Why isn’t the book on sale in the UK? The publishers appear to have decided against facing an anticipated lengthy legal battle with the forces of Scientology.
I tried unsuccessfully to obtain a copy in the days after its publication date during a visit to the US. I was unsuccessful, but did find a brilliant review by Michael Kinsley of The New Republic, which appeared in this Sunday’s New York Times [Jan 20 2013]
The book, according to Kinsley, attempts to be a balanced account of Scientology and yet which succeeds in making a powerful indictment of the movement’s methods of control which are considered by Kinsley similar to those found in totalitarian regimes. He describes Wright as accumulating convincing evidence of
“something close to prison camps where dissenters, would-be defectors and power-struggle rivals were incarcerated in deplorable conditions for years…a shadow totalitarian empire …financed by huge contributions from …[celebrity backers].”
This is the stuff of conspiracy theory. Granted I am working at second remove from Wright’s book, but it is not difficult to see how a publisher might get worried that skilled lawyers on behalf of scientology could make a lot of trouble in the courts.
The conceptions of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard [image above] have been widely considered as beyond rational belief. That is the argument levelled at all religions by rationalists. I leave it others to examine the theology that between life on earth, death and an afterlife, is a period during which our spirits are transported to Venus to have their memories erased. This follows from Hubbard’s notion that life on earth originated with visits from Thetans from the planet Venus.
The charismatic leader
Accounts of charismatic leaders such as Ron Hubbard often describe how their unshakeable beliefs are instilled in their followers. Mr Hubbard’s influence has extended long after his death [in 1986]. Current believers such as Tom Cruise contribute considerable sums of money to financing the scientology movement.
The dark side of leadership
Increasingly, the dark side of charismatic leadership is being recognised by researchers. L Ron Hubbard may be added to the group of charismatics deserving further attention in this respect.
The book may add more authenticated research to the account on the life of Hubbard to be found in Wikipedia, which is particularly critical and lengthy. However, a feature of a belief system is its capacity to deny the validity of attempts which threaten its core. It will take more than another book to budge the thinking of those committed to the beliefs of Scientology.