Antonio Martino is an Italian politician who was a founding member of Forza Italia (the Italian political party concocted in 1993 to advance Silvio Berlusconi in 1994) who became a member of the Italian Parliament as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1994-5 and then as Minister of Defense from 2001-06. He is the son of Gaetano Martino, former Foreign Minister and prominent member of the now defunct (and somewhat disgraced) Italian Liberal Party (PLI). In the mid-1980s he was an unsuccessful candidate for the post of PLI secretary.
Previously, in 1992, Martino was a professor of Economics, in the Political Science Department at the University of Rome. He is the author of several books, papers and articles on economic theory and policy. Not unsurprisingly, given Berlusconi’s monopoly of the Italian media, he has been a frequent contributor to Italian television and radio programs. His books include the (1998) The Modern Mask of Socialism, and they tend to be published by right-wing organisations such as The Centre for Independent Studies and used by the US far-right to argue along the lines that “The ideas of Benito Mussolini, the founder of Fascism, are remarkably similar to the ideas of modern-day Western Leftists”. One sees a similar conflation (here with socialism and communism) with The Atlas Economic Research Foundation’s (discussed below) statement that:
Martino cautions against excessive optimism in the “fall” of socialism. Martino argues that socialism in the old sense is indeed dead, but it has taken on many new forms, such as environmental regulations. Hence, there are no permanent victories, but rather, new challenges for opponents of socialism.
According to some sources the book was based on a lecture describing the evolution of socialism ‘culminating in the Third Way philosophy as embodied by the British Labour Party under Tony Blair’. Martino argued that these latest developments in the reformist socialist movement should be called ‘neosocialism’. His career, aspects of which will be outlined below, has been predicated on postulating this type of permanent enemy, overstating its effects as a crisis, with a view to profiting from the construction of this ‘reality’. The efficacy of this formula comes into sharp focus with the present-day’s spectacular financial mismanagement and chaos:
Look at my country at the beginning of the sixties. The parties of the left at that time advocated policies that no-one advocates today—central planning, nationalisation, et cetera. […] In a sense a Depression is like smallpox—you can only have it once.
Regulation is for today’s socialists what public ownership of the means of production and central planning were for them half a century ago. No one has to nationalize industries anymore, because the extraordinary growth of regulation has given effective control to the government without its having to assume the hassle of ownership. Socialism has effectively re-invented itself.
What emerges in tracing his biography is his strong Atlanticist connections. Below we will take his involvement with the Institute of European Defence and Strategic Studies (IEDSS) as the basis for an examination of the network of other institutions Martino was part of (to differing extents) both before and after the IEDSS. By establishing Martino’s various memberships, alliances and allegiances and analysing their commonalities, patterns and interlocking structure we can explore how this relates to the operation of a quasi-secret right-wing network in terms of its influence on defence, economic and social policy and government from the 1980s to the present day. We can also extend this line of inquiry to understand Martino’s relationship and role in terms of US public diplomacy and ‘soft power’ (the IEDSS’ and Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Feulner was Chairman of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy 1982-91) via the IEDSS and the other institutions set up to promote and aid these drives.
Martino joined the Council of Management of the IEDSS in 1984 and previously had strong free-market, far-right connections to key nodes in the nexus that surrounded and formed it. He completed his postgraduate studies in Economics at The University of Chicago from 1966-68, where he was a student of Milton Friedman. After positions in Italian Universities he was with the Heritage Foundation in 1978, joining the associated Philadelphia Society in 1981, both are examined below. The Heritage Foundation was the main funder of the IEDSS and a large influence on its agenda. After joining the IEDSS, from 1988-90, Martino was made President of the Mont Pelerin Society which also overlaps with the groups discussed below; along with his membership of the advisory council of the Institute of Economic Affairs (along with the IEDSS’s Pedro Schwartz) since 1992 and the Cato Journal’s Editorial Board since 1990. He is also a member of the Social Affairs Unit which also includes the IEDSS’ John O’Sullivan, and Martino joins O’Sullivan again on the New Atlantic Initiative (which also has the IEDSS’s Robert Conquest and was launched in 1996 via the IEDSS). He is also involved with the Centre for the New Europe (founded in 1993 and part of the International Policy Network discussed below and also connected to the Stockholm Network of PR consultants and corporate lobbyists) and more recently he became part of the Atlantic Partnership in 2001.
Old friends and the Ledeen meeting
Significantly, Martino can also be viewed as part of back channel (and deniable) interactions between actors in the covert, parapolitical aspects of Atlanticism, particularly with Michael Ledeen (who was appointed to the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy in 1983) in a series of meetings involving US government officials and the Italian secret service (SISMI) that became the subject of press speculation relating to the propaganda use (at the highest level) of forged documents alleging that the Iraqi regime attempted to obtain Uranium oxide from Niger. While these types of activity are intentionally submerged and secretive, they are also open to partial exposure, with, I would argue, quite penetrating investigative work being accomplished out with the mainstream but occasionally emerging within it: note the familiarity in the Italian La Repubblica’s statement that:
…while Defense Minister Antonio Martino suggests that [SISMI boss Nicolò] Pollari arrange an appointment to meet an old friend of Italy. This old friend is Michael A. Ledeen, the old fox of American parallel intelligence conduits, who had once been declared persona non grata by Rome during 1980s.
A Vanity Fair commentary on this adds the conception that the meeting was motivated by the Italian government seeking to be helpful to the US in its war propaganda mission in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, this also mentions Martino as a go-between for Ledeen and SISMI:
According to La Repubblica, Nicolò Pollari had become frustrated by the C.I.A.’s refusal to let SISMI deliver a smoking gun that would justify an invasion of Iraq. At an unspecified date, he discussed the issue with Ledeen’s longtime friend Minister of Defense Antonio Martino. Martino, the paper reported, told Pollari to expect a visit from “an old friend of Italy,” namely Ledeen. Soon afterward, according to La Repubblica, Pollari allegedly took up the Niger matter with Ledeen when he was in Rome. Ledeen denies having had any such conversations. Pollari declined to be interviewed by Vanity Fair, and has denied playing any role in the Niger affair. Martino has declined to comment.
According to a History Commons timeline on Ledeen, in 2001 the Bush administration sent two defense officials, Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin, the purpose of which was to meet with Iranian government officials in Rome “in response to an Iranian government offer to provide information relevant to the war on terrorism”. The offer had been ‘backchanneled’ via Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms trader involved in the Iran-Contra affair, who contacted Ledeen, also an Iran-Contra figure with long-standing connections to Ghorbanifar. The Washington Monthly stories picked up on Martino’s long-standing connections with the neo-conservatives but, to my knowledge, did not examined these in any depth. The familiarity with Ledeen seems somewhat misdirecting since very few individuals have a clear understanding of who or what Ledeen actually does: even those within the US intelligence community seem to be guessing and Ledeen’s writings and remarks are contradictory.
At the time of the Martino/Ledeen meeting, America’s newly-installed ambassador (and like most of them a fund raiser), Mel Sembler claimed not to have heard of their clandestine meeting or a subsequent one, until told at a private dinner with Ledeen and Martino. A November 4, 2005 UPI report stated that Pollari argued that he had personally warned the CIA in early January that the documents were fake, Martino has labeled the La Repubblica story “a collection of fantasies.” But questions about why the information found its way into Bush’s speech remain as do questions on the UK government’s role in the affair; its relation to events surrounding the disclosure that Valerie Plame (the wife of the former Ambassador Joe Wilson who prepared a report questioning the status quo on Niger) was a CIA agent and the ramifications thereof.
According to a December 6, 2003 ANSA English Media Service report, Ledeen and Martino also met at Lucca in Italy (along with Richard Perle and Giuliano Amato) in an event organised by the Italian Senate and the US Embassy, to discuss Italy’s role in relations with the US, the fight against terrorism and the role of European defense and the “need to change international institutions”. The left-wing Socialist Workeronline, drawing on a documentary on Italy’s Rai TV station, have been critical of Italy’s motives and positioning of its armed forces in Iraq in relation to Eni, the country’s energy company and their previous agreement with the Saddam Hussein regime in 1997 to extract oil from the Nassirya area. Martino has denied this contract had anything to do with the positioning of Italian troops. But I will leave the labyrinth of this story to focus on our examination of Martino.
A certain amount of back-scratching between Ledeen and Martino is apparent in the National Review, May 2, back in 2001, Ledeen had written on attempts by “European and English media to demonize Silvio Berlusconi” and cited “proven world-class thinkers and leaders” such as Martino who would save the day:
The accusations are not new, and most of them have already been resolved in the Italian courts in Berlusconi’s favor. Some have been thrown out for lack of evidence, others have died because prosecutors couldn’t find enough to justify taking the cases to court; still others were reversed on appeal, and a couple are still pending. Those familiar with the antics of the marauding Italian magistrates for the past decade will recognize the pattern: Many are accused, even arrested, but only a hapless few are firmly convicted.
Previously, in The American Spectator, August 1994, Ledeen had written glowingly on Berlusconi’s election victory, Martino was described as a “Chicago School economist and a former Heritage Foundation fellow.” According to Craig Unger’s 2006 Vanity Fair article, Martino “had been close friends with Michael Ledeen since the 1970s,” presumably dating back to Martino’s time at Heritage.
According to the Jerusalem Post, July 21, 2006, Martino called on NATO in February to offer Israel membership during a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Sicily—Ledeen is a prominent and key promoter of the Israel lobby. Opposition politicians in Rome have asked a parliamentary intelligence oversight committee to question Martino about whether he was aware of and had approved the operations, known in CIA parlance as an “extraordinary rendition,” according to the Washington Post, June 26, 2005. With his long-standing ties to the US right’s foundations and think tanks, involvement in US propaganda with the IEDSS and now position, via the Berlusconi government, as defence minister one would have to place Martino as a potential and likely agent of influence for the US in Italy — one of many given the extent of US involvement in Italian politics since the 1940s.
We turn now to look at his work with US think tanks.
