The Philadelphia Society

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The Oracle at Delphi

Several members of the IEDSS, such as Antonio Martino, Edwin Feulner and Richard V. Allen were members of the Philadelphia Society and the purpose of this Appendix is to outline the relevance of the organisation to core ideas put forward by the IEDSS.[1]  Founded in 1964, the Society acted as a US version of the Mont Pelerin Society in gathering together a ‘phantom academy’ to proselytise a blend of religion, socio-economics and a virulent Cold War anti-Communism and militarism.  It was a key organisation in shaping and formulating elements of the Goldwater and then, Reagan Presidential campaigns.  It represented an attempt at an uneasy coalition of neo-conservative, paleoconservative, neo-liberal and far-right groups influenced by William F. Buckley the Society’s leading light.  Its work fed into Encounter and the National Review and was an influence on the Heritage Foundation (Philadelphia Society, 2011).

The drive to create an American Conservatism crystallized in the US with the Philadelphia Society and other institutions and was anticipated by Mills (1954) ‘The Conservative Mood.’  The title is a mocking reference to the Society member Russell Kirk’s ‘The Conservative Mind.’  Mills described these moves as a giving up of the central goal of the secular impulse in the West (“the control through reason of man’s fate”) for the search for: “some natural aristocracy,” a self-selected elite as an anchor point in tradition, and a character model at odds with US history.  Below I trace this influence on two key IEDSS members: Feulner and Allen (Shakespeare is also a trustee of the Society).

Mills, drawing on Mannheim, focussed on Russell Kirk’s belief that: “divine intent rules society,” observing conservatism as an unconscious drive, whereby: “it is easiest for people to be conservative when they have no sense of what conservatism means, no sense of the present as being only one alternative to what the future might be.”  Somewhat pre-figuring the Heritage Foundation’s networks, Mills also noted: “the very high ratio of publicity to ideas,” and the seizure by vested interests (Mills, 1954: 22).  This is also briefly explored below with the Society’s relationship to the American Security Council.  Elsewhere Mills described this yearning for an Aristocracy, as the desire for a personality somehow super-historical.  For Mills the US was a conservative country without any conservative ideology, making it appear as a naked and arbitrary power, and I touch on this briefly in relation to the use of Milton Friedman’s theoretical work as an adjunct to ideological conservatism and the projection of US power (Mills, 1942c).  Both Feulner and Allen, two of the more important figures in IEDSS, had been connected to various Republican governments since the 1960s: their statements on the Philadelphia Society offers insight into how their own influences were formed in accordance to this search for an Aristocracy with the specific influence coming in the form of two right-wing thinkers, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s and Gerhart Niemeyer who I examine below.

Fuelner cites Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s ‘Liberty or Equality’ as a seminal influence stating that because of it:

…I went into Burnham, Buckley, Kirk, National Review, Modern Age, and had even strayed into the Libertarian thickets with Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, and then, of course, Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. But it all started with Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn… (Feulner, 1998)

Kuehnelt-Leddihn was an extreme right-wing Austrian Catholic monarchist intellectual, a National Review columnist for 35 years and associated with the Mont Pelerin Society, Acton and Ludwig von Mises Institutes, who taught at Georgetown University.[2]  In 1957, with Russell Kirk, Kuehnelt-Leddihn founded the Modern Age, regarded as: “the principal quarterly of the intellectual Right,” some of who’s writers overlap with the IEDSS network (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2011).  Kuehnelt-Leddihn (1953: 210) outlined the ‘prophets’ of totalitarianism and identified Lutheranism in the rise of National Socialism and offered a diagram of its genealogy as composed of: “anti-Catholic, anti-monarchical and anti-traditional philosophies” a form of network analysis.

