Hubbard's aims

Kenneth Eckersley touches upon the impracticality of helping the masses, and how L Ron Hubbard fills

Mahatma Gandhi famously replied, when asked what he thought of western civilisation, “I think that’s a very good idea.”

I subscribe to the aims of Scientology which are: “a civilisation without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights”.

Similar aims have been held by millions of people through the ages, yet still we have insanity, crime and war in abundance – probably more than ever. One’s inclination can be to shrug and say these aims are impossible.

But my experience is that there are two fundamental requirements to being able to make some decent progress towards their achievement:

1. Recognising that each individual person has a spiritual nature and that they are basically good, no matter how “bad” they might be in their current state.

2. Having a workable technology that can assist each individual person to become his or her true, good self. Whilst it has proved impractical to help “the masses,” you can help individuals and they can help themselves and others if they know how. Then it becomes a question of increasing the numbers of individuals helped.

For me, L Ron Hubbard and Scientology have provided both of these requirements.

Scientology practice involves the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others and all of life. The religion comprises a body of knowledge extending from certain fundamental truths, and prime amongst these are that we are all immortal, spiritual beings. Our experience extends well beyond a single lifetime. Our capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realised - but those capabilities can be realised.

We are able to solve our own problems, accomplish our goals and gain lasting happiness, and I have witnessed that we can also achieve new, higher states of awareness and ability.

One aspect that has always appealed to me is that in Scientology no one is asked to accept anything on faith. An individual discovers for himself that Scientology works by personally applying its principles and observing or experiencing results. Like me, millions of others have now followed this route and become better and happier people as a result. See for more on this.

In addition to the spiritual path to betterment undertaken in Scientology, Mr Hubbard’s work has many non-religious applications, and I believe that these are also integral to achieving the above aims. I touched on these in my last article – they address the fundamental threats to happiness which plague this Earth - drugs, illiteracy, crime and immorality.

One thing I consider worthy of special mention is a common sense guide to better living called The Way To Happiness. This comes as a booklet, and its purpose is to arrest the current moral decline in society and restore integrity and trust to us all. With it L Ron Hubbard fills the moral vacuum of an increasingly materialistic society. He describes 21 basic principles that guide one to a better quality of life. Entirely nonreligious, it can be followed by anyone, of any race, colour or creed - and works to restore the bonds that unite humankind.

I have found this booklet to be invaluable in forming the basis of Scientology’s criminal rehabilitation programme and vital to our drug rehabilitation services. It has been distributed by governments, businesses and individuals to over 90 million people around the world. See

I do believe that, working together with like-minded people of goodwill from all faiths and backgrounds, the above aims can be achieved.

Kenneth Eckersley is active in the Church of Scientology, and is a former Magistrate and Justice of the Peace.
Photo: Getty
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Cambridge Analytica and the digital war in Africa

Across the continent, UK expertise is being deployed online to sway elections and target dissidents.

Cambridge Analytica, the British political consultancy caught up in a huge scandal over its use of Facebook data, has boasted that they ran the successful campaigns of President Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2013 and 2017 Kenyan elections. In a secretly filmed video, Mark Turnbull, a managing director for Cambridge Analytica and sister company SCL Elections, told a Channel 4 News’ undercover investigative reporting team that his firm secretly stage-managed Kenyatta’s hotly contested campaigns.

“We have rebranded the entire party twice, written the manifesto, done research, analysis, messaging. I think we wrote all the speeches and we staged the whole thing – so just about every element of this candidate,” Turnbull said of his firm’s work for Kenyatta’s party.

Cambridge Analytica boasts of manipulating voters’ deepest fears and worries. Last year’s Kenyan election was dogged by vicious online propaganda targeting opposition leader Raila Odinga, with images and films playing on people’s concerns about everything from terrorism to spiralling disease. No-one knows who produced the material. Cambridge Analytica denies involvement with these toxic videos – a claim that is hard to square with the company’s boast that they “staged the whole thing.” 

In any event, Kenyatta came to power in 2013 and won a second and final term last August, defeating Odinga by 1.4 million votes.

The work of this British company is only the tip of the iceberg. Another company, the public relations firm, Bell Pottinger, has apologised for stirring up racial hostility in South Africa on behalf of former President Jacob Zuma’s alleged financiers – the Gupta family. Bell Pottinger has since gone out of business.

Some electoral manipulation has been home grown. During the 2016 South African municipal elections the African National Congress established its own media manipulations operation.

Called the “war room” it was the ANC’s own “black ops” centre. The operation ranged from producing fake posters, apparently on behalf of opposition parties, to establishing 200 fake social media “influencers”. The team launched a news site, The New South African, which claimed to be a “platform for new voices offering a different perspective of South Africa”. The propaganda branded opposition parties as vehicles for the rich and not caring for the poor.

While the ANC denied any involvement, the matter became public when the public relations consultant hired by the party went to court for the non-payment of her bill. Among the court papers was an agreement between the claimant and the ANC general manager, Ignatius Jacobs. According to the email, the war room “will require input from the GM [ANC general manager Jacobs] and Cde Nkadimeng [an ANC linked businessman] on a daily basis. The ANC must appoint a political champion who has access to approval, as this is one of the key objectives of the war room.”

Such home-grown digital dirty wars appear to be the exception, rather than the rule, in the rest of Africa. Most activities are run by foreign firms.

Ethiopia, which is now in a political ferment, has turned to an Israeli software company to attack opponents of the government. A Canadian research group, Citizens Lab, reported that Ethiopian dissidents in the US, UK, and other countries were targeted with emails containing sophisticated commercial spyware posing as Adobe Flash updates and PDF plugins.

Citizens Lab says it identified the spyware as a product known as “PC Surveillance System (PSS)”. This is a described as a “commercial spyware product offered by Cyberbit —  an Israel-based cyber security company— and marketed to intelligence and law enforcement agencies.”

This is not the first time Ethiopia has been accused of turning to foreign companies for its cyber-operations. According to Human Rights Watch, this is at least the third spyware vendor that Ethiopia has used to target dissidents, journalists and activists since 2013.

Much of the early surveillance work was reportedly carried out by the Chinese telecom giant, ZTE. More recently it has turned for more advanced surveillance technology from British, German and Italian companies. “Ethiopia appears to have acquired and used United Kingdom and Germany-based Gamma International’s FinFisher and Italy-based Hacking Team’s Remote Control System,” wrote Human Rights Watch in 2014.

Britain’s international development ministry – DFID – boasts that it not only supports good governance but provides funding to back it up. In 2017 the good governance programme had £20 million at its disposal, with an aim is to “help countries as they carry out political and economic reforms.” Perhaps the government should direct some of this funding to investigate just what British companies are up to in Africa, and the wider developing world.

Martin Plaut is a fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. He is the author of Understanding Eritrea and, with Paul Holden, the author of Who Rules South Africa?