From International Viewpoints (IVy) Issue 54 - November 2001

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IVy on the Wall

by Ken Urquhart, USA

The Whither Map
Chapter Seven in a Consideration of 'A Piece of Blue Sky' by Jon Atack

PART III OF A Piece of Blue Sky is called 'The Bridge to Total Freedom, 1949-1966'. It has seven chapters whose titles are: Building the Bridge, The Dianetic Foundations, Wichita, Knowing How to Know, The Religious Angle, The Lord of the Manor, The World's First Real Clear.

Part III tells part of the story of how LRH came to introduce Dianetics to the world, and to evolve through different attempts to organize his activities until he achieved unity of control-while he also developed Scientology - up to the announcement of the first Clear, John MacMaster.

The author's approach is, as ever, to present his intended victim as a criminal or as near to criminal as he can. And, as ever, we are forced to concede that LRH certainly acted in ways at times we would expect to hear of in connection with the majority of successful business opportunists of his age, some of them darlings of Wall Street, some of them highly-respected business icons.

The actions that Jon complains of are the actions of a man ambitious and highly imaginative, inclined to be ruthless in his self-seeking, a manipulator of others, one jealous and suspicious, inclined to paranoia and self-pity, yet with extraordinary charisma.

Yes, that charisma shone out of him like an irrepressible glow. I knew him from mid-1964, having seen him first in 1962. At no time did I ever perceive him as less than one to be reckoned with very seriously for either good or bad. Here was a fellow who could be a wonderful friend or a terrible enemy. I could see that he was capable of being opinionated and judgmental, and not always over-careful as to facts - but never in any criminal degree. The reality of the real man was very real indeed. By no stretch of the imagination could one see - or judge - this man as an ordinary person. He had towering strength and powerful but gentle energy, a presence of profound and intelligent integrity. Here was not simply a person: here was an elemental force. There is tragedy in his overall life, and in the effects he has had on some others; the tragedy is that he could not live up to his own integrity all the time.

No suspicion of positive sides of LRH shows up in Jon Atack's selection of carefully selected facts and opinions. Did something happen that transformed LRH? Is it possible that his own self-help and life experiences transformed him? I wish LRH's later life would support such a view. The reality is too complex for a simplistic interpretation such as that - or Jon Atack's, either, for that matter. But let's see what sort of a case Jon does make.

Atack position

In Part III, Jon continues to cite facts to make a strong case against LRH. Jon continues to manifest both bias and ignorance. The ignorance, or ignoring, I will examine shortly. The bias he interpolates into the facts fairly skillfully, and presents it as a factual part of the citation.

One glaring example of bias masquerading as fact is in the dismissal (on page 108) of Dianetics as a mere 'reworking' of ideas put forward originally years before by Freud but abandoned by him in favour of the interpretation of dreams. There is clear similarity between the two approaches. This is fact. Jon's implication is that LRH seized upon this trash from Freud's garbage as the vehicle by which he would hoodwink the world into beating its track to his door and into pouring its money into his outstretched palm.

Jon also brings forward information to show that LRH was eager to make money, eager to spend it, not so eager to account for it, not slow to borrow - while not always sure to repay. He also quotes someone(1) who reports that LRH said he wanted to start a religion 'because that's where the money is'.

Jon's position is that Dianetics is the product of an ignorant, greedy, and opportunistic entrepreneur who happened across some discarded material out of which he fashioned a pseudo-religion which immediately fascinated thousands of people - the majority of whom as quickly became disillusioned, and rightly so.

The further implication is that Freud dumped his work on traumatic incidents and their chains because he found in practice that he couldn't make it work to the patients' benefit, or because he found it not relevant, or perhaps even damaging. If Freud of all people didn't want it, Jon asks us to agree, what manner of man could possibly use it for any decent purpose-and then make the hideously dishonest claim that it could actually work?