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His work such as (1974) ‘Leftism,’ subtitled ‘From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse,’ argued that the Nazis are incorrectly described as right-wing; that Hitler’s inner circle were committed socialists and his program of National Socialism was more properly placed on the political left, with its ‘anti-civilizational’ roots traced to de Sade.  This was largely used in support of identifying pro-Soviet propaganda within the left and an attack on the Frankfurt School (Sniegoski, 2003).  His writing for the National Review, as their European correspondent, argued anachronistically in 1989, as the first bricks were hammered out of the Berlin Wall, that the East Germans were characteristically submissive and obedient and that: “This helps explain why the wave of glasnost and perestroika has not yet reached East Berlin, and why the East Germans […] have not continued to resist.”  The article is a celebrated and telling error typical of the National Review’s zeal (Washington Times, 1989).  Kuehnelt-Leddihn (1943) ‘The Menace of the Herd,’ was written under the alias of ‘Francis Stuart Campbell’ and contained Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s chart of ‘Modern Civilization’ and the ‘Two-fold Aspect of Man,’ again form of network analysis, reproduced below (Campbell, 1943: 18).[3]

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Under the disguise of ‘Campbell’ Kuehnelt-Leddihn’ quotes from ‘E. v. Kuehnelt-Leddihn’ to attest that: “the masses and their leaders who pay such fervent homage to herdist ideologies are […] of an extreme blood-thirstiness and the circenses[4] offered to the antique and modern masses were and are spectacularly sanguinary displays” (Campbell, 1943: 21). There are eleven such deceptive references: all of them full of praise.  Communism is described as an: “…evil distortion of an otherwise Christian ideal […] more satanic than wanton, a thoroughly pagan and diabolic opposition to Christian existence,” with National Socialism having: “no less satanic background” (Campbell, 1943: 283).

Richard Allen on the other hand, cited Gerhart Niemeyer as ‘shaping’ his career, and as the person who introduced him to the people around the CSIS: as a spiritual mentor with propaganda and intelligence connections (Allen, 1997).  Allen studied under Niemeyer at the University of Notre Dame and worked as his assistant on Niemeyer’s (1962) ‘Handbook on Communism,’ co-authored with Josef Bochenski (Allen, 1997). Niemeyer’s outlook was as a Crackpot Realist:

[T]he neutralists contrast the choice of “race suicide” with that of the “continued existence of mankind.” But one wonders in what sense choosing the risk of an atomic war can be called “suicide”; and the deliberate abandonment of the convictions underlying our public order to an evil system can deserve to be called “continued existence”? (Henry, 1997: 5)

Allen was also enabled by Niemeyer to study under Niemeyer’s own theological mentor, Eric Voegelin, who propounded the ‘immanentize the eschaton’ thesis on the utopian aspects of leftist thinking that was reversed and taken up by Buckley.  Voegelin confounds his left-wing opponents with their lack of Christian determinism urging them to leave all political work to God:

The problem of an eidos in history, hence, arises only when a Christian transcendental fulfillment becomes immanentized. Such an immanentist hypostasis of the eschaton, however, is a theoretical fallacy. (Voegelin, 1987: 120)

Allen’s debt to Gerhart Niemeyer (also involved in the American Security Council, discussed below) was in connection with Allen’s involvement in the establishment of the CSIS: the advice offered to direct Allen’s future career infers Niemeyer’s connections to the US security apparatus (Fisher, 2005).  The anonymous writer (obviously Buckley) in the National Review’s obituary of Niemeyer states he met Niemeyer, also in an advisory capacity, while: “being instructed in the arts of covert intelligence for the CIA.” This added that Niemeyer worked for the State Department as a foreign-affairs specialist, lectured at the National War College and converted to Roman Catholicism in 1980 (National Review, 1997).  Niemeyer was another anti-Communist theorist producing works on the inner workings of ‘The Communist Mind,’ which (perhaps reclaiming Hegel) rather perplexedly argued that: “the theory of history of Communism is the part that has encountered little objection and less intellectual resistance in the west…” (Schneider, 2003).

