Title: Scn's Dept 20: a memoir
by RVY (Pt 5 - Beginnings)
Author: Robert Vaughn Young <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 8 Sep 1997 16:46:31 -0700
Scientology's Dept. 20:: a memoir
Part 5 - Beginnings
by Robert Vaughn Young
The Guardian's Office used to have a piece of promo that I personally
found quite compelling. All it said was something like, "Everything to
this point has prepared you to join the Guardian's Office."
I think I liked it because it was true for me. I had acquired years of
experience in various forms of public relations and confrontational
situations long before stepping into the GO.
I remember the precise moment that I learned about the Guardian's Office.
The odd part was that I wasn't even a Scientologist. In fact, it probably
helped me to become one.
It was in 1968. I was a graduate student in Philosophy at the University
of California, Davis. Officially, I was a "Teaching Associate," which was
an important notch up from a Teaching Assistant. Rather than being
attached to a professor, I had my own classes (two "Introduction to
Philosophy" classes each quarter). Put another way, I was one notch down
from faculty. I selected my own texts, gave the grades, received a salary
and even had an office but I wasn't listed as faculty. As far as I was
concerned, it was a great place to be.
My area of interest was a relatively new field that we called Philosophy
of Mind or Philosophy of Psychology. Between the death of Skinner's
Behaviorism and the rise of the computer as the newest model and the issue
of artificial intelligence, it was an exciting field.* It was what was
driving me on through school, rather than a desire for a PhD.
One day one of the graduate students told me that someone who had been a
grad student at UCD was coming back through town and I should meet him.
"He's into something called 'Scientology' or something like that," Gary
said. "I couldn't figure it out but I told him that it sounded like
something you'd be interested in so Bill's throwing a party for him this
Saturday and we want you to come over and meet him."
It sounded intriguing.
"What's his name?" I asked.
"Martin Samuels," Gary replied.
Each of us have moments in our lives that stand out as historical. Precise
and exact moment that are etched forever, cast in stone, marked as
immortal moments that we wish others really appreciate as much as we do.
This was one of those moments for me. At the time no one knew Martin
Samuels. He was just a UCD grad student who went off and studied something
odd and came back with some odd ideas. Big deal. But years later Martin
would become a major Scientology figure/player and then become one of its
largest headaches, including for me. Maybe it's merely an insider's joke
that Martin Samuels recruited me. Maybe one has to know who Martin Samuels
was, to appreciate the irony. Regardless, it was but the first of many
synchronicitous events in my Scientology career.
As I had been alerted that night to Martin, so he had been alerted to me.
He had been told that I was "into" the "mind-stuff" that Martin seemed to
be dabbling in. So when we spoke, as he later confessed to me, he was able
to make Scientology sound like another graduate philosophy study and I
bit. Over the next few days we garnered an empty UCD courseroom and he
filled the blackboard with diagrams about Dianetics and Scientology.
It was perhaps on the third day that he moved into how the Scientology
organization was built. There was an "organizing board," he said, breaking
the group down into seven divisions, consisting of three departments each,
giving a total of 21 departments. He began to tell me about them all and
finally came to Division Seven, consisting of Departments 19, 20 and 21.
Department 19 was the executive division. Department 20 was the Guardian's
Wait, wait, I said, unable to believe what he had said. My favorite
philosopher had come to be Plato and in his largest work, "The Republic,"
he laid out the structure of the ideal state, with the "philosopher-king"
as the "guardians" of the state.
"Do you mean "guardian" in the sense that Plato used it?" I asked.
Yes, Martin replied with a smile, knowing he had me hooked.
That was when I knew I had to join.
Looking back on my decision, I can see how frivolous it was. At least I
was consistent. That attitude played a part in my joining the US Marine
Corps and requesting - and getting - duty in the Far East, which was like
asking if I could be issued a rifle. As a civilian later in conservative
Orange County (California), I championed liberal causes and hit the picket
lines in 1960 for equal housing and had even been the subject of a story
in a controversy at Orange Coast College where I had been studying.
When I went to (what was then known as) San Francisco State College, was
an activist there and the Bay Area in the era of the Free Speech Movement
and the various demonstrations and riots, not to mention the
Haight-Ashbury. My political activism on the SF State Campus for Jack
Shelley's city mayoral campaign caught the eye of a Democratic Party
regular with offices at the state capitol in Sacramento. I was brought
onto his personal staff, but working out of the California Democratic
State Central Committee in San Francisco, on Sutter Street. One day in
early 1964, he called me up to say that Pierre Salinger was coming to
California to announce he was going to run for the US Senate. Did I want
The pain and the loss in Kennedy's assassination was only months old and
Salinger's name called to the magic that had died at Dallas.
"It means bolting [the regular party]," he warned. "If we lose, we're
He was right. Salinger was a complete Party renegade. A wild cat. His
sudden entry into the California Democratic primary had no Party approval.
