Scientology’s fight for apartheid by Chris Owen
“Non-political in nature, Scientology welcomes individuals of any creed, race or nation.”
– L. Ron Hubbard
“Scientology is … the answer to all racial problems, because in the Church all are treated on a spiritual level.”
– quoted in Scientology: Twentieth Century Religion, 1972
Currently Scientology suggests they have been at the forefront of the Freedom struggle in South Africa. They claim that LRH was wrote a constitution for South Africa and later for Rhodesia. Here is their PR piece:
In 2007 we had a conference which Ursula Caberta hosted in Hamburg which as usual brought about a protest from the Scientologists. One of these was their leader Sabine Weber.
I had met her in Hamburg in 2007 when we had a debate about LRH’s role in writing the constitution of South Africa. I had a dialogue with her by email which I will post.
On November 11, 1957, an office of the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International (HASI) opened in Johannesburg. This marked the formal beginning of the expansion into South Africa by the Church of Scientology, the highly controversial religion-cum-cult-cum-pseudo-science founded in 1952 by the late American science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Forty years later, there are Scientology churches (or “orgs”) and “missions” in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, Hillbrow, Soweto and Belleville. Some 200,000 South Africans are claimed to be members of the Church of Scientology. (This figure is probably 20 or 30 times the actual number). Worldwide, an estimated 100,000 people (claimed figure: 7 million) are members of the Church, making it one of the largest “New Age” religions in the world. However, it has a distinctly nasty reputation and a dark past in many countries. South Africa is no exception in this regard.
With the “velvet revolution” of the transition to democratic rule in South Africa, many formerly hidden aspects of the apartheid years are being revealed in a process which in Czechoslovakia was termed lustracije – lustration, or bringing into the light. In this article I have sought to “lustrate” the way in which Scientology approached the problems of South Africa. The evidence is clear and unambiguous: a variety of books, periodicals and papers from inside and outside Scientology, produced over the last 40 years, details how the Church of Scientology actively supported the forces and philosophy of apartheid for many years. I have made use of these materials to chronicle what I have termed “Scientology’s fight for apartheid”. To say the least, it shows Scientology to have behaved in a way which totally belies its stated goals…
Clearing the Planet
One of the most sinister aspects of Scientology in the eyes of many of its critics is the way in which it unashamedly designs to “clear the planet” – or, in plain English, take over the world and subject the entire global population to Scientology “processing” in order to rid everyone of their “aberrations”. The planet does not seem to be in any immediate danger of this happening, as it has been estimated that at the current rate of expansion it will take the Church another 2.5 million years to achieve this end. This inconvenient fact has not, however, stopped Scientology from attempting to create what Hubbard, its founder, called “safe environments for Scientology to expand into”. Put bluntly, the Church has tried to take over entire countries. Notable targets of the past and present include Greece, Morocco, Australia (“the first Clear Continent”), Colombia, Russia – and South Africa.
In many of these cases, a similar pattern has been followed. Back in the late 1950s, Hubbard formulated a policy of infiltration which has been followed faithfully by the Church of Scientology for at least 35 years. It was no secret, having originally been circulated in Hubbard’s newsletters (the ponderously-named Hubbard Communications Office Bulletins) and subsequently reprinted on at least two occasions in Scientology magazines, including the South African Scientology magazine Understanding. Its provisions were made explicitly clear. The original plan, addressed specifically to South African Scientologists, was to achieve the following goals:
1. Get Scientology known.
2. Get Scientology established in schools.
3. Get Scientology established in the universities.
4. Have Scientology established in industries.
5. Have Scientology in the mines.
6. Get Scientology “into the government and government departments and services.”
[from Ability Major magazine, issue 2]
All of the above have been attempted or achieved in South Africa – there are more Scientologists and a greater Church effort in that one country than in the whole of the rest of the African continent. Considering the fact that individual Scientology courses can cost as much as R25,000 (GBP4,500 / $7,000), excluding hundreds of hours worth of “psychological counselling” costing R1,000 (GBP200 / $350) an hour, it is not so surprising that Africa’s most prosperous country should be the focus of so much attention. I have concentrated on Scientology’s political ambitions in this article, but Scientology’s efforts to “win” in South African social affairs are documented in another piece entitled “Africa, Clear Continent”.
In countries which Scientology has tried to “make a safe environment” politically, approaches have typically been made to local and national government figures to persuade them of the benefits of Scientology. Sometimes this has been quite overt and successful: the cities of Perm, Russia and Clearwater, Florida are both now regarded as “safe”, having effectively been taken over by the Church. Other such attempts have been less successful. Significantly though, Scientology’s high moral stance in public has not prevented it from attempting to make alliances with some extremely dubious bedfellows. Visiting Greece in 1968, for instance, L. Ron Hubbard tried to curry favour with the infamously brutal military junta of the Colonels, praising their new constitution in the following terms:
“The rights of man have been given great care in it … the present constitution represents the most brilliant tradition of Greek democracy. Out of all the modern constitutions the Greek Constitution is the most brilliant…
[LRH, interview with Ephemeris ton Idisseon newspaper, Corfu 1968]
Imprisoned Greek democrats were no doubt rather surprised to hear a military dictatorship described in such terms. South African Scientologists would perhaps have recognised Hubbard’s tactics in Greece, for something very similar had occurred – and was occurring – in South Africa during the 1960s. In its endless pursuit of “wins”, Scientology had been heavily involved in actively promoting the implementation of apartheid and the interests of the Nationalist Party in general. This involvement was not simply the result of local Scientologists exceeding orders. It was initiated and sustained by Hubbard himself over a period of at least nine years in the 1960s. On more than one occasion, Hubbard publicly expressed strong sympathy with the South African government, but to a large extent his political activities were conducted in secret. The precise breadth and depth of his secret contacts with the apartheid regime can only be guessed at – maybe South African official archives will reveal a little more – but we do at least know some of what went on.