The Oracle at Delphi
Martino is a member of The Philadelphia Society which describes itself as:
…a membership organization of educators, journalists, business and professional leaders, clergy—thoughtful analysts of current trends and public policy—all dedicated to the goal of deepening the intellectual foundations of a free and ordered society and to broadening the general understanding of its basic principles among the public at large.
Over the years members have included: Michael Novak, Richard Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, Herman Kahn, Russell Kirk, Irving Kristol, Milton Friedman, George Gilder, Friedrich von Hayek, Edwin J. Feulner and William F. Buckley placing it on the extreme right-wing of US Conservatism with an intelligence connected orientation — Buckley had worked for the CIA under E. Howard Hunt —with related connections to the foundations and think tanks which sustain and develop what is often termed ‘free-market’ ideology. Drawing on the NNDB database other members of the Philadelphia Society with connections to organisations with far-right intelligence connections (mostly involved in propaganda) include Philip Miller Crane (Western Goals Foundation), Midge Decter (Committee on the Present Danger, Jamestown Foundation), M. Stanton Evans (Voice of America), Edwin J. Feulner (Center for Strategic & International Studies, Center for Security Policy, IEDSS), Milton Friedman (Hoover Institution), Steven Hayward (American Enterprise Institute), John Von Kannon (The American Spectator), Russell Kirk (National Review), Leonard P. Liggio (Atlas Economic Research Foundation), Edwin A. Meese III (Council for National Policy), Gary North (Council for National Policy), Frank Shakespeare (National Strategy Information Center, IEDSS), Ernest van den Haag (Office of War Information).
In character it could also be said to be gathered around William F. Buckley, and the National Review. Edwin J. Feulner in a 2004 essay William F. Buckley Jr. in “The March of Freedom” states:
I first met William Buckley in the fall of 1964 at the organizing committee meeting for the Philadelphia Society, also attended by Don Lipsett, Frank Meyer, and Milton Friedman. According to the early records of the group, Bill Buckley loaned the Society its first one hundred for organizing expenses at that meeting.
This was reproduced from “The March of Freedom: Modern Classics in Conservative Thought,” published by the Heritage Foundation and edited by Feulner, which featured essays from 15 writers, who, it is argued, ‘gave conservatism its contemporary form’. A 1995 National Review feature on the Philadelphia Society portrays it as a trans-Atlantic gatherings of several right-wing individuals and organisations such as Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute, Patricia Morgan and John Blundell of the Institute of Economic Affairs, Alejandro Chafuen of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and Patrick Fagan of the Heritage Foundation: here the meeting returns to Barry Goldwater’s vision on social security. Ralf Harris of the IEA, writing in the National Review in 1997, inadvertently christened this network ‘the phantom academy,’ (a possible reference to Walter Lippmann’s (1925) ‘The Phantom Public’) and this also has some relation to the plans to disseminate its ideas, which I explore in more depth with the profile on the IEDSS’ Gerald Frost.
According to Nathaniel Ward’s (2007) How William F. Buckley shaped conservatism, the political direction of the group was essentially a reaction to an understanding of the drift of history and a perception of a generalised concern about ‘liberalism’ that:
At the end of the Second World War, liberalism appeared triumphant. Much of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal remained in place, and Harry Truman’s Fair Deal reinforced these policies. In Western Europe, left-wing parties were winning elections even as Communist armies marched into Eastern Europe and the Far East.
Ward (Editor of MyHeritage.org—a website for members and supporters of the Heritage Foundation) goes on to locate the orientation within the specific rallying point of the National Review, which was essentially the in-house journal of the Philadelphia Society:
Buckley’s magazine and his personal connections were central to Barry Goldwater’s groundbreaking 1964 presidential campaign—and […] to urging an actor named Ronald Reagan to seek not only the governorship of California but the highest office in the land. He also established in New York state a new Conservative Party to help draw politics in that state to the right, and he drew national attention (and a number of votes) in his 1965 campaign for mayor of New York City.
In an obituary for Don Lipsett (one of its founders) Buckley makes the analogy that the Philadelphia Society was for American conservatives what the Mt. Pelerin Society was for academic free-marketeers worldwide. The Philadelphia Society’s founding members included the economist Milton Freidman so at some point, the antipathy towards economic liberalism was overcome. Russell Kirk in another comparison of the organisation stated:
“What the Fabian Society was in Britain, The Philadelphia Society is becoming in America—but moving in the opposite direction. For [more than] a quarter of a century these conservative… scholars have been talking among themselves; now their discussions influence in a large way the great public decisions. If an American Augustan Age is commencing, The Philadelphia Society people will be architects of national renewal—that is, of an edifice far better and more enduring than the New Deal.”
It is difficult to find the Homer, Cicero, Virgil and Horace are of this ‘Augustan Age,’ and at times the patronage of the work is also hidden; and who is Cesear in this analogy: JFK? The Philadelphia Society’s site tells us that presentations from programs held by the Philadelphia Society were published in the National Review and also in Encounter, and with founding members of the Society: Buckley, Don Lipsett, Frank Meyer, and Milton Friedman, the organisation, although operating on an informal level, illustrates the active combination of intellectual groupings forming the ideological underpinnings of the far-right with the aim to influence American Conservatism, specifically the Republican Party. This would entail the introduction and promotion of neo-liberal economics and, with Lipsett (via the American Security Council discussed below) push the security agenda towards an agressive militaristic ‘crackpot realism’. Considering that Edwin J. Feulner, Jr. was Philadelphia Society president (1982-83) and also at the same time was steering the IEDSS before becoming a key adviser on Public Diplomacy to the Reagan administration we can also discern moves towards propaganda abroad and an influence on social policy via academia and the media via this ‘phantom academy’ approach. A historical orientation to understand the direction of the group might present The Mont Pelerin Society as a precursor—with von Hayek and Walter Lippmann as avatar and mavern —and Goldwater’s defeat as a cataylst and model, despite the hostility to the ideological framework exhibited by the American electorate and Republicans: as the Washington Post put it in an obituary of Goldwater in 1998:
During his 1964 presidential campaign, Mr. Goldwater was attacked by Democrats and opponents within his own party as a demagogue and a leader of right-wing extremists and racists who was likely to lead the United States into nuclear war, eliminate civil rights progress and destroy such social welfare programs as Social Security.
The other aspect of the group around the Philadelphia Society is of course the State/Private development of anti-communism in the late 1940s and we will examine this below in terms of Philadelphia Society founding member, Don Lipsett. Before this we will add a little more detail on the Society’s work on economics which, together with defence and foreign affairs are Martino’s main areas of specialisation. But first a few remarks on Frank Mayer the other founding member of the Philadelphia Society, and the National Review and here we return to ‘The God That Failed’.
Lew Rockwell, in a review of essay by Murray N. Rothbard on Frank Meyer and Sidney Hook, argues that Meyer with his concept of ‘Fusionism’ aimed for a unified conservative movement based on “a fusing of the previously disparate and seemingly antithetical libertarian and traditionalist wings of the conservative movement”. He also states that Meyer “strongly opposed from within the Buckley-National Review policy of purging the conservative movement of all “extremist” groups: notably, the libertarians, the Birchers, and the Randians.” This also adds:
A veteran communist who got his start as organizer at the London School of Economics, Frank was a leading theoretician, a member of the National Committee of the Communist Party, USA, and head of the CP’s second leading cadre training school, the Workers’ School of Chicago. As a top defector, Frank was deeply committed to total destruction of the God That Failed, up to and including nuclear annihilation of the Soviet Union. Hence, Frank not only disagreed with the Old Right foreign policy of isolationism, his major interest was to reverse it, and he was the most pro-war of all the myriad war hawks of National Review and the conservative movement. Being militantly pro-war also meant being in favor of U.S. imperialism and of all-out military statism in the U.S.
Rockwell, who has a particular vantage point here, makes the critical appraisal that under Mayer’s “theoretical and strategic aegis” the conservative movement “rushed to welcome and honor any species of dangerous socialist so long as they were certifiably anti-communist or anti-Soviet.” He then lists “every variety of Marxian socialist, whether right-wing Trotskyite, Menshevik, Lovestonite, or Social Democrat”, arguing that they were then “able to enter and infect the conservative movement.” One remarkable feature of the mania of anti-communism is this conversion and preponderance of former communists attacking themselves like an ourubus.
Mayer ended up a Catholic according to a review of Kevin J. Smant’s (2002) Principles and Heresies: Frank S. Meyer and the Shaping of the American Conservative Movement, in the National Review, and religion is also part of the fusion he advocated, the review also adds:
Fusionism lingers among conservatives and Republicans to this day. Meyer’s influence can be seen in Charles Murray’s remark, in his book In Pursuit, that if Adam Smith and Edmund Burke could admire each other, why can’t he admire both? In 1995, Ralph Reed, then executive director of the Christian Coalition, spoke as a fusionist in counseling the new Republican Congress that “in an essentially conservative society, traditionalist ends can be advanced through libertarian means.” Around the same time, William Kristol urged conservatives to practice a “politics of liberty” and a “sociology of virtue.”
Buckley had sought to patch over the philosophical divisions when he founded National Review in 1955 by inviting traditionalists, libertarians, and anti-communists to join the magazine and debate the great issues of the day. But the more they wrote and argued, the more it seemed that the differences between the branches of conservatism were not peripheral but fundamental.
- They accept “an objective moral order” of “immutable standards by which human conduct should be judged.”
- Whether they emphasize human rights and freedoms or duties and responsibilities, they unanimously value “the human person” as the center of political and social thought.
- They oppose liberal attempts to use the State “to enforce ideological patterns on human beings.”
- They reject the centralized power and direction necessary to the “planning” of society.
- They join in defense of the Constitution “as originally conceived.”
- They are devoted to Western civilization and acknowledge the need to defend it against the “messianic” intentions of Communism.
