How L. Ron Hubbard tried to hoax the FBI, and 'brainwashed' politicians of the far right - 2018-02-20
Historian Chris Owen has graced us with another terrific deep dive into one of Scientology's more curious artifacts. Today, he provides new insight on one of L. Ron Hubbard's greatest hoaxes. Tomorrow, he explains how Hubbard's prank took on a life of its own with this country's extreme right wing.
In the late summer of 1955, a curious booklet called "Brain-Washing: A Synthesis of the Russian Textbook of Psychopolitics" began circulating across the United States. Published with a foreword by a "Professor Charles Stickley," it claimed to be a transcript of an address given to "American students at the Lenin University" by Lavrenti Beria, the head of the Soviet Union's secret police. It portrayed Beria as describing how to use psychiatry and psychology to carry out a communist takeover of the West. The following year, the booklet became hugely more prominent when it became part of a campaign by far-right groups against a new mental health law in Alaska.
Versions of the booklet have been republished dozens of times since then by far-right groups and activists. It is still in print today. (The text of the original version can be seen here.) Many of those who have republished the booklet over the years would have been surprised to learn that it was a forgery by none other than L. Ron Hubbard and his Scientology organization, created to take revenge against the psychiatric profession for its hostility towards Scientology.