Nowhere in his book does Jon Atack clearly acknowledge that we do not know for certain how LRH arrived at any kind of workable technology and what exactly that technology was before it became Dianetics. Jon has done his best to persuade us, in Part II, that LRH dabbled in Black Magic and drink and drugs, and out of this mess came up with something he thought he could fool the public with. But there is a period of a year or two between the break with Black Magic and the announcement of Dianetics in which we know LRH was working on the matter. And if anyone knows what exactly LRH was doing in that period, I sure hope he comes forward with the information soon. So we don't know when or how he came across Freud's work, or even that he did. That the two bodies of data exist does not mean that the earlier one had to influence the later, or that plagiarism occurred. Jon tells us that LRH gave John Campbell a session or two, and cured the latter's sinusitis, some time in early 1949. I don't know what was run or how it was administered.


John Campbell had influence. He was editor of Astounding Science Fiction, and he used the magazine to champion what was now called Dianetics. Campbell brought Joe Winter into the inner circle; a medical doctor, Winter allegedly introduced the term 'engram', and who knows what he told Hubbard about Freudian work, or what of that Hubbard made his own. Hubbard always was able to hear another's words and to later originate very similar material.

Despite all this, Freud had abandoned that work and Hubbard made it work. Jon Atack of course finds plenty of evidence that Dianetics did not and could not possibly work. But many people used it and many benefited from it, some spectacularly so (including myself). If Freud couldn't or wouldn't open that door, LRH certainly did - whether Freud led him to it or whether he found that door himself. Of course, I acknowledge that for many people Dianetics never worked and I am far from saying that that was anyone's fault (if fault there be) other than Hubbard's. A large part of Hubbard's life's work was to find technology that could work for everyone, but unfortunately that work got lost in other things as time went on.

Is Jon Atack entitled to position Dianetics as a fraudulent and noxious graft, without roots in fact or virtue, upon a rejected Freudian stem? If Jon had investigated some of the unpretentious claims of those who have benefited by, and benefited others with, Dianetics - and still come down against Hubbard - his position would have the validity of at least some intellectual honesty. As it is, his positioning of Dianetics is itself fraudulent propaganda.

'Oh, No, Jon, No, Jon, No!'

In at least two further instances Jon exposes his misconceptions. Firstly he speaks falsely of what the e-meter can do, and secondly, he adds to the facts of the First Clear to transform that occasion into another Hubbard conspiracy to hoodwink the public.

In Chapter IV, Jon speaks of '...the e-meter, which, if it works at all, can do no more than indicate the certainty with which a conviction is held.'

I am one of many auditors who have used the e-meter to effectively guide a client towards cognition about deep-seated and hitherto hidden but active influences upon the client's feeling and thinking and perception. I have used it thus on levels from the most basic, through Dianetics and all advanced levels up to and including NOTs. I have used it over thousands of hours and with hundreds of clients. Moreover, I and many, many other auditors have seen the harm that error in or abuse of the meter can cause, and how miraculous the recovery can be when the correct metering is applied. One who says that the meter does not and cannot work is gibbering foolishly. Atack's statement about the e-meter arises out of willful, obstinate, and unjustifiably arrogant, ignorance.

First clear

The Jon party line about the First Clear, John MacMaster, is: 'At the end of February [1966] John MacMaster, who had just flown to Los Angeles, was surprised to hear that he had become the `World's First Real Clear'.' Hubbard had sent out a promotional piece announcing this to Scientologists throughout the world. Only then was MacMaster recalled to England, and given his `Clear Check', to set the record straight. After all, Scientologists needed a boost in morale.

'...John MacMaster became the ambassador of Scientology. He was Hubbard's deliberate choice for the 'First Clear' a personification, so it seemed, of gentleness and love. While his message was being beamed over the airwaves, and delivered personally to packed audiences the world over, the Scientology organizations were becoming increasingly less gentle and loving in their treatment of both their members and their critics.'

The claim here is that LRH decided for his own purposes (evil, of course) that John MacMaster was to be the First Clear (regardless of any technical considerations - all beyond Jon Atack anyway - or of John MacMaster's own feelings about it) and then LRH announced the happy event publicly, this being the first that John Mac knew about it.