He and anyone with him would be taking on the Democratic Party, possibly
splitting it. The price for losing would be worse than losing with Party
The political danger only made it more challenging. Besides, Don had been
my mentor. I liked him and he was a good Kennedy man.
"Sure," I said, with a cavalier attitude. "I'm with you."
I met Pierre Salinger the next day and we were off and running, making
California Democratic history.
For a learning experience, the campaign was great. I worked everything
from press conferences to fund raisers to mailing parties. Typical of most
backlines staff, I seldom met Salinger after that. Meetings with the
candidate were reserved for high-level strategy staff or high-rolling
contributors or big-name celebrities or media. I watched Salinger as he
moved between them, sometimes with but a moment's briefing before walking
through the door to shake hands and schmooze. If I had any romantic
thoughts left about the truth in political campaigns, they were dispelled
in those months of campaigning. But the romance was replaced by a new
love: the love of the campaign itself. It had its own intoxication.
Salinger won the June primary but at a heavy cost to Party support. But
our staff grew and there was more had than my mentor could handle.
"Want to try another campaign?" he asked me a few days after our victory.
Having won the Primary for a US Senator seat, my mentor's power base had
grown and he could return to one of his primary functions: political
broker. He staffed campaigns, amongst other political duties. And he was
offering me one.
"It's purely optional," he said with a fatherly grin. "But I thought you'd
enjoy a change of scene."
"Santa Barbara. A state senate race."
Santa Barbara is one of California's most beautiful cities. Located on the
coast about 90 minutes north of Los Angeles, it carries the Early
California (Spanish) tradition in most of the homes and the architecture
of many businesses. So between the locale and the political opportunity, I
took the offer and moved south with wife Toby for four months.
My mentor's interest in the race was typical of his loyalty to JFK. A JFK
financial supporter needed help and he was ready to return the favor. The
candidate was Al Weingand who owned a small but beautiful ranch resort in
nearby Montecito that the Kennedy's had visited during their honeymoon. A
private photo of the couple at the San Ysidro Ranch hung on Weingand's
wall as one of his most prized possessions.
The race itself was more boring than I had imagined, especially after the
high power of a US Senate race. But it was more education and I was
beginning to love the PR life.
We won the race but Salinger lost his, even after being appointed to fill
the empty seat. I had mixed emotions. I was stunned at the loss but
relieved I wasn't there for it and pleased I was with a winning campaign.
But Salinger's loss meant we had come down a few notches so it was time to
cash in. Three campaigns - city, state and county - had taught me much
but it was time to head back to the safety and comfort of the university
campus. I went back to SF State and entered their graduate program,
teaching "Introduction to the Humanities." I was burned out and lecturing
on Homer's "Iliad" was a good change of pace. After the turmoil of nearly
two years in politics including JFK's assassination, I found solace in
Plato's "Republic." He had tried to integrate a personal, social and
metaphysical philosophy in a way that I had not found since, in a form
(dialogue) that I found refreshing. Coupled with my growing interest in
philosophical psychology, it gave me a chance to recover so I "retired"
from my activism days.
A couple of years later I was awarded my Associate position at UC Davis.
While teaching two "Introduction to Philosophy" classes a quarter, I could
pursue my other interests, starting with Plato.
One day, I had an epiphany into Plato that stunned me. I had managed to
convert a "flaw" in one of his dialogues into an actual "key" to unlock
some of his most basic enigmas. I was so excited that I quickly called the
only Greek scholar we had on the faculty who, unfortunately, was an
Aristotelian. For two hours I filled a blackboard in his office and
expounded my theory, answering all of his questions, or at least I felt I
did. He finally shrugged and said he would have to think about it. I
walked out dejected and met a visiting Russian professor that I had come
to know. He invited me into his office and coaxed my theory from meI
managed to get it down to less than an hour, including his few,
intelligent questions.. At the end of it, he rubbed his chin and said,
"You know, I've never seen this approach to Plato. Is this your doctorate
"Nope," I said as I tossed the chalk into the tray. "I'm done."
And I was. After years of work, Plato was resolved for me. Now I merely
had to find a way to integrate Plato's work with the modern insights into
the human mind, as it was being developed through computer models and
A few weeks later, Martin Samuels was telling me how Plato had been taken
to the next level by L. Ron Hubbard. I was intrigued, especially with an
organization that had a "Guardian" structure, right out of "The Republic."
"Let's do it," I said to Martin. "What do I do next?"
"You get audited," Martin replied.
"Sounds good," I said. "What's auditing?"
* The field developed on its own and came to be known as "Cognitive
Science." Universities now offer degrees in the subject.
** The "flaw" occurs in the "Parmenides." Parmenides was a sophist who, in
the dialogue, dismantles Socrates with an argument (since called the
"third man argument") and then command. The rest of the "dialogue" is a
monologue by Parmenides. The nature, structure and intent of the
"Parmenides" has been a continuing source of debate among philosophers for
---------------------------end of Part 5
copyright (c) 1997 by Robert Vaughn Young
All Rights Reserved
return to best of ars page
return to lerma's main anti-cos page