Fighting for Apartheid
There exist in the public domain a number of documents and letters from the Church of Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard himself, detailing the way in which they tried to ingratiate themselves with the government of H.F. Verwoerd. That government has frequently been regarded as the originator of “grand apartheid”, the system which became notorious in the 1960s for its rigid “pass laws”, physically separating blacks and whites, and for the forcible relocation of the black population from the cities to the frequently ghastly conditions of the squatter camps and townships. The documents indicate the firm and sustained support of Hubbard and the Church for the Verwoerd government and for apartheid policies.
In HCO Executive Letter of 16 August 1966, Hubbard circulated a report from John McMaster (a white South African who was supposedly the “first clear” and “Pope” of Scientology, later expelled for alleged homosexuality) regarding progress in South Africa. It praises the activities of one Jan Du Plessis on behalf of Scientology, referring to alleged interviews by Du Plessis with Dr. H.F. Verwoerd (then Prime Minister) and also the Admiral of the South African Navy. It concludes:
“You asked for strong Orgs in South Africa. You will get them and there will be a friendly reciprocity of flow with the Government.”
[HCO Executive Letter, 16 August 1966; reprinted in K.T.C. Kotze, Inquiry into the Effects and Practices of Scientology, p. 59, Pretoria 1973]
A few years earlier, in November 1960, Hubbard wrote a letter to Verwoerd praising the implementation of forced resettlement:
“Having viewed slum clearance projects in most major cities of the world may I state that you have conceived and created in the Johannesburg townships what is probably the most impressive and adequate resettlement activity in existence.”
[dated 7th November 1960, Jo’burg; reprinted in K.T.C. Kotze, Inquiry into the Effects and Practices of Scientology, p. 59, Pretoria 1973]
He goes on to lambaste those who denounced the policy of forced resettlement:
“Any criticism of it could only be engaged upon by scoundrels or madmen and I know now your enemies to be both.”
This was not the first time Hubbard had expressed his active support for Verwoerd and the policies of “grand apartheid”. He was willing to offer practical assistance as well as letters of support. Three weeks previously, he had written the following to Verwoerd:
“Those who understand are never swayed by vicious writings in the English press.
To cope with those who could be swayed we work ceaselessly to secure communication lines to create an image closer to the fact.
We are doing everything we can to change the complexion of the English language press and in a very few months we hope to have the means of completely altering this public image.
Peace with strength can yet save, with your undaunted leadership, South Africa.
Meanwhile we sincerely hope that vileness such as that in last week’s Sunday Times does nothing to dismay your dedication.
I apologise that we were not yet able to prevent such a travesty, but can promise a better future in such things.”
[Dated 17th October 1960, Jo’burg; reprinted in K.T.C. Kotze, Inquiry into the Effects and Practices of Scientology, pp. 59-60, Pretoria 1973]
In other words, Scientology would endeavour to muzzle the press so that it could no longer criticise Verwoerd or his policies. This was not an idle promise, as the Church has a long history of attacking and infiltrating newspapers which it sees as a threat.
Hubbard was not the only Scientologist to write to the South African Government. When it was announced in 1960 that Liberia and Ethiopia were to take legal action against South Africa to bring the Government to book for its implementation of apartheid, a Mr. S.J. Parkhouse (the HASI’s Director of Official Affairs) wrote the following secret letter to Dr. Verwoerd:
“On bringing to Dr. [sic] Hubbard’s attention the fact that Liberia and Ethiopia intend to institute an action against the Union [of South Africa] in the World Court Dr. Hubbard suggested that the Union itself would be well within its rights in bringing suit against any and all countries seeking to promote internal trouble in the Union through the use of boycotts etcetera.
Consequent to our discussion Dr. Hubbard prepared a form of suit which could be used by the Union in the World Court. I enclose a copy for your perusal.
Apart from the blow that this would strike for the Union on the International front it would appear that such an action would establish the World Court as a place where civil matters between Nations could be settled without warfare and thus would be of service to humanity as a whole.
In closing I would assure you of our continued willing assistance at all times.”
[dated 7th November 1960, Jo’burg; reprinted in K.T.C. Kotze, Inquiry into the Effects and Practices of Scientology, p. 60, Pretoria 1973]
This makes it clear that the Church of Scientology was willing, and attempting, to take an active role in the South African Government’s struggle against the growing anti-apartheid movement. Of course, the Church was not the only foreign organisation to oppose boycotts and sanctions against South Africa – in the 1980s the British government was prominent in its refusal to sanction South Africa. However, the basis for that stance was that boycotts and sanctions would hurt the black population far more than it would help. As the above letter makes clear, the Church was opposed to boycotts and sanctions because it supported the policy of the South African government. The letter shows that the Church sought to actively defend apartheid.