Edwards argues that “this was so much armchair philosophizing by tweedy intellectuals” until it was tested by the ‘fusionism’ of Goldwater’s run for the presidency, Edwards presents a very mild appraisal of Goldwater, but does note that his failure would eventually lead to the Reagan presidency, since Reagan was approached in 1965 and importuned by influential conservatives to seek the Republican nomination for governor of California because of an eleventh hour TV speech for Goldwater. For Edwards Regan was a “master fusionist.”
This formulation is contested by Murray Rothbard in his (1981) Frank S. Meyer:The Fusionist as Libertarian Manqué, published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute, this argues that:
The conceptual chaos of conservatism may be traced back to its origins: a reaction against the New Deal. Since modern conservatism emerged in response to the particular leap into statism of the 1930s and 1940s, it necessarily took on the features of any “popular front”: that is, defined more by what it opposed than what it stood for.
Milton’s Paradise Lost
As a leader of the “Chicago school,” a group of free-market economists at the University of Chicago, Milton Friedman was one of the more promoted figures in the movement to place the choices of buyers and sellers (the market), not government management, at the center of economic theory. The primary economic interest expounded was monetary theory, along the lines of Friedman’s “monetarism,” which upholds the central economic importance of the money supply.
According to his obituary in the Wall Street Journal, initially Friedman’s advocacy of free markets over government intervention and his prescription for inflation-fighting by central banks were treated as fringe notions by many economists. The New York Times called him “the grandmaster of free-market economic theory”, and sets up the opposition that:
Flying the flag of economic conservatism, Mr. Friedman led the postwar challenge to the hallowed theories of Lord Keynes, the British economist who maintained that governments had a duty to help capitalistic economies through periods of recession and to prevent boom times from exploding into high inflation. In Professor Friedman’s view, government had the opposite obligation: to keep its hands off the economy, to let the free market do its work.
Friedman’s (1963) “A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960,” which he wrote with Anna Jacobson Schwartz, coincided with the launch of the Philadelphia Society, although (apart from his fellowship at the Hoover Institution), the role of right-wing conservative organisations in promoting Friedman was not mentioned in either obituary, although the New York Times noted that:
Though he had helped ignite the conservative rebellion after World War II, together with intellectuals like Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley Jr. and Ayn Rand, Mr. Friedman had little or no influence on the administrations of Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon. President Nixon, in fact, once described himself as a Keynesian.
There are assumptions and contradictions in the much vaunted reception of Friedman by Reagan and Thatcher, as noted in the obituary drawing on Prof. Robert Solow of M.I.T., a Nobel laureate himself: did not President Reagan, and Friedman, revert to Keynesianism once in power?:
“The boom that lasted from 1982 to 1990 was engineered by the Reagan administration in a straightforward Keynesian way by rising spending and lowered taxes, a classic case of an expansionary budget deficit,” Mr. Solow said. “In fairness to Milton, however, it should be said that one of the reasons for his wanting a tax reduction was to force the spending cuts that he presumed would follow.” […] What was worse, by the mid-1980s, as the finance and banking industries began undergoing upheavals and money began shifting unpredictably, Mr. Friedman’s own monetarist predictions — of what would happen to the economy and inflation as a result of specific increases in the money supply — failed to hold up. Confidence in his monetarism theory waned.
This also notes Friedman’s role in providing intellectual guidance on economic matters to the military regime in Chile that engineered a coup in the early 1970s against the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende. So it is possible to review Friedman’s work as having a strong political bias and having a utility as an intellectual tool in that aspect of the cold war that would find Keynesian economics akin to socialism; and it is possible to identify these type of traits in Martino. This ‘politicisation’ can be identified in the remarks made on Friedman’s death by baroness Thatcher and others, such as this example in the Independent 17 November 2006:
Mrs Thatcher said: “Milton Friedman revived the economics of liberty when it had been all but forgotten. He was an intellectual freedom fighter.
This is hardly the dispassionate ‘objectivity’ of scientific inquiry and writers such as Naomi Klein in (2007)The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, advance the argument that economic liberalization is so unpopular that it can only win through deception or coercion. Although noting that Joseph Stiglitz has called the book “a rich description of the political machinations required to force unsavory economic policies on resisting countries,” critics of her book, such as Johan Norberg’s (2008) Defaming Milton Friedman, state that Friedman becomes an arch villain in her story and that her analysis (including the Pinochet advice) is over stated. With a certain amount of irony the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, reproduced the Times obituary which stated:
He became better known than his peers less because of his academic contribution (which was certainly substantial) than from his promotion by right-wing political lobbyists as a credible pundit to validate their cause.
In fairness this does note that economic measures were enacted beyond Friedman’s control, but the flawed attempts to target monetary aggregates in leading economies soon ended in failure. But by the same token Friedman’s critique was of the post-war neo-classical “Keynesian” synthesis consensus, not specifically of Keynes.
The Iron Lady Boys’ Phantom Academy and the universalization of capitalism with a vengeance
In an effort to stimulate the work of researchers, Sabina Alkire and Angus Ritchie’s Winning Ideas: Lessons from free-market economics, draws attention to the strategic activities and tactics that, they argue, were central to the advance of broadly free-market ideas from the 1940s to the 70s, and their findings could be categourised as:
(1) The provision of moral narratives
(2) Targeting of the people who communicate ideas to a mass audience
(3) The building of academic community
(4) Financial invest in talent —both junior and senior—to drive an agenda
(5) Strategic deployment and control of critically scrutiny.
This approach is corroborated in the Ralph Harris article cited above, which itself drew on Hayek’s (1949) The Intellectuals and Socialism, which outlined the role of a cadre of intellectuals as “professional second-hand dealers in ideas,” and argued, somewhat deterministically, that:
Once the more active part of the intellectuals have been converted to a set of beliefs, the process by which these become generally accepted is almost automatic and irresistible.
This “dispersed worldwide academy of uncompromising liberal scholars and students” was to be the Mont Pelerin Society itself and what it wanted to establish or replicate ‘world-wide.’ Harris in terming it the ‘Phantom Academy’ alludes to the covert and conspiratorial nature of the project which would defend people from themselves:
…over the next half-century, a growing number of carefully vetted members would meet in private conclave every year or two, at agreeable venues around the world —from Cambridge, Berlin, Paris, and Madrid to Princeton, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Prague. The program rings the changes on a single unvarying theme, that of exploring —without regard for what might be thought expedient or “politically possible” —both the philosophical foundation of the free society and the legal/institutional setting within which people are permitted maximum scope for freedom, peace, and prosperity. At every meeting expert papers would be read, followed by vigorous discussion, on all the endemic disorders of modern societies, from inflation, monopoly, protectionism, trade-unionism, lobbying, and state “welfare,” to the cumulative growth of government, taxation, regulation, and all the other mischiefs to which “majoritarian democracy” is prey.
For Hayek, writing in 1949, a popular assumption was that the “influence of the intellectuals on politics is negligible,” but he argues the “power they wield [is] by shaping public opinion.” The main example of this (to the exclusion of any comparitive analysis) is the response to Socialism which for Hayek:
In the light of recent history it is somewhat curious that this decisive power of the professional secondhand dealers in ideas should not yet be more generally recognized. The political development of the Western World during the last hundred years furnishes the clearest demonstration. Socialism has never and nowhere been at first a working-class movement. It is by no means an obvious remedy for the obvious evil which the interests of that class will necessarily demand. It is a construction of theorists, deriving from certain tendencies of abstract thought with which for a long time only the intellectuals were familiar; and it required long efforts by the intellectuals before the working classes could be persuaded to adopt it as their program.
Hayek (the work of Schumpeter is the only theoretical basis for the text)is perturbed by the possibility that the US would becoming swayed by the trend towards socialism, a planned and directed economic system, that he identified that “the phase of the development in which socialism becomes a determining influence on politics […] during which socialist ideals governed the thinking of the more active intellectuals.”
Paradoxically the Mont Pelerin’s ‘Statement of Aims’ document, as reproduced in Alan O. Ebenstein’s (2003) Friedrich Hayek, (p. 145), drafted by Lionel Robbins and signed by all who attended the first meeting, clearly states that: “The group does not aspire to conduct propaganda.” In the following sentence it adds “It seeks to establish no meticulous and hampering orthodoxy. It aligns itself with no particular party.” It also complains of “…the spread of creeds which, claiming the privilege of tolerance when in the position of a minority, seek only to establish a position of power in which they can suppress and obliterate all views but their own.”
Arguably the work of the followers of Mont Pelerin have assumed positions somewhat contrary to these stated aims, indeed Lippmann’s disdain of democracy and the need to ‘manufacture consent’ and Hayek’s above quoted advocacy of propaganda through “secondhand dealers,” subtle and nuanced as they are, would seem counter to these aims. Surely the basic liberal creed of a self-regulating market was itself sustained by dangerous and utopian myths. One is tempted to add “all that is solid melts into air.” As to whether there is anything spontaneous or natural or ‘self-regulating’ about ‘the free market’ conceptualisation of capitalism: it is constructed and maintained by the state, as C. Wright Mills notes in his review of Franz Neumann’s (1942) Behemoth: The Structure and Function of National Socialism 1933-1944, originally published in Partisan Review, September, October 1942, those who refused to see the German economy as capitalistic used Marx’s view that capitalism was an “anarchy of production”:
Of course, as Max Weber contended, modern Western capitalism is nothing of the sort. It is rationalized and planned. The more monopolization continues, the more capitalism is controlled and planned. “States” have interfered less in the mechanisms of laissez-faire than have monopoly capitalists.