I was at Saint Hill when this situation about John Mac's being Clear arose. I was LRH Comm WW. LRH was away in Africa at the time. Normally any communications from him to any staff member (and vice versa) came through the LRH Comm WW, for relay. When LRH was away from Saint Hill, he would leave strict orders that nobody at SH was to be told so. He feared that the word would get out to people who were planning to come to SH and that as a result they would not come. Of course it became very obvious to everybody that he was away, very soon, anyway. And on this trip to S. Africa, he soon made his presence very known to the staff there - without informing me of the fact. Regardless, a mysterious message for LRH arrived one day from the Los Angeles Organization. They were terribly excited about John MacMaster being the First Clear and were clamouring to put on a big promotional event to celebrate it.

Nobody at the WW level at SH had any knowledge of John Mac completing the Clearing Course. But in investigation it came out that he and some others had been talking about the possibility that he had finished it. This talk came to the ears of one of John's great friends, Blanka Annakin. Blanka sent John a congratulatory telegram. This was simply her personal gesture. But Blanka had a position at SH - she was Director of Success. Her telegram was sent as private business from Blanka, but received in LA as formal and official recognition by the Director of Success at SH..

LRH was not at SH; he knew nothing of all this as yet.

The people in LA, probably including John Mac, in their excitement overlooked the obvious fact that having a mere Director announce and welcome the First Clear was not at all characteristic of LRH. Anyway, they were keen and they were eager and they were not going to let go of their fuss over the First Clear that they had in their hot little hands.

Betty James, then HCO Exec Sec WW, gave as her opinion that John should be brought back to SH at once to be given his Clear Check before any other decision could be made. I agreed, and issued the order in LRH's name. John Mac came to SH, had his Clear Check, and was declared Clear #1. This information I now telexed to LRH in S. Africa, and so far as I know this is the first that he heard of it. His response was 'Congratulations MacMaster.' This was his telex style. Since his absence was supposed to be secret, I embroidered it to read like his ordinary memo style, as though he had just written it at his desk down the hall.

John Mac returned to LA, and LA had their big First Clear event. I remember that LRH ordered that John get a glamour shot at a prominent Hollywood photographer's studio. This was for use in publicity. I remember the first copies of that shot and noticing how much make-up the studio had put on his face

Far from a sinister and covert operation, the coming of the First Clear was an innocent and characteristically chaotic explosion of nonsense and triumph - and pretty much a spontaneous explosion, too.

Jon Atack's version isn't worth the paper it's printed on; his supposed facts could have been verified fairly easily - I for one would have told my story clearly but was never asked. Is Jon more interested in accusing than in examining?

I have to add that I speak from memory, and of memories forty years old. And I speak at an age (63) at which memory can play tricks on one. But I'll back my version against Atack's wishful and hateful thinking, any day. I doubt the e-meter would support the certainty of his conviction at all.

A further note: After John Mac, the Clearing Course produced more clears, regularly. Each announcement was telexed to LRH. His responses were always in telex style. I routinely changed them to memo style. I was removed from my post for thus interfering with his communications. I never told him that I was following his orders. It would have made matters worse. And I wanted off anyway. It was too much for me then.

The Hubbard I knew at Saint Hill

The LRH I got to know at SH had already consolidated his position as undisputed and not-to-be-challenged leader of Scientology. I do not believe he arranged this for purely selfish reasons, although self-interest must have played a large part.

Furthermore, I arrived at SH during a period in which he had already turned over to others the greater part of the day-to-day management of SH and of international Scientology. He was taking time out to research what was later to become the Clearing and Advanced Courses.

I know he was doing this research because shortly after I began work at SH (as his butler and then as Household Officer) he would tell me about what he was finding in his research. He'd speak to me for 15-20 minutes every day, when I brought to his bedroom a cup of hot chocolate. Over this drink and a few cigarettes and in his nightshirt, he would tell me all sorts of things. Frequently he told me what he was finding out about the construction of the basic reactive bank (the subject of the Clearing Course). He had an auditing station in his bedroom and it looked well used. He established another one on the top floor of the Manor where he had a beautiful study. He would often go there during the day to do more sessions.