The support for the South African Government expressed in the previous extracts was not simply a matter of supporting a government, as distinct from a political party. Take the following letter from L. Ron Hubbard:
“I wish to extend my appreciation to South African Scientologists for their splendid activities and alertness. And I wish to thank the South African Government for its forbearance and ex-Minister of Health Herzog for his sense of justice and fair play in his 1968 pro-Scientology decision [not to appoint a Commission of Enquiry into Scientology] …
Note, please, that the press in Southern Africa call Dr. Radford and Dr. Fischer when it wants adverse comments on Scientology. Those two are United Party members. The United Party supports psychiatry in South Africa. Therefore, unwittingly the Government is led to pay for opposition and subversion.”
[LRH, HCO Information Letter, 16th February 1969; reprinted in K.T.C. Kotze, Inquiry into the Effects and Practices of Scientology, pp. 60-61, Pretoria 1973]
This letter clearly reveals Hubbard’s determination to enter the South African political arena. His support was not only for the Government, it was for the ruling Nationalist party, which he perceived as being friendly to Scientology and hostile to psychiatry – a pet hate of his.
Despite his efforts, Hubbard found that the South African government was not as friendly towards Scientology as he had hoped. In the wake of critical reports on Scientology from Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, it was decided that an inquiry would be held into the activities of South African Scientology. On 28th March 1969, a Commission of Inquiry was established, consisting of nine members under the chairmanship of Mr. K.T.C. Kotze, a retired Supreme Court Judge. Under the provisions of the Commission Act of 1947 it had the power to summon witnesses and hear their evidence on oath. Its report, more than 240 pages long excluding the many pages of additional annexes, was eventually published in June 1972. It was highly critical of the conduct of the Church of Scientology. In particular, the Commission condemned practices such as “disconnection” (of Scientologists from “troublesome” friends and family), “noisy investigation” (i.e. the use of public smears to make opponents “shudder into silence”), “security checking” and the dissemination of what the Commission called
“Inaccurate, untruthful and harmful information in regard to psychiatry”
and it recommended that such practices should be legislated against. No such legislation and no other action against Scientology was ever actually forthcoming, and the Kotze report itself seems to have been generally (and unfairly) forgotten.
Nonetheless, it does still make fascinating reading and it heard some extraordinary evidence. One of the most peculiar things to come out of it was the details of an alleged plot by the Jo’burg org to instigate an armed black uprising in the late 1960s. The Rand Daily Mail reported that one witness told the Kotze Board that a Mr. Parkhouse, then chief executive of the South African Church of Scientology, had planned to arm and organise 5,000 black Africans to seize control of the country. The article stated:
“Mr. Parkhouse asked me to process him on the E-meter”, he [the witness] said.
“He had just returned from a trip to Mr. Hubbard’s headquarters at Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, England [then Scientology’s world HQ]. While processing him I discovered he had a terrific problem.
“Eventually he told me he was worried because he had been made responsible for organizing and arming 5,000 Africans to seize control of South Africa. I talked him out of it and he eventually stopped worrying about his instructions.”
The witness also told the commission that he did not know what became of Hubbard’s plans or of Mr. Parkhouse.”
[Rand Daily Mail, Feb 2, 1969]
If this is true, it must have happened some time before Hubbard’s final departure from England in 1967. Its veracity is unknown, however – as one might expect, any supporting evidence is locked away in Scientology vaults and the Church of Scientology denies the allegations. Armed rebellion was certainly not Hubbard’s style, and given the demonstrable support which he and his followers gave to apartheid, his ordering an armed black rebellion seems distinctly improbable. In the absence of any firm evidence either way, though, this will have to remain a moot point.
Scientology Is Security For South Africa
Hubbard clearly wished to have Scientology adopted as an official tool against the black civil rights movement, which he saw as threatening “civilization” throughout Africa. He made clear his belief that Scientologists would play a key role in the coming struggle:
“The international situation in [South] Africa is such that a strong body of trained Scientologists working hard on all dynamics will be needed to help civilization pull through.”
[LRH, Understanding magazine issue 29, p. 6]
The 1960s were a troubled time for the whole of Africa. Under the impact of “the winds of change” of decolonisation, white supremacy across the continent was crumbling as country after country became independent. It was not a painless process: ethnic unrest, chaotic transitions and economic dislocation caused a great deal of hardship. Thousands of whites left decolonised countries along with much capital, causing the economies of some countries (for example Zaire) to collapse as plantations were abandoned. South Africa and Rhodesia were virtually alone in resisting this change, and this is something which is reflected in Scientology publications from those two countries. Issue 23 of the South African Scientology magazine Understanding has the slogan “Scientology is Security for South Africa” at the bottom of every page. In October 1968, Hubbard explained precisely how Scientology could “make South Africa secure”:
“In South Africa terrorism and its attendant dangers can be fought more effectively by E-Meters than by guns, since only Scientologists with meters could detect subversives.”
[LRH, “E-Meters Replace Guns”, HCO Information Letter of 16 Oct 1968]
E-Meters are essentially crude skin galvanometers which operate by passing a small electric current through the body, the resistance being measured on a dial. The subject holds an electrical terminal (originally a soup can) in each hand. (The lie-detector works on a similar principle, though the electrical component of it is merely one of five instruments which monitor a range of reactions). According to Hubbard, E-Meters are infallible and can detect whatever is going on in a person’s mind. They are used in “auditing sessions”, the bedrock of Scientology, in which the person being “audited” is regressed by an “auditor” through trillions of years of past lives to discover any traumas or wrongdoing from current or previous existences.
