Category Archives: Think Tanks
I have decided to resume this series on influential figures who foretold the rise of flag wrapped fascism and looter capitalism after for some unexplainable reason leaving it to wither on the vine for awhile despite it’s popularity. The first three installments featured the legendary (and largely ignored other than when the corporatist Hillary Clinton invokes to prove her bogus left wing bonafides – he was the subject of her thesis) organizer and activist Saul Alinsky, former FDR Vice President Henry A. Wallace who wrote about what an American fascist would do in a now classic 1944 New York Times piece entitled The Danger of American Fascism and was eliminated withe extreme prejudice from the political scene for his anti-fascism as a result and General Smedley D. Butler who dared to call a spade a spade in his classic tract aptly entitled War Is A Racketas well as blew the whistle on a coup plotted by then captains of industry and banking against President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This will be an ongoing if irregular series, typically I have no set thing that I want to write about and it is usually decided by whatever mood that I am in on any given day.
For this belated fourth installment in my little series I want to take a different tack by looking at the actions of a very influential albeit unmentioned figure and a leader in the corporatist war on America. Judge Lewis F. Powell Jr. was a Richard M. Nixon appointee to the Supreme Court and can be looked at in a historical perspective as the architect of the right wing infrastructure and father of the think tanks. Powell may not have fired the first shot in the class war that has gutted the middle class, redistributed wealth upwards and turned the mythical American dream into a nightmare of Darwinist debt slavery but his at the time secret 1971 memo to the Chamber of Commerce laid the groundwork for the looting spree and the rapacious piranha capitalism that was to come. The Powell Memorandumwas the manifesto of a malignant and cruel form of monopolist ‘fuck you’ capitalism that has now with the culmination of the looting spree and selling off of America for pennies on the dollar to sovereign wealth funds is beginning to feed off of itself kind of like that dude in the old Stephen King story Survivor Type in which a man stranded on a deserted island has to start hacking off pieces of his own body to eat in order to stay alive, or like a python consuming it’s own tail. I am going excerpt a few pieces of this very important historical battle plan against the working class here and there through this posting but you need to read the whole thing at the links that I have provided to get a real grasp of it’s raw monstrous magnitude.
The Powell Memorandum minced no words in laying out the threat to the abilities of huge corporations to anally rape the public with their toxic products and at one point essentially identified then consumer advocate Ralph Nader as public enemy number one (kind of like the uninformed did when he became a scapegoat for providing cover for Bush to steal the 2000 election in Florida but that is a story for another time). Notice the identification of the media and the college campuses as enemies of the system, in this document lay the seeds of the undeclared war against the middle class that has brought us to the brink of economic apocalypse brought on by a percolating deterioration of global stock markets that could blow at any time:
Dimensions of the Attack: No thoughtful person can question that the American economic system is under broad attack. This varies in scope, intensity, in the techniques employed, and in the level of visibility.
There always have been some who opposed the American system, and preferred socialism or some form of statism (communism or fascism). Also, there always have been critics of the system, whose criticism has been wholesome and constructive so long as the objective was to improve rather than to subvert or destroy.
But what now concerns us is quite new in the history of America. We are not dealing with sporadic or isolated attacks from a relatively few extremists or even from the minority socialist cadre. Rather, the assault on the enterprise system is broadly based and consistently pursued. It is gaining momentum and converts.
Sources of the Attack: The sources are varied and diffused. They include, not unexpectedly, the Communists, New Leftists and other revolutionaries who would destroy the entire system, both political and economic. These extremists of the left are far more numerous, better financed, and increasingly are more welcomed and encouraged by other elements of society, than ever before in our history. But they remain a small minority, and are not yet the principal cause for concern.
The most disquieting voices joining the chorus of criticism come from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians. In most of these groups the movement against the system is participated in only by minorities. Yet, these often are the most articulate, the most vocal, the most prolific in their writing and speaking.
Moreover, much of the media-for varying motives and in varying degrees-either voluntarily accords unique publicity to these “attackers,” or at least allows them to exploit the media for their purposes. This is especially true of television, which now plays such a predominant role in shaping the thinking, attitudes and emotions of our people.
One of the bewildering paradoxes of our time is the extent to which the enterprise system tolerates, if not participates in, its own destruction.
The campuses from which much of the criticism emanates are supported by (i) tax funds generated largely from American business, and (ii) contributions from capital funds controlled or generated by American business. The boards of trustees of our universities overwhelmingly are composed of men and women who are leaders in the system.
Most of the media, including the national TV systems, are owned and theoretically controlled by corporations which depend upon profits, and the enterprise system to survive.
