THE SHIFT IN THE CLIMATE OF OPINION


And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly. The vile person shall no more be called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail (Isaiah 32:3-6).


The manipulators are in trouble — the worst trouble they have been in since 1913. Voters are at last figuring out that there are people in very high places who do vile things by means of liberal rhetoric. A growing minority of conservative Christian people are at last willing to call churls "churls." The climate of opinion is shifting. There is very little the Establishment can do about it. The seventy-year romance between the American voter and big government is turning into a series of lovers' quarrels. While the voters still want the government to protect them, and they still want the rich to pay "their fair share," there is a growing realization that the Federal government is bankrupt — economically, intellectually, and above all, morally.

The rise of the neo-conservative movement since 1965 is one indication of this shift. A lot of articulate New York Jews are not 1930's Trotskyites any longer; they are defenders of at least a modified free market, and they were vociferous critics of Communism of all varieties.

Let me give you a choice example. Midge Decter is the wife of Norman Podhoretz, the former editor of the highly literate neo-conservative magazine, Commentary, published by the American Jewish Committee. In one 12-month period, 1980-81, Decter, as an editor of Basic Books, oversaw the publication of four crucially important books: black ex-Marxist economist Thomas Sowell's Knowledge and Decisions, James Billington's Fire in the Minds of Men, conservative sociologist-historian Robert Nisbet's History of the Idea of Progress, and George Gilder's devastating criticism of the government welfare system, Wealth and Poverty. (Gilder was helped as a young man by David Rockefeller, who financed Gilder's Harvard education. This investment is now paying off for the conservatives, especially with Gilder's 1984 book, The Spirit of Enterprise [Simon & Schuster], an anti-bureaucracy, pro-entrepreneurship study.) I know of no other comparably stupendous year of editing in conservative book-publishing history. The climate of opinion is changing.


Singing a New Tune

All over the landscape these days, intellectuals are singing the praises of decentralization. New Age mystics, former Marxists, best-selling books like Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave and John Naisbett's Megatrends have all joined the chorus: a new day is a-comin'. Out with central planning, in with local decision-making.

The manipulators are trying to join in the song fest, but it's like dressing a Russian dancing bear in ballet shoes and calling it the Bolshoi's prima ballerina. They just can't pull it off. "Decentralization" is our program, and has always been our side of the debate. I think they are faking it; they still know that they have to have centralized power to maintain their power. They are not ready to decentralize anything they now control. But if they are forced to decentralize, they want to be able to say what and how far. They still want to run the show.

On the other hand, the shift of public opinion may be so powerful that some of them are actually defecting, especially the younger scholarly types. If this continues, today's power elite is headed for the dustbin of history (to use Trotsky's phrase).

They successfully used the pro-government shift in the American climate of opinion after, say, 1890 to further their statist ends. Now that the public has seen the results of this experiment in government centralization, voters are having second thoughts. The old faith in the government as planner is fading. The manipulators are now beginning to swim upstream intellectually, the way conservatives were forced to swim for three or four generations. The manipulators are not used to swimming upstream. They are out of shape. They are used to manipulating public opinion, not fighting it. They are skilled at "going with the flow," not getting swamped by it. They are desperately worried about the growing possibility of finding themselves up liberty creek without a paddle.

They always believe that they can make a deal. Now, sensing that the climate of opinion is shifting, they are tentatively starting to "buy in" to the new right movement. Chase Manhattan Bank in 1983 gave $50,000 to the Heritage Foundation, $15,000 to the Institute for Contemporary Studies, $40,000 to Manhattan Institute for Public Policy, and $10,000 to $20,000 each to several other conservative "public policy" foundations.1 The C.F.R.'s magazine, Foreign Affairs, devoted a special issue in early 1985 to "America and the World, 1984." The editor opened it to some conservative critics such as Podhoretz.

Why? Because they are opportunists by conviction and wind-testers by training. They understand that the pragmatist's question, "Does it work?" is being answered in the negative, in case after welfare case. The conservatives, especially the neo-conservatives, may not be offering consistent, free market, Constitutional solutions in many instances, but that is not the issue. The issue is, why have intellectuals begun to question the "tried and true" New Deal-Great Society answers? Why are these intellectuals critics at last announcing: "tried and false" solutions?

The answer sends chills down the spines of the manipulators: because the statist solutions that they recommended, and they have long used to create their insulated, government-protected world, are visibly failing. As the public, through new intellectual leadership, catches on, the power base of the conspirators will be threatened.

These people are really not that smart. After all, these are the people who, after seventy years, finally got their very own hand-picked man to be President of the United States, and it turned out to be grinning Jimmy, with his beer-loving brother (a paid Libyan agent), his evangelist sister (a pornographer's spiritual counsellor) — the President who produced simultaneously the worst foreign policy record in decades (including Salt II, which even the liberal, Democrat-controlled Senate refused to sign), and the most inflationary economic policy in peacetime U.S. history. In short, Jimmy ("Why not the Best?") Carter was visibly the least competent President in U.S. history.

It doesn't build up a conspirator's self-confidence, does it? This, in my view, is the heart of the matter. The conspirators are losing self-confidence. That is always the beginning of the end: in business, in politics, and in conspiracy. They are now on the run. The emperor has no clothes. Do you a hear a grinding, rasping sound? That's the Trilateral Commission scraping the bottom of the barrel. I smell fear. What should be our response? Attack!