One specialised type of auditing is the “Security Check”, aka “Integrity Processing”, routinely administered to Scientologists and employees of Scientology organisations with the purpose of discovering “withholds” and “overts” (antisocial acts which the person is hiding, consciously or unconsciously). The person is asked a series of precise questions – often several hundred – and must describe in exact detail any “overt” discovered during the process. An E-Meter is used throughout to ensure that there are no evasions; any reaction on the E-Meter to the question being asked is taken as a sure sign that the person is indeed hiding some sin. Intense questioning invariably extracts a range of “overts” which are then carefully recorded by the auditor. Questions asked in these euphemistically-titled “confessionals” range from the banal –
“Have you ever coughed or distracted others during a lecture?”
“Have you ever been a newspaper reporter?”
– to the sinister –
“Have you ever had unkind thoughts about L. Ron Hubbard?”
“Are you a pervert?”
– to the deeply bizarre –
“Have you ever enslaved a population?”
“Have you ever zapped anyone?”
The standard “Sec. Check” used in Scientology since 1961 comes, coincidentally, from the Johannesburg Org following the crushing of an attempted takeover of the org by a group of local Scientologists opposed to Hubbard’s increasing authoritarianism. The check is referred to as simply “the Jo’burg” – “the roughest security check in Scientology”, according to Hubbard. The data gathered is meticulously recorded on paper and kept on file indefinitely, even after – perhaps especially after – a person has left Scientology. Although this data is supposedly confidential, the Church of Scientology has repeatedly used compromising material contained in auditing files to smear and pressurise dissidents and excommunicates.
It was these Sec. Checks, suitably modified for use in a non-Scientological setting, which Hubbard proposed to use forcibly on the mutinous black population of South Africa. He even went to the trouble of devising techniques for using E-Meters on unwilling subjects. He went into this in more detail in an HCO Bulletin entitled Interrogation (How to read an E-Meter on a silent subject), written in 1960 and addressed to South African orgs. [Punctuation is sic.]
“When the subject placed on a meter will not talk but can be made to hold the cans (or can be held while the cans are strapped to the soles or placed under the armpit) … , it is still possible to obtain full information from the subject.
The end product is the discovery of a terrorist, usually paid, usually a criminal, often trained abroad. Given a dozen people from a riot or a strike, you can usually find the instigator…
Thousands [of agent provocateurs] are trained every year in Moscow in the ungentle art of making slave states. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a white.
Revolts kill an awful lot of natives. Only when security has been established can a reform be applied.
Use E-Meter “clean hands” to convince people that the population is loyal and the reforms are in order.
[…] We have a lot of reforms ourselves but we don’t need criminal agents or dead people killed in riots to put them in effect. Don’t use guns use E-Meters to make a country secure.
By the way, the answer to passive resistance is for the government to passive strike against any district from which it occurs. No water, no lights, pay, government or service. Simply use the same tactic back. Don’t use guns, Cordon the area off and shut off power and water.”
[LRH, HCO Bulletin of 30 Mar 1960]
In other words, any protest, no matter how justified or well-behaved, should be met by starving the protesters into submission. Hubbard himself was an avowed authoritarian; perhaps he felt that the Nationalists were kindred spirits?
It is worth pointing out that a “subversive” was at this time usually taken to mean a critic of the South African government. Communists and ANC members or supporters were automatically subversives. Since the penalty for this could be imprisonment, execution or simple murder, the danger of what Hubbard proposed is obvious. He was well aware of this. In a piece called “Why some fight Scientology”, distributed to South African Scientologists in issue 22 of Understanding magazine, he made it clear that the use of security checking was to prevent “native uprisings” orchestrated by “a well-known international political organization” (the ANC?):
“The Political Enemy
If [the] Electrometer had been available in Kenya during the Mau-Mau uprising it could have saved thousands upon thousands of lives. For the innocent were punished with the guilty and of the guilty there were but very few … At this moment the South African Central Organization of Scientology is educating people in the event of further risings. This is a deadly blow to a well known international political organization. But they do not now even dare protest against this defence.”
[LRH, “Why some fight Scientology”, Understanding magazine issue 22]
His comments make it quite clear that he was aware of what would happen to those who failed tests on the E-Meter if his proposals were adopted: it would save the lives of those who passed (“the innocent”) but those who failed (“the guilty”) could be and should be executed. The leaders of such “uprisings” were bound to be “low-toned” individuals; such people, Hubbard wrote in his 1951 book Science of Survival (still a standard Scientology textbook), should be deprived of their civil rights or simply made to disappear.
It is also interesting that Hubbard appears in the above extracts to be proposing to violate the supposed confidentiality of the auditing session, as the damning information would presumably be extracted during a so-called “confessional” and then handed over to the authorities. This runs directly counter to the statement which Hubbard ordered should be read out before a Sec. Check is conducted:
“‘We are about to begin a Security Check. We are not moralists. We are able to change people. We are not here to condemn them. While we cannot guarantee you that matters revealed in this check will be held forever secret, we can promise you faithfully that neither part of it nor any answer you make here will be given to the police or state. No Scientologist will ever bear witness against you in Court by reasons of answers to this security Check.’ ”
[LRH, “The Only Valid Security Check”, 1961]
Of course, this allows the Church of Scientology to use the results of security checks to intimidate and defame ex-members should they become active dissidents. It was public concern over this issue that prompted the Church to enact the so-called “Code of Reform” only a month after Hubbard had proposed security checking South African blacks. To quote Freedom magazine, the Code provided for
“Prohibition of any confessional materials being written down or otherwise recorded.”