The Powell Memorandum goes on to lay the specific groundwork for an agressive, extremely well funded and highly organized counterattack that would shift the discourse through the creation of the think tank infrastructure that would grow to the point where it could saturate the media with pro-corporate propaganda, bully and intimidate critics, cultivate activists, pack the courts and do everything possible to stack the deck in favor of those to whom avarice is a religious dogma. A good resource for some of this is former GOP operative (now with the great watchdog Media Matters) David Brock’s excellent book The Republican Noise Machine which provides much detail on the rise of the neofascist corporate state that used the Republican party as a tool for domination and the furthering of corporatist interests. There is also a long essay by Steve Kangas out there which addresses the think tanks and potential CIA involvement that I would recommend checking out called The Origins Of The Overclass that fully examines the sordid history of the CIA which is nothing more than Wall Steet’s Gestapo having risen out of that bastion of the elite Yale University but that is something I will take a look at at some future point in this series. The parts that I am going excerpt briefly below about the quashing of campus freedoms, the review of textbooks and the intimidation tactics subtly proposed are something straight out of Nazi Germany and the plan to saturate the media with propaganda are on a level with Herr Goebbels himself:
Powell On Higher Education:
The assault on the enterprise system was not mounted in a few months. It has gradually evolved over the past two decades, barely perceptible in its origins and benefiting (sic) from a gradualism that provoked little awareness much less any real reaction.
Although origins, sources and causes are complex and interrelated, and obviously difficult to identify without careful qualification, there is reason to believe that the campus is the single most dynamic source. The social science faculties usually include members who are unsympathetic to the enterprise system.
What Can Be Done About the Campus
The ultimate responsibility for intellectual integrity on the campus must remain on the administrations and faculties of our colleges and universities. But organizations such as the Chamber can assist and activate constructive change in many ways, including the following:
Staff of Scholars
The Chamber should consider establishing a staff of highly qualified scholars in the social sciences who do believe in the system. It should include several of national reputation whose authorship would be widely respected — even when disagreed with.
Staff of Speakers
There also should be a staff of speakers of the highest competency. These might include the scholars, and certainly those who speak for the Chamber would have to articulate the product of the scholars. (Like Ann Coulter?)
In addition to full-time staff personnel, the Chamber should have a Speaker’s Bureau which should include the ablest and most effective advocates from the top echelons of American business.
Evaluation of Textbooks
The staff of scholars (or preferably a panel of independent scholars) should evaluate social science textbooks, especially in economics, political science and sociology. This should be a continuing program.
The objective of such evaluation should be oriented toward restoring the balance essential to genuine academic freedom. This would include assurance of fair and factual treatment of our system of government and our enterprise system, its accomplishments, its basic relationship to individual rights and freedoms, and comparisons with the systems of socialism, fascism and communism. Most of the existing textbooks have some sort of comparisons, but many are superficial, biased and unfair.
We have seen the civil rights movement insist on re-writing many of the textbooks in our universities and schools. The labor unions likewise insist that textbooks be fair to the viewpoints of organized labor. Other interested citizens groups have not hesitated to review, analyze and criticize textbooks and teaching materials. In a democratic society, this can be a constructive process and should be regarded as an aid to genuine academic freedom and not as an intrusion upon it.
If the authors, publishers and users of textbooks know that they will be subjected — honestly, fairly and thoroughly — to review and critique by eminent scholars who believe in the American system, a return to a more rational balance can be expected.
Equal Time on the Campus
The Chamber should insist upon equal time on the college speaking circuit. The FBI publishes each year a list of speeches made on college campuses by avowed Communists. The number in 1970 exceeded 100. There were, of course, many hundreds of appearances by leftists and ultra liberals who urge the types of viewpoints indicated earlier in this memorandum. There was no corresponding representation of American business, or indeed by individuals or organizations who appeared in support of the American system of government and business.
Powell On The Manipulation of Media
The national television networks should be monitored in the same way that textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance. This applies not merely to so-called educational programs (such as “Selling of the Pentagon”), but to the daily “news analysis” which so often includes the most insidious type of criticism of the enterprise system.12 Whether this criticism results from hostility or economic ignorance, the result is the gradual erosion of confidence in “business” and free enterprise.
This monitoring, to be effective, would require constant examination of the texts of adequate samples of programs. Complaints — to the media and to the Federal Communications Commission — should be made promptly and strongly when programs are unfair or inaccurate.
Equal time should be demanded when appropriate. Effort should be made to see that the forum-type programs (the Today Show, Meet the Press, etc.) afford at least as much opportunity for supporters of the American system to participate as these programs do for those who attack it.
Radio and the press are also important, and every available means should be employed to challenge and refute unfair attacks, as well as to present the affirmative case through these media.
The Scholarly Journals
It is especially important for the Chamber’s “faculty of scholars” to publish. One of the keys to the success of the liberal and leftist faculty members has been their passion for “publication” and “lecturing.” A similar passion must exist among the Chamber’s scholars. Incentives might be devised to induce more “publishing” by independent scholars who do believe in the system.
There should be a fairly steady flow of scholarly articles presented to a broad spectrum of magazines and periodicals — ranging from the popular magazines (Life, Look, Reader’s Digest, etc.) to the more intellectual ones (Atlantic, Harper’s, Saturday Review, New York, etc.)13 and to the various professional journals.
