The Fuhrer Over est

Werner Erhard of est: How the king of the brain-snatchers created his private empire

New Times: The Feature News Magazine/March 19, 1976

By Jesse Kornbluth

The Fuhrer Over est: Werner Erhard, the Duddy Kravitz of the human potential movement, is the quintessential graduate of his own training. Before you join the swelling est ranks, take a close look at the master himself.

In March 1972, five months after Erhard Seminars Training was founded in San Francisco, Werner Erhard decided it was time to expand what he likes to call "the est universe." Eve Bruce, Erhard's Los Angeles companion, was dispatched to organize a lunch at the Polo Lounge and a "special event" a few weeks later. The guests, Erhard emphasized, were no to be chosen randomly. He wanted celebrities only.

At the Polo Lounge, Werner Erhard found himself breaking bread with Ann Miller, Glenn Ford, Jess Stearn and Susan Strasberg. The lunch, Stearn recalls, was "not memorable." The Beverly Hills event was also a washout. The stars just didn't understand the appeal of a weekend spent in a sealed hotel ballroom. "They really weren't ready for it," Eve Bruce concluded.

By 1975, they were ready. In fact, they were rabid about est. Not no the East Coast, where self-help is still considered merely a West Coast indulgence. But in California, est's home territory. Werner Erhard has become the most successful Pied Piper since Tim Leary. And like that prophet of LSD, Werner Erhard thinks his product is good, important enough - and, God knows, salable enough - to be installed, quite permanently, in every American home and head. Already, without much critical attention, the est phenomenon is considered a hot topic of conversation at the dinner parties of our movers and shakers, and the est training is becoming a popular singles bar without drinks for lonely veterans of 1960s hipness and for others who don't dare miss the latest in self-help therapies. That audience, however, isn't grand enough for Werner Erhard. Not for him a quick consignment to the where-are-they-now graveyard - if Werner Erhard has his way, est will become the most successful American institution ever to have been dismissed as "just another California trip." And because Werner Erhard has been getting his way with astounding regularity, he seems to have decided that 1976 will be the year for est to capture a mass audience.

Est will be coming to your neighborhood with blue-ribbon recommendations. Cloris Leachman, Valerie Harper, Cher, Jeff Bridges, John Denver, Buzz Aldrin, Marion Javits, Jerry Rubin, John Dena and so many executives at one film studio that Hollywood wits dubbed it "Werner Brothers" have been happy to "acknowledge" the contribution est has made to their "aliveness." Werner Erhard, through est, has created the "space" for them to "be" and given them the "opportunity" to "take responsibility" for their lives. Seventy thousand others, less famous but nonetheless allegedly equal in Erhard's affections, have also paid the $250 training fee and "graduated" from est. And, according to est, 8,000 more are waiting for their chance.

The "training" is only the beginning: est encourages "participation" as a way of life. There are 3,500 est graduates currently volunteering - sometimes as much as 40 hours a week - as "assistants" in their local est offices. Forty percent of its graduates who live within 80 miles of the dozen cities where the training is offered are enrolled in the est seminar series. Recently, est has created programs for all but the certifiably insane: there are special sessions for children, teenagers, college students, blacks and prisoners. As a result, Erhard Seminars Training projects a gross of $1 million a month and expects to open offices in 12 more cities in the next year. "The growth of est," writes the manager of est's Command Division, "is limited only by the availability of personnel to conduct the educational program." Clearly, this is no ordinary tent show.

What est is and does has remained remarkably mysterious. This is no accident. Werner Erhard prefers that est graduates and writers not analyze his 50-70 hour training too closely. As his younger brother advised a group of trainees not long ago, "What to do in taking about est to friends ... is not to tell them about the training. I know that sounds crazy, but don't tell them about the training. Tell them about your experience of it, but if you try to tell them what it's about, they get annoyed or confused, they look at you with frustration perhaps. What I've found works is just to give the details. How long it is, what it costs and that's it." If the uninitiated want to know more, the place to find out is an est "guest seminar" - or better, in the training itself.

So all the designers of est would like me to say is that est is a two-weekend training program that takes its $250 from 250 people at a clip. Each Saturday and Sunday, you enter a hotel ballroom around 9:00 in the morning, and, with the exception of two widely spaced bathroom breaks, you remain there "until the results for that day are produced" - usually until after midnight. You agree to wear name tags. You agree not to take drugs unless your doctor insists. You agree not to drink alcohol during your training period. And you agree that you have "created" these agreements.

The training itself consists of interminable lectures - "What is the ground of being from which agreement occurs? From which does it spring? Where does it come from? In other words, what is so so for you about reality that you can't even tell what's so for you" - by the 40-year-old Erhard or one of his nine equally airbrushed, male-model-type trainers (a woman has recently been added to the corps). There are several "processes," which are like mental exercises. There is also "sharing," which is what you do when you have something to communicate. And then there are insults; along the way, the trainees are routinely called "turkey," "suckers" and, most commonly, "assholes."

The ideal est article would end at this point, but Werner - he likes everyone to use only his first name - understands that editors can't run thousand-word advertisements as articles, so he generously gives journalists the "space" to write more expansively. About the training, that is. Other kinds of writing about est are aggressively discouraged, and est has instituted a comprehensive series of procedures to dissuade journalists from trying to investigate Erhard, or his organization.

These elaborate precautions against media penetration of est begin with est's employees. In the confidential "Staff Responsibilities" memo, est personnel are given explicit instructions on the art of media deflection: "Thank the person for their [sic] interest and refer them to est's Public Relations Agency. ... Then call the Public Information Office at est Central as soon as possible. It is imperative that all media information be divulged immediately." At this point, everything is under control: the Public Information Officer at est Central is unflappable. She should be - according to San Francisco magazine, she has been sent to school to learn how to give interviews without saying anything significant.

Est does not yet have a staff cafeteria, and that gives the corporate higher-ups cause for concern. What if a reporter wandered into a restaurant near est's unpretentiously modern San Francisco headquarters and overheard est staffers discussing business over lunch? So another decree was passed down - when est employees are out of the office, they are to "avoid use of words that carry a lot of power and attention in their use: 'Werner,' 'est,' 'fuck.'" Similarly, they are not to do est paperwork outside the office. Even in talking with their friends, their conversations are censored: "When communicating with people about the organization, share your experience of working with est and being a graduate and the value you have received from having taken the training."

