There are a LOT of ex-Sea Org members in the Independent Scientology community, many of whom have decades of service, and many of whom were SO with Ron on the ship. Some have defended the SO in theory, but condemn the SO (and all church leadership) in practice as run by the CMO and the Nadir of the group, Mr. David Miscavige.
But I say the SO is toxic in and of itself. The SO is a para-military organization that has no place in a church. I know Ron is a long, long time military man, so it makes sense that he would structure an org along military principles, but you know what? I disagree.
This is not an easy statement to make. It is hard for me to call this baby ugly. Ron put the SO together, and invited a lot of top notch people to join at its inception. But it is ugly.
The SO is communistic in nature. Everyone gets the same pay, same berthing, same facilities, same food, and there is no personal property of any note. This is such a fact, that SO members who DID have personal property were sort of fringe types, and seen by the rank and file (at least the rank and file I knew) as being a bit less committed.
The SO is toxic in that it despises NSO (Non-Sea Org staff) in their orgs. Some of the greatest contributors in Scientology were NSO. The “lower” orgs were manned by NSO, and there were key contributors as auditors, C/S’s. and FES’ers in the ’80s. The best C/S at ASHO in the ’70s was NSO (or barely SO) and the best Class VI Course Supervisor in the ’70s was NSO.
The SO is toxic in its “Cold Chrome Steel” valence – what I would call the Nazi Valence. This opinion is not a new one – I actively mentioned this to the MAA and my course sup when I was on the BC in the early ’80s, causing quite a ruckus.
To me, it is not just Miscavige that is a problem. The SO structure allowed a boy like Miscavige to rise up the ranks, because being a military structure, it rewards militarism. Being a top-down command-and-control organization, it defies outside correction, or bottom-up correction. Being a unit that demands total commitment from its members, it is hard for a member to step back and “be disloyal” to the team or its leadership. Being a group that operates on “eyes only” orders, it is difficult to even inspect what is going on.
I was on staff as a defacto member of the SO in 1977, back when Miscavige was a pup. I saw the most incredible in-fighting and back-stabbing and “know-best” that I have ever seen in my life. The only incentive was to BE RIGHT – to MAKE IT GO RIGHT even if you are 100% bass-ackwards. It was unbelievable.
It makes absolute sense that this structure would spawn abuses such as forced abortions, “The Hole”, language that would make a sailor blush, and forced disconnection. In a military organization, if you are out, you are dead. If you go “AWOL” you are shot.
The SO is exactly the opposite of what Ron described as an ideal organization. The SO as a structure can only work if each person in it were perfect, and this is definitely not the case. I say that the structure exacerbates its members’ imperfection because there are no effective mechanisms for correction, and in fact there are incentives to be an arrogant prick. Think about the current leadership and spokespeople of the church:
- Mr. David Miscavige
- Karen Pouw
- Tommy Davis
- The way Cruise acted toward Matt Lauer in his meltdown in ’05
- John Allender in the infamous Siege of Casablanca video (and who is on the cover of Marty Rathbun’s new book, “What is Wrong with Scientology?” as the poster-boy of the church’s insanity)
The common denominator is “arrogant prick”. Ron was not an arrogant prick, but the structure of the SO sure did reward the attitude.
I am glad that the SO has no place in the future of Scientology. One of the benefits of being Independent is being able to take a “full orb view” of all aspects of Scientology and calling bullshit without worrying about “losing your eternity”. In fact, it is the only was to really have an eternity.