[Freedom magazine no. 11]
And it was stated on the front page of the previous issue that:
“SCIENTOLOGISTS [SHOULD] NOT BE MADE TO VIOLATE THE PRIVATE CONFIDENCES OF THEIR PRECLEARS, THIS BEING AS MUCH AS PART OF SCIENTOLOGY RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE AS THAT OF PRIESTS IN CATHOLICISM”
[Freedom magazine no. 10]
If that was so, why did Hubbard advocate something completely different only a matter of weeks beforehand?
“The native [is in a] retrograded state”
Hubbard’s actions in South Africa were influenced by a wide variety of factors. Apart from the pathological hatred of psychiatry alluded to above, he was virulently opposed to communism and took an almost Victorian view of Anglo-Saxon superiority and “the white man’s burden”; at one time Scientology was promoted as “the only Anglo-Saxon science of the mind”, contrasting with practices of psychiatry (“Russian”), psychology (“German”) and psychoanalysis (“Austrian”). This led to him taking a rather peculiar stance towards the South African governments of the 1960s despite their obvious racism and violence. It was a position, one has to say, which he shared with a great many racially-minded right wingers inside and outside of South Africa. In 1960, he visited the country for the first time and formed an opinion which he apparently held for many years thereafter:
“Two weeks ago tomorrow I arrived in South Africa to review and assist the situation. […]
The problem of South Africa is different than the world thinks. There is no native problem. The native worker gets more than white workers do in England!
Russia wants South African diamonds and gold, oil and uranium. Russia starts trouble here whenever she can. The South African government is not a police state. It’s easier on people than the United States government!
The South African government is under raid by Russia. Radio broadcasts slam in here nightly trying to incite riots. The South African government is dismayed because it can’t believe anybody – like Russia – could tell so many lies.”
[LRH, HCO Bulletin of 10 Oct 1960]
Bear in mind that this was in the same year as the notorious Sharpeville Massacre, when 67 unarmed black demonstrators were shot dead by the South African police.
The reader will have noticed that in the above extract, Hubbard refers to black South Africans by the rather less than politically correct term “natives”. This may have had something to do with the fact that he was the product of an age which was less sensitive about racial matters. Then again, it may have had something to do with the fact that he was openly contemptuous of black Africans and black South Africans in particular, though curiously enough he does not appear to have expressed similar opinions about black Americans or black Britons. (Perhaps this was because the latter groups were potential customers.) Hubbard’s prose is never easy or pleasant to read but his comments on “the South African native” are, I think, particularly revealing:
“In North Africa they had the Arab with the gun and whip, but he could force people to do things a gun and a whip [sic] and he accomplished a tremendous amount of extermination, but he certainly didn’t advance that civilization very much. In South Africa they had a bit of the whip but everybody just gave up. The South African native is probably the one impossible person to train in the entire world – he is probably impossible by any human standard. I’ll give you an example. A South African native is being shown how to sow crops and he has a basket, and he’s got some seed, and he’s walking along back of the harrow disc–and he is supposed to throw seed out this way, seed out this way, seed out that way, seed out this way. A white man is riding a little tractor that’s pulling the disc and scraping the soil for the seed. And this scene was enacted and was witnessed and was told to me with considerable hilarity as some kind of learning rate. The white man was sitting on the little tractor pulling the harrow, the native along behind him, sowing the seed straight down in handfuls on the ground. The white man got off the tractor, came back to the native, took the basket away from him, put his hand in the basket, threw it to the right, put his hand in the basket, threw it to the left, and gave it back to the native. And the native waited, the white man got on the tractor, drove along, and the native took a handful out of the basket and threw it straight on the ground. So the white man got off the tractor, came back, took the basket away from the native, showed the native, throw it to the right, throw it to the left, gave it back to the native, took him [sic] seat again on the tractor, the native followed along behind, took handful and threw it straight on the ground! And this went on for a very long time. The native never did throw any handful of seed to the right and left. Never did. That is farming in South Africa.
Now did anything ever come along and change that? Yes. Man had to cease to be Homo Sapiens and had to become Homo Scientologicus in order to accomplish any action that was anywhere near efficient in South Africa. And we have had some auditors in South Africa who have actually succeeded in training natives easily and well and have successfully managed large organizations there. That’s certainly something. Now with these people it was still possible to get something done. But what had this native done? Was this native what we think of as primitive stock? No, we make a great many mistakes. We say a child is in a “native state”. A native is in a “native state”. People are in a barbaric condition and then they grow up and become civilized. How do we know that this barbaric condition isn’t retrogression from a highly civilized condition back to an Only One category? How do we know that isn’t true? How do we know that that native didn’t at one time achieve a great civilization of culture which then collapsed on him and he went back into a state of being a barbarian?
But the point is, is this true that a native is in a clearer state, and is it true that it requires Livingness to advance somebody in that crude state up to a condition of ability? No, that is not true. The child, the primitive, the native, is in retrograded states. They are worse off than somebody who is at a civilized or thinking or analytical level.”