But because there is so much about est that Werner Erhard wants to keep secret, he's had to carry his campaign against the media a few steps further. Compulsory "Notes to Werner" are written by staff members every other month, enabling Erhard to spot potential dissidents. On two sides of a single page, staffers are to answer seven questions, including: "If there's anything you're not saying, say it." "If there's anything you don't want to say, say that." "Tell me if I can count on you to get the job done." That, however, hasn't satisfied Erhard's passion for loyalty. Recently, all est staff members were required to confess: "As part of est, who do you resent?"

Apparently, some staff complaints - in est jargon, they're called "upsets" - are so extraordinary that super-secrecy is required. According to est directives, an extremely agitated staffer is to prepare a report about his problem, make no copies, seal it in an envelope, mark it "confidential" and send it to "est attorney, Command Division." This, says the Staff Responsibilities memo, "makes the report a safe, privileged communication which cannot legally be brought to light. You do not need to do anything else." Internally, at least, est believes it has plugged all leaks.

Outside the immediate est universe, however, there are a number of people whose information about Erhard and his organizational setup might be used to derail est. For them, other tactics were devised. Late in December, Erhard decided that a letter - the second in a series - should be sent to his relatives, Advisory Board members, friends of est and ex-staff members. The purpose was to "flatten" their potential to embarrass est in the media - although est, of course, made it seem that Erhard merely wanted to help them defend themselves against a continued assault in the press. Vice President Tony Freedley assigned the writing of this letter to the est Projects Group. "This is an urgent matter and should be handled with a high priority status," he told them. "Werner's words regarding this were 'very quickly.'" The letter, he continued, was to show people who are now "targets" for media attention "the ridiculous lengths the media can go to" and "to expose the intent of the investigative media." Freedley understood that the letter could not overtly demand silence from est's friends. "Obviously," he instructed the Projects Group, "we can't tell anyone what to do and we would not want to do so." A subtler way of encouraging the recipients to cooperate was developed: a follow-up phone call from the est office "to answer any questions or provided any information." And the tone of the letter, Freedley emphasized, should also "create some alarm for the recipients to be careful."

Careful - but of what?

For an organization that professes to despise the methods of investigative journalism, est certainly has a paradoxical way of conducting its own investigations. In the fall of 1975, a private detective was hired to pose as a reporter and "interview" at least one of the sources for this article. This operative, David Fechheimer, turns out to be the partner of Hal Lipset, the nationally known San Francisco detective who once amazed a Senate subcommittee by demonstrating the use of a martini olive as a bugging device and who, more recently, served with chilling distinction as the technical adviser on Francis Ford Coppola's ultra-paranoid film, The Conversation. So whatever it is that est seems determined to protect, the logical conclusion is that it's potentially more explosive than the est mailing list or the "big secret" of the est training.

Whether they're willing to play by est's rules or not, writers will find that Werner Erhard is extremely interested in the final stages of their work. Although he can't sit still long enough to have his picture taken - he's so busy he's had to institute a photo library, which will provide any graphics you like free of charge - he can make time to read your article, particularly while it's still in manuscript. This unique editorial service - also on the house, of course - is, insists est President Don Cox, not intended to abridge anyone's First Amendment freedoms. Est simply wants the writer to have "the benefit of our input to correct any inaccuracies that may be present."

The effect of all this choreography is that when a writer sits down to run some pages about est through his typewriter, all he has to write about is - the training! And Werner Erhard is thrilled! Even when journalists roast est or call it brainwashing or forget that the corporate name is always to be lower-cased, Werner Erhard loves it. Because this is exactly how he's set it up: having first created so much mystery about the est product, he knows that even the most hostile criticism only sparks more curiosity and drives thousands of new marks into the est way of life.

And, according to the est gospel, Werner Erhard "knows" something else: all criticism is self-created - what used to be called "projection" - and thus says more about the critic than it does about his subject. "My job," Erhard explains, "is really to know that you created est. I'm supposed to hang around and be clear that you created est and est belongs to you." If you perceive anything awry with the est organization, it somehow becomes your responsibility to correct the problem. Similarly, it's your misconception if you notice that the est vocabulary is so ambiguous it can be used as a tool of liberation in the training and as a mechanism for control within the organization. And, of course, it's not Erhard's problem if people are so insecure that they flock to his trainings; that's a "barrier" to self-confidence they'll just have to "experience out." Est just provides the opportunity for folks to find out where they're at. It's a good concept: a few hundred bucks paid over to Erhard & Company and they save you thousands that would have otherwise gone to the analyst. And they bless him - to the tune of $62,500 each training.

So est has become the Jaws of the human potential game, eating everything in sight, swallowing people who seem never to have dabbled in any of the other self-help playpens. Are they being conned? Of course not! Why, they were never fooled by Nixon. They're educated. They'd never fall for any ordinary swami. And they're absolutely right! Werner Erhard is no giggling Maharishi, no inarticulate Rev. Moon. He's a Park Avenue illusionist, a master of marketing and propaganda, a very American invention - Swami Uptown!

Not, of course, according to Erhard. "My plans," he proclaimed, in one of his increasingly rare encounters with an interviewer, "could be said to be to make est as public as possible. My notion on how to do that is through the educational system. So I would like to give est up to the environment." Privately, though, Erhard speaks as though he'd prefer the environment to give itself up to est. "If the Buddha could reach 40 million people without television," he has told his staff, "then we can certainly get 40 million." But what would Erhard have these followers do? On that subject, he is absolutely benign. "I want to leave behind a single monument - a world that works," he swears. "I don't want anyone to remember I had anything to do with it." That, he explains, is why he created est in the first place: to make available a training that "serves people." "The purpose of est," Erhard always says, "is to transform your ability to experience living so that the situations you have been trying to change or have been putting up with clear up just in the process of life itself."

Perhaps, if by "est" he means the est training. But est as an organization seems to have other purposes, and they seem to be the variety that can best be realized in the absence of public scrutiny. Yes, these purposes include "serving people" - it's just that the people who get served are Werner Erhard, his lawyers and the upper-echelon est staff.

The first of these purposes seems to be to provide a springboard for the career of est's self-proclaimed Mr. Anonymous, Werner Erhard. The second purpose of the est organization seems to be the substitution of "service" for "salary" in the minds of hundreds of thousands of people and the creation of the most ingenious and legal pyramid scheme in the human potential movement. The third purpose of est seems to be to shelter money in offshore banks as insurance against a time when Werner Erhard might find it more convenient to reside outside the United States.

