WASHINGTON, September 2, 2017 — Entering its second season on the A&E Network, “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” provides some interesting insights into the attraction for so many of totalitarian movements, whether cult or political.
And these totalitarian movements see their greatest competition as their greatest foe: the family.
Science fiction author and creator of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, was no friend of traditional family:
“Forced groups [families] are invariably less efficient than free groups working for the common good. But any group which contains aberrated members is likely to become entirely aberrated as a group through contagion.”
Alexandra Kollontai, Russian Bolshevik revolutionary and high-ranking Soviet official, wrote in 1920:
“The family is withering away not because it is being forcibly destroyed by the state, but because the family is ceasing to be a necessity. The state does not need the family, because the domestic economy is no longer profitable: the family distracts the worker from more useful and productive labor. The members of the family do not need the family either, because the task of bringing up the children which was formerly theirs is passing more and more into the hands of the collective.”
When journalist Peter Engelmann met Nazi official Gertrud Scholtz-Klink in 1940, head of the Reich’s Woman’s Führerin (Nazi Women’s League), he noted:
“Frau Klink rules the lives of women in all things. She tells them how many children they must have, and when; what they shall wear, what they shall cook and how. What they shall say, laughing to their husbands and sons marching to war. How they shall behave, smiling, when their men are killed. Here is the responsibility for the home spirit, the core of national morale.”
In the three examples above, the institution of the family is considered an “aberrated” obstacle to saving the world from the debilitating effects of brain-embedded “engrams” that L. Ron Hubbard insisted were put there by our ancient, extraterrestrial overlords; or a hindrance to the state receiving “more useful and productive labor” from the cogs-in-the-machine known as human beings; or instituting an attitudinal adjustment to women so they “smile” while receiving their dead husbands and sons, mere grist for the mill in their supreme leader’s genocidal wars.
Michael Rinder, the Church of Scientology’s former executive director for its office of special affairs, and the series’ co-presenter along with Leah Remini, says, “When you go beyond the disconnection [divided family] stories and start getting into things where people have died, this is stuff that brings to the attention of the world that this is just not a crackpot cult that sits around chanting or does, you know, weird stuff that nobody needs to worry about… This gets into the real harm of what happens from your involvement with Scientology.”
Rinder was speaking of Philip Gale, who along with his sister Elizabeth, were third generation Scientologists. “We were kind of a perfect Scientology family in the beginning,” Elizabeth told Rinder, “with all the promise. You know, potential.”
But Philip and Elizabeth’s mother decided to send both her rambunctious children away from home to a Scientology boarding school in Washington State.
“In Scientology, that separation [from family] was set in stone,” said Elizabeth, especially when kids reached the age of eight.
According to Remini, women in Scientology are taught that when their young children act out, it is the mother’s fault “because you activate bad memories… of the things that you did when your child was in your womb.”
These so-called toxic prenatal “engrams” are expunged under the tutelage of Scientology’s boarding school faculty.
In fact, Philip Gale was heralded as a Scientology success story when he was accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at 16 years old.
Three years later, Philip went to an empty classroom on the fifteenth-floor of MIT’s Green Building, broke a window with a chair, and leaped to his death.
“It is about stubborn sadness, and a detached view of the world,” Philip wrote in a suicide note. “I see my life – so much dreary, mundane, wasted time wishing upon unattainable goals – and I feel little attachment to the future.”
Philip Gale died on March 13, 1998, on what would have been L. Ron Hubbard’s 87th birthday.
His sister Elizabeth eventually left the church and was disowned by her Scientology mother.
“I had to pick. And I picked my kids,” she said tearfully to Remini, “because that’s the kind of mom I am… If Scientology worked, then I wouldn’t be here. Because we had three generations of healthy, smart, capable people applying Scientology to the best of their ability. It ended up in death, suicide, and loss… And so, to people who are scared to leave [Scientology], get yourself into a position where nobody has the ability to put their thumb on you or take away your livelihood.
“Work hard at that. And when you’re ready, let us all know, ‘cause we’re here. So, I say, ‘Get your ducks in a row, rip the Band Aide off, and welcome to the free world.’”
American political theorist Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1951 essay “The Origins of Totalitarianism”:
“Even moral admonitions, the outcry against crimes unprecedented in history and not foreseen in the Ten Commandments will remain of little avail. The very existence of totalitarian movements in the non-totalitarian world, that is, the appeal totalitarianism exerts on those who have all the information before them and who are warned against it day in and day out, bears eloquent witness to the breakdown of the whole structure of morality, the whole body of commands and prohibitions which had traditionally translated and embodied the fundamental ideas of freedom and justice into terms of social relationships and political institutions.”
That same year, a mere six years after the defeat of totalitarian Nazi Germany, to which the Soviet Union was originally allied against the free world, a U.S. court condemned Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to death for passing American atomic secrets to Stalin’s totalitarian Russia.
As Arendt wrote, the “appeal totalitarianism exerts on those who have all the information… bears eloquent witness to the breakdown of the whole structure of morality.”
And, it must be said, the breakdown of the family as well, for which cults and mass political movements are the poorest of substitutes, and bloodthirsty ones at that.