Mills also adds:
To define “capitalism” as consisting of the “free competition” of a large number of independent entrepreneurs with freedom of contract and trade is, of course, to speak of the past. A more enduring trait, and therefore one better fitted to be seized upon in a definition, is the major institution of modern society: private property in the means of production. Now rapid technological change, requiring heavy investments, further augments the gobbling up of the little by the big and this monopolization eventuates in an extremely rigid economic structure. Powerful corporations demand guarantees and subsidies from the state. Thus, in the era of monopolization “the administrative act” and not “the contract” becomes “the auxiliary guarantee of property.” Intervention becomes central, and: “who is to interfere and on whose behalf becomes the most important question for modern society.” In Germany, as seen by Neumann, National Socialism has tied the economic organization into the web of “industrial combinations run by the industrial magnates.” By means of the newer implementation of property, the administrative command, the cartellization of German business has proceeded rapidly. The Nazis saved the cartel system, whose rigidities were sorely beset by the depression. Since then their policies have consistently resulted in a further monopolization into the orbit of the big corporations. The cartels and the political authority have been welded together in such a way that private hands perform such crucial politico-economic tasks as the allocation of raw materials. But who runs the giant cartels.
Building on these notions of monopolisation and cartelisation (one could add privatisation) aided by the administrative act, John Bellamy Foster’s (1999) Contradictions in the universalization of capitalism, explores the notion of the effects of the universalisation of capitalism and states that Karl Polanyi, who had personally witnessed the intellectual attacks that Mont Pelerin’s Mises and Hayek had directed at socialism in Vienna, provided the earliest and most devastating critique of neoliberalism, encompassing the ideas of Spencer, Dicey, Mises, Hayek and Lippmann:
For Polanyi what had collapsed in the age of crisis that characterized the years 1914-1945 was the universalizing tendency of capital enunciated by classical-liberal society, which required “nothing less than a self-regulating market on a world-scale,” since it sought to reduce all of the essential “elements of production,” labor (i.e., human beings), land (external nature) and money itself to the status of commodities —and could accept no limits to its own “stupendous mechanism.” Hence, the commitment to a self-regulating market system geared to limitless commodification and accumulation tended to undermine the very conditions of production —the social-reproductive conditions of human labor power, the sustainability of nature, and the basis of monetary stability —on which its own continuation depended.
Foster argues that the central idea of economic liberalism is that of a market society organized on the basis of individual self-interest as the natural state of humankind, and that such a society is bound to prosper — through an almost providential invisible hand —provided that no external barriers stand in its way. For Foster crises in the expansion of capital insofar as they are not purely cyclical phenomena, are usually attributed to external limits or interferences with the market from “outside” rather than to internal contradictions within the capital accumulation process. The contradictions of Mont Pelerin are the contradictions of capitalism: striving for universality in an alienated way. But yet, could it also be as Foster states that a strange dialectic is at work here:
The contradictions of capitalism were all too real and all artificial restrictions introduced to save the system from itself would simply be swept aside by the development of the system. Capitalism thus tended toward an extreme universalism that undercut the conditions of its own existence. All middle roads, all proposals for the rational regulation of the system were bound to fail in the end. In this respect, Marx’s views were thus very close to those of the economic liberals —who failed however to perceive the transitory nature of capitalism that this entailed.
Foster identifies the rise of the monopoly capitalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a key point in this understanding of the universalizing tendency of capitalism, which accepted no limits to its own expansion, and also a critical juncture for the liberal tradition—the meaning of liberalism began to change, taking on a more defensive and reformist posture. Describing the importance of the work of Herbert Spencer he notes:
The function of “true liberalism” in the future, Spencer proclaimed, “will be that of putting a limit to the powers of Parliaments” in order to avoid such democratic undermining of the liberal order. The anxiety that this generated for many old-style economic liberals was perhaps most evident in Herbert Spencer’s The Man Versus the State (1884), which argued that beginning in the 1860s and 1870s “true liberalism” was increasingly undermined (frequently in the name of liberalism itself) by anti-liberal, collectivist (and socialistic) tendencies, manifested in the emergence of the Factory Acts, restrictions on child labor, public health measures, regulations on working hours for certain classes, etc.
As the Fabian Society (founded in 1884) became the intellectual focal point for the social democracy that grew up with the British Labour Party: “The whole thrust of the state was toward what Gabriel Kolko (following Weber) was to call “political capitalism,” associated with the growth of monopoly capitalism.” By the time of the Mont Pelerin meeting whatever remained of the faith in the self-regulating market seemed to have come to a final cataclysmic end which encouraged economic liberals to construct a more uncompromising theory of liberalism which promoted “the universalization of capitalism with a vengeance”. Foster, quoting from Kari Polanyi-Levitt and Marguerite Mendell’s (1989) “The Origins of Market Fetishism,” Monthly Review, vol. 41, no. 2, describes the social, political, economic and cultural environment in ‘Red Vienna’ which The Mont Pelerin group found such a vision of Hell:
Working-class families were … privileged in access to low-rental, bright, spacious, modern apartments with parks, kindergartens, and other communal facilities. These programs, together with a sweeping educational reform based on Alfred Adler’s theories of psychology, plus the large-scale participation of the working people in Vienna in a remarkable variety of cultural, recreational, and educational activities organized by the Socialists made “Red Vienna,” a world-class showpiece of avant-garde urban lifestyle. … “Never before or since,” wrote Ernst Fischer, “has a Social Democratic Party been so powerful, so intelligent, or so attractive as was the Austrian party of the mid 1920s.”
Ludwig von Mises organized his Privatseminar, which attracted Friedrich von Hayek, who became Mises’ disciple, to constructed a counter-revolutionary version of economic liberalism according to Foster: “a perspective so committed to the utopian myth of the self-regulating market that Adam Smith himself appeared to be a dangerous interventionist by contrast.” The dispersal of the ‘Austrian School’ led to the spread of their version of economic liberalism, particularly in Britain and the US and Walter Lippmann and the (1938) “Le Colloque Walter Lippmann,” which was the precursor of Mont Pelerin, which gradually began to conduct propaganda in the universities with what looks like the ‘meticulous and hampering orthodoxy’ they found so troubling; alligned to the right-wing of Conservatism to spread a creed which, claiming the privilege of tolerance when in the position of a minority, saught only to establish a position of power in which it could suppress and obliterate “all views but their own.” All in the name of liberalism. But what of Mill’s question which we left hanging somewhat: ‘who runs the giant Cartels?’ The same people who fund the big Foundations that fund the neo-Liberal think tanks is one answer.
In an (1990) essay by Nigel Ashford for the Heritage Foundation examining how ideas get transmitted from the intellectual realm to the public policy arena, he states that the Hoover Institution and the American Enterprise Institute provided an institutional forum in Washington, D.C., for monetarist ideas, but that institutional support, however, was less significant in the US because monetarism “already had a degree of respectability within the academic profession”. Ashford is part of the Institute for Humane Studies (funded by Charles G. Koch who also assists the the Hayek Societies in the US and UK, the Cato Institute).
The Institute of Economic Affairs is credited with the publication of Milton Friedman’s (1970) The Counter-Revolution in Monetary Theory— a 20-page summary of his ideas on monetarism and from a UK perspective the bringing together of Friedman with leading politicians such as Mrs. Thatcher. Ashford also argues that in 1975, the Centre for Policy Studies was created in Britain, “which had as its primary focus explaining monetarism to the British public.” And as mentioned above, we see Martino in the IEA. The essay also mentions the creation of The Adam Smith Institute, in the UK and the Cato Institute‘s establishment in Washington, D.C., both in 1981. This also outlines this creation of institutions under the direction of the Heritage Foundation:
So the supply-siders had to create their own institutions. One was the Institute for Research into the Economics of Taxation, formed in 1977 by Norman Ture. But that gained very little attention until The Heritage Foundation took it under its wing in 1981, and then gave its work a much higher profile in Washington. Ture contributed the chapter on the Department of Treasury to the influential Mandate for Leadership report of The Heritage Foundation, in which he summed up the case for supply-side tax cuts. He was appointed Undersecretary for Tax and Economic Affairs at Treasury. Another significant institutional support for supply-side economics was the Manhattan Institute, with George Gilder as the program director, giving a lot of attention to supply-side economics, which eventually led to his best selling book, Wealth and Poverty. In Britain there was no institutional support for supply-side economics. People didn’t understand what the term meant. It wasn’t used by economists; it wasn’t used by politicians. The first conference on supply-side economics in Britain was organized in 1986 by the Manhattan Institute. There was no institutional base for supply-side economics within Britain.
It would be of use to identify the small size and disproportionate influence of Heritage, but Ashford also notes the importance of the media reception in the UK and how the IEA played a crucial role in introducing Friedman’s ideas to three key economic journalists in Britain, who he argues became convinced and converted by his ideas: Samuel Brittan of the Financial Tunes, Peter Jay, economics editor of the Times, (former British Ambassador to the US when he was appointed by his father-in-law, Prime Minister Jim Callaghan and Frances Caincross, economics editor of the Guardian. Ashford makes the observation that of the three, none supported the Conservative party and yet they played “probably the major role in terms of media exposure to monetarist ideas.”
Ashford himself is part of the Libertarian Alliance a breakaway movement from the Society for Individual Freedom.
The Times obituary also notes that Friedman served as economic adviser to Barry Goldwater’s ill-fated 1964 presidential campaign, which was co-ordinated to a certain extent via the Philadelphia Society’s network.
Mont Pelerin meets the Center for Strategic and International Studies
The Philadelphia Society’s site states that it was founded in 1964 by Don Lipsett “through the contacts that he had made with such conservative leaders as Milton Friedman, Russell Kirk, Frank Meyer, and Wilmoore Kendall” at the National Review, and was elected to membership in the Mont Pelerin Society in 1971 (editing its newsletter) and from 1977 to 1995, served as Counselor to the President of The Heritage Foundation. According to the Leadership Institute, he is said to have popularized the ‘Adam Smith tie’ in the United States, and they also argue that other ties obsessed him:
Common organizational affiliations link different people. Common people link different organizations. The linking lines drawn on a page appear as a sinister and frightening web of organized evil. The late Don Lipsett, secretary of the Philadelphia Society, amassed a collection of such drawings from different sources and called them “termite charts.” […]These studies reached the conclusion that there was out there a vast, super-secret, well-placed, fabulously well-funded, centrally organized, enormously powerful, left-wing conspiracy, with tentacles everywhere, capable of defeating the lowliest conservative who dared run for the school board in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma.