But the most immediate purpose of est is to protect the ever-mushrooming popularity of its standard-bearer, Werner Erhard. Est has urgent problems on other fronts - its lawyer is under federal indictment; the dropout rate in its training, in some cities, is up 60 percent; the est staff is, by a senior member's assessment, "no longer personable to the point of insult"- but none of these unpublicized difficulties seem to occupy as much time and commitment as Erhard's media war. Now est must deny all experience that does not mesh with its propaganda. Now est must impugn the motivation of anyone whose knowledge of Erhard or his organization differs from the official est biography.

This is more than blind narcissism. For Werner Erhard has made one mistake too large for mere correction - he has needlessly connected the success of his multi-million dollar organization to his own "integrity." Any chink in his story, any forced deviation from est's grand scheme, and his empire might be leveled like a Taj Mahal built of playing cards. And now that he has become the inevitable focus of any "unauthorized" writing about est, Werner Erhard is facing a problem that, as he would say, he alone has "created." It is the one problem more potentially damaging than Erhard's inability to keep the est master plan forever under wraps.

The problem is with the people outside est who know about Erhard's past and how est operates - specifically, that they might all come out of the woodwork at once.

Werner Erhard begins his official est biography with one of his classic bits of doublespeak: "Some people think est came into being because of my past. Actually, est came into being because I completed my past ... Having confronted it, taken responsibility for it, communicated, and corrected it, it is now completed for me." In a letter cautioning this writer to suspect the accuracy of information that might discredit Erhard and announcing est's policy of making writers and publishers "generally and legally responsible for inaccuracies, misrepresentations and reckless disregard for the truth" - est President Cox thoughtfully translates Erhard's jargon for us. "There is nothing relevant in Werner's background which he hasn't already publicly acknowledged and nothing he needs to hide," writes Cox. But Werner Erhard's past isn't near completion for those est staffers who are periodically forced to update his recollections as new revelations surface in the media. And Werner Erhard's past certainly has not been "completed" for Bill Thaw.

Looking back on their friendship, Bill Thaw recalls it was only by chance that he learned "Jack Frost" was really John Paul Rosenberg, the son of a Philadelphia restaurant owner who saved his son from the stigma of Jewish birth by converting to the Episcopal Church. This deception id not distress Thaw; in fact, he thought it was one more trait they shared. They were both, Thaw says, men with a common interest: the con. During the mid-1950s, when Thaw promoted Cadillacs and "Frost" sold Fords, the Philadelphia auto shows were just the training ground for larger projects. Thaw's preferences ran to quick scams and minor frauds; Rosenberg, Thaw says, had a more abstract turn of mind, favoring "a master plan" with "a great impostor role." He seemed to be working out the details even as he sold cars. "Outwardly he was a very open person," Thaw says, "but there was something elusive about him."

Very elusive. In 1969 Jack Rosenberg left his wife and four children. "Some people needed space," he now says of that desertion, "so I gave them a whole continent." On a plane to the Midwest with Ellen, the woman who would become his second wife, Erhard picked up a copy of Esquire and began hunting for a new name; he was determined to avoid discovery by his "very determined mother" and an uncle who was a Philadelphia police captain. His attention was immediately drawn to "The Men Who Made the New Germany." A German name was a natural for him; Rosenberg, remembers Bill Thaw, had long acknowledged Nietzsche as one of his intellectual mentors and the creation of a superrace as his greatest ambition.

Of the article's 16 profiles, two had special appeal: Werner Heisenberg - not, as est claims, von Braun - and Ludwig Erhard. Heisenberg, formulator of the "Uncertainty Principle" which bears his name, was featured because he had "remained unharmed and unaffected" during World War II; the Nazis had been "intellectually incapable" of entering his "ivory tower." Erhard, the jovial and pipe-smoking Economics Minister, had "an uncanny understanding of the economic situation and a special knack of getting along with industrialists of both the new and old school." He was, Esquire thought, the living symbol of the boom." Jack Rosenberg's dream of unassailable, Nobel Prize-winning intellect was thus married to his fantasy of becoming a respected businessman-politician. Werner Hans Erhard. Werner's hands are hard. Splendid!

In 1962, Erhard resurfaced on the East Coast with Ellen, who was now pregnant with their second child. He contacted Bill Thaw and resumed their friendship. But a year later, he apparently decided that not even Thaw was to know his whereabouts; he failed to keep his promise and bail Thaw out of jail after an arrest for credit-card fraud. Thaw wondered why his closest ally had vanished suddenly.

Four years after that incident in Philadelphia, Erhard's liking for women other than his wife led to his own arrest. William LaValley, night security officer of the Sausalito apartment complex where Erhard lived with his family, remembers that Erhard was repeatedly driven home after midnight by women who enjoyed parking with him. They invariably kept the car's headlights on. This interfered with LaValley's surveillance. One night during California's 1967 "Summer of Love," LaValley asked Erhard to dim the lights. "He threatened to kill me," LaValley says. "He came over and grabbed me and tried to drag me out of the car. He said, 'I'm gonna throw you over the railing' - 80 feet down - and I said; 'No way.' I wrapped my arm around the steering wheel and put on my red light and finally I got enough attention so that he backed off." Battery charges were dropped, and Erhard was convicted of disturbing the peace, fined $50 and placed on probation; later, the conviction was officially expunged.

That Erhard should have been frustrated to the point of violence is not surprising; a few miles from Erhard's home, San Francisco's hippies were dropping their responsibilities, taking new names and starting over. Werner Erhard no longer had that option. Now he had seven children. He was Vice-President of Parents Magazine's Cultural Institute, a motivator of encyclopedia supersalesmen. His great escape was, necessarily, inward. His tools were Yoga, Dale Carnegie, Subud, Gestalt, encounter groups, Zen and hypnosis.

In early 1969, Werner Erhard joined the Grolier Society as a division manager. Around that time, he had a brief flirtation with Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard's world-saving crusade. Erhard's relationship with Scientology lasted only a few months, but it was, Scientologists suggest, long enough for him to learn how a successful and effective (some would say frightening) discipline works.

If L. Ron Hubbard was the teacher who provided Erhard with a model for an authoritarian organization, it was the gentle, English-born Alexander Everett who provided Erhard with an organization ripe for an authoritarian takeover. Unlike Hubbard, Alexander was a spiritual idealist, too regal to fight petty inter-organizational battles. He was a true patsy, heaven-sent to a Werner Erhard - all Alexander really wanted, he always said, was "to do the highest thing for humanity." He was even modest about Mind Dynamics, his own training, derived in part from Jose Silva's Mind Control. "Jesus Christ was first in this field," Alexander explained. "We are all spinoffs."