In 1964 Niemeyer was foreign policy advisor to the then presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and in 1981 Reagan appointed Niemeyer as chairman of the Board of Foreign Scholarships (which tends to be incorporated into public diplomacy work and intelligence recruitment).[5]  Many members of the Philadelphia Society had connections to organisations with far-right intelligence and propaganda connections: William F. Buckley had worked for the CIA under E. Howard Hunt.[6]  The National Review, with a strong anti-Communist orientation had related connections to the foundations and think tanks that sustained and developed their version of a ‘free-market’ ideology.  There is also a common adherence to Catholicism, if not mysticism amongst many of the members, although this is not to underestimate the intellectual prowess of the group or writers such as Niemeyer and Voegelin (Krieger, 1963; Nicgorski, 2002).

Feulner (2004) stated he first met Buckley in 1964, at the organizing committee meeting for the Philadelphia Society, also attended by Don Lipsett, Frank Meyer, and Milton Friedman and I briefly examine their input below.  Feulner’s version of events is that Buckley loaned the Society its first $100 for organizing expenses.  The Society went on to host several trans-Atlantic gatherings of right-wing individuals and organisations such as Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute, Patricia Morgan and John Blundell of the IEA, and Alejandro Chafuen of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

Nathaniel Ward (2007) confirms Mills’ diagnosis that the political direction of the Philadelphia Society was essentially a reaction to their understanding of the drift of history, or more prosaically, largely a perception of a generalised concern about ‘triumphant liberalism’ as left-wing parties were winning elections in Europe.  Ward, the editor of MyHeritage.org—a website for members and supporters of the Heritage Foundation—locates the Philadelphia Society’s orientation within the specific rallying point of the National Review, which became the in-house journal of the Society, and Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign.

Buckley made the analogy that the Philadelphia Society was for US Conservatives what the Mont Pelerin Society was for academic free-marketeers in Europe and there is a strong overlap between the two (National Review, 1995). The Society’s founding members included Milton Freidman who contributed economic liberalism to the amalgamation.  Russell Kirk, in another comparison of the organisation, stated that the Society was akin to the Fabian Society and instigating an ‘American Augustan Age’ more enduring than the New Deal (Philadelphia Society, 2011a).

The founding members of the Society: Buckley, Lipsett, Feulner, Frank Meyer, and Friedman, although operating on an informal level, pulled together an unstable combination of intellectual groupings and planned to act as a small coterie blending hitherto disparate worlds of thought: including organised religion.[7]  This paralleled and influenced the Thatcherite faction that commandeered UK Conservatism in the 1970s, also reflected in the IEDSS. This would entail the introduction and promotion of neo-liberal economics via Freidman and, with Lipsett (via the American Security Council discussed below) a push with the security agenda towards an aggressive militaristic ‘Crackpot Realism’ in the name of ‘national security.’

If I specifically focus on Edwin Feulner, qua the Philadelphia Society’s President (1982-1983) and at the same time steering the IEDSS, a key adviser on Public Diplomacy to the Reagan administration, and leading the Heritage Foundation’s grip on the administration, I can begin to discern the provenance of motive impulses underlying—and to a certain extent co-ordinating—the propaganda that a range of organisations spread abroad.  This is another angle of insight into this network’s influence on social policy and academia (including specially funded institutions) and the media via a Hayekian ‘phantom academy’ approach.

A historical orientation to understand the direction of the network might present the Mont Pelerin Society as a precipitant—with von Hayek as avatar and maven—and Goldwater’s defeat as a catalyst and model.  The problem in ‘selling’ the idea was the hostility to the ideological framework exhibited by the US electorate and Republicans alike, as Goldwater was attacked as a dictatorial, extremist and racist, likely to lead the US into nuclear war, and eliminate the civil rights progress (Barnes, 1998).  That is a précis of the mission of the network we are studying, including encouraging a transcendental belief in a ‘Christian’ fulfillment: the immanentization of the eschaton.

Other aspects of the network around the Philadelphia Society include the State/Private development of anti-Communism in the late 1940s and I will examine this below in terms of Society’s founding member, Don Lipsett.  But first a few remarks on Frank Mayer the other founding member of both the Philadelphia Society, and the National Review, and here I return to ‘The God That Failed’ and the vicissitudinous nature of the Society’s project.

