3. Fundamentalism, Extremism, Totalitarianism
Michael Baumgartner, the philosopher from Bonn, has presented one of the most noteworthy cumulative estimates of the SC. He investigates the world philosophical bases and associates them with the orientation model of the ideal SC activist. "From the view of the Scientologists," writes Baumgartner (1992, p. 1330, "the world is sentenced to destruction. According to their self-understanding, Hubbard has discovered the only possible way to the salvation of the world. This way consists of scientology training and auditing, of survival of Scientology as a closed organization and church ,as well as of the domination of Scientology of the whole planet earth. One of the recurring catch-phrases in this context is 'Clearing the planet', the 'clearing' and through that, the salvation of the planet earth."
Neither Baumgartner nor other authors give a satisfactory answer as to how one could categorize such an organization in a conceptually appropriate manner. Does it have to do with a church, an extremist organization, a sect as others? SC, according to its own understanding of itself, a religion inside of a church, according to overwhelming interpretations of the critical literature however, a profit-oriented commercial business disguised as religion which would rather conceal its expansive socio-political goals, can be understood only with difficulty. In the sense of the question of this opinion, namely the effect on a liberal democratic constitutionally-formed state, the concept of the extremist theory is available in the context of a "pro-active democracy." SC nevertheless can not unconditionally be designated as "extremist" for two reasons:
The social basis, which consists of the membership, adherents, and lastly, the totality of course participants, of the SC is not politically motivated in the direct sense. It doesn't want primarily to change the world, just itself. The extremist parties and organization's destructive political motivation of the adherents is a characteristic which is missing in SC.
The pro-active, public campaign for political objectives is less single-minded than with conventional extremist organizations. SC does not take part in elections, does not hold public demonstrations, and rarely publishes decided political positions, occasionally a magazine or a flier.
These are important reasons not to use the concept of political extremism in favor of a regard for the perspective of a "pro-active democracy" upon SC. Nevertheless, SC combines a several characteristics which are known in the theory of pro-active democracy and also in the research on extremism, and which I will address further.
The concept of fundamentalism can likewise be used to describe SC adequately only in part. It is mostly strongly religiously or morally obsessed and encompasses the pro-active mobilization of the followers. SC exhibits fundamentalist characteristics, but does not meet the concept of fundamentalism as an organizational unit. Taking it a step further, it appears that SC, in the sense of a work unit, is to be understood as a totalitarian organization. Totalitarianism, which political science takes in the context of teaching regimen (Backes/Jesse, 1985), will be destroyed here as a working concept in the tradition of Hannah Arendt's classic study of "Elements and Sources of Total Dominion." It has observed an expansive mental crisis of society, isolation and the disappearance of individualism as sources, whereby the "totalitarian doctrine" fulfills the function of delivering to an insecure people a "total world explanation." Arendt saw the danger to democracy in the widespread forceful undermining of democratic society and the construction of totalitarian forms of state (Arendt, 1955).
The history of the twentieth century is marked by two conflicting processes. On the one side progress has been made in the democratization and the liberalization of western society. On the other side, however, are the counter-movements, understood together in the theoretical concepts of totalitarianism, extremism and fundamentalism, persistent forces against democracy. They have various common structural characteristics, which are described in seven points.
First, totalitarian movements raise a claim to sole representation. They think of themselves as sole and exclusive possessor of political, religious or otherwise philosophical "truths." Competing movements are understood as perversions or weaknesses which are to be combatted. With that goes the immeasurable overestimation of self and self-glorification as the unique and first power in history which brings salvation to humankind. Their messianism is absolute and indivisible.
Secondly, totalitarian movements are hermetically sealed "world philosophies." From the inside, they do not have access to rational evaluation. Their ideology does not develop in the permanent, rational environment of discussion and learning with levels of spirit and ideas, but they evoke allegedly "perpetual" and irretrievable truth of certain teachings. World outlooks are not fundamentally reflexive and progressive in discussion, but they are "believed" as presumed truths. This shows the quasi-religious character of all totalitarian belief systems. Teachings are not discussed and read over critically; criticism of them [the teaching] amounts to perverted conduct deserving of sanctions.
Third, they have at their disposal an anti-enlightenment, absolute basis of legitimation. Not the reason of the enlightened subject, but the prophetic, charismatic gift of the world outlook in an ideal and absolute manner of a personified leader who amounts to the single source of the legitimation. Right from the start, competing and relativistic arguments are excluded from the tradition of other levels of ideas. The leader is honored and mystified and amounts to the messianic, charismatic "leader" who has been selected by fate, who is not affected by any criticism. Internal democratic formation of will in the frame of a primateship of a better argument runs against the Fuehrer-principle and could adulterate and delegitimtize the power of the Fuehrer ideology. For this reason there is no democratic formation of will in totalitarian movements.
Fourth, the rigid difference between good and evil is stamped upon them. Good is their own world outlook, everything else which does not want to or is not able to follow is, more or less, evil. The moral difference between good and evil follows the trade-oriented, radically simplified difference between "right" and "wrong." Totalitarian consistently develops a considerable aggressiveness against deviation and enemies, often in the frame of conspiracy theories. Partial or overwhelming use of force is the ensuing step to extinguish opponents and enemies which threaten their own world outlook. Between good and evil, right and wrong, friend and foe, the fundamental and inherent differences are rarely taken, as a rule, as differentiations. The adherents of totalitarian groups report on the considerable lack of reality which they finally recognize in the departure stage. The autobiographical material of "ex's" provides abundant proof of this.
Fifth, to cement the uniqueness and irreversibility of their ideology, totalitarian movements develop their own systems of understanding with double-meanings in everyday concepts or with original meanings. They differentiate their vocabulary from that of science, law, medicine, military, sports or technology with their suggestive character. Totalitarian concepts address the absolute and the uncompromisable; they are removed from critical reflection and self-questioning.
Sixth, totalitarian movements direct themselves against the idea of democracy as such; they want to undo the position of democratization and liberalization. Democracy and totalitarianism are quite incongruous because liberal democracy produces the implicit rights of the citizens, and totalitarianism produces a disregard for the rights of the individual citizen in favor of the rights of the collective. For that reason, the principle and, as seen from inside, also necessary repudiation of democracy extends from tactical hypocritical acceptance of reserved criticism up to militant attempts to destroy democracy - sometimes through militant provocation.
A particular problem which is dangerous to a civil democracy is the potential for violence of a totalitarian grouping. The classic examples of totalitarianism - Soviet communism and National Socialism - have defensively legitimized force both within and without: One is said to be threatened and surrounded by aggressive enemies, for which reason the use of violence is supposed to be a legitimate act of necessity. Totalitarian organizations which see themselves under public pressure tend, so it appears, to accept violence under the provision of (apparently necessary) self-defense. When used within as a means of sanction against members, adherents and - in particular - reformers, force appears in numerous forms to be a natural means of discussion against people as well as organization which are perceived to be hostile.
Totalitarian movements do not integrate just one or the other of the named structured characteristics, but, more or less, all seven at the same time. This is part of what makes it a "totalitarian" grouping. In the following paragraphs the ideology of the SC will be gauged on these characteristics. With that is interjected a specific selectivity of consideration: the writings of the SC cover many themes which are not taken into consideration here, some on the construction of courses, the philosophical aspects, the description of the sub-organizations and much more. But this selectivity appears justified in regard to the concluding opinion.
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