Maybe not the smartest thing to do for Parlato, to expose such details that may yet be relevant to the case of his former employers in such ‘elegant prose and superb presentation or marshalling of facts’, as one of the commentators quoted. Especially so, if one actually has read the available court document and now can compare the two sides of the story. In my opinion, Plyam never says anything other than that he signed ownership over to Sara and Clare. He only points out that Parlato said he worked for the father and that the father was interested in making sure his daughters and not Raniere were in legal ownership of their investment, something that had worried Plyam for quite some time as well. That last part again is confirmed in Parlato’s comment. And so it goes on, the two accounts hardly at a factual contradiction but rather of divergent interpretations, as far as I can see. (The NXIVM side of things is sealed of course, but here from the Metroland Blog is the Plyam counter-suit
and the accompanying article by Chet Hardin
For the less masochistically inclined, who don’t want to read through a 1000+ page book that has been described as having ‘a flat storyline, highly overdrawn characters, and trivial style’ and therefore is of ‘little literary merit’ (comment translated from a foreign language), here are a few links that might help avoid the ordeal. From the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy the article on Ayn Alissa Rand (1905 – 1982)
, from the Wikipedia articles on her
, ‘Atlas Shrugged
and ethical egoism
to name but a few. This is a link to a student and teacher resources page called Shmoop, containing a literary study guide with analysis, chapter summaries, breakdowns on themes and much more for ‘Atlas Shrugged
I have to agree with AntiCult, this is not yet over; but we may be witnessing the beginning of the end; yet we also need to remain at it, keep the pressure up, spread the news and get the appropriate people, organisations and institutions involved. It is difficult to get an adult person declared unfit. But there may be intermediary possibilities, such as freezing the trust on the basis of justified concern pending further investigations; or some other approach. Even if it were only a temporary cut-off, this would already help. It might force Raniere to show his true face; maybe he’ll spend less of an effort on the Bronfman Sisters, in a sense ‘drop’ them, and concentrate on other, more liquid sources of cash.*
In the following, I’m referring to Raniere, but this may well extend to the rest of the leadership of the organisation as well, in some cases most certainly.
First, I have a pertinent question. Where has all the money gone? We know where the roughly $100 Million from Sara and Clare’s trust that are accounted for have gone; but was that all he ‘borrowed’ from them? Has he touched others for their savings? (This may be save to assume…) Yet, above all, what happened to all the garnered fees, the large sums that students had to pay to attend the courses and intensives? This leads to a somewhat hypothetical mental exercise (I’m definitely no accountant, so please correct, verify, or add to it):
If one considers that there are claims as to Raniere having trained over 400’000 people, there should be quite a lump of money somewhere, a nice nest egg so to speak. Let’s assume for a moment that in reality it was closer to 50’000 spread over the whole twelve years since ESP’s founding and that most of them took the modules only two times rather than the suggested three or more, furthermore that there are still but those modules described in the 1999 ESP Training Materials (as contained within the patent application for Rational Inquiry™ (1999)
on public record at WIPO and referenced to in this post unless otherwise mentioned). Even in that document, there might be more modules; if one counts the distinct sections one gets to twenty-four. Also, it isn’t clear whether there are some undisclosed modules containing ‘special information’ for the promoted.
I don’t know how many modules are actually taught within a five day intensive, so giving the benefit of a doubt, let’s assume half of them are disclosed during that time. This would then make 50’000 * (2 intensives * $5’000) * 2 = $1’000’000’000! That is a Billion dollars! Now, either the claim of 400’000 is not just a little beyond but outright ludicrous, nobody actually takes the modules twice (still $500 Millions then), the modules are all squeezed into a single intensive (still a whopping $250 Million, begging the question though why there is a 16-day intensive; they’d soon run out of things to say), or then there must be some other intangible reason to explain the apparent absence of money; and I’ve only taken the lower figure for the fees!