The Fusion

Rothbard (1991) argued that Meyer’s 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.  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” (Rockwell, 2000).  This also adds that Meyer was a former Communist:

….deeply committed to total destruction of the God That Failed, up to and including nuclear annihilation of the Soviet Union […] he was the most pro-war of all the myriad war hawks of National Review […] militantly pro-war also meant being in favor of U.S. imperialism and of all-out military statism in the U.S. (Rockwell, 2000)

Rothbard’s critical appraisal is 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 […] whether right-wing Trotskyite, Menshevik, Lovestonite, or Social Democrat,” arguing that they were then able to enter and: “infect the conservative movement.”  A common demeanour of anti-Communism is an outward quasi-religious show of fealty evanescing the past: the former Communist’s on-going denouncements are coupled with a shift of allegiance to the far-right, accompanied with a ceremonialism in an actual or quasi-religious conversion.  Mayer ended up a Catholic according to the National Review, and religion of a particular bent was also part of the ‘fusion’ he advocated.  The Review also adds that Fusionism lingered in Charles Murray’s work, the Christian Coalition, William Kristol’s ‘politics of liberty,’ and among the Republicans to this day (Smant, 2002).

Edwards (2007) outlines the disputatious and fissiparous nature of this communal approach with its traditionalists and libertarians and so forth, suggesting that, aided by Mayer (1962) which argued that the Christian understanding of the nature and destiny of man was what Conservatives were trying to preserve, Buckley’s intention was to bind together this fragmentation around a defended core using the cement of anti-Communism.  Also a reaction against the dirigisme of the New Deal it necessarily took on the features of a ‘popular front.’  Buckley’s proposal for the National Review, his “credenda,” made clear that: “the century’s most blatant force of satanic utopianism is communism,” thus enabling an ‘Elmer Gantry’ type of rhetoric.  Indeed we can also note the large amount of ex-Communists on the staff of the Review (Peppe, 2003).

According to Edwards both the traditionalists and individualists were asked to acknowledge: “reason operating within tradition,” a theory later dubbed ‘fusionism,’ which Meyer said was based on the Conservative consensus already forged by the US’ Founders at the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (hence the Society’s name).  To demonstrate the theory, Meyer assembled a group of Conservative intellectuals ranging from Hayek to Kirk to Buckley, and in 1964 published their responses to the basic question: ‘What is conservatism?’[8]  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 led to Reagan (a former Democrat and union organiser) being approached in 1965 and importuned by influential Conservatives to seek the Republican nomination for governor of California, largely because of the Marcus Antonius-like glamour of Reagan’s eleventh hour TV panegyric for Goldwater.  For Edwards, Regan was a “master fusionist” revivifying the project (Rothbard, 1981).

Milton Friedman

One dominant trait in the economists of the IEDSS is the influence of Milton Friedman’s work.  As a leader of the ‘Chicago school,’ 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 centre of economic theory.  The primary economic interest expounded was monetary theory, ‘monetarism,’ which upholds the central economic importance of the money supply.  The idea being that money is also subject to the laws of supply and demand.  For critics, this had a strong political bias and a utility as an intellectual tool in, for example, that aspect of the Cold War that would find Keynesian economics akin to socialism (and thus Communism) and foment an attack on the power of the unions.[9]  I also see it enabling the ‘restructuring’ of foreign economies as an economic weapon: providing a post-insurgency rationalisation of the economy of South and Central American targets.  For critics, Friedman’s work is not dispassionate ‘objective’ scientific and academic inquiry: it is a component of a political propaganda strategy.  Friedman’s network of associations confirms this to a certain extent.[10]

Klein (2007) advances the argument that economic liberalization is so unpopular that it can only win through an attendant deception or coercion.  Although noting that Joseph Stiglitz has called Klein’s book: “a rich description of the political machinations required to force unsavoury economic policies on resisting countries,” criticisms of her book, such as Norberg (2008) state that Friedman becomes an arch villain in her story and that Klein’s analysis (including the notorious Pinochet advice) is over stated and distorted.  With a certain amount of irony the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, reproduced the Times (2006) obituary which observed Friedman’s promotion (and distortion) 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: the consensus that arose, not specifically of Keynes.[11]