Hubbard goes on to explain how children and psychotics are identical because they share identical “delusions”, although children grow out of them while psychotics remain locked in them. Hubbard appears to be attempting to make the point that psychotics, “natives”, and children should all be treated in a similar manner. He concludes thus:
“But all I am telling you is that children, South African natives, and now the entirety of this world in which we are living, presents to us an auditing problem. We are rich in being able to understand what is happening in our environment and we are rich also in knowing exactly how to handle such a circumstance or condition. Nobody knew before. That is factually true here on Earth.”
[LRH, Professional Auditor’s Bulletin No. 119, 1st September 1957]
This is still disseminated by the Church of Scientology in The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, a comprehensive collection of Hubbard’s pronouncements since the 1950s. It is compulsory reading for Scientologists and remains part of the so-called “tech”.
Nor did Hubbard confine such opinions to “the South African native”, though it was the unfortunate “Bantu” who appears to have attracted the brunt of his condemnation. He wrote elsewhere:
“Just as individuals can be seen by observing nations, so we see the African tribesman, with his complete contempt for truth and his emphasis on brutality and savagery for others but not himself, is a no-civilization.”
[LRH, Fundamentals of Thought]
Again, this is compulsory reading for Scientologists; the book from which the above quote was taken was reprinted as recently as 1995. Critics of Scientology might suggest that the qualities attributed to African tribesmen (particularly the “complete contempt for truth”) might be very descriptive of Hubbard himself, but I would not dream of making such an insinuation…
The question of whether Hubbard believed in apartheid and racial discrimination per se is less easy to answer than one might think. His writings certainly include a wide variety of racist comments and epithets, such as “chinks” for Chinese and “wogs” for non-Scientologists. (Strangely, the Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary (1975) defines “wog” in its racist meaning of “worthy oriental gentleman” rather than its less offensive Hubbardian meaning of “non-Scientologist”; a curious value judgement.) Hubbard does conform to some of the dictionary definitions of a “racist” – one with the belief in the superiority of a particular race and with prejudice based on this, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Even so, there is little evidence of racism in the “tech” of Scientology. This is consistent with the Scientological belief that we are all immortal spirits who pop in and out of bodies over trillions of years. According to Hubbard, we have inhabited male bodies, female bodies, robot bodies, doll bodies, vegetable bodies, gaseous bodies, amorphous bodies and even alien bodies with “unspeakably horrible hands”. Given that eclectic variety, the question of the colour of the body’s skin seems a little irrelevant. Racial discrimination should therefore in theory be completely unnecessary in Scientology, as we really are all the same under the skin. A Scientologist quoted in the 1972 book Scientology: Twentieth Century Religion put it this way:
“The colour of a person’s skin makes no difference to him spiritually. Souls are not black or white you know! A person is a soul – it is only his body that is different…”
[Lensworth Small, quoted in Scientology: Twentieth Century Religion (1972), p. 45]
Unfortunately, Mr. Small seems to have been guilty of “out-tech” (misrepresentation of Hubbard’s “technology”). Hubbard made it clear that (perhaps not surprisingly) the South African “native” was different spiritually and should be treated as such. Although he was keen to use E-Meter security checking on the “native” population, he added this caveat:
“In South Africa, a Bantu’s withholds read not on the needle alone but on the Tone Arm as well. The Tone Arm goes up as much as two divisions (3 to 5) just before you get off a bad withhold on one.”
[LRH, E-Meter Essentials, page 23]
“Bantu” was the generic term used, occasionally as an epithet, by the forces of apartheid in referring to black South Africans. It is significant that this is, as far as I know, the only reference in Scientology literature to different procedures having to be used on a particular racial group. No such differences are mentioned regarding black Americans or black Zimbabweans, for instance.
Once the Scientological jargon in the above extract is translated, two clear implications emerge. The first, relating to the workings of the E-Meter, is that the bodies of “Bantus” have a higher level of electrical resistance than those of any other race in the world; they are physically different.
(Coincidentally, this was a fundamental assumption of apartheid.)
The other implication relates to Hubbard’s theories on the meaning of “heavy reads” on the E-Meter. He stated that the amount of resistance measured was in direct proportion to the dreadfulness of the “overt” (antisocial act) supposedly being uncovered by the E-Meter and the unwillingness of the subject to “confront” his “overts”. The logic of this means that, to a Scientologist, the uniquely high resistance of “Bantus” obviously shows that they are much more deceitful and “degraded” than any other race. Hubbard confirms this conclusion elsewhere with the statement that it is “part of their culture to steal and lie”.
(Coincidentally, this was a fundamental assumption of apartheid.)
The Church of Scientology has never repudiated the statements which Hubbard made about South Africa, the “natives” and the “Bantus”, and E-Meter Essentials (complete with “Bantus” passage) was reprinted for at least the fourth time as recently as 1988. It is still sold in Scientology Organisations across the world and is compulsory reading for trainee Scientologists. I am not aware of any instructions which negate Hubbard’s comments on how to audit “Bantus”; as far as I know, it is still part of the “tech”.
(It would be helpful to get some feedback on this from those familiar with the situation in South Africa now.)
