actuallythere wrote:While SES leadership like Maclaren have a bad reputation, they are figureheads in an organization that is rather out of control of the power relationships it creates.
Perhaps my experience differs from yours AT, but in the Sydney SFSK there is no question that Nina Mavro is much more than just a figurehead. While I agree that the personal lives of members are not regulated to an undue extent (at least while they are not attending groups or other activities directly associated with the School), the power relationships in the School itself are created and maintained by Mrs Mavro. She selects the tutors, determines the 'material' read in classes, and the composition of the classes themselves.
Again, I think it's very important not
to think of the School as an entity in and of itself. The School doesn't manipulate people; people
manipulate people. Specifically (in the case of the Sydney SFSK), Mrs Mavro manipulates people. The School doesn't establish power relationships; Mrs Mavro establishes them. The bad reputation of these leaders does not exist in a vacuum, rather it is built upon their words and actions. It is impossible to separate the creation of the 'School mindset' from the words and actions of Mrs Mavro.
Saying the students are responsible is a bit like saying that brainwashed people are responsible for allowing themselves to be brainwashed. This is technically correct, however it is only correct to the extent that people are presumed to have an equal ability to resist others intent on deceiving them. I don't think this is the case, and if it is not, I would propose two things:
1. People don't come into the School expecting to be deceived. They are unprepared and unaware that there is a sinister agendum being pursued behind the scenes. How are they to be held responsible for allowing themselves to be brainwashed if they don't even know that it is going on? Allowing something to happen to you implies a knowledge that the 'something' is
happening in the first place.
2. People shouldn't have to enter an organisation under the assumption that they are likely to be brainwashed once they're inside. We all entered the School for genuine reasons.
In other words, not only were we caught unaware, but there is no reason why we should have been 'aware' in the first place.
Looking back on it now, it's easy to ask "but why didn't/couldn't I see what was going on earlier?" however I think this is the wrong question to ask in light of the above. This question contains within it an implicit assumption that we were somehow at fault for not seeing the true state of affairs earlier. However, the fault lies squarely with those who deceived us. The notion that we were in fact being deceived is so alien to what we thought was the purpose and value of the School that it would have been unbelievable if anyone had thought of this. The fact that some people did is in my view the best of fortunes. When you've been told year after year that 2 + 2 = 5, putting 2 and 2 together is just not that easy.
actuallythere wrote:I believe that far from consciously conniving to exploit a group of people Maclaren, Sinclair, Lambie, Boddy and all the rest didn't realize what they were playing around with and how destructive it was.
I think this would be correct if all they ever saw was one group of people over a short period of time. The fact is, these School leaders were in the business for (in some cases) over 40 years. I think it's a far more unbelievable proposition that they didn't
know what was happening to their students than that they did. In other words, it's much more likely, given the length of time involved and the number of students involved, that these people knew exactly what was happening to everyone. It was certainly the case in the SFSK that close tabs were kept on everyone. Mrs Mavro made a point of knowing everyone's personal circumstances. It's simply impossible that she didn't know what effect her 'teaching' was having on her students.
actuallythere wrote:Firstly, recruits are at least in part responsible for their complicity with leaders - and this complicity in my opinion is best understood in terms of personal psychology (and as opposed to 'stupidity'). Without these recruits, there would be no leaders.
In a sense I agree with you AT, subject to what I said above about brainwashing. I would say though that the second sentence here doesn't necessarily follow from the first. I admit that I'm unsure whether or not you intended it to. Nevertheless, I think a distinction can be made here in the following way:
1. Clearly, it's trivially true that there can be no leaders without recruits for them to lead. However, the way I understand what you wrote is more along the lines that without these types
of recruits, these types
of leaders would not have the influence they did.
2. Given what you said regarding personal psychology, I would assume that what you mean is essentially that the types of recruits you are talking about are those who are vulnerable to brainwashing owing to their particular circumstances and desires.
3. If my assumption in (2) is not misplaced, it would follow that these leaders simply acted in a way that, because of (2), resulted in these recruits being brainwashed even though this may not have necessarily been the intention, or occurred to the knowledge of, the leaders.
If (3) is correct, this conclusion does not afford the leaders enough responsibility for what they did. It almost seems as if they just sat back and let things take their course. I'm not saying that it is your intention to hold this view, but the argument seems to necessitate such a view.
In my own experience, Mrs Mavro was someone who never
just sat back and let things take their course. The Gurdjieffian idea of 'engineering' people is foremost in her mind. I don't think she should be apportioned any less responsibility even if she did have particularly susceptible students. In any case, I think my original point regarding brainwashing stands: These recruits neither expected not should they have to have had expected brainwashing as part of their experience in the School. If this is so, Mrs Mavro bears full responsibility for inflicting it upon them.
As for the idea that brainwashing may not have been her intention, I would say that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to attribute any other purpose to her actions. If someone deliberately lies to you and creates in you an utterly false impression of themselves it is well nigh impossible to impute any intention to those actions which is not sinister. The only thing these leaders lose by telling the truth and being honest with their students is precisely the control and power they gain by lying to and deceiving those same students. It follows then that the only reason these leaders act in the way they do is to manipulate and brainwash their students, regardless of the particular vulnerabilities of those students.
Hence the conclusion in (3) is incorrect, and full responsibility should be apportioned to all these leaders.