According to his obituary in the Wall Street Journal, initially Friedman’s advocacy of free markets over government intervention, together with his prescription for inflation fighting by central banks, were treated as fringe notions by many economists (Ip & Whitehouse, 2006).  There are assumptions and contradictions in the received wisdom of Friedman’s reception by Reagan and Thatcher, a post hoc ‘justification’ that, as noted in the obituary drawing on Robert Solow (a Nobel laureate himself), asks: did not Reagan and Thatcher revert to Keynesianism once in power?  This also noted Friedman’s role in providing intellectual guidance on economic matters to the military regime in Chile that engineered the coup in the early 1970s against the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende (Noble, 2006).

The New York Times obituary also notesd 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 (Noble, 2006).  Friedman’s (1963) ‘A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960,’ coincided with the launch of the Philadelphia Society (Friedman & Schwartz, 1963).  Apart from his fellowship at the Hoover Institution, the role of right-wing Conservative organisations as hives in promoting Friedman was not mentioned in either obituary.  The New York Times stated that Friedman’s influence was with the group around Kirk and Buckley but that he had little or no influence on Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson or Nixon, who described himself as a Keynesian (Noble, 2006). It seems logical that part of the ‘fusionism’ involved political economics at the service of political rhetoric: a pseudo-science spread through the ‘phantom academy’s’ second-hand dealers.

Those who helped shape the Hoover Institution included W. Glenn Campbell, a Hoover trustee from 1960-1989, 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” (Martin, 2001).  Hoover scholars in residence included the IEDSS’ Robert Conquest and it was something of a Stakhanovite propaganda factory.  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 is credited with helping to create the ideological framework for the ‘Reagan revolution’ (Business Wire, 2001).  Another early trustee was Frank S. Meyer, another former Communist early in life before his conversion to Conservatism and subsequent position with the National Review.  A close adviser to, and confidant of, Buckley, he was: “the most frankly and apocalyptically war-mongering of them all,” with an: “all-consuming desire to incarcerate and incinerate all Communists, wherever they may be.”  Meyer is an example in microcosm of the swamping of libertarian instincts by an all-pervading passion for “the Great Crusade to exterminate Communists everywhere (McMaken, 2002).  As I noted, the IEDSS’ Frank Shakespeare was also a Society trustee, as was Ernest W. Lefever who established the Ethics and Public Policy Center in 1976 that published with the IEDSS.[12]

The Philadelphia Society and the American Security Council

The Philadelphia Society’s account of its origins present it as an initiative by Don Lipsett, secretary of the Philadelphia Society, to contact Conservative leaders such as Friedman, Kirk, Meyer and Wilmoore Kendall at the National Review.  Lipsett was elected to the Mont Pelerin Society in 1971 (editing its newsletter) and served as Counsellor to the President of the Heritage Foundation and was a senior staff member of the American Security Council (ASC) and is something of a link between organisations coordinating their activities (Philadelphia Society, 2011b).  Lipsett had something of a conspiratorial bent that extended into another form of network analysis of organizational affiliations:

The linking lines drawn on a page appear as a sinister and frightening web of organized evil […] Lipsett […] 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. (Blackwell, 2003)

This seems a common feature of both right- and left-wing conspiracies in an effort to visualise and make real that which was imagined.[13]  The task then was to match this gigantic Soviet plot and address what could be called the ‘conspiracy gap.’  According to Feulner, it was Lipsett who proposed that the Philadelphia Society should become a domestic version of the Mont Pelerin Society to bring together the diverse strands of US Conservative thinkers in one place to: “exchange ideas, debate fundamental questions, and understand each other’s viewpoints” (Feulner, 2005).  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” (Campbell, 2007).