According to Feulner, Lipsett proposed that the Philadelphia Society should establish a domestic version of the Mont Pelerin Society to bring together the strands of American conservative thinkers in one place to “exchange ideas, debate fundamental questions, and understand each other’s viewpoints”. Philadelphia Society member William F. Campbell stated that although the Society did not take party positions or promote specific policies: “The policy implications are left through a wise division of labor to organizations like The Heritage Foundation, run by Don’s close friend, Ed Feulner. And the battle in the colleges was left to ISI.”
The ISI is the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, founded in 1953 by Frank Chodorov with William F. Buckley Jr. as the first president and its history states it planned “a fifty-year project” to reform the university and society in favor of freedom. Together with the Leadership Institute and the Young Americans Foundation, the ISI these groups provided speakers and funding to promote a conservative viewpoint onto college students, simultaneously denouncing the liberal views that were common in colleges at the time.
Its board of trustees is something of an Georgetown elephant’s graveyard of former Nixon/Reagan appointees such as Feulner, Ed Meese, Richard V. Allen and other right wing lumanaries are its trustees. T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr. the ISI president stated that the Philadelphia Society was “conceived as a home for ISI students who had the misfortune to have become grown ups.”
Lipsett was a senior staff member of the American Security Council (ASC). Originally a database of suspected communists the ASC was founded in the mid-1950s by Gen. Robert Wood and the Chicago Tribune’s Robert R. McCormick, and became a leading anti-Soviet nexus of several cold war organisations such as the Committee on the Present Danger. For further background on the ASC see the page on Prison Privatisation and the Rightweb profile.
According to Edward Herman & Gerry O’Sullivan’s (1989) The Terrorism Industry, the ASC came into existence as an anti-labour intelligence and propaganda agency, acquiring the files of the anti-semite/anti-labour spymaster, Harry Jung (the first major US distributor of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion). It gradually extended its activities to serve the military industrial lobby as its anti-subversive focus broadened to include an ‘international red menace’, against which it urgently demanded accelerated weapons acquisitions and terrorism.
Christopher Simpson’s (1988) Blowback, America’s recruitment of Nazis and its effects on the Cold War, (p. 275) states that the ASC’s Coalition for Peace through Strength (CPS) had by the 1970’s become a high powered lobbying group that led a successful campaign to stop the SALT 2 talks. The CPS dispensed hundreds of thousands of dollars it had received from the major defence contractors to candidates it favoured in US congressional campaigns, and in 1982 used a budget of £2.5m to drive home its pro-armament industry propaganda with the ‘SALT Syndrome’ TV film, which was shown over 2,000 times on 500 stations in the USA.
The CPS’s early conferences (attended by government officials) were co-sponsored by the Aircraft Industries Association: a group at the time pressing for the US government to admit Nazi scientists. As its emphasis shifted towards military and foreign policy issues, the CPS gained heavier funding from Lockheed, Boeing and General Dynamics. It has been said that the ASC itself is not just the representative of the military industrial complex, it is the personification of it according to Russ Bellant’s (1988) Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party. Bellant states that the person responsible for the ASC was General Robert Wood, also chairman of Sears Roebuck and, prior to Pearl Harbour, chair of the America First Committee (AFC), an organisation opposing all efforts to aid the Allies during World War Two. The AFC went underground, hoping for the Nazis to win. The ASC also masterminded the restoration of the House Un-American Activities Committee as the House Internal Security Committee in 1969. At least four CPS member organisations still openly support the enemy axis governments of World War two.
The ASC is broadly dominated by right-wing members of government, defence intellectuals and rightist retirees of the military and intelligence establishments. In the 1980s these included James J. Angleton (probably the most powerful person in the CIA in the 1950s and 60s), General J. Singlaub (a once ubiquitous figure from the world of the neo-nazi fringe, a leading light of the World Anti-Communist League and named as the chief fund-raising contact to the contra army in Central America), Dan Graham (US Army retired, head of the Defence Intelligence Administration in 1974 and described as the senior zealous anti-communist in intelligence) and Senator Robert Dole (not exactly renowned for his liberalism).
Edward Herman details the ASC’s links to the US far-right as extensive and spectacular. It’s CPS is itself composed of 171 organisations that include a substantial number of anti-semite, racist, vigilante and fascist organisations. Russ Bellant states that several emigre groups which are part of the CPS are dominated by Nazi collaborationists/emigre fascists. Among them are the Bulgarian National Front (the creation of Ivan Docheff, sentenced to death in absentia for war crimes), the Slovak World Congress (founded by Josef Mikus, wanted for war crimes in the former Czechoslovakia), the Byelorussian American Committee (run by former SS engineer, John Kosiak, wanted for war crimes in the former Soviet Union). Another not entirely unrelated CPS element, is the Coalition for Constitutional Justice and Security, whose function is to terminate the work of the office of special investigation, a US Department of Justice agency organised to investigate Nazi war crimes in the US.
The ASC and CPS support for apartheid regimes in Africa included the incorporation of the extreme-right National Student Federation of South Africa in 1983. Its Conservative Caucus worked directly for the South African government, attacking the Reagan administration for its failure to openly and militarily align itself with South Africa. The ASC hosted Ian Smith in the US in 1978 and arranged a visit by five officials of South African Intelligence, setting up meetings with the Pentagon and the National Security Council. On Central America the ASC fought strenuously for contra aid and has sought to give credibility to the death squad right. In 1981 it sponsored a lobbying junket to Congress by EL Salvador’s Roberto D’ Aubuisson, acknowledged leader of a death squad and organiser of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. The ASC interviewed D’ Aubuisson in June 1984 for their radio programme and newsletter.
The Philadelphia Society also celebrates several of its former members, such as this Tribute by
Richard V. Allen to Gerhart Niemeyer:
As we returned from Europe, he gave me the opportunity to work with him on another study, Communists in Coalition Governments, and introduced me to the people with whom I worked to help establish the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown University. He later urged me to accept a post at Stanford’s Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, and encouraged and advised me as I labored in two successful presidential campaigns.
An anonymous obituary in the National Review links Niemeyer to “being instructed in the arts of covert intelligence for the CIA”. Niemeyer was another anti-communist theorist with works on the inner workings of The Communist Mind, which rather perplexedly argues that “the theory of history of Communism is the part that has encountered little objection and less intellectual resistance in the west…” This is drawn from Gregory L. Schneider’s (2003) Conservatism in America Since 1930: A Reader, which gathers together most of the Society’s members, including an interesting two page text on the formation of the Mont Pelerin Society which provides little other detail than the ‘aims’. In 1964 Niemeyer was foreign policy advisor to the presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and in 1981 President Reagan appointed Niemeyer to the Board of Foreign Scholarships (which tend to be incorporated into public diplomacy work) which elected him chairman.
Early trustees included W. Glenn Campbell a director of and who helped shape the Hoover Institution from 1960-89, a position for which he was selected by Herbert Hoover himself: “in an effort to keep what Hoover called left-wingers from gaining control of it” according to an obituary in the NY Times. Hoover scholar in residence included Robert Conquest. Obituaries tell us that when Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, Campbell was appointed chairman of the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board and a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. He served on both boards until 1990 and helped create the ideological framework for the “Reagan revolution”.
An early trustee was Frank S. Meyer a former communist early in life before his conversion to conservatism and subsequent joining of the National Review as a close adviser to and confidant of William F. Buckley, Jr. Of Meyer it was observed:
Of all the National Review editors and contributors, for example, Meyer is the only one to lend his name to the recently organized Council for a Volunteer Military, which calls for abolition of the draft…. But tragically, Meyer is also of the war-mongering crew of intellectuals on the Right, perhaps the most frankly and apocalyptically war-mongering of them all…. Meyer’s libertarian inclinations are fatally warped by his all-consuming desire to incarcerate and incinerate all Communists, wherever they may be. Meyer is, therefore, an interesting example in microcosm of the swamping of any libertarian instincts on the current Right-wing by an all pervading passion for the Great Crusade to exterminate Communists everywhere.
The IEDSS’ Frank Shakespeare was also a trustee, as was Ernest W. Lefever (who established the Ethics and Public Policy Center in 1976). Topics of their gatherings include 1964 “The Crisis of Western Civilization”, 1966 “The New Left in the United States”, 1968 “A Free Society in Ferment”, 1972 “Social Order and Institutional Crisis”, 1978 “What is to be Done”, 1980 “U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security”, 1980 “The Intellectual Defense of the Free World”, 1982 “The Reagan Administration: A Report Card”, 1982 “An Evening with William F. Buckley, Jr.”, 1983 “The Future of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and International Lending” (Co-sponsored with The Heritage Foundation), 1984 “Intellectual Resistance to the Wave of the Future”, 1989 “The Reagan Years as Prologue”, 1995 “Thinking the Unthinkable: The Successful Challenge to the Welfare State”.
Apart from its connections to Heritage, the National Review the Society also intersects with the The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (whose ‘outstanding alumni’ are given as Richard V. Allen, Edwin J. Feulner, Jr. and John F. Lehman, Jr., who are also trustees) which is (as they say) ‘based in Delaware’ and was founded in 1953. The traditions the Society seems to draw from are outlined in Robert Heineman’s (1994) Conservatism in the US: 1976 to the Present, published, like a lot of this material by Transaction Publishers. Surprisingly the Society’s disclaimer states that it is a “non-partisan educational foundation” and that “It does not support, endorse or oppose candidates or proposed legislation.” Hayek is said to have convinced Anthony Fisher that influencing the debate, providing the ideas, was a better way of wielding such influence.
Battery-farmed Think Tanks
The Society has connections to the Adam Smith Institute, and Martino is quoted at one of their gatherings by the National Review:
To quote Antonio Martino (briefly Italy’s foreign minister, but a Chicago-trained economist by profession), “The cumulative effect of decades of socialism has produced a state of near-bankruptcy which makes further expansion of government interference almost impossible.”
