BY LILY LYNCH
When it comes to the Church of Scientology, no fiction could ever trump reality in terms of sheer bizarreness. Perhaps nowhere is this fact more evident than in the revelation that the church had a completely delusional plan to unite the countries of Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, and the entire former Yugoslavia into a single, Scientology-controlled megastate.
(…) No Hollywood screenplay writer could ever imagine the totalitarian nightmare of a Hollywood Holy Land, even if that screenplay writer was a Scientologist (and we all know there are plenty of those). Let’s take a look back at the terrifying, Xenu-fearing dystopia that never was, and breathe a collective sigh of relief that the only terrain Scientology controls today is Hollywood.
The Bulgravia project was introduced in the early 1990s, when the Church of Scientology and other opportunists of all kinds recognized that the economic and political situation in the Balkan region was extremely fragile, and thus ripe for infiltration and control. But the Bulgravia idea was first mentioned several decades earlier, by charismatic con man and pathological liar, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. In his policy letter “The Responsibilities of Leaders” dated 1967, Hubbard writes about power: How to wield it, and how to transfer it to a successor. On the latter point, Hubbard believed it was desirable if a departing leader had somewhere to run, preferably somewhere where the authorities are easily bought. As Hubbard instructed:
When you move off a point of power, pay all your obligations on the nail, empower all your friends completely and move off with your pockets full of artillery, potential blackmail on every erstwhile rival, unlimited funds in your private account and the addresses of experienced assassins and go live in Bulgravia and bribe the police.
Nepotism, weapons, blackmail, political rivalries, assassins, and bundles of cash funnelled into personal bank accounts in the Mediterranean: to his credit, LRH was actually pretty accurate in his foretelling of the real life 1990s in “Bulgravia”. Perhaps his successors recognized this, and decided it was time to make the ramblings of their sci-fi messiah an earthly reality.
(…) However, you know that news of this “progress” will be met with disappointment by some of your readers and colleagues. Complaints have already been lodged. Dubrovnik now seems “too polished”. Restaurant menus in some of the region’s hotspots are now “too refined”. Porto Montenegro is “over-manicured”. Its “swanky hotels” are “utterly soulless”. These places have become too European and thus, insufficiently Balkan for adventurous Europeans on bargain vacations.
You should reassure your anxious readers that the region remains quite unpolished and unmanicured in places, and that besides Croatia and Slovenia, it’s unlikely that there will be any new Balkan entrants to the “European family” for at least ten tourist seasons.
Balkanist is an experimental, bilingual platform featuring politics, analysis, culture, and criticism for a smart international audience underwhelmed by what is currently on offer. Our aim is to provide bold, uncompromising coverage of the Balkan region and everything to its East. We’re entirely independent, and are not affiliated with any organization, company, or institution.