Werner Erhard was the most successful teacher Alexander Everett hired. He was the first instructor to enroll 100 people or more in every training. His one drawback - that he could not bring himself to give the spiritual teachings which followed the basic course - was no drawback to Erhard; he simply called upon Alexander Everett to deliver that material. Erhard's usefulness, Alexander sensed, would ultimately be in administration; he did not know Erhard's intention was to market a Mind Dynamics derivative under his own name. Only after Erhard left him did Alexander realize Erhard had brought his friends to Mind Dynamics to have them trained as instructors - for est.

By 1970, Bill Thaw had been through it all: two bad marriages, nine months in prison and a continuing bout with the bottle. There was nothing left for him in the East. With $16,000 in his wallet, he set out for California, "the Holy Land." Five hours after he drove into Las Vegas, he had lost all but $70 at the tables. He reviewed the list of people he could call for help. Werner Erhard was the only one who was remotely clean.

Bill Thaw and Werner Erhard were reunited at a Mind Dynamics lecture Erhard was giving in Los Angeles. "I listened to his shit," Thaw says of that performance, "and I wanted to go out of my skull, but he was good for a couple hundred dollars." Erhard was better than that: he invited Thaw to come to San Francisco and work for Mind Dynamics. Thaw was quick to convert. "Good living," he realized, "could be very profitable." He liked his new job doing promotion for Mind Dynamics and was happy to advance alongside his mentor, but he was not amused by Erhard's request that he "surrender" to him. Thaw assumed he was only joking.

Erhard was not putting him on, however, and soon Thaw became disenchanted with his friend - so disenchanted, in fact, that he went to Alexander Everett and told him about Erhard's past. Alexander was so surprised by Thaw's revelations that he hired a private detective to confirm them. But, he told Erhard, the results would be meaningless; Alexander refused to be the judge of another man's karma. Bill Thaw hung around Erhard's office waiting in vain for Erhard's dismissal from Mind Dynamics. While he waited, he says he witnessed - and helped create - the key period in the invention of est.

Its name, for one thing. Two weeks before Easter in 1971, Thaw wandered into the City Lights Bookstore and bought a copy of est: The Steersman Handbook, by L. Clark Stevens. Est, for Stevens, meant "electronic social transformation," and his book predicted the rise of the "est people," a post-literate generation of individuals "who are willing to give the love and care" that would make a transformed society possible. Best of all, the process was inevitable and invisible. "As the Est gets into the phase with the Establishment," Stevens wrote, "it cannot be detected." Thaw says he left the book with Erhard's "Facilitator," a combination valet and sidekick. Within two days, Thaw says, the name of Erhard's proposed organization was Erhard Seminars Training - or est.

And Werner Erhard was suddenly a factor for ideas. "How do I know I'm not the reincarnation of Jesus Christ?" Erhard asked Thaw just before Easter. "You wouldn't believe the feelings I have inside me." Thaw assured him the role had already been taken, that Erhard would have to apply for another. Well, then, Erhard shot back, why not simply incorporate the new religion as "Erhardism"? Thaw said, "You're crazy, sayonara," and left Erhard for good.

It was around this time that Erhard had his "catalytic" experience in his wife's Mustang. It took place, he says, "outside space and time." Apparently so, for in various interviews, Erhard sets this event in a number of locales - either near Greenbrae on Highway 101 or parked on a hillside in San Francisco. Wherever the commemorative plaque is finally placed, the idea is that Erhard "got it" and understood for eternity that "what is, is" and "what isn't, isn't." "What I recognized," Erhard has said, "is that you can't put it together. It's already together and what you have to do is experience it being together. When I realized that, everything I'd already learned became transformed." This explanation of why est is more than the sum of Erhard's previous associations is, however, very close to a verbatim lift from the back cover of the then-popular Whole Earth Catalogue - "We can't put it together. It is together."

If "getting it" was an actual and profound experience for Erhard, that moment pales beside his joy at meeting Harry Margolis. Apparently, Erhard hadn't realized that a clever lawyer could so construct his consciousness-expansion business that it would function, in effect, as a nonprofit organization. And Harry Margolis, a Saratoga, California attorney who specializes in tax shelters, was just the lawyer to set it up. Publicly, Erhard would explain that while est had many opportunities to make a profit, it chose, instead, to use its revenues to serve people more fully. Privately, Erhard told intimates, "We're going to make millions! We're not going to have to pay any money to taxes!" The mechanism was simple - by Margolis' standards. First, Erhard sold the body of knowledge to a foreign company (est insiders suggest this may be Presentaciones Musicales, S.A.). The offshore company, sources say, then sold the American rights to the material to est, Inc. But, est, Inc. was a new company and didn't have a million lying around. So, these sources indicate, est borrowed the money from P.M.S.A. or another offshore company. The tax savings this loan offered to est, it is said, cut the company's yearly debt to the government to a palatable - indeed, insignificant - amount. Erhard could thus pump most of the revenue from his trainings into other programs. And with few people on salary and an intensive work program for volunteers, est would be guaranteed an instant success.

In mid-1971, unaware that Erhard had other plans, Alexander Everett asked him to become Coordinator of Mind Dynamics. Erhard allowed negotiations to continue while he quietly assembled a staff for est. Randy McNamara became the first trainer-trainee, whose assignments included bringing tea to Erhard. The women from Mind Dynamics and his Grolier Society sales team were enlisted for office personnel. And then, in the August Mind Dynamics course, Erhard spotted Stewart Emery.

Physically, Emery is a smaller, grey-haired version of Erhard, but with a few cultural differences: he is Australian, a former Vogue photographer and advertising specialist. And in 1971, he was the kind of Mind Dynamics student who was vulnerable to any "aliveness" training that promised him greater and faster enlightenment. Early in September, Erhard invited Emery to lead a special sensitivity training for his Mind Dynamics staff. After the marathon encounter session, Emery was invited to a birthday party at Erhard's home. Over white wine, crab, sourdough bread and salad, Erhard turned to him and said, "I want you to know that this is very unusual, but your contribution over the last few days has been of such magnitude, you have earned the right to join us in est." Emery replied that he was content to study with Alexander Everett. "There's enough money in this for us all to become millionaires," Erhard told him. But Emery asked for a raincheck from est; his most persistent memory of Erhard's Mind Dynamics trainings was of a logistics assistant, on cue, relieving Erhard of his jacket.