The Mont Pelerin gave rise to the practice of using think tanks for political propaganda purposes, directed by Battery chicken farming entrepreneur, Anthony Fisher, who founded the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (which itself promotes the instigation and use of think tanks as a propaganda vehicle for right-wing libertarian dogma). Drawing on Richard Cockett’s (1995) ‘Thinking the unthinkable: think-tanks and the economic counter-revolution, 1931-1983, Paul Labarique in Voltaire.net observed:
In 1977, and with the help of the eminent American lawyer William Casey, who would become later CIA director, he founded the International Center for Economic Policy Studies (ICEPS) in New York. According to Loic Wacquant, both men wanted the Institute to apply the principles of the market economy to social problems. At the same time, Sir. Anthony Fisher opened an institution to advise and finance the libertarians of the world so that they could found similar think tanks in their own countries. The International Institute for Research engendered the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in 1980 and the International Policy Network in 2001. In about 30 years, Fisher founded 90 research centers in 39 countries.
ICEPS’s board of directors included Lewl Lehrman, Irving Bristol, Ed Feulner and William Casey (a founding director of the National Strategy Information Center who funded the IEDSS) and the organisation would change its name to the Manhattan Institute in the early 1980s. According to Rightweb ICEPS:
…was founded in the mid-1970s as part of an Anglo-American circle of ideologues and operatives who were establishing right-wing institutes in Britain and the United States to promote “free market” and socially conservative philosophies.
What could be termed the “Neoconservative Revolution” promoted by the network of institutions planned to attack the ‘counterculture’, remove social services and transport African-Americans and the poor out of the big cities, as seen in writers such as George Gilder in works such as Sexual Suicide (1972), Visible Man (1979) and Wealth and Poverty (1981). Labarique also argues that the Manhattan Institute promoted the work of Charles Murray:
…the institute paid the author 30,000 dollars and two years to work in peace. Thus, in 1984 he published Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980 which according to Loic Wacquant “appeared in the right moment to in a pseudoscientific way approve the strong cancellation of social commitments carried out by the Republican government (with the support of the democratic majority of the Congress”. The explanation was simple: “the excessive generosity of the policies to assist the poor was to be blamed for the increase of poverty in the U.S. because they favored inactivity and the moral degeneration of popular classes, especially the “illegitimate” unions as the main cause of every social problem in modern societies, including ‘urban violence'”. Despite a huge number of obvious nonsense and empirical mistakes pointed out by sociologist Christopher Jencks, economist Robert Greenstein and even Nobel Prize James Tobin, the media turned the pamphlet into a “classic” and made it the central issue on the debates about social assistance in the U.S.
The artificial promotion of particular writers is a feature of how the think tank worked with public relations techniques and those of the intelligence services to form a battery (in terms of cells joined together and indeed its other meaning of an assault) production line, the institutes names (and the titles given to those hired to produce the ‘findings’) also lend a certain academic respectability to the propaganda once it is voiced through a politician or some other platform, yet oddly academia is often denounced by the groups as absurdly liberal. But then contradictions abound —Philadelphia means brotherly.
The Manhattan Institute’s strategy was outlined by the Institute President Lawrence Mone in a 2002 speech ‘How Think Tanks Achieve Public Policy Breakthrough’:
How does the Institute go about this persuasion? We do it through a number of carefully crafted vehicles that have proven to be very effective over the years in moving ideas through the intellectual food chain:
1) The first vehicle is an aggressive book publishing and marketing program, which redefines debates on national issues. And what makes this vehicle truly unique is that, rather than publishing books ourselves, we demand that our authors pass the “market test” of commercial trade houses. This guarantees wide distribution and prominently placed book reviews, so that we’re not just preaching to the converted. After all, as Peter Drucker has noted, “A think tank’s job is to change minds.”
2) Second, while we use books to change minds on national issues, we also publish a magazine which engages local elites. This magazine —City Journal—combines first-rate scholarship with outstanding journalism, and covers issues which impact the daily quality of life here in New York.
3) Finally, our Manhattan Forums, local events hosted herein New York, bring together cross-sections of the nation’s elites —from the worlds of government, business, journalism, and philanthropy.
It is interesting that Mone should quote Drucker (see the Hubertus Hoffmann profile) whose influence on the UK think tanks such as Demos (and their early obsessions) can be observed in Neils Gilman’s The Prophet of ‘Post-Fordism’, attitudes to big business “knowledge worker,” and the world of ‘management gurus’ and (Bell’s) ‘post-industrial society’ and Manuel Castells critique of this.
Stuart Hall and Martin Jacques in particular referred to post-Fordist times as ‘new times’ (borrowing from Drucker’s title). This is related to their explanation of the Labour Party’s repeated failure to defeat Thatcherism in, for example Cultsock’s (Communication, Cultural and Media Studies database) identification that they end up “with a conceptualization of modern society which is not so far removed from the conservative theorizing of Daniel Bell”. This also states that Hall and Jacques were optimistic about post-Fordism, in which they see the
proliferation of the sites of antagonism and resistance, and the appearance of new subjects, new social movements, new collective identities —an enlarged sphere for the operation of politics, and new constituencies for change.
All carefully managed and at times stage-managed.
Although Gilman’s delves much deeper into the Kierkegaardian interpretation of Hegel, which really just boils down to Drucker putting people in their place as some priest of capitalism:
Drucker insisted that attempts to mitigate alienation should never be allowed to mushroom into a desire for a secular, this-worldly utopian salvation. Drucker thus suggested a modernate, nuanced position: that one should attempt to mitigate alienation in this world by improving managerial techniques, while keeping in mind that ultimate salvation could only come in the next world. The psychological trick Drucker called for was to retain the tension between existential pessimism and humility toward the infinite, on the one hand, and an action-orientated mindset aimed at improving the temporal finite world of its worst sins, on the other.
Essentially it is finding a basis for the legitimacy of the big corporations that became Drucker’s task along with “how to show how to make a free enterprise system work” or as Gilman puts it “as went the practice of big business in the United States, so would go the fate of capitalism generally”. The essay also contrasts Drucker’s ideas to James Burnham’s who would ‘move’ (does it require much volition?) from Trotskyism to neo-conservatism and become a founding editor of the National Review, with many of the characters mentioned here. It would appear that we can have ‘scientific management’ by the business elite but such planning is to be resisted elsewhere.
The contradictions of those who move against acknowledging the need for planning in relation to structural elements in society, contrasted to advocacy the ‘free market’ should form a dictatorship, are numerous. Mother Jones Magazine published an overview “Put a Tiger In Your Think Tank” in their May/June 2005 Issue, outlining how ExxonMobil has pumped more than $8 million into more than 40 think tanks; media outlets; and consumer, religious, and civil rights groups that preach skepticism about climate catastrophe. Most of these are part of the Heritage Foundation, Atlas Economic Research Foundation network; with the big money going to the AEI and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which “Likens the danger of global warming to that of “an alien invasion.”” Fred L. Smith, Jr., President and Founder of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of “Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths,” was for five years as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency. Again it is this tiny world: Leonard Liggio (of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, The Mont Pelerin Society, the Philadelphia Society) is also with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Martino studied under Milton Friedman and George J. Stigler at the University of Chicago in the late 60s eventually joining them in the Mont Pelerin Society and in this context he has expressed some ineresting notions of freedom, as reported by the National Review in 1985 (which celebrated a ‘solidly right-wing’ atmosphere amongst the students of Cambridge):
As Antonio Martino, an Italian Mont Pelerinian, had made plain at a previous meeting of the society, keeping one’s business affairs “off the books,’ as is done particularly in Latin countries, is one way of maximizing one’s freedom. When governments are perceived as cheats, the inevitable response is to keep no records. The result is that the economists do not really know what they are talking about. We have computers but no trustworthy statistics to feed into them.
Martino is also quoted as saying, in the conext of a discussion on Orwell’s 1984, that “a moral absolutism imposed by Big Brother could be the ultimate in depravity,” which seems an out of place remark given the Philadelphia Society’s closeness to religion. The Pelerinians are also noted for their disdain for politicians, the National Review article notes:
Keynes did not live to read the pertinent analyses of James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, two Mont Pelerinians who have demonstrated that politicians, whether elected or appointed, almost invariably act to serve their own interests in preserving income, prestige, power, and the generally easy life.
And Martino is known for his line that “After five years in government, I now have the same respect for politicians that the pigeons of Rome have for statues.” Martino can be seen flying around various monuments to the free market erected by the network, such as the Australian Centre for Independent Studies, also set up by Anthony Fisher.
Martino can also be seen in the context of how, as the (2004) Quarterly Newsletter for the Atlas Network put it, “the newly established Istituto Bruno Leoni greatly bolsters the think tank movement in Italy” run by Carlo Stagnaro, also a fellow with the International Policy Network:
This free-market institute benefits from the help of a small group of committed businessmen, as well as from a young and active staff. The Institute’s “Rothbard Seminar” provides a free forum for graduate and undergraduate students, and, by doing so, aims to build a new generation of freedom scholars. It also publishes books in the libertarian tradition: among them, a collection of essays by Bruno Leoni, the great law scholar after whom the Institute is named, on the themes of trade-unionism and the so-called ‘right’ to strike; an anthology on private production of security; and, a translation of Denis De Rougemont’s inspiring pamphlet on the damages of public education.
The Instituto can also boast that “For the first time, in Italy […] a position openly skeptic on the dominant environmentalist consensus was heard and taken seriously.” It has the backing of the Heritage Foundation, the first act of the Institute was the promotion of a manifesto stigmatizing Italian finance minister’s policies with the backing of Martino.