Taking the lowest number, $250’000’000, subtracting a reasonable salary for an average of 150 coaches or employees, let’s say $70’000 annually per person (Do they actually get paid or are they volunteers mostly?), some high rent for an average 15 centres (30’000/month), and some miscellaneous costs of $1’000’000 annually, you get this calculation: (150 employees * $70’000) + (15 * $30’000 * 12) + $1’000’000 = $16’900’000 in costs per year. Taking the $250 Million over a span of 12 years, you get an annual average of some $20’000’000 and subtracting $17’000’000, you still end up with a reasonable yearly profit of $3 Million or 15%. By now, it would be some $36 Million to be divided among the leadership of NXIVM.
I don’t know at what point taxes are deducted and how much; I assume from the profit and not turnover; but that is in this case irrelevant, since I took the most generous assumptions and it is highly doubtful, given the money philosophies of ESP, that they run such a tight ship. If the original claim of 400’000 satisfied customers were true (and those were reported back in 2003, but let’s assume it were over the whole twelve years), the average annual profit would be more like some $150 Million, again with the generous assumptions. Of course, there are many factors missing or unknown, but the question still remains, ‘Where has all that money gone?’ If it all was spent on salaries, rent, taxes, etc. then they are most certainly paying too much and not the best business people after all, not very successful and thus rather unsuited to teach that subject matter. So, it stands to reason that somewhere well hidden, there is still a substantial amount lying in wait; unless he’s frittered that away on some hair-raising scheme as well!
In any case, if the flow of additional funds from Sara and Clare Bronfman is indeed petering out, Raniere will start asking others for their money. They’ll set up more collections like the ‘honor dollar’, stipulate more involvement in ideas like the ‘ESP buying coalition’ (‘Mission’ module, page 209
, ‘Supporting Ethical business practice: …’; whether that ever came to pass …?), or find some other way to get at the espians’ spare change. The richer will probably be wooed specifically and with great charm, just as the Bronfman sisters have been over the years.
However, there are some arguments these espians might want to consider before ‘lending’ Raniere the money asked for; if they want to stay true to the ESP system, its ethics and teachings, then they should consider objectively and rationally these factual and evidentiary points in light of said principles. (These are not necessarily my opinions but rationally derived from the espians’ well-trained views):
- Whom do these lawsuits, trading experiments and other non-mission-related sources of additional costs serve? ‘World ethics’? NXIVM and its mission? The espians? In essence, are they toward values, forward moving and advancing the human team (‘Work and Value’, pg 118
& pg 121
, ‘Objective value – …’)? Do they produce measurable results (ditto, pg 121
, ‘Work is …’)? Not really! Actually, they seem to make a lot of money disappear, tarnish the organisation’s reputation, make it harder for the espians to fulfil their mission, tie up many people in courts for years at a time, and generally just follow the same litigious lines that have made civilisation practically stagnant over the past 30 plus years. These non-mission-related activities therefore not only hamper the effectiveness of the espians and the ESP/NXIVM mission to establish a ‘world ethic’, but they ‘destroy value’ outright and are thus backward moving at least. The only persons whom they could ever possibly serve is Raniere and the rest of the NXIVM leadership!
- He will probably not ask outright for money, let alone to pay for his lawsuits and other endeavours. But even if, it was he who actually chose to go to court whenever he felt slighted, he who wanted to trade in commodities, etc. (‘Communications and Being at Cause’ module, pg 66
, ‘At Cause …’). It is also a question of honesty to say what you need the ‘loan’ for, not to pretend to be learning for the betterment of humanity, but to admit that you have a gambling problem (‘Honesty and Disclosure’ module, pg 74
), e.g. ‘Honesty: …’). In a certain sense, he implies a ‘liability’, suggesting that the espians should finance his actions because they can. One might respond to such a request (fully disclosed or not) with, ‘Why don’t you make some more money yourself? You teach us success, so show us how. Lead by example!’ (‘Parasite/Producer - Strategies’ module, pg 150
, a., Key: ‘Do not help unless directly asked’). Or the espian might answer in response to the obligation Raniere tries to conjure up, ‘Why do you go to court all the time? Why risk value on dangerous trading experiments? Why endanger the mission with your personal adventures?’ (ditto, pg 150
, b., Key: ‘People create and cause their emotions/behaviors.’).