Desperation Moves

I wrote the following in 1983:

What are the two forms of conspiracy likely to do over the next decade or so? The Communists will do what they have always done: intimidate the West, destabilize Third World nations, shout "boo!" to Western Europe whenever possible, take as few risks as possible, but steadily advance to cut off the West's "choke points": those 14 or 15 key shipping lanes for international commerce. These include the Persian gulf and southern Africa, as well as the Caribbean and the Panama (;anal. They will nip at the heels of the U.S., always probing for weakness. They will find lots of weaknesses. They will continue to pressure the U.S. to abandon a space-based defense system. And step by step, the Soviet empire will grow too big to govern, even by means of terror, and too complex to finance, even by means of Western loans and stolen Western property.

The Establishment conspirators will do their best to keep people calm with respect to the solvency of the big banks, and keep them worried about the solvency of the economy in general. They need more power. They need more control over the private decisions of individuals. They will try to scare the public into granting them what they want. We can expect to see a steady loss of confidence on the part of the public concerning political and economic leaders. We can also expect to see the imposition of emergency economic controls as the economy unravels.2 The dollar will eventually tumble, throwing the world trading economy into a crisis. The answer will be the same three-point program of Keynesians and liberals everywhere: taxation, regulation, and inflation.

I see no reason to modify what I wrote then, nor the section that followed. The government's bills will come due. There will be a default when they do.


A New Constitution

They would like to get a new Constitution to accomplish their goals. If voters can be frightened into allowing a Constitutional convention or similar event, the Establishment will shove a new Constitution down our throats. One very possible excuse: a wave of Latin American refugees streaming across the border, and having children who automatically become U.S. citizens. Racial and national feelings could easily be fanned into flames that could consume historic U.S. liberties.

If they are successful in revising the Constitution, then the most important asset they have enjoyed will be lost: voluntary co-operation (self-restraint) on the part of law-abiding Americans. Honest people will learn how to cheat dishonest civil government. They will learn how to beat the system. If we can successfully implement a two-part program of reconstruction, then this shift in psychology will destroy the prevailing conspiracy. If we don't implement it, a dark age will begin. The anti-utopias of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley will at last be imposed. I think we will implement our program.


Counter-Offensive

What we need is the will to resist. What we also need is a will to remove those from power over us who do not possess the will to resist, and whose very "let's make a deal" philosophy prevents them from ever resisting a truly dedicated force.

The first step is self-education. The next step is a program of education and mobilization — a morally grounded campaign — from the bottom up, to remove those above us who believe in a top-down control over society.

The conspirators in this nation have sought to overcome the free market with special-interest legislation — government-created monopolies — it thereby reveals the most important institutional tactic that can overcome all conspiracies: the limitation of civil government to its Constitutional role as defender of the peace. The civil government is not to save mankind; it is to protect residents from fraud and violence (domestic and international). But the State, in attempting to do more than this, has done less. We are no longer safe on the streets, precisely because the resources of the State have been misdirected into salvationary projects. Lyndon Johnson's use of Graham Wallas' ghastly phrase, "the Great Society," illustrates the lure of political messianism. From Teddy Roosevelt's Square Deal, to Woodrow Wilson's New Freedom, to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, to Harry Truman's Fair Deal, it has all been one basic movement: the Raw Deal. Raw for taxpayers, entrepreneurs, and freedom-lovers; beneficial for the manipulators.

There is only one way to deal with all forms of "conspiracy by manipulation": cut off their funds. Cut off their grants of State privilege. Exposure is not enough. They can live with exposure, though not so easily as without it. But they cannot live without the grants of State power that secure them from the competitive market economy — from the nipping at their heels by brighter, more innovative, and leaner competitors.

It is a wasted effort if we cut off the head of any conspiracy, but leave available to their replacements the raw power of the State, especially the centralized State. Like the hydra-headed monster of Greek mythology, for every head cut off, two more will spring up from the stump. The searing sword of economic liberty must be used to cauterize the monster's open wound and seal it. No more government-guaranteed loans, no more tariffs, no more import quotas, no more racial hiring quotas, no more price supports, no more minimum wage laws, no more compulsory union membership, no more graduated income taxes, and no more fractional reserve banking.

Above all, no more fractional reserve banking.

In short, the primary public institutional counter-offensive to all conspiracies is a civil government which is governed by this fundamental truth: there is no such thing as a free lunch. Or to put it bluntly, "You get your hand out of my wallet, and I'll get my hand out of yours." Until the vast majority of voters believe this, and vote in terms of it, conspirators will continue to manipulate the public effectively, and their hands will never get out of our wallets, for they will always tell each of us individually that they are digging even deeper into our neighbor's wallet, and besides, "it's in the public interest."


The Question of Faith

The second step after self-education is also primarily internal, though partially institutional. It is the response of faith. It is our acceptance of the principle that ethics is more fundamental than power, that the good guys win in the end.

I quoted the opening lines of Psalm 2 at the beginning of Chapter One. Now let me quote its conclusion. It warns rulers against becoming conspirators against God and God's law:

Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him (Psalm 2:8-12).

This should be the ultimate hope of man. This is the foundation upon which societies must build. If you are not building in terms of this foundation, then a mountain of fully documented books on the Conspiracy will do you precious little good. Conspiracy books offer us shovels with which to bury the plans of evil men. They are not to be used to dig our own graves. As God said to Joshua after the death of Moses, and just before the invasion of Canaan, Be strong, and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest (Joshua 1:6-7).

Footnotes:

1 Conservative Manifesto (February 1985), p. 6.

2 Gary North, Government By Emergency (Ft. Worth, Texas: American Bureau of Economic Research, 1983). On this point, so far, I was wrong.

 

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