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Ethics or Pseudo-Ethics

Ethics is the steamroller that paves the highway. If things are going poorly, (clearly visible bad indicators) it is very beneficial to send someone to the gallows.
L. Ron Hubbard[1]

L. Ron Hubbard refers to the rules of behavior for Buddhist monks as the basis of ethics in Scientology. To this end he cites passages from "the annual gathering of Buddhists in 1965." He wrote:

One of the earlier codes of regulation and of proper behavior is found in the following article (appeared about 2,500 years ago in India). But what is more important than the regulations quoted here is that they are the direct predecessors of our own ethics system. This is of interest, in case the validity and the religious nature of our ethics system should be doubted.

With this information, Hubbard contradicts what he, himself, has put out for public display: that ethics and morals are two different matters which should be clearly separated from each other. The article quoted by him could have been described, instead, as a code of morals of a system of justice inside of a Buddhist order. If L. Ron Hubbard wanted to refer to that as a predecessor, then he would have to refer to it as a predecessor of Scientology morals and the Scientology justice system, and not bother about the concept of ethics.

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For Hubbard, however, it was more important to describe it as a system of ethics (justice) in the area of religious philosophy, or, as the theologian, Professor Georg Schmid, wrote me:

L. Ron Hubbard presented religious speculation as if it were fact. However, that did not upset him and it does not upset Scientologists. That is because a factual understanding of Buddhism and Christianity is not at all their goal. Scientology deals only with Scientology. Other phenomena of spiritual history are altered and tailored until they chime in with this hymn of praise to Scientology.

Definitions of Ethics

Scientology ethics is clearly differentiated into two areas, namely, the ethics of the individual and the ethics of the group. For the individual, it reads:

Ethics consists, in reality, of reason in the direction of the highest level of survival for the individual, the upcoming generation, the group, and humanity. [2]

By that, L. Ron Hubbard means that a person should behave in such a manner that his own dealings promote life on a higher level, a realization which is, by no means, new. [3]

What is surprising is what the group ethics of Scientology consists of:

Ethics is that section of the organization whose function consists of removing counter-intentions out of the environment. If you achieve that, the purpose becomes removing alien intentions out of the environment. [4]

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We see by this that in Scientology there are two completely different definitions of ethics. The first defines the concept for the individual, the second concerns a department and its function inside the Scientology organization. This second definition is the one that gives Scientology ethics its bad name.

Scientology sees itself as being the most highly developed religious philosophy in the world, and it is the only chance in the world of being saved from destruction. A logical deduction of this is that anybody who does not conform in thought and word to Scientology is either pursuing counter-intentions (would like to destroy the world, for example) or is pursuing intentions that do not agree with Scientology, even if they do not directly oppose it (for example, other religions and philosophies).

In this sense we have another definition:

In ethics we have a system to remove counter-efforts which oppose progress, and that is all that an Ethics Officer should be doing. [5]

This confusion of definitions does not only have a system, but it also has a clear-cut use: no Scientologist can come forward and state that his sense of ethics is telling him that one thing or the other must be changed or improved inside of the organization, or that this or that instruction from L. Ron Hubbard could have been better written.

This way Scientology can always give the public an acceptable definition or explanation of ethics (such as in their newest edition of "What is Scientology?"), while seeing to it, on the inside of the organization, that so-called "counter-intentions" are being removed by the ethics department.

Generally speaking, we find, more and more, in Scientology, the intermingling of ethics of the person as to his own quality and mission and ethics of the organization as to the accepted assessment of ethical or unethical conduct of the member. [6]

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The Ethics Officer's Mission

[The Ethics Officer is] the staff member who puts the ethics policies into effect in a Scientology organization in order to keep the area free from [upset], and to enable it to enjoy the full profit which Scientology has to offer. [7]

This characterization is best suited to another statement of L. Ron Hubbard, which contains the purpose of ethics in Scientology:

Ethics only exists to hold a position long enough and to keep things settled down in order to get the technology in [to bring about the correct, orderly and effective application of Scientology]. Ethics is never used for the sake of ethics. It is used up until the time that the technology functions, then the technology will take care of the situation, and ethics moves away in order to seek other targets.

