From an often-quoted article by L. Ron Hubbard:
THE TRUE STORY of Scientology is simple, concise and direct. It is quickly told:
1. A philosopher developed a philosophy about life and death.
2. People find it interesting.
3. People find it works.
4. People pass it along to others.
5. It grows.
When we examine this extremely accurate and very brief account, we see that there must be in our civilization some very disturbing elements for anything else to be believed about Scientology.
These disturbing elements are the Merchants of Chaos1. They deal in confusion and upset. Their daily bread is made by creating chaos. If chaos were to lessen, so would their incomes.
The politician, the reporter, the medico, the drug manufacturer, the militarist and arms manufacturer, the police and the undertaker, to name the leaders of the list, fatten only upon “the dangerous environment.2 Even individuals and family members can be Merchants of Chaos.3
It is to their interest to make the environment seem as threatening as possible, for only then can they profit. Their incomes, force and power rise in direct ratio to the amount of threat they can inject into the surroundings of the people. With that threat, they can extort revenue, appropriations, heightened circulations and recompense without question. These are the Merchants of Chaos. If they did not generate it and buy and sell it, they would, they suppose, be poor.
For instance, we speak loosely of “good press.” Is there any such thing today? Look over a newspaper. Is there anything good on the front page? Rather, there is murder and sudden death, disagreement and catastrophe. And even that, bad as it is, is sensationalized to make it seem worse.
This is the cold-blooded manufacture of “a dangerous environment.” People do not need this news and if they did, they need the facts, not the upset. But if you hit a person hard enough, he can be made to give up money. That’s the basic formula of extortion. That’s the way papers are sold. The impact makes them stick.
A paper has to have chaos and confusion. A “news story” has to have “conflict,” they say. So there is no good press. There is only bad press about everything. To yearn for “good press” is foolhardy in a society where the Merchants of Chaos reign.
Look what has to be done to the true story of Scientology in order to “make it a news story” by modern press standards. Conflict must be injected where there is none. Therefore the press has to dream up upset and conflict.
Let us take the first line. How does one make conflict out of it? “1. A philosopher develops a philosophy about life and death.”
The Chaos Merchant has to inject one of several possible conflicts here: He is not a philosopher, they have to assert. They are never quite bold enough to say it is not a philosophy. But they can and do go on endlessly, as their purpose compels them, in an effort to invalidate the identity of the person developing it.
In actual fact, the developer of the philosophy was very well grounded in academic subjects and the humanities, probably better grounded in formal philosophy alone than teachers of philosophy in universities. The one-man effort is incredible in terms of study and research hours and is a record never approached in living memory but this would not be considered newsworthy. To write the simple fact that a philosopher had developed a philosophy is not newspaper-type news and it would not disturb the environment. Hence the elaborate news fictions about (1) above.
Then take the second part of the true story. “People find it interesting.” It would be very odd if they didn’t, as everyone asks these questions of himself and looks for the answers to his own beingness, and the basic truth of the answers is observable in the conclusions of Scientology.
However, to make this “news,” it has to be made disturbing. People are painted as “kidnapped” or “hypnotized” and “dragged as unwilling victims” up to read the books or listen.
The Chaos Merchant leaves (3) very thoroughly alone. It is dangerous ground for him. “People find it works.” No hint of workability would ever be attached to Scientology by the press, although there is no doubt in the press mind that it does work.
That’s why it’s dangerous. It calms the environment. So, any time spent trying to convince press Scientology works is time spent upsetting a reporter.
On “4. People pass it along to others,” press feels betrayed. Nobody should believe anything they don’t read in the papers. How dare word of mouth exist? So to try to stop people from listening, the Chaos Merchant has to use words like “cult.” That’s a “closed group,” whereas Scientology is the most open group on Earth to anyone. And they have to attack organizations and their people to try to keep people out of Scientology:
Now as for “5. It grows,” we have the true objection.
As truth goes forward, lies die. The slaughter of lies is an act that takes bread from the mouth of a Chaos Merchant. Unless he can lie with wild abandon about how bad it all is, he thinks he will starve.
The world simply must not be a better place according to the Chaos Merchant. If people were less disturbed, less beaten down by their environments, there would be no new appropriations for police and armies and big rockets and there’d be not even pennies for a screaming sensational press.
So long as politicians move upward on scandal, police get more pay for more crime, medicos get fatter on more sickness, there will be Merchants of Chaos. They’re paid for it.
And their threat is the simple story of Scientology. For that is the true story. And behind its progress there is a calmer environment in which a man can live and feel better. If you don’t believe it, just stop reading newspapers for two weeks and see if you feel better. Suppose you had all such disturbances handled?
The pity of it is, of course, that even the Merchant of Chaos needs us, not to get fatter but just to live himself as a being.
So the true story of Scientology is a simple story.
- Definition: Merchants of Chaos ↩
- Scientology lures people in with their “solutions for the dangerous environment” under the heading of “Scientology Zero.” ↩
- Merchants of Chaos are more commonly known as Suppressive Persons or SPs. Definition: Suppressive Person. ↩
- Hubbard, L. R. (1965). The True Story of Scientology. Scientology A New Slant on Life (2007 ed., pp. 257-265). Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, Inc. ↩
- This essay was published as HCO Information Letter 10 December 1963 Scientology Zero The Dangerous Environment The True Story of Scientology. The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, (Vol VII, 1991 ed., pp. 356-358). ↩
- Mark Rathbun used Hubbard’s “true story of Scientology” and the SP doctrine in a 2009 blog article to identify Scientology’s current leader David Miscavige as a “Merchant of Chaos.”
The person who came to mind when I read this has attempted to re-write the True Story of Scientology as follows:
1. He has taken studied, extreme measures to write the author of Scientology out of the picture. Most recently he had the LRH biographer once again drop the biography of LRH and write 110 pages of PR copy on himself as the author of the greatest breakthroughs in Dianetics and Scientology in their histories.
2. He doesn’t find it interesting in the slightest. So much so, he hasn’t audited in nearly twenty years.
3. He has taken measures to use Scientology in the reverse so that it works in reverse to a detrimental result.
4. He diverted and socked away nearly a billion dollars that otherwise might have been spent on dissemination – a central management function – for his own personal aggrandizement.
5. Under his leadership the movement has had unprecedented shrinkage, to the point it is now being held afloat by a captive, elite public that are lavished with statuses in exchange for lucre.
Rathbun, M. (2009, 20 October). Merchant of Chaos. markrathbun.wordpress.com. Retrieved 6 July 2010 from http://markrathbun.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/merchant-of-chaos/ ↩