William S. Burroughs On Scientology

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(Los Angeles Free Press, 06 Mar 1970)

William S. Burroughs

In view of the fact that my articles and statements on Scientology may have influenced young people to associate themselves with the so called Church of Scientology, I feel an obligation to make my present views on the subject quite clear.

Some of the techniques are highly valuable and warrant further study and experimentation. The E Meter is a useful device … (many variations of this instrument are possible). On the other hand I am in flat disagreement with the organizational policy. No body of knowledge needs an organizational policy. Organizational policy can only impede the advancement of knowledge. There is a basic incompatibility between any organization and freedom of thought. Suppose Newton had founded a Church of Newtonian Physics and refused to show his formula to anyone who doubted the tenets of Newtonian Physics? All organizations create organizational necessities. It is precisely organizational necessities that have prevented Scientology from obtaining the serious consideration merited by the importance of Mr. Hubbard’s discoveries. Scientologists are not prepared to accept intelligent and sometimes critical evaluation. They demand unquestioning acceptance.

Mr. Hubbard’s overtly fascist utterances (China is the real threat to world peace, Scientology is protecting the home, the church, the family, decent morals … positively no wife swapping. It’s a dirty Communist trick … national boundaries, the concepts of RIGHT and WRONG against evil free thinking psychiatrist) can hardly recommend him to the militant students. Certainly it is time for the Scientologists to come out in plain English on one side or the other, if they expect the trust and support of young people. Which side are you on Hubbard, which side are you on?

“Scientology Revisited” first appeared in the January 1968 issue of Mayfair in London. (Maynard & Miles C187) It was then reprinted as “Burroughs on Scientology” by the Los Angeles Free Press on 6 March 1970. (Maynard & Miles C272) Finally it was incorporated into Ali’s Smile / Naked Scientology, first published in 1978 by Expanded Media Editions in Bonn, Germany.

This excerpt appears courtesy of the publisher Sans Soleil, which holds the English and German rights to the text. You can purchase this or a number of other interesting works by Burroughs at Sans Soleil’s web site.

3 thoughts on “William S. Burroughs On Scientology

  1. “Scientology Revisited” was a totally different article to “Burroughs on Scientology”. His later article was a matter of “setting the record straight” by refuting his claims in the Mayfair.

  2. Shouldnt’t it read, ‘ can hardly recommend him to the ANTI-militant students in the last paragraph? doesn’t make sense like that.

  3. I’m response to above, perhaps. However, if he is using hardly as in harshly (an older usage of the word) then his usage would be correct. So now we have, “Mr. Hubbard’s overtly fascist utterances… …can harshly recommend him to the militant students.” Ok. Now let’s go further. Combine “harshly” and “recommends” to make it read, “…(can)asserts him to the military students.”

    As to the piece itself. It makes me wish I could have had the chance to talk with this man. I am just now learning of him, but he is indeed very wise, that I can tell. His views on organizations as a concept are spot on, and go further than the Church. Governemnt, religion of any sort, much like life, should be an unorganized collective of individual experiences.

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