Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Suppressive Persons & Counter-Revolutionaries

We finally watched the impactful HBO documentary on Scientology, Going Clear. I had read the original Lawrence Wright New Yorker article that led to the book that the film is based on. But the film, directed by Alex Gibney, is especially powerful because of the on-camera interviews with a number of very high-ranking Scientologists who managed to leave and are now speaking out. I knew the general contours of the Scientology story, but the abuses happening within the "religion" are worse than I imagined.

One thing that really struck me is that they were always on the lookout for "suppressive persons" within or close to the organization whom they deemed a hindrance to purity and progress. This seemed to me similar to the label of the "counter-revolutionary," wielded so ruthlessly in Mao's China and Castro's Cuba, to name two prominent cases. Once the external enemy is defeated the focus turns inward. It has a life of its own. I remember watching a documentary on Che Guevera, a figure loved by many liberals (at least judging by t-shirts). As soon as the Cuban dictatorial oligarchy was removed, an understandable action in many ways, Che turned his revolutionary fervor aggressively and violently against those within the party deemed not pure or committed enough. In Mao's China, measures aimed at counter-revolutionaries abused countless millions during the Cultural Revolution. Those closest to the flame get burned the worst in the end.

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