Jefferson Hawkins was once the top marketing executive for the Church of Scientology and helped it reach its greatest extent with the famous “volcano” TV ads in the 1980s. He’s told his tale of getting into and out of the church with his excellent books Counterfeit Dreams and Leaving Scientology, and he’s helping us understand the upside-down world of Scientology “ethics.”
Jeff, some of us are still hung over after the amazing court clash in Texas that lasted all day yesterday. But we’re ready to soldier on with more lessons about Scientology ‘ethics.’ Where are you taking us today?
JEFFERSON: This week we’re taking up Chapter 10 of Introduction to Scientology Ethics, which is all about Hubbard’s “Third Party Law.” This is a short chapter so we’ll make it a short critique.
THE BUNKER: Help those of us who have never been in Scientology understand what the Third Party Law is.
JEFFERSON: Sure. L. Ron Hubbard starts by stating that he has studied the causes of violence and conflict for “a very long time.” He concludes that there must be an unknown natural law which underlies all conflicts and which is the root cause of all conflict. He then states this law — in all caps, of course — as:
A THIRD PARTY MUST BE PRESENT AND UNKNOWN IN EVERY QUARREL FOR A CONFLICT TO EXIST.
FOR A QUARREL TO OCCUR, AN UNKNOWN THIRD PARTY MUST BE ACTIVE IN PRODUCING IT BETWEEN TWO POTENTIAL OPPONENTS.
Of course, in typical Hubbard fashion, he states this as an absolute law, true in every single case. And he offers no supporting evidence whatsoever. He gives a couple of examples, which he simply makes up. In one, a rancher and a farmer are in conflict. Lo and behold, it turns out that the local banker is playing them off against each other!
THE BUNKER: Sounds like a plot right out of the pages of one of his potboiler westerns. So Hubbard says there is no other reason for conflict except a hidden Third Party?
JEFFERSON: Exactly. But even a cursory look at conflict theory reveals that there are many potential reasons for conflict: competition for scarce resources, social injustice, a clash of beliefs, ethnic or cultural differences, social change, poor communication, differences in values or morals, and so on. Hubbard is taking a complex and nuanced subject, and one that has been studied extensively by psychologists, social scientists, and historians, and he boils it down to one simplistic rule.
THE BUNKER: Isn’t he contradicting statements from his own earlier writings?
JEFFERSON: Sure. In Dianetics (1950), he stated that the single cause of war was the Reactive Mind. Then when he was pushing communication as the universal solvent in 1955, it was breakdowns in communication that caused all conflict. And when he was pushing Overts and Withholds, he stated that was the only reason for marital or other strife. Every new “discovery,” it seems, becomes “the only reason,” and this one is no exception.
THE BUNKER: So how does this play out in Scientology organizations?
JEFFERSON: It’s a very handy “law” for Scientology to have. Hubbard wrote it, as I recall, in 1968, when there was a lot of trouble with the British government. They were refusing entry to Scientology students, and there was a fear that they would seize the book stocks. Hubbard needed somehow to explain this conflict to Scientologists, so he invented a narrative that the “Psychs” were behind it all. In other words, it had nothing to do with Scientology’s actions (such as disconnection or dirty tricks) but was a “Third Party” campaign by the Psychs. It’s a narrative that is still in use today. Remember when Anonymous first came on the scene, Scientology invented a story for the faithful about how Anonymous was being organized and financed by Big Pharma.
THE BUNKER: And is this used within the organizations? Is there an attempt to “find a Third Party” in the case of conflicts?
JEFFERSON: Hubbard wrote another Policy Letter called “Third Party, How to Find One,” and that is included in this chapter. And yes, you sometimes see that used within the orgs to try to find the Third Party. I can honestly say I never saw it work effectively to resolve a conflict. Maybe some of our readers had a different experience with it.
But again, it’s a handy “law” to have. It discourages people from complaining, or they will be accused of “Third Partying.” And it enables Scientology to put the blame for any conflict on “outside SPs” rather than looking for root causes within the organization.
Posted by Tony Ortega on January 9, 2014 at 07:00
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