Landmark: Letter to the Editor

[Translation kindly provided by Niels Teunis.]

Karin Spaink’s column published in the August/September edition of XL contained several inaccuracies with regard to Landmark Education and its educational program, The Landmark Forum. I would like to point out the following.

Nobody gets paid commission when he or she recruits a new participant. Those who participate in the educational programs of Landmark Education do not receive any commission or any other form of payment, in any way shape or form, when they recruit friends or colleagues to follow the educational programs.

Furthermore, Landmark Education does not exert pressure on homosexuals – other than what the column suggests – to follow its educational programs. Introductions to the Landmark Forum are being given to allow the public to obtain information about the Landmark Forum and nobody exerts any pressure on homosexuals or whosoever.

In addition, Landmark Education was not founded by Werner Erhard – other than was alleged. Mister Erhard only developed a portion of the educational materials that is being used in the Landmark Forum. Mister Erhard has never been an employee or a stockholder nor has he been connected to the exploitation of Landmark Education. Nor has Mister Erhard ever been a member of Scientology. More than 30 years ago he followed two Scientology courses, among the more than 50 other courses being offered by a variety of organizations, as part of a self-education program in diverse disciplines (amongst which Gestalt therapy and Eastern Philosophy).

Landmark Education has no connections to Scientology.

It is regrettable that the column uses incorrect information to create an incorrect image of Landmark Education.

Art Schreiber,
Chairman Board of Directors Landmark Education, Inc,
San Francisco, US

Response Spaink:

Articles critical of Landmark are usually answered by a letter of their lawyer/chairman Art Schreiber, in which he threatens legal action. Receiving suc a letter without a threat is an indication that I wasn’t far off in my column about these Tupperware merchants in happiness. In only one instance did I deserve a correction.

  1. Landmark does not give commission to people who recruit new members; I was wrong there. Almost everybody works for free for Landmark, only a small percentage gets paid (about 450 people). Landmark is a commercial company (revenue: about 50 million per year) that relies mainly on volunteers. You would wish they would receive a part of the profits.
  2. Landmark is known to exert strong pressure on course participants. I described what that looks like in the LGBT community. I never suggested that Landmark only targets this community, on the contrary: the whole class of well-to-do, slightly concerned-with-themselves citizenry is the target audience.
  3. Landmark asserts that there simply is no such thing as group pressure: you cannot make someone do what they don’t want to do in the first place, is their adage. It is the mistake of the (future) course participant if s/he experiences the urging of the salesperson as pressure. Repeatedly and publically telling someone that not wanting to take a (follow-up) course implies that you let yourself be dominated by your negative impulses, that I define as exerting pressure. Just like the hard sales tactic (calling someone three times a day and not accepting no for an answer) and not giving people the time to eat or sleep properly for three days.
  4. The connection between Landmark and Werner Erhard (whose real name is John Rosenberg) is strong and proven. Erhard established EST, a group that acquired a terrible reputation as a result of tyrannical practices (not allowing participants to use the toilet, not allowing people to eat or drink outside times appointed by the leadership, sessions where participants were physically handled) and as a result of scandals involving Erhard personally. EST was later transformed into Landmark and Erhard sold his rights to his employers. Art Schreiber, the current chairman of Landmark, used to be Erhard’s lawyer. Both Erhard’s brother and sister are high up in the organization (Harry and Joan Rosenberg). More importantly, Landmark is working under a license, which belongs to Erhard, a license which will revert back to him in 2009. Furthermore, Erhard receives 50% of Landmark gross profits. (Source, Metro News, San Francisco, 9 July 1998). Possibly Schreiber is correct when he states that Erhard is not involved in the exploitation of Landmark, but he sure is involved in receiving the profits.
  5. Schreiber notes subsequently that Erhard has ‘never been a member of Scientology’ and continues by stating that Erhard ‘followed two Scientology courses.’ Every cult-watcher knows that only Scientology members can take Scientology courses; I will let the readers draw their own conclusions. I have never stated that there are connections between Landmark and Scientology; I did state that there are similarities. That is Scientology’s own opinion as well: they have repeatedly accused Erhard of stealing their material. It is always fun to see mudslinging between two clubs that are fishing in the same pond.
  6. Schreiber stated that I painted an incorrect picture of Landmark. Unfortunately he forgot to mention in his letter that I cited liberally from Landmark’s own documents.
  7. That people learn from Landmark is possible. I just find it extremely painful that you have to draw your checkbook before and after, and that ‘graduation ceremonies’ where the fortunate participants can collect their diplomas, are mainly being used to recruit their friends and family. But as I wrote in my column: Landmark is not the only one that throws itself on the trade in happiness. Many others are just as bad.
  8. Finally, I wish to apologize sincerely to the company Tupperware for abusing their name. They at least give you something solid for your money.

Aantal reacties: 63