We do not hang people just because we started to do it, and therefore must finish.

We start to hang people and insist on tying the noose in an expert manner, up until the exact moment we get the [technology] in - which truly makes the noose superfluous.[8]

This is more than enough to show the very limited scope and application of ethics. Ethics serves exclusively to expand the "technology of Scientology." Therefore it seems to have less to do with improving the ethical understanding of the individual than it does with the expansion of Scientology.

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With this explanation, however, Scientology has moved far away from the general understanding of ethics. It declares itself as a measure of all ethics, as the highest ideal of mankind. Whoever limits the purpose of his ethics to bringing into the world his philosophical, religious or psychological perceptions may not assert that his own ethics mark a "turning point in the history of philosophy."

In "What is Scientology?", the ethics officers is described, among other things, as someone who is supposed to help Scientologists in taking the right steps in their ethical decisions. Ethics, as described in this book, bears a close resemblance to that of Socrates, in particular to Platonic ethics. The forked tongue of advertising...

If I keep to what I have seen and heard in practice, I would come to the conclusion that "ethical" is whatever benefits Scientology, unethical is whatever harms Scientology. Scientology, as such, is ethical, through and through. Pure and simple logic.

Servant to Power

In his "Introduction to Scientology Ethics" L. Ron Hubbard states that people who are in the vicinity of power are best able to live most successfully and to survive. The following citation seems serious to me, because it contains Machiavellian overtones. Hubbard states that, as a servant of power, one has to have enough authority to keep his retreat clear. Even his employer need not know everything that goes on:

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He does not need to know about all the bad news, and, if he is really a person in power, he will not always ask, "What are those dead bodies doing outside the front door?"

And if you are smart, then never let it occur to you that he killed them - that would weaken you and would harm the source of power. "Now Boss, about all those bodies, nobody would ever think that you are the one who did it. That one out there with the pink legs sticking out didn't like me." If the boss is really in a position of power he will say, "Why are you bothering me with that if it's already done and you've taken care of it. Where's my blue ink?" [9] Or "Captain, three people from the harbor police will be here soon with Dober, your cook, and will want to tell you that he beat up Simpson." "Who is Simpson?" "An employee of the opponent's office in the city." "Good. When they're done with that, bring Dober down to the first aid station and see that he receives any treatment he may need. Oh yes, and something else, give him a raise."

Power play in a pure culture. It does not have to do with whether or not Dober committed an illegality, it only matters that he was able to do harm to an "opponent." This has nothing to do with normal treatment or even "religious" treatment. This is about holding on to power at any price. If he has to, then one walks over the corpses:

Finally, and most important - because we are not all on the stage, and not all of our names appear in neon letters - always push power in the direction of he from whom your power depends, be it in the form of more money for the person in power or greater relief, or a flaming defense of the person of power against a critic. It can even consist of the thud in the dark of one of his enemies on the pavement, or the entire enemy camp going up in flames as a birthday present.

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Woe to the Scientologist who listens to these words of L. Ron Hubbard and is caught in an illegal dealing with the law. Scientology quickly washes its hands of him and hangs the individual out to dry ... internally things are "cleaned up," and the game starts all over. Scientology likes to quote another reference by L. Ron Hubbard, which says that the laws of the land must be obeyed. The numerous aspects which must be continually undertaken by the Office of Special Affairs to prevent former members from pouring their hearts out are impressive.