Other than what he told, usually over his chocolate - and those monologues covered a very wide range of subjects - I saw him mostly as a householder and family man. I saw no signs of sharp practice, no signs of dishonesty or immorality, I saw no temper tantrums, no particular arrogance, no drinking, no drugs, no heavy authoritarianism or dictatorship. He was consistently friendly and relaxed with us all as a rule, except when one erred badly. Even then he was not severe, and on one occasion of bad temper with me (fully justified) he did apologize later that day, with a genuinely friendly smile.

I saw him as a gracious husband and caring father. Of course, what I saw of him was limited. But I lived under the same roof and saw him every day for months on end. I saw no weight of conscience. Was he unaware and uncaring as he manipulated us poor, mean boobies under his hypnotic spell? Hardly. He had exceptional manners and was very quick to put one at his ease with him.

I did have a glimpse one day of a vulnerability in him. He had given one of his regular Briefing Course lectures. It was a cold, raw, wet winter evening. His throat was sounding a bit rough. He came in and sat at his desk. I found him there shortly after, to tell him his dinner was ready. He slumped in his chair, obviously lacking a lot of his usual energy. I invited him to come to the table. He didn't respond for a moment. I could see something was up. He complained about the scratchiness in his throat and was worried about it. I immediately got him something to soothe it, and it worked. He then said a few words very quietly. I've quite forgotten what they were, but I remember the impression that something had taken the wind out of his sails. He was questioning his ability and the validity of his work. I simply blurted out the first thing that came to my mind. 'Then how come you were able to write the Axioms?' He appeared stunned for a moment. 'Oh,' he said, 'That's right. Perked me right up.' And he got up and went into his dinner. I was studying the Axioms of Scientology at the time and they were impressing me deeply.

What can explain the differences between the LRH that Jon Atack portrays in this period, 1949-1966, and the LRH that I knew from mid-1964? I don't have any authoritative answers, but can hazard amongst some or all of these:

By 1964, his experiences had matured him; his marriage and family had settled him greatly. The sessions he had received, whether for research purposes or for personal enhancement, had helped him. His increasing understanding of the human mind and of the spirit helped him. He was under much less threat as leader. The organizations under him were relatively docile. Nobody within was questioning his PR about himself. He had learned to manage money very carefully and had confidence in his ability to make capital and income happen. He had achieved steady organizational growth over several years. He was on and completing a research path that satisfied him. He was not pushing himself into the public view and therefore was not under his own pressure to impress the public. I was experiencing personally a man I was not looking to hate, lessen, or destroy.


In 1966, several shocking developments hit Hubbard. A Parliamentary Enquiry was called for in London. He was told to leave Rhodesia. He was then told to leave Great Britain, his and his family's home for several years. I believe that these events re-triggered his paranoia or a similar psychic condition. Although his is the primary responsibility for being so triggered, it is also true that the organization around him failed to perceive and cater to his needs following these shocks, and we should have. It was not until many years later that he would trust an auditor to give him regular sessions (the second and last of whom was David Mayo). And when, a little before David Mayo started auditing him, a group of highly-qualified auditors on the ship attempted to organize an auditing program to remedy the years and years of early sessions (which may not have been badly done, but which very likely contained some errors serious enough to be giving him continuous trouble), LRH stopped the attempt. These people were all seeking to apply his own standard technology to himself, for his benefit. It was too little, too late.

He found some tools with which people could help themselves and each other. He created an organization to serve that purpose which could have helped him. But he created it in such a way that he could hold it always at arm's length and strictly control how it related to him. He created it to agree with him, even with - and carefully with - his own aberration.

But we who followed him and complied with him as best we could, we also were coming along our own paths. We were becoming more aware, more able, more responsible. He could not let us take any control out of his hands. Control, in his aging hands, turned into perversion of purpose. Then, many of us did what was the last thing we would have thought of, years before:

We walked away.

We can be sad about him, we can be angry about him, we can be neutral about him, but we will never forget him.

© 2001 Kenneth G. Urquhart

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