Apartheid in the Org
Evidence on the views of South African Scientologists themselves is, perhaps inevitably, rather slim and largely anecdotal. This is how Robert Kaufman describes the political complexion of Scientologists at their then world headquarters in England:
“Most of the Scientologists were culturally green, interested only in Hubbard’s pronouncements. Many were reactionary, almost Fascistic, in their political views. The attitude of this breed was that the poor and oppressed of the world, the dwellers in mud villages and ghettos, were suffering solely from their own inadequacies; they were dominated by their reactive minds and were getting exactly what they deserved. Scientologists from South Africa were almost unanimously in favor of apartheid.”
[Kaufman, Inside Scientology, 1972]
One can see why Hubbard’s oft-expressed contempt for the needy and unfortunate (“humanoids who just aren’t trying”, as he put it) might appeal to those of a reactionary mentality. If Kaufman’s claim that South African Scientologists were in favour of apartheid is true, one might expect to find some evidence of it in Scientology magazines from South Africa. And indeed, one does, in the pages of Understanding. This magazine was originally entirely produced and edited in South Africa but by the mid-1960s it had, like most other Scientology magazines, become little more than a mouthpiece for endless short essays by Hubbard. It is in the issues from the first few years of the magazine’s life (1958 to about 1962) that one finds some real insights into South African Scientology.
A highly significant sign is the number and position of black South Africans in the Jo’burg Org, or HASI S.A. as it was called then. In issues 12 and 13, the photographs and job descriptions of the staff of the Jo’burg org were printed. Spread over four pages, the first two pages are entirely filled with whites in the usual range of Scientology jobs. The last two pages are entirely filled with blacks, who are mostly listed as being “janitors”, “cleaners” and the like. None of them was what one might refer to as “mainstream staff”.
Even more significantly, photographs were printed in issue 19 illustrating apartheid – “separateness” – at work in the Jo’burg Org itself. A two-page photo spread entitled “HASI S.A. Celebrates Its 2nd Birthday” shows:
* “STAFF AND STUDENTS AT THE PARTY”
– a room decorated with party streamers and the like, with 34 whites holding champagne glasses and eating cake;
* “THE AFRICAN STAFF HAD THEIR PARTY AT LUNCH TIME”
– a table in a back alley with 9 blacks drinking from what look like beer bottles and eating (one presumes) left-over cake. Evidently they had to have the party during their lunch hour, rather than have time off for it like the whites.
Of course, to be fair, this was over 35 years ago and I would not want to suggest that blacks are still kept apart from whites in South African Scientology. But it does undeniably show that the (white-dominated) Church of Scientology was, as an organisation, in favour of going along with apartheid even within its own ranks. It is curious that an organisation which now claims to have been against apartheid all along should not even mention it once in the magazines which it published in South Africa at the time. Even when in later years the Church of Scientology made public efforts to ameliorate the problems caused by apartheid, it still does not appear to have made any adverse comments on the policies of discrimination and enforced poverty which were causing those problems in the first place. This is especially odd given the long-running campaigns of the Church of Scientology against abuses allegedly perpetrated by psychiatrists. It is almost as if someone had said “psychiatry’s fair game, but let’s leave apartheid alone”. Again, a curious value judgement.
The Rhodesian Gambit
At this point it may be worthwhile mentioning Hubbard’s attempt to “win” Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) for Scientology. Following the severe setbacks which had been suffered in Australia in the mid-60s, when the ungrateful Australians decided that they did not after all want to be the world’s first “clear continent”, Hubbard decided that southern Africa should have the privilege of being a “safe environment” for Scientology. In 1966 he went to Rhodesia in the guise of “a millionaire financier” (no initial mention of Scientology) with the intention of achieving this goal. He spent $80,000 on a house and a hotel “to show his confidence in the country and its government”. They very soon became the centre of Rhodesian Scientology and proved a worthwhile investment. In the few months that he was in Harare, Hubbard made $25,000 selling Scientology courses to a white population of only some 45,000. He regarded his visit to Rhodesia as a homecoming for, so he told his personal assistant Reg Sharpe, he had been Cecil Rhodes in a previous life and hoped to return with the hidden fortune in gold and diamonds which he remembered having buried as Rhodes. Hubbard even went around wearing Rhodes’ favourite kind of hat, presumably in the hope of “restimulating” people’s memories of the late founder of their country.
It was probably just as well that the rabidly homophobic Hubbard did not know that his “previous incarnation” had been a promiscuous homosexual.
Rhodesia in 1966 was, like South Africa, a country where a white minority government exercised a distinctly repressive rule over a black majority. Prime Minister Ian Smith had that year sought to emulate South Africa’s example by signing an (illegal) Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the British Empire, with the aim of resisting the decolonisation of British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s “winds of change”. This caused a major crisis and guerrilla war which dragged on until 1980, the white government being covertly aided by South Africa.
Hubbard entered the fray in the spring of 1966, convinced that he alone could resolve the situation. In May 1966, he produced, uninvited, a “tentative constitution” for the country which he touted as satisfying the demands of the disenfranchised blacks whilst still maintaining white supremacy.
He proposed a weak lower chamber elected on the principle of one man, one vote, and an upper chamber vested with much greater powers which would be elected by those citizens who had a good command of English, knowledge of the constitution and financial standing verified by a bank. This provision would of course mean that most blacks would be excluded from voting for the much more powerful upper house. Copies of Hubbard’s constitution were sent to Ian Smith and to Harold Wilson. Ian Smith’s principal private secretary replied politely to Hubbard on 5th May 1966 saying that his suggestions had been passed to a Cabinet sub-committee examining proposals for amending the constitution.