The New Atlantic Initiative, dates from the mid-90s, and was described in the National Review thus:
The Congress of Prague was convened under the banner of the New Atlantic Initiative, led by a group of eminent individuals from the United States, Western Europe, and Central Europe determined to avoid these perils. In broad terms the mission of the Initiative was to reaffirm the moral unity of the Atlantic Community in the new context of democracy’s triumph in the Cold War and its spread into Central and Eastern Europe. The honorary patrons of the Initiative and the Congress were Lady Thatcher, Helmut Schmidt, Henry Kissinger, George P. Shultz, former Polish deputy premier Leszek Balcerowicz, and Havel. Its international advisory board included such political figures as Speaker Newt Gingrich and his predecessor Tom Foley, former AFL – CIO president Lane Kirkland, Gen. Colin Powell, Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Polish prime minister Hanna Suchocka, former Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers, former Italian foreign minister Antonio Martino, former Delaware governor Pete du Pont, as well as intellectual figures such as former Yale dean Donald Kagan, film director Milos Forman, Jean-Francois Revel, Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, Christoph Bertram, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, and Samuel Huntington.
The big surprise seemed to be “Czech President Vaclav Havel leading a procession of dignitaries,” an acrobatic feat easily achieved via Havel’s use of the trampoline of postmodernism, as pointed out by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont’s Intellectual Impostures, (p. 181) when they quoted his musings that:
“The fall of Communism can be regarded as a sign that modern thought—based on the premise that the world is objectively knowable, and that the knowledge so obtained can be absolutely generalised—has come to a final crisis.”
The Heritage Foundation
Martino spoke of his time at The Heritage Foundation (HF) in an interview with Antonella Rampino in Rome on 24 February, 2005, which was reproduced by Italian newspaper La Stampa, under the headline “‘Prodi, what a clown; we alone can say ‘welcome Bush,'” here he said:
I was in Washington from 1980 through 1982, and we at the Heritage Foundation prepared the platform for the first Reagan administration: It was absolutely revolutionary. Above all there was a revolutionary tax reform. The second term , on the other hand, was one of consolidation.
This is interesting given his place on the IEDSS, he was also asked whether the present generation of neo-conservatives going to be sidelined? and replied:
The second term is generally the time, one might say, for recognizing one’s adversaries’ side of the story. It is the great old American school to which the liberals and the free-marketeers, the Chicago Boys, belong. And please let us leave the neocons out of it! They take up too much room in the debate in Italy. I have the dual fortune of not being “neo” and of not being a “con” either, in the French sense of the term, of course (“con” French meaning “arsehole”)…
Martino gave a November 24, 1999, Heritage Foundation Lecture with Sir Rhodes Boyson called ‘What We Can Learn from Margaret Thatcher.’ The economic lessons of Baroness Thatcher’s ‘beliefs’ were dealt with by Martino; Boyson provided statements such as (after mention of the The poll tax) ” It was not that the ideas were wrong; the think tanks had provided mechanisms to introduce market principles.” Martino’s contribution was to state that Reagan and Thatcher’s contribution was giving voice to “Friedman, Hayek, Buchanan, Stigler, to name just a few,” and continues much along these lines. It does mention yet another Conservative think tank, the National Review Institute (founded by William F. Buckley Jr. in 1991 with much the same people) where the Iron Lady told the assembled gathering in Italy that “Civilization is the exclusive prerogative of English-speaking peoples.”
The Atlas Economic Research Foundation site gives advise on how to start a think tank (here it is described as an ‘industry’) and perform such political miracles:
To win the long-term policy battles that will shape history, public policy discourse must be energized through credible research by independent think tanks that are dedicated to free markets and individual liberty. As you get started on the process of developing a think tank, it is important that you think big and make it a point to remember the importance of the work that you are doing.
The prospective think tanker should “analyze the market in which you will be working,” and the advice that “As soon as you are firmly committed to creating your free-market, public policy think tank, it would be wise to apply for your tax-exempt status,” would seem to be avoiding the market. Our think tankers are also advised that “In choosing a name for the institute, there are several things to think about. Is there a readily apparent ‘nickname’ or abbreviated name that flows easily?” This is not the only thing that flows:
There is a host of low-cost, easily reproducible products that can help get your institute off the ground. Most institutes in the Atlas network will freely offer reprint and publication rights of their articles […] Ask if you can publish their piece, perhaps with a new cover that would better reach out to your audience. Of course, clear credits to the home institute will be required, but that reinforces the message that you are part of a broader, cohesive network.
Another piece of advice is “Clone, don’t reinvent” which would seem to surpass the battery chicken model. Some contributions have all the panache and savoir faire of Dale Carnegie, such as ‘How Can Think Tanks Win Friends And Influence People In The Media?’ by Brian Lee Crowley of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies :
Put your expertise to good use. Scour the newspapers and television for people who habitually report on issues that you are interested in. Begin to feed them information, on a piecemeal basis, through calls and letters. Be selective.[…] Let the journalist look good thanks to your efforts. You will have accomplished two things. First, you will have established yourself in the journalist’s mind as a credible source, and he or she will have a sense of being indebted to you. Then, and only then, can you really expect media people to take an interest in the things that you think are important.
John Blundell, of Atlas and the UK Institute of Economic Affairs lets us know that:
Through our programs and publications, we ‘platform’ people. Once they are on media lists as experts, they pop up for years, even decades, on radio and television – all because of one institute publication. It is very attractive and we do not pay much at all because the ‘research’ is a sunk cost!
Robert Whelan of Civitas —The Institute for the Study of Civil Society, could well be referring to The Mezzanine (we can also see a direct connection to the Mezzanine group, with the Social Affairs Unit connection to Civitas, which I will outline elsewhere) with this advice:
Civitas shares a floor with 18 “voluntary sector” organizations. Our institute, along with only one other institute, does not accept government funding. We are regarded as very eccentric. One of the organizations, which depended entirely on government funding, went bankrupt last year because the terms under which their grants were awarded kept changing and there were long delays in the grant dispersals. Meanwhile they had hired offices and staff and eventually their bank foreclosed on them. One day the staff was told to go home – unpaid – and for weeks we could hear their phones ringing as young people on employment schemes (their line of work) were ringing in to find out why their mentors weren’t in touch. It was tragic, and a lesson —in case I needed one—that you don’t take state money if you want to preserve your integrity.
A list is given of “organizations that play a “service” role for other think tanks.” Atlas’s prominent partners include: the Cato Institute, Economic Freedom Network, Fraser Institute, Heritage Foundation, International Policy Network, the Leadership Institute, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Stockholm Network, and the State Policy Network.
Apart from following the Atlas method of setting up a think tank, the Social Affairs Unit (SAU) seems to represent some residual aspects of the IEDSS network and directly involves John O’sullivan, Martino and Gerald Frost (now editor of Eurofacts), indirectly, in encouraging their work such as Anthony Scholefield’s (2007) Warning: Immigration Can Seriously Damage Your Wealth. The SAU published Frost’s (1999) Not Fit to Fight: The cultural subversion of the armed forces in Britain and America’ ; Frost’s (1997) Loyalty Misplaced – misdirected virtue and social disintegration (“A discussion of the fissiparous tendencies in modern society, suggesting a range of contributory factors”), although even going back to the early 1980s the SAU’s publications list seem focused on attacking the ‘welfare state.’ SAU was founded in 1980, with Professor Julius Gould as Chairman and “with active encouragement from the Institute of Economic Affairs” the advisory board included Arthur Seldon (who also advised on the start up of Demos), Kenneth Minogue, Michael Novak.
However the SAU can, at times via its libertarian side (and the advent of the web) stoop to publish items such as Christopher Montgomery A Black Light Goes Out, on the late Maurice Cowling which noted:
For Cowling, as for Powell, the Cold War was an illusion, leastways if one tried to take it seriously as an ideological conflict — and international Communism’s main, if not only use, was the efficiency with which it could be used as a smear against the domestic and democratic left at home.
But then it is likely the smarter propagandists knew this, just as it is likely they knew how to trigger reactions from more predictable sources. The SAU’s Julius Gould, also an academic advisor for the Bruges Group, was the the author of the Institute for the Study of Conflict’s (1977) “Gould Report” on alleged Marxist penetration into British sociology, titled the “Attack on Higher Education: Marxist and Radical Penetration”. Gould also edited the (1965) “A Dictionary of the Social Sciences”. The ISC was something of a forerunner of the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies and the ‘Attack on Higher Education’ was also the subject of a (1977) radio programme, ‘Degrees of Marxism’ featuring a discussion with Gould (then Professor of Sociology, Nottingham University), Richard Hoggart (Warden, Goldsmith’s College, London University) and Stuart Hall (then with Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham).
An early 1996 version of trustees, states that its Chairman was Frank Sharratt, with Trustees: John Greenwood, Dame Barbara Shenfield and its Academic Advisory Council included:Professor Nathan Glazer, Karen Morgan, Professor Donald MacRae, Sir Reginald Murley KBE, Professor David Marsland, Dr Dennis O’Keeffe, Professor David Martin, Dr Geoffrey Partington, Professor Kenneth Minogue and Professor Erwin Scheuch.
This also notes that the SAU worked with the Manhattan Institute, the National Review and won the 1994 Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Award “for the best book from a think-tank.” But it can also be seen as an offshoot of the IEA, particularly through Seldon. Another associate, Leonard Liggio is involved with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Mont Pelerin Society, Philadelphia Society and the Hayek Institute.
Digby Anderson (The New Criterion, and National Review) is Assistant Priest at St Saviour’s, Luton, as part of his ministry he works with the Rev’d Dr Peter Mullen – Rector of St. Michael’s, Cornhill and “Chaplain to the Stock Exchange” – who “has felt compelled to compile an updated Gospel that is relevant to the modern age,” thus incurring the wrath of its original authors given the warnings in the older Bible. Books published by the SAU include work by Professor Anthony Glees the Director of the Brunel Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies. He is one of the “founding figures of the academic study of intelligence and security issues in the UK;” Dr Philip H. J. Davies (Deputy Director of the Brunel Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies) and:
John N. L. Morrison progressed through Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) from desk analyst to Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence and Head of the Defence Intelligence Analysis Staff. He represented the MoD and DIS on the Joint Intelligence Committee and was UK representative to the NATO Intelligence Board. On his early retirement in 1999 he was selected by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee to be its first Investigator, a position he held until 2004.