- When confronted with his track record on the commodities trading or the lawsuits, he might insist that he only needs another go and he’ll have his cases won, his trading system perfected, that so far there has been a Bronfman-lead conspiracy operating against him. (After 65’000’000 experience points, one would surely hope either that he’d finally get it right; or reaches the rather overdue realisation that the system simply doesn’t work and never will!) A possible response to address the wasted time and efforts would be, ‘You’ve already had many second, third and umpteenth chances and simply don’t deserve another, for this is hurting our mission. Concentrate your energy on something else, something that is actually forward moving and mission-related!’ (‘Parasite/Producer - Strategies’ module, pg 150
, ii., Key: ‘Anytime something is given without merit …’). Another point on his particular record of accomplishment is the fact that his excuse for destroying all that value (loosing $65 Million dollars) runs along the lines of it being a learning experience nonetheless. To this the most obvious response would be, ‘Just because you might with a lot of generous imagination one day be learning something out of this doesn’t justify loosing even more money until you maybe
do.’ (ditto, pg 152
, iv., Key: ‘Just because a certain part of a situation can have a good result …’).
- And finally, he might get desperate and remind the espian of how much wisdom he has freely and out of the goodness of his heart given them already with his teachings and how they were ‘acquired at great time and expense’ (‘Rules and Rituals’ module, pg 61
, ‘Confidentiality and Materials: …’), with a lot of effort, and with his heart, soul and mind, his blood invested to invent them. ‘We’re all grateful that the development of these teachings has given you a sense of value and the satisfaction of passing your knowledge on to us. And we’ve paid you handsomely for it. Yet, we haven’t asked of you to suffer for us!’ could be an appropriate answer to these points (‘Parasite/Producer - Strategies’ module, pg 151
, b. bottom of the page and top of next, Keys: ‘Favors end with the favor.’ and a., ‘I never asked you to sacrifice for me.’). Should he call the espian selfish and non-integrated after that: Well, he
taught them to behave thus in the first place! And a proper response would be, ‘Why am I selfish, if I don’t blindly give you what you want for yourself, for your personal non-mission-related actions?’ (ditto, pg 152
, v., bottom of the page and top of next, Key: ‘Calling you selfish …’).
- Some people create problems (unnecessary lawsuits, commodities trading, etc.), so that they may extort money from unsuspecting others to solve them, or so that they may ‘earn’ money from the issues themselves and the resolution of them as well (hypothetically actually winning a case for once; he demands for enough damages each time). Sometimes they create such problems to obligate others or simply to get more attention. (How much money is actually needed for all the lawsuits, the trading experiment, etc.? Where do the leftovers disappear to? A question of open accountability!) Certain people take good-natured persons and attach themselves to them, sucking them dry until there is no more to gain, after which they jump ship and onto the next gullible victim. And the more gifted at these strategies actually manage to build a whole system gathering willingly giving producers about them, gaining all the more by the number of people under their fingertips, the ultimate ‘unlimited form of dishonesty’. Mostly they pretend to be selfless, serving but a greater good, yet in the end all they serve are themselves, often having created the problem that needs addressing (lawsuits, losses in trading experiments, etc.) in the first place. (‘Shifter
- The product of Raniere’s work is ESP/NXIVM and the courses that are provided by it; he has a right to ask for fees for this labour. The question of course is, has he earned the privilege to spend the espians’ money on his personal vendettas (lawsuits) and self-indulgent adventures (commodities trading) or other such actions of which he is the ‘causing agent’? (‘Work and Value’ module, pg 120
, definitions of ‘A right’ and ‘A privilege’) Has his endangering the mission of NXIVM/ESP earned him this privilege? Has his squandering of other’s money, this ‘destruction of value’ merited this licence? Or does he see it as his ultimate right to dispense with the espians’ funds as he wishes?