In the meantime, Hubbard got on with trying to ingratiate himself with Rhodesia’s white establishment. He appeared on television and in newspapers, representing himself as a “millionaire financier” who had been “trained in economy and government at Princeton” (during the war he had been to a US Navy training course on ‘Military Government’ on the campus, but had no connection with the famous university). He loudly professed support for Ian Smith’s government, although he said in private that he thought Smith “a nasty piece of work” who was incapable of leadership. Similarly, he publicly espoused sympathy for the plight of the black majorities in both Rhodesia and South Africa, but in conversations with his white southern African supporters he expressed contempt for blacks. While he was in Rhodesia he told white South African and “World’s First Clear” John McMaster that “blacks were so stupid they did not give a reading on an E-Meter”. (This may explain his instructions regarding the auditing of “Bantus” mentioned above.) The London Daily Mail similarly reported that Rhodesians to whom he had spoken had quoted him saying that Africans wouldn’t qualify for Scientology membership because their I.Q. was too low. Hubbard is not, however, on record as having said similar things in other countries; his message appears to have changed according to his audience.
Hubbard’s Rhodesian idyll did not end happily for him. US agents in Rhodesia had asked CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia for information on “L. Ron Hubbard, US citizen recently arrived”. A reply was sent which appears to have been passed on to the Rhodesian authorities. Although it stated that Headquarters files contained no derogatory information about the subject, it concluded:
“Individuals who have been connected with the organizations headed by Hubbard or who have had contact with him and the organizations, have indicated that Hubbard is a ‘crackpot’ and of ‘doubtful mental background’.”
[CIA file dated 5 April 1966, obtained via Freedom of Information Act]
Hubbard did not help his cause by making hectoring speeches to Rhodesian business leaders which, it seemed to them, were vaguely anti-Rhodesian. In July 1966, the Rhodesian government decided that he was an undesirable alien and expelled him. It was a tremendous shock for Hubbard, who believed himself to be a genuinely popular personality in Rhodesia. He wasted no time in telling his supporters that the expulsion was a Communist-inspired plot to get him out of the country because he was the man most likely to resolve the UDI crisis and save the country from an inevitable Communist takeover. On July 18th, 1966 – only a few days after his expulsion from Rhodesia – he addressed a conference of the Guardian’s Office, Scientology’s secret police, to explain what had gone wrong and what the basic problem of Rhodesia was:
It’s very, very interesting that any trouble they have with the Africans in Rhodesia has been that they’re disciplining them but they have relatively few internal pressures to overcome so the external pressure is against somebody who is perfectly willing. [Such as Hubbard.] And that’s what’s causing the trouble.
For instance, my boy Jamble – he smokes dacca, he gambles and he drinks mostly native beer and so forth. Now although I’ve seen him a little bit reeling or his eyes describing slight circles when he fixed them, I have never seen at any moment – oh, yes, and I’ve suddenly seen him get eloquent – under a bit of native beer after he’d been out in the afternoon – not one single one of those acts got in the road of him doing his job. So I used to tell him “yes, I know Jamble – you’re a good boy even though you do drink and smoke dacca and gamble – that has nothing to do with me, you’re still a good boy” and you know he came way up tone. I noticed he drank less and I think he stopped smoking dacca entirely but he didn’t stop gambling because Master used to give him a pound to go out to the race track with and lose. Now these boys were all willing but they’re over-disciplined.
[LRH, speech to Guardian’s Office members, July 18th 1966]
So why, one might ask, was Hubbard apparently selectively racist, going along with, maybe even encouraging, racial discrimination in South Africa and Rhodesia but apparently not in other countries? The answer would seem to be that it was essentially a matter of politics. The South Africans who took up Dianetics and then Scientology in the 1950s appear to have been almost entirely middle-class whites, a roughly equal mix of English and Afrikaners: precisely that constituency which formed the bedrock of support for the Nationalist apartheid governments. Similarly in Rhodesia, Hubbard directed his recruitment efforts towards the well-to-do whites who were likely to gain most from UDI and black disenfranchisement. Hubbard appears to have decided that it was worth compromising his own principles, and even making exceptions to the otherwise universal Scientology “technology”, to accommodate the racial prejudices of his South African followers. Rather than confront apartheid, he took the easier route of going along with it. Had he done otherwise he would have risked losing their support and getting into trouble with a particularly nasty regime. Even so, it didn’t work all the time; at one point the Scientology magazine Freedom was temporarily banned in South Africa during one of the government’s more draconian phases. Similarly, Scientology materials were banned from being imported into Rhodesia. This, however, was more a result of the Church of Scientology’s endless war against psychiatry than as the result of any more conventional political action.
In short, it would seem that Hubbard was something of an intellectual chameleon with the moral integrity of an alley cat. He put self-interest before principles or intellectual coherence; “wins” for Scientology were all that mattered to him.
South African figures from the apartheid years, such as the former defence minister Magnus Malan, are now being arrested for their role in the apartheid governments. The Church of Scientology is presently trying to expand in South Africa and to dissociate itself from the excesses of the apartheid era. Its attempts should be met with demands that it account for its behaviour in the apartheid years, and it should explain precisely why L. Ron Hubbard deliberately drove a cart and horses through his own supposedly “non-political” aims.
Chris Owen email@example.com
Version 4.1, 9/3/96
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