This is the entirity of how Digby Anderson’s (2004) All Oiks Now: The unnoticed surrender of Middle England is presented on the site:
Once Middle England was as immovable as a rock. It was a minority but a sizeable one. Now, however, as far as public life is concerned, it has surrendered to the oiks.
In 1983, at th time of the rise of the IEDSS, the Social Affairs Unit published Charles Elwell’s “Beyond the Times: A Brief Guide to the Communist and Revolutionary Marxist Press.” According to a Guardian obituary:
Elwell’s retirement in 1979 did not stop him from continuing his pursuit of so-called subversives. He joined the rightwing Institute for the Study of Conflict, in 1983 published Tracts Beyond the Times – a Brief Guide to the Communist and Revolutionary Marxist Press, and edited the clandestine newsletter British Briefing, which consisted of ill-founded claims about labor and trade union activists, pressure groups, charities and writers. Among those it accused of helping the communist cause were Chris Mullin, labor MP for Sunderland South. British Briefing’s targets included the housing charity Shelter, Lord Gifford QC, the leftwing barrister, and the playwright Howard Brenton. Even his former colleagues distanced themselves from his exaggerated view of the threat from subversives. MI5 declined Elwell’s suggestion that it should be the custodian of British Briefing’s archive when it stopped in 1990.
Elwell (retiring from MI5 in 1979) then joined the Institute for the Study of Conflict, where he produced regular bulletins called “Background Briefing on Subversion” (later “British Briefing”). Cathy Massiter’s gathered material on any left-wing affiliations of CND’s leaders formed reports which were then passed to civil servant John Ledlie, seconded to DS19, who passed the material on to Michael Heseltine and the IEDSS’s Sir Peter Blaker MP, who worked with Heseltine on propaganda campaigns. Blaker, in turn, passed information to the local Conservative Association of Ray Whitney, former head of the Information Research Department (and also IEDSS). Blaker and Whitney’s material was circulated through Tory networks and from there into the press. The Daily Mail’s article “CND Is Branded a Tool of the Kremlin”, drew from the MI5 smears and at the same time, the anti-Communist propaganda group Common Cause, published “The Communist Influence on CND”, which had been written under the direction of Charles Elwell, when head of MI5’s F Branch. Elwell was also responsible for targeting the National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL) as a subversive group. Elwell’s newsletter was produced by the anti-Communist Industrial Research and Information Service (IRIS), whose parent body had been Common Cause. British Briefing was funded by Rupert Murdoch.
Elwell’s “Tracts Beyond the Times” (a reference perhaps to ‘New Times’) was also written by the “Social Affairs Unit Staff” he was married to a fellow MI5 officer, Ann Elwell, also a member of the Information Research Department (IRD). Seumas Milne’s (1984) The Enemy Within: The Secret War Against the Miners, Mentions Elwell in connection the government and its intelligence machine’s covert strategy to destroy the power of the Britains’ miners’ union, and has Elwell working with David Hart. Milne quotes from Colin Wallace:
‘Many of the smears in British Briefing are exactly the same sort of thing I was being asked by MI5 to spread in the 1970s. Some of the politicians … are the very same people I was being asked to smear.’ hart has also been a long-term associate of Rupert Allason, one of the Tory MPs considered closest to MI5. He was campaign organiser for Allason, alias the spy writer Nigel West, when he fought Kettering and Corby in 1979.
Milne also states that Murdoch financed Hart’s activities in 1992 and provides some information on Hart’s connection to CIA director William Casey and the CIA’s Herb Meyer who edited World Briefing for Hart, who would take over producing British Briefingfrom Brian Crozier.
In The Clandestine Caucus Robin Ramsay states that Crozier and a group which included ex-SIS officer Nicholas Elliot and US General Vernon Walters, created ‘a Private Sector Operational Intelligence agency’ and named it 6I – the Sixth International which was funded by Heritage Foundation. Through this Crozier published the newsletters, Transnational Security, and British Briefing, “his own version of the IRD briefings on British subversion which had been curtailed in 1974 upon the election of the Labour government” and also notes that British Briefing was financed by the Industrial Trust.
Standpoint the Social Affairs Unit’s publication has an advisory board that includes: Ian Bostridge CBE, Michael Burleigh, Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Michael Gove MP. Gertrude Himmelfarb (the wife of neoconservative godfather Irving Kristol and mother of William Kristol), David Hockney CH, Luke Johnson (son of Paul Johnson), Baron Lawson of Blaby, PC, Noel Malcolm, Sir VS Naipaul KB, Sir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE. Some writers have made the obvious comparison between Standpoint and Enconter. It is produced by Daniel Johnson, Jonathan Foreman, Miriam Gross and Michael Mosbacher. Other parallels have been made with Dissent and the Partisan Review, but these seem rather early, however Daniel Johnson, the editor-in-chief has stated in a June 2008, New York Sun promotion of the publication:
“I wanted to emulate this very rich, very vibrant spectrum of magazines in America,” he said. “I wanted to combine the best of these magazines, which represent a particular camp or orientation, and to have their arguments take place in our pages.” Standpoint’s starkest model is Encounter, the brilliant Cold war journal edited by Irving Kristol and Stephen Spender that dealt in Anglo-American themes and survived the not-so-minor scandal of being secretly funded by the CIA for part of its tenure. “We’re open to their calls.”
Johnson (A former assistant editor at The Times and a writer for the Telegraph, and Commentary and another son of Paul Johnson) also outlines the Atlanticist nature of the production (which is funded by “Britain’s largest shipping magnate Alan Bekhor”):
“the transatlantic bridge had to some extent frayed. There were terrible tensions and misunderstandings and actual lies. One of the many functions of Standpoint is to rebuild that bridge, without which the West really is in big trouble.” Enlisting the poetry of Robert Conquest is surely one way to fashion a rampart.
The article touches on another comparable publication (in Britain) Prospect, founded in 1993 by David Goodheart, and adds that in the 1980s both Goodheart and Johnson, (which it adds was a contributor to Encounter), were stationed in Bonn as Cold War correspondents, and had the idea of starting a new magazine “for the post-Cold War age”. Despite coming under the auspices of the highly political SAU Standpoint has charity status.
Paul Johnson was a member of the Committee for a Free World which was thought to be an offshoot of the Congress for Cultural Freedom and back in the day its British membership was “as hoary a catalogue of reactionaries as you could wish not to meet” according to an article in the Leveller:
“There is Sir James Goldsmith, Professor Julius Gould (author of the two ISC reports on the ‘Marxist infiltration of higher education’), Paul Johnson (Thatcher-loving former editor of the ‘New Statesman’), Richard Hoggart (recently deposed as chairman of that magazine), Robert Moss (the CIA’s Man in the Media, fanatical anti-communist columnist in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ and Goldsmith’s ‘Now” contributor to Forum World Features and the ISC, and council member of the Freedom Association, formerly of course the NAFF) and his media colleague Peregrine Worsthorne. Rubbing shoulders with this lot are …Stephen Haseler, SDA co-founder and co-expellee Douglas Eden, renegade Labour MPs Mike Thomas and Neville Sandelson, and, of course, without whom no such list can be complete, Frank Chapple.”
So what can we expect from the ‘new’ publication? In the Standpoint-friendly New York Sun, Daniel Johnson is alleged to have been involved in attempts to discredit Barack Obama, whereby the website Wikileaks released a document challenging claims that a Kenyan politician close to, then Senator, Obama “sought votes by virtually pledging to turn the Christian country into a militant Muslim stronghold.”
Wikileaks published the forged document, which was spreading through email, listing it as a likely fake on November 14, 2007. It was not hard to debunk it.
“Most of the pledges [in the fake] couldn’t be met by any presidential candidate,” Wikileaks wrote, “as they are inherently unconstitutional and would mightily annoy the non-Muslim majority in Kenya… The idea behind the smear is to turn a fairly large and committed evangelical Christian block against poor Raila, who is often accused of ambivalent religious allegiance.”
Wikileaks’s analysis aside, it doesn’t take very advanced math, wikipedia or googling skills to recognize that risking up to 80% of the vote (Kenya’s Christian majority) to cater to a minority of 10% (its Muslims) doesn’t add up and both Ralia Odinga and NAMELEF publicly declared the document a forgery. But writers like the New York Sun’s Daniel Johnson fell hard for the fake. Senator Obama had just been to Kenya a year before and is a member of the same tribe (the 3 million strong Luo) as Raila Odinga; smelling an easy take down, Johnson swung. Here’s Johnson, two full months after Wikileaks first outed the document as probably a fake:
“In August 2006, Mr. Obama visited Kenya and spoke in support of Mr. Odinga’s candidacy at rallies in Nairobi. The Web site Atlas Shrugs has even posted a photograph of the two men side by side. More recently, Mr. Odinga says that Mr. Obama interrupted his campaigning in New Hampshire to have a telephone conversation with his African cousin about the constitutional crisis in Kenya.”
Titled “The Kenya Connection,” Johnson’s piece ends with no shortage of conspiratorial drama and bravado:
“If Mr. Obama did not know about Mr. Odinga’s electoral deal with the Kenyan Islamists when he offered his support, then he should have known. If he did know, then he is guilty of lending the prestige of his office to America’s enemies in the global war on terror. We need to know exactly what Mr. Obama knew about Mr. Odinga, and precisely when he knew it.”
The same question must now be asked of journalists like Mr. Johnson.
Standpoint was launched with a somewhat contrived sermon from the Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, who, according to the Telegraph, offered a critique (which seems if not Marxist certainly Kantian) of modern society “which he said had begun with the liberal reforms of the 1960s.” This was well within the rubric of Conservative Islamophobia, and the output of organisations such as Policy Exchange and Dean Godson:
The bishop, a leading conservative who believes the Church of England should be doing more to convert Muslims, then warned that radical Islam is starting to fill the “moral vacuum” left by the decline in Christianity, which could lead to different values taking hold. But his words have been condemned by some groups who have accused him of spreading fear and intolerance, and of putting across a similar message to the far-right British National Party.