On September 13, 1971, Werner Erhard held a public meeting at the Mark Hopkins Hotel to "present a Mind Dynamics lecture in as straightforward a way as possible." His second intention, he told Alexander Everett, was to announce his split from Mind Dynamics. He invited his benefactor to send a representative and "present whatever views you wish." Everett surprised him by attending the meeting; he reassured Erhard when he announced, "Werner Erhard has decided to do his own thing and that is all right."

On October 4, 1971, Werner Erhard inaugurated est. On December 20, 1971, a company called Saratoga Restaurant Equipment Co. decided it would do much better in the mind business - as Erhard Seminars Training, Inc. It seemed at the time, to have been a wise decision; when, four months later, Harry Margolis filed the est tax return for the year ending April 30, 1972, he was able to claim an interest expense deduction of $38,706 and an amortization expense deduction of $40,000. In addition to whatever tax dollars may have been saved by offshore transactions, it is not inconceivable that Saratoga Restaurant Equipment offered significant carry-forward losses to est.

These claims did not go uncontested. In October 1975 - after an extensive investigation that had as many as five Internal Revenue agents building the case against him - Harry Margolis was indicted on one charge of conspiracy and 22 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of fraudulent tax returns. Est's tax return was one count in the Margolis indictment; the IRS thought that $928 was a more realistic figure for est's interest expense deduction, and as for the amortization expense deduction, the government argued that est was entitled to no deduction at all.

First, Werner Erhard said, you vacuum the top of the carpet. Gonneke Spits, a convert from the Grolier days, and Laurel Scheaf, the first President of est, watched carefully. They studied his technique as he ran the vacuum over the rug. Then Erhard flipped the carpet and vacuumed the bare floor. Finally he set the carpet back in place and demonstrated how it was to be cleaned a fourth time. He told them that books were to be removed from the shelves before being dusted. Windows were to be washed three times. Every pleat of the draperies was to be adjusted after cleaning. Gonneke and Laurel agreed to take responsibility for all this. They called it "getting the job done."

From the earliest days of est, Erhard concentrated on enlisting women - a carry-over from his Grolier sales techniques. A college student who was trained under Erhard's direction to sell Grolier's "exciting new program" of preschool learning materials to suburban housewives recalls that Erhard "wanted this to be more than a job for us, he wanted us to identify with the organization." Erhard sponsored get-togethers and trips to the beach, and each morning, before his mostly female sales team went into the field, there were required "Parties," with Beatles music, story-telling, clapping games and group cheers. "It was unnatural," the trainee remembers. "We didn't see him that much. We were encouraged to think it was special when we did." Erhard always made it his business to appear for the final lecture of the training program. "We aren't selling anything," he told the women. "This is a new concept. You don't put pressure on people to buy. You ask them a series of questions, and by answering them, the customers decide for themselves."

Erhard's Orwellian redefinition of language was such a powerful sales weapon that soon after he founded est he was filling 150-seat trainings at $150 a seat. There was not enough money yet, he said, to pay his employees what they were worth; they were so convinced that "serving Werner" was a valuable contribution to their aliveness that salary, however, was rarely an unpleasant "consideration." Magically, the business scraped together enough money for Erhard to separate his office from the staff's and move into Franklin House, the San Francisco mansion he would eventually buy and fill with antique furniture and Oriental art.

Steward Emery saw that Erhard was right - the "traffic" did seem to go his way - and decided to cash in his raincheck. Joining the est staff, he found, was more difficult than it had been in 1971. Erhard was now a certified guru, and a guru's main occupation is creating problems for other people to solve. Over lunch, Erhard presented Emery with two new objections to his employment. Money, of course, was one. Surrender was number two. "Everyone who works for me serves me," Erhard said. "How do I know you'll do what I say?" Emery assured him that although he might, at some point, leave the est organization, the only reason to work for Erhard was to learn everything he had to teach. He could hardly do that, he explained, if he superimposed his own beliefs unto Erhard's. "Now I know I can trust you," Erhard said. He agreed to make Emery est's second highest paid employee.

In late 1972, Werner Erhard and Stewart Emery went to Hawaii to lead an est training. Afterward, as they lay on the beach at the Kahala Hilton, Erhard outlined a plan. He and Stewart and Randy McNamara would give the trainings: one a month in San Francisco and Los Angeles, five times a year in New York and Hawaii, a few times annually in Aspen. Laurel Scheaf would run the main office in San Francisco, while Erhard and Emery and their families could move to Hawaii. It was a sensible plan for a small organization. But Erhard had not anticipated public acceptance on the grand scale.

He got a hint that massive success was possible when Dr. Robert Larzelere gave up his private practice to work for est at $75 a week. Then Dr. Philip Lee, Professor of Social Medicine and former Chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, took the training, and was powerfully impressed by it and joined the est Advisory Board. Professional validation dovetailed with est's "invisible sell" to bring more people into the training; suddenly est was taking in so much money that existing shelters were no longer adequate. This is why, insiders suggest, Erhard established "est of Hawaii" in 1973 as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization owned by est graduates - as an experiment in alternative financial structures for est.

With success came the need for a larger staff. This was a problem for Erhard; there would not be time to bind each new employee to him through charisma alone. If he ran an expanded est solely through intimidation and fear, some of these new employees might leave and broadcast their negative experiences. Worse, they might complain to the California Department of Industrial Relations - they might not agree that they had "volunteered" from 35 to 50 extra hours to each 40-hour work week, they might not be willing to state that in those additional hours they had been working as "managers." It was essential, therefore, to hire people who were not only qualified but who had special personality characteristics. They had to be willing to dedicate themselves to est, virtually eliminating their personal lives in the process. And, most important of all, they had to acknowledge that they were "serving God" and had no rights or privileges. These are the kinds of employees even the CIA can't hire - but that, perhaps, is because the CIA does not use Scientology "e meters."