- Having to pay for something that is of no benefit to the espians, in fact is ‘destrcutive’ to their values, their reputation and hence their intentions to further and uphold the values of civilisation, constitutes a ‘social obligation’ to the NXIVM community! Raniere’s work has been duly paid with the fees; they’re the product of his labour. The espians’ money on the other hand is the product of their labour, hence in a sense a part of them. So, to ask for parts (or eventually all) of it, maybe even influence, coerce, or shame them to compliance, essentially is like obligating them to do unreciprocated work, in other terms, to enslave them! (e.g. ‘Mission’ module, pg 207
, ‘Our society…’ and ‘Obligation is…’)
- Money, as the product of the espian’s labour, represents that work value and thus the person’s underlying skills. To give it away for free undermines the concept of ‘fair market value’. It is after all best to sell it to the highest bidder. The question is, what does Raniere offer in return? Does he further the mission with his expenditures in ‘destructive’ lawsuits? Does he hasten the advent of ‘world ethics’ with absurdly wasteful experiments in trading? Do his teachings gain more value, the organisation more weight and a better reputation with the kind of behaviour he chose to pursue? No, and since it is for these points and their successful completion that espians want to sell or invest their skills having already paid for the teachings, in light of his damaging actions it’s reasonable to conclude, at least in these matters he is not the highest bidder after all. (‘Personal Inventory and Value Trading’ module, pg 218
, ‘Working Concept: …’)
- His experiment in commodities trading has so far resulted in nothing but losses. There have been no measurable results proving that the system actually works. In fact, it’ probably not be workable after all. The experiment on this system therefore is ‘non-existent work, it produces no result or value.’; or in other words, it is ‘virtual work’. (‘Work and Value’, pg 121
, ‘Work is …’ and ‘Virtual work …’)
- Raniere seems to have a penchant to engage in mostly pointless, doomed and often ruinous endeavours. If he would (or rather could) ever win, they might potentially be a measurable result of his ideas. This way however, they are but detractions and as they are based on highly praised systems of his, by extension these are failures too. (‘Honesty and Disclosure’ module, pg 75
, ‘Failure: … In the thought realm: …’)
Should an espian conclude that these points do not apply in this case, then they may be putting the whole concept of a uniformly applicable standard in a consistent reality as provided by the ESP matrix in question. Where then and to whom do such exceptions apply? Who is exempt from these arguments? The espians? The NXIVM leadership? Or only Raniere as the conceptual founder? How can such selective exemptions ever lead to a fair and ethical system of communications, understanding and civilisation’s advance, to a ‘world ethics’ for all of humanity?
Raniere and the NXIVM leadership will naturally come up with a spade of counter-arguments, evasions, blatant lies, and ostensibly logical excuses for the demand for more money and the underlying needs and reasons, the lawsuits, trading losses and other such matters. They will maintain that such arguments as listed above are merely intended to sow doubts in the minds of the espians, despite them being factually based on Raniere’s own teachings as written by him and published with his patent application for his Rational Inquiry™ technology.
But one has to consider this: Has he ever before explained, excused, or interpreted anything like this in such a manner as his current counter-arguments? Or are these just the newest in a long line of never-ending justifications? If so, isn’t this behaviour ‘totally reactive’ and indicative of a lack of possibilities, hence proof of low ‘self-esteem’ on his part? (‘Self-esteem’ module, pg 128
, ‘Self-esteem is the range …’) A rational deduction therefore would be that the system is not quite as perfect as advertised to the espians. If amendments, excuses and vague evasions need to be made, then perfection cannot be reached yet; thus, it follows logically that the system is incomplete and therefore probably inconsistent.
And as to Raniere changing the tenor of his arguments whenever he is confronted with a new facet of an old problem: Is not the ultimate virtue of a producer to be consistent in whatever circumstances life throws at them, consistent not just in their values and the resulting actions, what truths they tell, what principles they follow, but above all in the way they treat others, the espians in this case? (‘Parasite/Producer – Strategies’ module, pg 149
, ‘A Producer is …’)
Some espians however may be more devoted to Raniere and an elusive mental construct of NXIVM than (the truth of) his teachings, which after all are at the core of the organisation and its ‘world ethics’. These persons in their blinding devotion will probably still indulge his whims, ‘loan’ him the money so that he may continue with his inconsistent experiments and the ‘destructive’ detractions of his lawsuits and other such ‘devaluing’ activities.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/29/2010 12:03PM by Macumazahn.