Books, Paperbacks and Pamphlets
The news stands — at airports, drugstores, and elsewhere — are filled with paperbacks and pamphlets advocating everything from revolution to erotic free love. One finds almost no attractive, well-written paperbacks or pamphlets on “our side.” It will be difficult to compete with an Eldridge Cleaver or even a Charles Reich for reader attention, but unless the effort is made — on a large enough scale and with appropriate imagination to assure some success — this opportunity for educating the public will be irretrievably lost.
Business pays hundreds of millions of dollars to the media for advertisements. Most of this supports specific products; much of it supports institutional image making; and some fraction of it does support the system. But the latter has been more or less tangential, and rarely part of a sustained, major effort to inform and enlighten the American people. If American business devoted only 10% of its total annual advertising budget to this overall purpose, it would be a statesman-like expenditure.
And Powell Lays Sums It Up…..
A More Aggressive Attitude
Business interests — especially big business and their national trade organizations — have tried to maintain low profiles, especially with respect to political action. As suggested in the Wall Street Journal article, it has been fairly characteristic of the average business executive to be tolerant — at least in public — of those who attack his corporation and the system. Very few businessmen or business organizations respond in kind. There has been a disposition to appease; to regard the opposition as willing to compromise, or as likely to fade away in due time.
Business has shunted confrontation politics. Business, quite understandably, has been repelled by the multiplicity of non-negotiable “demands” made constantly by self-interest groups of all kinds.
While neither responsible business interests, nor the United States Chamber of Commerce, would engage in the irresponsible tactics of some pressure groups, it is essential that spokesmen for the enterprise system — at all levels and at every opportunity — be far more aggressive than in the past.
There should be no hesitation to attack the Naders, the Marcuses and others who openly seek destruction of the system. There should not be the slightest hesitation to press vigorously in all political arenas for support of the enterprise system. Nor should there be reluctance to penalize politically those who oppose it.
Lessons can be learned from organized labor in this respect. The head of the AFL-CIO may not appeal to businessmen as the most endearing or public-minded of citizens. Yet, over many years the heads of national labor organizations have done what they were paid to do very effectively. They may not have been beloved, but they have been respected — where it counts the most — by politicians, on the campus, and among the media.
It is time for American business — which has demonstrated the greatest capacity in all history to produce and to influence consumer decisions — to apply their great talents vigorously to the preservation of the system itself.
I rest my case….
With the economy now on the brink of the abyss, the pocket Supreme Court once again having stripped the people of their rights to sue the bastard looters of Wall Street with their ruling that once again put another brick in the firewall to protect the oligarchy. With Justice Anthony Kennedy providing the swing vote to the Federalist Society fascist foursome of Scalia, Thomas, Alito and apple cheeked Johnny Roberts (their crowning moment was the effective nullification of Brown vs. Board of Education last summer) the interests of such grand scale purveyors of toxic snake oil packaged as ‘securities’ like Enron and those precious ivory tower investment banking houses the right of shareholders to seek damages against fraudsters and practitioners of financial chicanery has been rendered invalid. Of course you won’t see anything about this in the corporatist media that prefers to feature drooling, foaming at the mouth, wide-eyed Judas goats and barkers like the ridiculous Jim Cramer of “Mad Money” fame and ludicrously insulting sideshows like the Congressional hearings into the misuse of steroids in baseball (never mind the contradiction in not cracking down on the global narcotics rings that are largely overlooked by the CIA precisely because of the big bucks that the mega-banks book as profit due to ‘laundering’ drug money but that too is a story for another time) on their first day in session for 2008. The failure of the pocket media to give any credibility at all to the reformist John Edwards, suffocating him and his anti-corporate message in order to preserve the status quo by throwing in with the Clintons along with the aforementioned ruling are a testament as to the long-term effectiveness of Powell’s manifesto.
The huge influence of Powell’s manifesto on big business cannot be underestimated and it was implemented with maximum efficiency to change the nature of the discourse in America and to set the tone for the pollution of the media, the ongoing harassment of college professors by hate mongering clowns like David Horowitz and calculating monsters like Lynne Cheney and Joseph Lieberman and their front groups. The demonizing of the non-existent “liberal media” and the ludicrous concept of offering equal time to public relations hacks to rebut the truth is also a result of Powell’s blueprint. I would strongly recommend not only reading the actual document in it’s entirety but in getting it out to as many people as possible. With the system currently in it’s death throes it is of the utmost of importance to ensure that people know the truth about the forces that have ruined their lives. More importantly when the wheels do finally come off and the Wall Street house of cards collapses the same corporatists will be looking for scapegoats and with thugs like Rush Limbaugh (the latter day Father Coughlin) and his ilk there will be no shortage of those who will be blamed for a failed system built on greed and outright thievery.
May we live to see the day when the looter capitalism of Powell and his ilk will soon be taking it’s rightful place on history’s scrapheap of failed ideologies right alongside the equally oppressive and anti-human system of totalitarian communism.