemies,” it’s always false and bad.

Anything critical of the Church is “entheta.”

Anyone critical of the Church “has overts.”

And those mechanisms snap into place as soon as they sniff anything that might challenge their beliefs, their faith, their protected bubble.

In can be frustrating. Because they simply will not look. They will not listen.

But more and more are looking.

And discovering the facts. And once they actually look at the information and confront the facts, they usually have the same thing to say:

“I don’t know why I couldn’t see it.”

FBI Investigating Scientology

February 8, 2011

Another article this morning about Scientology – in the St. Pete Times:

FBI Investigating Scientology, Defectors Say

and Huffington Post.

New Yorker Article

February 7, 2011

Now online here.

The story is getting a lot of traction: Today Show coverage here.

I’ll continue to post links. Big story. The Church, of course, is continuing it’s strategy of “deny everything.” I also love their suggestion that “anyone who wants to find out what Scientology is really all about should come in to a Church of Scientology.” Um…no thanks.

Heads up – New Yorker article appearing tomorrow

February 6, 2011

Just a quick heads-up, Larry Wright’s long-awaited article about Paul Haggis and the Church of Scientology is appearing in this week’s New Yorker, supposed to be out tomorrow. It’s long, but well worth the read.

Wright is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and screenwriter, as well as a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine.
He is the author of six books, and is best known for his 2006 book, The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Wright won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, and is frequently referenced by media pundits as an excellent source of background information on Al Qaeda and the September 11 attacks.

From one radical group of fanatics to another. He is planning on following up this article with a book on the Church.

And for another tantalizing preview, see this Gawker article: “The FBI is investigating Scientology for Human Trafficking.”

Added note: here is a PBS interview with Larry Wright.

Human Trafficking in Scientology

February 5, 2011

Fascinating interview this week on Tom Smith’s Tampa area radio program, The Edge.  He interviewed a Hungarian man who had been on staff at the Flag Land Base, and gives an inside look at the Sea Org operation there – an operation that amounts to human trafficking.

It seems that in order to get their Sea Org recruitment stats up, they are sending recruitment missions to Eastern Europe, South America, places where there is not so much internet use as the US or Western Europe. They promise these recruits anything – they will be able to train for free, to go to OT VIII for free, they will get a three week vacation every year to see their family, free medical care and on and on. These recruits, stars in their eyes, arrive at Flag, where their passports are taken, they are confined to the Base, and discover the real truth, a life of crowded, debased dormitories, sleep deprivation, endless work, pressure to meet quotas, and constant threats if they dare to step out of line. Imagine being in a foreign country with no passport, no papers, no friends, no money. These people have nowhere to go, no one to talk to.

It is interesting to note that Scientology engages in a vigorous internal campaign to get rid of “external influences,” which is to say outside family members, friends, people on the street, newspapers, TV, radio, and blogs like this one that might shine a little light on what really goes on behind closed doors in the Church and cause Scientologists to “Doubt” their Church and their leaders.

Maybe, just maybe, Scientologists can take a little time to look up from their Church magazines or official websites or step outside their self-congratulatory events and take a peek at what’s really going on – specifically the evil that is done in the name of their Church.

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