Here Erhard found a reason to keep Dr. Larzelere on staff. He appointed him head of the est "Well Being Department" and had him trained to use the two tin cans, wires and meters that comprise the Scientology auditing device. Then he had Larzelere process the staff. The technique - one of many Erhard has "borrowed" from Scientology - was simple enough: the est staff member held a tin can in each hand and answered questions about his loyalty to Erhard and est. If the meter jumped beyond acceptable limits, the subject still had a "charge," an emotional "position" about the question. That would be "cleared" by intensive questioning until the staff member "processed out" his "upset." Over the years, this "one-to-one-consulting" - and the repeated insistence that an employee's life "doesn't work" until he surrenders to Erhard - has become the standard est technique for eliminating staff "barriers" to complete acceptance of whatever the est propaganda happens to be.

Larzelere's Scientology training, Erhard though, was too cursory to guarantee effective results. Fortunately, two high-level Scientologists - one had reached OT7, which is very good indeed - were available, and they seemed willing to supervise Larzelere's operation while they developed material for Erhard. Est considered these Scientologists important enough to pay them more than some trainers were earning. Wisely, est's new "researchers" requested that their employment be kept secret; they knew that Scientology would not welcome the modification of its material in a rival discipline. For his part, Erhard must have been delighted that the Scientologists requested no public acknowledgment; as he well understood, the government would surely be less inclined to fill school curriculums with est material if est's Scientology connection were widely publicized.

Because their assignment - correcting L. Ron Hubbard's data and creating a new vocabulary for est - was so extraordinary, the Scientologists had unusual privileges. They were not required to attend the 8:30 a.m. "jack 'em up and glaze 'em over" meetings. They could smoke cigarettes without criticism. And they had continual access to Erhard, who liked to sit with them by his fireplace as they brainstormed together about the material they were developing for the Guest Seminar Leader's Program, the Communication Workshop and the training itself. So when these Scientologists speak of Erhard as "the source of est," they do not mean, as other employees do, that Erhard originates all est data. "Werner has a fantastic ability to source data," one of them explains. "He can get to the source of the viewpoint of the material. He can see where the creator of that viewpoint is coming from. He can give a better talk on Scientology than someone who's been heavily involved."

By 1974, the Scientologists were tired of est. The social life was dull - "It was like the women were already married," one said - and they were ready to move on. That seemed to suit Erhard. The material they had developed had been successfully absorbed into est. And Dr. Larzelere's operation was running smoothly. Now that he could be assured of total employee support, Erhard was ready for other consultants: Alan Lakein, the time efficiency expert, and Leonard Orr, who promised greater employee productivity to est if Erhard would then increase salaries.

The est organization was becoming more secretive, more mechanical. Erhard kept testing his staff, probing their limits. His rage was a weapon, often shown but rarely used; it was reserved for anyone bold enough to propose a change in his methods - such as Harry Margolis, who suggested, on various occasions, a financial restructuring of est. "I don't need anyone around who questions me!" Erhard reportedly shouted after one such session with Margolis.

The est staff turned mute. On his birthday in 1973, Erhard's "rich grandmother" bought him a Mercedes-Benz. Curiously, this wealthy lady - who seems not to have been mentioned around est before this purchase - did not buy the car from a Mercedes dealer or even a private owner. Instead, she bought it from Associated Convalescent Enterprises, a Saratoga-based and Margolis-connected holding company. The est staff was unanimously incurious. They were equally silent about the financial ambiguities of est of Hawaii. When Erhard returned from a European trip, he told them that the greatest tragedy of World War II was the destruction of Renaissance art treasures. No one blanched.

In the advanced trainings for those who aspired to lead guest seminars, graduates were cursed for their failure to sign up scores of new converts for est - and they took Erhard's tongue-lashing as proof that their lives didn't work, and set out to do better. "Help stamp out reasonableness!" signs were placed around local est offices. Supervisors took these notices literally. "Don't sit there like a fucking body!" one shouted at a hapless assistant. "Make yourself a being! Create some phone calls coming in!" Secretaries wrote notes to themselves and tacked them above their typewriters. "Goal for the year," one read. "Provide Werner with as much certainty as possible." It was all part of Erhard's plan to create a continual crisis mentality, maximizing performance by convincing his employees that the enemy was at the very gates. "The Germans," Erhard liked to tell his San Francisco staff, "are in Oakland."

Outside the "office of the source," as Franklin House was now called, est graduates were bringing carloads of guests to their seminars and creating, without compensation, a 100 percent annual growth rate for est. The first journalists to discover the newest California phenomenon were unanimously enthusiastic. But inside est, Werner Erhard had a problem. Stewart Emery no longer wanted the dual roles of trainer and Chief Executive - est, he insisted, needed a full-time president. So Werner Erhard set out to find a very special executive: a company man who would short-circuit any threat to Erhard's power while he relieved Erhard of the responsibility of representing est to the public.

From the back, people said, you couldn't tell the difference between Werner Erhard and Stewart Emery. Once that was flattering to both men. By late 1974, though, Emery was the only key est employee who had not surrendered to Erhard. Perhaps he was even subversive; he could not deliver Erhard's directives to the staff without adding a little commentary that somehow knocked the edge off the master's commands. But Emery was too valuable to be purged - with his background in media, he was clearly the est executive best qualified to meet the press and represent est in public. Erhard, by comparison, came across in interview situations as an embarrassment to honorable car and encyclopedia salesmen. Before his appearance on The Mike Douglas Show, for example, Erhard's Head of Production set up a simulated talk show in Franklin House, with est employees playing Douglas and the other guests. "Werner had to be shown that people like Douglas have a way of interjecting something when they think it's not important or funny enough," the producer says. The dress rehearsal failed. On The Mike Douglas Show, Erhard still seemed to be hustling.

Peter Wanger was one presidential candidate who could be effective enough in organization and credible to the public. He had taken the est training in the spring of 1973; it stimulated him to send est a barrage of ideas. Eventually his letters reached Stewart Emery's office. Emery read them carefully - Peter Wanger had built Granny Goose Potato Chips into a company Del Monte snapped up for several million dollars. Now he was looking to get involved in what he called "the head business." Erhard met him and was impressed. Wanger went skiing, believing that he would become President of est when he returned.

Then Don Cox, General Manager of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of California, started looking for a new assistant. His ad included the phrase "est graduate preferred." Suddenly Don Cox was a candidate for the est presidency. Stewart Emery felt he was the only possible choice - Cox had been Director of Planning for Coca-Cola, U.S.A., and had taught at Harvard Business School. Cox was an experienced team player. Cox got the job.

