Scientology and NXIVM - Parallels and Plagiarism
Scientology and NXIVM - Parallels and Plagiarism
Influences on NXIVM beliefs and practices, sourced from Natalie et al (2019), rendered in the mode of W.S. Bainbridge, e.g. Bainbridge 1978. |NXIVM teachings drew upon diverse influences, including Ayn Rand ("parasites"), L. Ron Hubbard ("suppressives"), Milton Erickson's hypnosis, Isaac Asimov's science fiction, Rudolf Steiner, Tony Robbins, and neuro-linguistic programming. NXIVM incorporated elements of multi-level marketing and practices from judo, with colored cloth for rank and bowing.
This is the nineteenth post in a series that examines the book Scarred: The True Story Of How I Escaped The Cult That Bound My Life by Sarah Edmondson.
I recommend reading these posts in sequential order and have listed them in order to make reading them in order easy.
Unless noted otherwise, all quotes used in this series are from that book.
Sarah Edmondson was convinced she was providing something of "value" when getting new people to enroll on courses or to continue after they had begun.
Barbara told Sarah she received money for something of value and there is no room to evaluate the statement, just room to integrate it with her own beliefs. This shows how NXIVM is ultimately ideological and dogmatic while having a false pretense of logic and science. It's neither.
You are supposed to believe because Keith Raniere is such a genius authority and he is such a genius authority because he gave you something to believe! It's really a circular argument.
By that "logic" and "science" anyone saying ANYTHING is just as valid an authority as Keith Raniere and any ideas are just as valid as his.
Keith Raniere, NXIVM leader
The idea that the ideas and practices in NXIVM are life changing and of immense value is essential to the whole thing.
The members must believe this as they initially pay what is a lot of money to most people for the early indoctrination and this goes up as they get deeper into the group. They also must believe if they recruit new people and sell them courses as the easiest way to sell something is if you truly believe in it yourself! Most people are not happy with themselves if they are ripping people off or pulling a scam on them.
So, Keith Raniere had to get the majority of people in NXIVM to genuinely believe it was a beneficial group that sold helpful products to people for the group to grow, be profitable, and sustainable.
This brings me to several points I want to emphasize as similarities between Scientology and NXIVM.
First, the indoctrination both groups deliver is misrepresented as priceless and unique. It's presented as producing miracles you can't get anywhere else as an individual and as being the only hope to make a revolutionary change and improvement in all of humanity that will save us from extinction. It is presented as the only hope for mankind.
Second, both groups act like the "value" of the training and other services the group provides is beyond measure, so any financial price, or sacrifice of your own goals, or your relationships, or your labor or personal boundaries and comfort is not too high for the promised, assured, benefit.
In Scientology the term "exchange" is used and Hubbard defined it a certain way.
"Four Conditions of Exchange
Verb: give something and receive something else in return.
Noun: an act or the action of exchanging; a short conversation or argument; the giving of money for its equivalent in the currency of another country; a building or institution used for the trading of commodities; a set of equipment that connects telephone lines during a call.
Ref: Compact Oxford English Dictionary
Derivation: Middle English eschaungen, from Anglo-Norman eschaungier, from Vulgar Latin *excambāre : Latin ex-, ex- + Late Latin cambre, to exchange, barter.
American Heritage Dictionary Fourth Edition
First consider a group which takes in money but does not deliver anything in exchange. This is called rip-off. It is the “exchange” condition of robbers, tax men, governments and other criminal elements.
Second is the condition of partial exchange. The group takes in orders or money for goods and then delivers part of it or a corrupted version of what was ordered. This is called short-changing or “running into debt” in that more and more is owed, in service or goods, by the group.
The third condition is the exchange known, legally and in business practice, as “fair exchange.” One takes in orders and money and delivers exactly what has been ordered. Most successful businesses and activities work on the basis of “fair exchange.”
The fourth condition of exchange is not common but could be called exchange in abundance. Here one does not give two for one or free service but gives something more valuable than money was received for. Example: The group has diamonds for sale; an average diamond is ordered; the group delivers a blue-white diamond above average. Also it delivers it promptly and with courtesy."
(HCO PL 10 Sep 82 – Exchange, Org Income and Staff Pay, Ronald Hubbard)
And as I quoted before, Hubbard defined his courses as literally more valuable than EVERYTHING ELSE in existence!
“If the Captain does not KNOW that Advanced Courses are the most valuable service on the planet he will not be able to understand HARD SELL. THEREFORE HE MUST REALIZE: That life insurance, houses, cars, stocks, bonds, college savings, are all transitory and impermanent and based on things not surviving, or on things that are in fact being destroyed.
Advanced Courses rehabilitate the Thetan to his OT abilities and last forever and give immortality.