The Disciplinary Code

Hubbard classified certain dealings as unethical. The punishment for unethical actions range, officially, from a simple "observation of a non-optimal situation" up to banning from Scientology. Hubbard presented four categories of ethical offenses: mistakes, misdemeanors, crimes, high crimes. Several examples:

Impoliteness and contrariness; acts or omissions that lead to a loss of status or punishment of a superior; refusing auditing if it has been ordered by a higher position; interrupting a meeting; insufficient or decrease of income or people in a [...] department, organization, [...] or division; bad behavior. [10]

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According to Hubbard, first, all the offenses which would normally be counted as crimes are included in this category. Inside of Scientology, crimes include the following:

Permitting or organizing a meeting or gathering of staff [...] or people from the public which pursues the purpose of protesting against the orders of a superior; passing oneself off as staff or as a Scientologist without authority; instigating disobedience; spreading destructive reports about Scientologists in high positions; ridicule of material or policies of Scientology, or holding them up to contempt or scorn. [11]

Here are two relevant comments:

1. Scientology forbids the right of assembly and freedom of expression. This is, of course, an essential element in Scientology control. If several people are not able to gather in order to compare notes about common critical points, and whether those common critical points are against instructions "from above", then a reform movement can never get off the ground. In contrast, Scientology can assemble many critical points of individuals, and then "handle" each one, individually. The individual who first expressed himself critically can then be sacrificed as the greatest evil doer.

2. We further recognize that there appear to be situations inside of Scientology in which Scientologists are required to pass themselves off as somebody other than who they really are - but not "without authority."

High Crimes - suppressive actions

These consist of publicly leaving Scientology or committing suppressive actions.

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In the book, Introduction to Scientology Ethics, suppressive actions are described and detailed in 26 pages (close to ten percent of the book). Here are a few examples:

Any felony (as, for example, murder, arson, etc.) against persons or property.

Here L. Ron Hubbard contradicts his own explanation of the function of a servant of power. If the result of the deed serves the welfare of Scientology, then it could only be guessed at if the connection to Scientology was public and could be proven. It can be found in American legal documents from the 1980's that a former Scientologist who was at odds with the "church" was run into by a car driven by one in the employ of Scientology.

Public statements against Scientology or Scientologists.

The right of freedom of speech, guaranteed by most countries in the world and which is constantly invoked by Scientology itself, experiences a restriction here. This "high crime" is reminiscent of a dictatorial decree.

To testify unfavorably against Scientology in a state or public investigation in order to suppress Scientology.

What must a Scientologist do if he has to appear as a witness before a court and is supposed to tell the truth, if this truth was not advantageous to Scientology? Commit perjury? It raises the question of whether or not this Scientology policy does not already a present a mild form of subornation.

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To append comments that designate that this material as "background" or "not in use at the present time" or "old."

With this sentence the collective written works of L. Ron Hubbard, and all his recorded presentations - regardless of date - which he has not expressly stated to be invalid, are raised to [the level of] Scientology maxims.



Ethics or Pseudo-Ethics

  1. Hubbard article of May 16, 1965,
    Indicators of Orgs. [Return]
  2. Hubbard article of December 29, 1966,
    Historical Precedence of Ethics. [Return]
  3. That a person is not alone and does not live solely for himself has already been expressed in various philosophical schools of thought, starting with the ancient Greeks and going up to the Utilitarians in England in the nineteenth century. [Return]
  4. L. Ron Hubbard:
    Introduction to Scientology Ethics. [Return]
  5. Hubbard presentation of November 18, 1967,
    A Talk to Saint Hill and World-wide Ethics Officers. [Return]
  6. The way I learned of my alleged ethics offense was from a note on the bulletin board(!), even though I did not have any knowledge of the fact. That means that I could not obtain employment because of the publishing of this decree (which turned out to be false.) This was not corrected by Scientology, even after the matter was cleared up.
    In this manner a Scientologist could make a bad call inside of his community and fall under the wheels of ethics. The strong belief in authority of the average Scientologist does not usually leave room for doubt in regards to these decrees. [Return]
  7. L. Ron Hubbard,
    Introduction to Scientology Ethics. [Return]
  8. Hubbard article of May 16, 1965,
    Indicators of Orgs. [Return]
  9. This is how the boss signifies that the matter is settled, as far as he is concerned. [Return]
  10. L. Ron Hubbard,
    Introduction to Scientology Ethics. [Return]
  11. ibid. [Return]