Peter Wanger very disappointed. He had already proved he could turn one new business into a much-loved success. He knew he could do the same for est. He couldn't understand why Erhard didn't understand his new company was at a crisis point - unless est normalized its operations, its erratic and trivial policies would create hordes of enemies. Although est might appear to be sweeping the country, Wanger was concerned with a counter-trend Erhard didn't seem to notice: by the time est "succeeded," no one might care.

In the summer of 1974, Peter Wanger got over his disappointment. Once again, he blitzed Erhard with letters. Finally Erhard called. "You have value for est," he said. "Fine," Wanger thought. "I'll get in there and somehow get the thing straightened out." By which he meant: convert est into a partnership, eliminate the authoritarianism that gave the est offices the charm of a bunker and jettison the "I'm ok, you're not ok" attitude of the est executives. Est had a different idea.

Peter Wanger was assigned to the shipping department. He was responsible for making sure the training materials were properly packed. If Wanger did that expertly, Erhard laughed, he would next be assigned to cleaning toilets

Wanger had been a shipping clerk for less than a month when he was summoned to the president's office. Don Cox was unhappy: Wanger had been upsetting the organization. Wanger agreed that he had not been slavishly following instructions; the telephone campaign designed to force people to volunteer for the logistics crews had, on his initiative, been replaced by phone calls that simply offered est graduates the opportunity to help out. As a result, Wanger said, the number of volunteers was dramatically increasing. He considered this an improvement.

Cox disagreed. "We want you to do exactly what is being done and not come up with any new solutions." "Fine," Wanger replied, "I'll come up with solutions and I'm willing to keep them to myself." "No, you cannot come up with any solutions," Cox insisted. Wanger was equally firm. "My mind is unable not to come up with solutions," he told Cox, "so I'm unable to do that." The President of est began to blink. He said, "You either do it this way or you choose to leave." "I don't 'chose to leave,'" Wanger said, "but I will leave because I'm unable to do it the other way. When do you want me to go?" At this point, Wanger recalls, Cox "went catatonic." His eyes glazed over. "Now?" Wanger asked. Cox nodded. In less than an hour, Wanger was out of the est offices.

That left only Stewart Emery to be reeducated - or purged. Inadvertently, Peter Wanger determined it would be the latter. Around March 1975, Wanger decided to establish his own program he and one of the Franklin House Scientologists began to collaborate on a 12-hour event. "The Partnership," unlike est, was to be a theatrical experience engineered to guide an audience through progressively elevated psychological spaces. No one would be intimidated, no one would be "made wrong," no one would be told, "If you think your life works, go home and look in a mirror at the tragedy that is your life." Wanger was very excited about his new project. He invited Stewart Emery and est Enrollment Director Carol Augustus to look at the outline.

The news of that weekend meeting reached Erhard via serendipity. The following Monday, he got on a plane for Los Angeles and Peter Wanger was in the next seat. Wanger was bubbling over with enthusiasm now that Stewart Emery had expressed cautious interest in his project. Erhard smiled.

Stewart Emery was 3,000 miles away, preparing for a Washington pre-training seminar. On Tuesday, according to his schedule, he'd be speaking to 1,500 people in New York. On Wednesday, he'd pitch est to another 1,500 in Boston. On Thursday, he'd be leading a guest seminar for 1,000 people in Washington. On Saturday, he'd give "Making Relationships Work" in Hawaii. Then he would fly all night, and, at 9:00 a.m. he'd put 250 people through a 12-hour training in Los Angeles. And now, ten minutes before he was to begin the first of these performances, Don Cox was on the phone.

"Stewart, I understand you saw Peter Wanger this weekend," Cox began. "Was Carol with you?" Yes, Emery said. Was the purpose of the meeting to discuss Wanger's training? Yes. Had Wanger offered Emery a job? Yes. Did est headquarters know - in advance - of this meeting? No. "I consider your presence there and Carol's presence there does not serve Werner," Cox said, "so I have terminated Carol and she has left the organization. Where are you with that?"

"Where I am with that," Emery replied, "is that I don't have time to be anywhere with it. I've got 250 people waiting for me. But if I had time to be somewhere about it, right now where I'm at is that what you did represents everything I find insupportable about est. And I don't have time to talk to you now."

Carol Augustus had been asked to leave the building immediately. Stewart Emery was recalled from his week on the road. "I'm unwilling for you to talk to 10,000 est graduates and accumulate all that agreement," Cox told him. "I can't trust you to use it to serve Werner." Emery would have to take a salary cut. He could give the weekend trainings and, if he served Erhard well, an occasional guest seminar. But first, he would have to acknowledge he had been "a traitor to est." "Until you have unquestionably demonstrated your loyalty to Werner and we are clear that you are a person of integrity, we won't allow you to take a major part in est," Cox said. Until Emery gave up all his purposes and intentions and surrendered to Erhard, his life would never work. And, if he left the organization, Cox warned Emery to be very careful - Erhard had a premonition that Emery might become seriously ill. "Don, I no longer want to be part of the est organization," Emery said.

But the drama was to get even more trivial.

President Cox called a staff meeting to explain it all away. Carol Augustus had been fired, he said, because she had looked at data outside the organization without permission. Stewart Emery, employees learned, had left because he was unwilling to experience through a "barrier." Eight months later, when people kept asking what that barrier was, Don Cox felt compelled to call Stewart Emery. Perhaps Emery's perspective had mellowed with time and he could be persuaded to make no public statements about his est experiences. Or - even better - maybe Emery had "processed out" his "upset," in which case est would welcome Emery's public explanation for leaving. Est would even agree to put out the same story. It could be, Cox suggested, very simply handled. All Emery had to do was acknowledge to the press that he had created his barrier totally by himself.

With Stewart Emery out of the way, 1975 should have been the best of all possible years for Werner Erhard. Marcia Seligson's enthusiastic New Times article about him was reprinted in Cosmopolitan, and that magazine had, according to est, received a record number of queries. In the spring, Erhard journeyed to Japan, where he unlocked the secret of the toughest koan for the astonished Zen masters: the sound of one hand clapping, he told them, is simply the sound of one hand clapping. And Erhard had successfully expanded his salon. Now the guests at his Franklin House dinners might find, to their surprise, that their names had been individually engraved on their invitations. Between wines, Erhard's headwaiter might dispense a touch of sherbet to clear their palates. "You go to one of these dinners and you get a different sense of time," a guest recalls, "Everybody was thankful to be able to be of service to him."