‘Hard Sell’ is based on knowing and promoting in this line (TRUTH!) and not being reasonable about people who want ‘other things’ or ‘other practices’. There is nothing to compare with Advanced Courses. They are infinitely valuable and transcend time itself.” (Flag Mission Order 375, 14 August 1970, Ronald Hubbard)
And the third and final similarity I want to point out here is the lie about Both Keith Raniere and Ronald Hubbard that they "developed" the "tech" and gave it away for free!
This is really two lies from these two guys. They each stole ideas from others and repackaged them as their own.
And the second part of this lie is that they provided it for free! Keith Raniere reportedly got over a hundred million dollars from the Bronfman family alone and millions more from others!
"If you have created value in someone's life, then of course it's right for them to pay you for what you're providing to them. When you really think about it, it's like you're giving these life-changing principles away for free-it's just that someone's paying for the cost of putting on the training. Keith gives the tech away for free!"
(NXIVM member Barbara speaking to Sarah Edmondson, Scarred page 51)
So, Keith Raniere portrayed himself as the ultimate altruist who developed a method to improve individuals and save humanity from their worst impulses and behaviors and conveniently just gives this away for free! What a nice guy!
In reality he was given a huge fortune several times over and lived very much like a man on permanent vacation with others always picking up the bill.
Hubbard of course similarly claimed to not be paid for his work.
He did it of course in his own exaggerated and self aggrandizing style:
“I will not always be here on guard.
The stars twinkle in the Milky Way
And the wind sighs for songs
Across the empty fields of a planet
A Galaxy away.
You won’t always be here.
But before you go,
Whisper this to your sons
And their sons —
"The work was free.
Keep it so. " L. RON HUBBARD
“THE WORK WAS FREE”
“by L. Ron Hubbard”
“I have been at work for seven years to produce a series of techniques which any well-trained auditor can use to clear people. We now have them.
I am truly sorry that this took seven years. Actually, it took more than twenty-five.
Under other "systems of research" it could not have been done. It was financed at first by my writings and expeditions. Some 15,000,000 words of fact and fiction articles ranging from political articles to westerns were consumed in a large part by this research - but it was free to act if not free from sweat.
No bullying dictator wanted it for his mass slaveries as happened to poor misguided Pavlov. No big corporation wanted it for a better Madison Avenue approach to advertising - another kind of slavery. No big RESEARCH FOUNDATION like Ford was there to interject their "America First" philosophy. These had not paid for it; therefore they didn't own it. The work stayed free. Thus it prospered. It did not wither in support of some aberrated "cause". It bloomed.
But the violence of protecting this work while continuing it took a toll nevertheless. Special interests believed it must be evil if they did not own it. Between 1950 and 1956, 2,000,000 traceable dollars were spent to halt this work. Newspaper articles, radio ads (as in Seattle from the University of Washington), bribed "patrons", financed "patients" all cost money. You hear the repercussions of this campaign even today.
Money could not stop this work by then. It was too late. If anything had been wrong with our organizations, my character, our intentions or abilities the whole advance would have crumbled. But we had no Achilles' heels. We carried on. All that has survived of this attack by the two APAs, the AMA and several universities is a clutter of rumors concerning your sanity and mine - and rumors no longer financed will some day die.
And so the work has emerged free of taint and misguided slants. It is itself. It does what it says it does. It contains no adroit curves to make one open to better believing some "ism". That makes it singular today in a world gone mad with nationalism. Buddhism, when it came to the millions, was no longer free of slant and prejudice. Taoism itself became a national jingoism far from any work of Lao-tse. Even Christianity had its "pitch". And if these great works became curved, with all the personal force of their creators, how is it that our little triumph here can still be found in a clear state?
Well, no diamonds and palaces have been accepted from rajahs, no gratuitous printing of results has been the gift of warlords, no testament had to be written 300 years after the fact.
For this we can thank Johann Gutenberg, and the invention of magnetic tape. Therefore, although we have no such stature as the Great Philosophies, I charge you with this - look to source writings, not to interpretations. Look to the original work, not offshoots.
If I have fought for a quarter of a century, most of it alone, to keep this work from serving to uphold the enslavers of man, to keep it free from some destructive "pitch" or slant, then you certainly can carry that motif a little further.
I'll not always be here on guard. The stars twinkle in the Milky Way and the wind sighs for songs across the empty fields of a planet a Galaxy away.
You won't always be here.
“But before you go, whisper this to your sons and their sons - "The work was free. Keep it so".*
(Excerpt from: 'Scientology Clear Procedure, Issue One, December, 1957, Ron Hubbard)
Ronald Hubbard, Scientology founder
There is no way to get the sheer audaciously arrogant bombastic style of Hubbard across without just letting him speak for himself. He's beyond satire.
I wanted to use this reference to emphasize his bold faced lies. By the way, it's been reported that Hubbard had over four hundred million dollars stashed away at the time of his death!
He had Sea Org slaves living in squalor and unspeakable conditions making pennies an hour and living in conditions unfit for man or beast to save money so he could hoard wealth for himself far beyond even what a man of his voracious appetites could spend.
Scientology and NXIVM - Parallels and Plagiarism