But once he ruled alone, Werner Erhard became increasingly arbitrary and erratic in his exercise of power. Already, the use of 10-pitch IBM Selectric type - and the closing "Love" on the est letterhead - had been "reserved for Werner's personal use." Now, after his visit to Japan, Erhard inexplicably initiated a non-exercise called "sitting" for all est employees. "Each member of the staff is to sit for 60 minutes a day, as a regular part of your personal life," they were told. "Do not go into your space or do anything; just sit, with nothing added or taken away." Whatever benefit this confers upon the sitter, one other conclusion is inescapable: sitting removes another hour each day from what remains of the est staff's "personal life."

Which isn't to say that est employees had much autonomy to begin with. Although est denies there is such a thing as an "official uniform" and insists that it's coincidental most trainers dress exactly like Erhard, the fact is that est clothing styles have been traditionally determined by the highest levels of the est staff. "Part of this agreement," Don Cox told one seminar leader as he presented her with a $1,500 clothing allowance, "is that you will purchase wardrobe with the consultation of Ron Mann, our wardrobe consultant." The docility of the est staff in agreeing to everything the high-ups decree is quite remarkable - employees even "de-bonus" themselves as an act of contrition when they do something wrong. "De-bonus me $10 for not getting Don [Cox] the shoe-holder to polish shoes," one girl confesses. "I have been de-bonused $50 for mishandling Don's finances, specifically his phone bill," another notes.

But the most extraordinary abdication of the staff's personal freedom is its willingness to accept the recently reestablished sex codes. "Stay in communication with Werner about your relationships, whether they involve fucking or not," employees are told. "Be especially conscientious about communicating about relationships which involve fucking." Apparently, est staffers may sleep with anyone they want - as long as their partners are not est employees. They may even sleep with fellow employees, "except those with whom you work directly, unless you already have a screwing relationship with them which Werner knows about." Married staffers who wish to have affairs with their co-workers must satisfy an even more bizarre requirement: "No married staff member is to fuck anybody in est except his or her spouse unless Don Cox receives a letter from the one agreeing to allow the other to fuck someone else. Then, unless the letter of agreement establishes specific guidelines as to who the spouse may fuck, the policies which apply to unmarried staff members will apply to that spouse." And Erhard is no casual voyeur about the sex codes. The staff is on notice: "If there are upsets and/or if you're not getting the job done, Werner will assume it is because you are fucking whoever you fuck, and either you or your partner will have to leave the est staff."

Werner Erhard does not yet control everyone's behavior, however. On October 3, 1975, a San Francisco grand jury indicted est lawyer Harry Margolis for conspiracy to defraud the tax collectors. In collaboration with the Banco Popular Antiliano, Margolis was alleged to have manipulated the bank accounts of 22 clients - including est - by transferring nonexistent funds for American tax benefits. Documents were backdated, according to the indictment, and the true position of these accounts was maintained in secret accounting records.

Suddenly est's problems multiplied. Between January and August, "out statistics" - unregisters, withdrawals and transfers - in est's trainings averaged only 16 percent. In the fall, they zoomed to an average of 28 percent, and in San Francisco, est's home territory, October statistics reveal that one person was dropping the training for ever two who paid their $250. As if San Francisco's apparent change of heart wasn't enough to trouble est Central, a Hawaiian judge ruled that est was practicing psychology and that a psychologist must be present in future est trainings. (Est is appealing the Hawaiian decision.) Inevitably, a spate of books about est appeared. Some were only mildly favorable, but all were profitable; the most authoritative of these, by Adelaide Bry, sold to paperback for $225,000. And, closer to home, other trainings were beginning to attract attention - especially Stewart Emery's "Actualizations" program, a supposedly benign and anti-jargon approach that, along with its modest promise of an improved ability to communicate, is also said to "cure" est graduates troubled by est "brainwashing."

But it was the Margolis indictment that had the greatest potential to embarrass est and discredit its claims of total financial rectitude. It is always unfortunate when a corporation's lawyer becomes a focus of investigation, and it is especially unfortunate when that lawyer is a sophisticated manipulator with a history of complicated transactions. Even tax shelter specialists have had trouble following the progress of a Harry Margolis deal, and, as Margolis does not comment on his clients' affairs, very little is really known about the intricacies of his operation. A number of intriguing questions, however, have been pieced together, and they do suggest there may be more to est's financial setup than Werner Erhard likes to acknowledge. Is, for example, EST International, Ltd., the Virgin Islands-based owner of the Berkeley Barb newspaper, related to est, Inc.? What continuing role does Associated Convalescent Enterprises play in est? Why does est seem to have entered into partnerships with other oddly named companies - and why do they seem so unprofitable? What is Twine, Inc., and why, no January 2, 1976, did Erhard Seminars Training become Twine? And finally, why is it that Werner Erhard can't divulge the name of the "charitable trust" that, according to Don Cox, "owns est for the benefit of the public, to whom est ultimately belong"?

Est sends out at least one mailing a month to its graduates, and Erhard dispatches special communiqu├ęs whenever a new revelation pops into his consciousness, but at no time in this period as est notified its graduates of its lawyer's indictment or its own legal problems. Instead, Erhard has taken the offensive, in an attempt to win increased respectability for est. In September, est had sponsored a voter registration drive. In October, Erhard announced a special evening for the clergy. In November, he brought his entire family - both wives, all seven children and his parents - onstage with him at the "Making Relationships Work" event to show the 6,000 est graduates that his relationships were impeccable. (Still, Harry Rosenberg, Erhard's younger brother, told him recently, "To me now, you're more the guy I'm trying to please than you are my brother and the person I've chosen to serve ... I do a lot of pretending around you.") In December, Erhard quietly met with representatives of other consciousness businesses, apparently to win pledges of cooperation. In January, Erhard traveled to five cities, confiding to 30,000 people that in 1976 he would reluctantly become a public figure.

Est memoranda suggest that this move is hardly reluctant. As long ago as last October, minutes of est staff meetings prophesied great activity for 1976: "Werner wants to have a feminist program no later than April" and "Werner wants an enormous outdoor event in July." More recently, est has been considering holding "media events" in Los Angeles and New York, "to have graduates in media behind est and inspire them to support est actively." In Erhard's ideal world, apparently, the media is merely the messenger.

But it is in the Graduate Division that est plans to build "a foundation which will be able to support an expansion of est to 40,000,000 people in a similar way that the 4,000 graduates supported the expansion of the graduate body to 67,000 people." By December 1976, est hopes 30,000 est graduates will have enrolled in its seminars, 13,000 graduates will have volunteered

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