Campbell also stated that the battle in the colleges was “left to ISI.”  This is the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, founded in 1953 by Frank Chodorov (part of the individualist, libertarian wing) and Buckley, its first president.  Hülsmann (2007) gives the history of the organisation and states that the Institute’s theorists viewed the Marshall Plan as: “in essence a scheme for postponing the bankruptcy of socialism and the welfare state.”  It planned a fifty-year project to reform the university and society in favour of freedom (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2011a). Together with the Leadership Institute and the Young Americans Foundation, the ISI provided speakers and funding to inculcate a Conservative viewpoint within its students, simultaneously denouncing the Liberal views that were common in colleges at the time.  The ISI’s ‘outstanding alumni’ are given as Richard V. Allen, Edwin Feulner and John F. Lehman, who are also trustees.[14]

As regards the thinking behind positions on defence that I can identify emanating from this network, particularly on the thinking of the US members of the IEDSS, one significant element can be seen in 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 (Fisher, 2005). [15]  Fisher, the Chairman of the ASC, states that the ASC led the Coalition for Peace Through Strength’s public diplomacy campaign resulting in the US’: “adoption of the ASC-developed ‘National Strategy for Peace Through Strength’ (NSPTS) which won the Cold War.”  It also outlines how several ‘business’ leaders from Sears, General Electric and US Steel were former Special Agents of the FBI and set up a massive monitoring campaign with files on some 7 million individuals with a network of front companies such as Fidelifax, galvanised further by Castro’s nationalisation of the controlling companies interests in Cuba: this also shifted the ASC’s interest to defense and foreign policy issues.  Fisher names 128 universities, 102 cooperating organizations, 3500 companies (including the Hearst Corporation which bolstered the agenda) and unions.  It mentions the early involvement of Richard V. Allen, the development of Radio Free Americas, and in the 1960s the involvement of Air Force General Bernard A. Schriever, retired head of US ballistic missile programs, as Chairman; members included: General Curtis E. Lemay, former Chief of Staff, US Air Force; and General Thomas S. Power, former Commander, Strategic Air Command, US Air Force.  The ASC funded pro-war studies attacking the US government for exchanging a goal of a war-winning strategic superiority for a strategy of mutual deterrence, constantly over-estimating the ‘missile gap,’ and it also attempted to get rid of elected representatives not to its liking, such as Frank Church and George McGovern.  It qualifies that the ‘Peace Through Strength’ phrase was inspired by the ‘‘Peace is our Profession’’ sign over the entrance to the Strategic Air Command headquarters (largely because of the association with Nazi terminology).[16] The ASCF speakers bureau provided Generals Dan Graham and Ed Rowny (then an associate of Leo Labedz’s) to a range of organisations. Fisher and Frank R. Barnett collaborated closely and numerous overlaps between Buckley’s network and the ASC are outlined (Fisher, 2005).

According to Edward Herman and Gerry O’Sullivan (1989) 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 (Herman & O’Sullivan, 1989: 99-104).

Simpson (1988) states that the ASC’s Coalition for Peace Through Strength (CPTS) had by the 1970’s become a high powered lobbying group that led a successful campaign to stop the SALT 2 talks.  It 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, shown over 2,000 times on 500 stations in the US (Simpson, 1988: 275). The CPTS’ 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 CPTS gained heavier funding from Lockheed, Boeing and General Dynamics.  For Bellant (1988) the ASC is not just the representative of the military industrial complex, it is the personification of it.[17]

Scott (1986) has extensively set out a view of ‘parapolitical’ history that that evinces trans-national covert strategies, projects and general themes that because of their intelligence dimension had a resultant socially imposed veil of silence in the government and in the mainstream media.  The ASC are analysed in terms of their use of right-wing terror gangs and connection with the network of other influential lobbying groups (Chile, Korea and China) working in the US.  Here Scott mentions Richard Allen, then positioned as US ambassador to Portugal, prior to his position as ambassador to the Vatican.  It also mentions Robert Moss’ CIA and National Review connections at the behest of the Chile lobby. Scott (2008: 30) also suggested that the Heritage Foundation was set up to save Nixon. This thesis is also advanced in Shank (2003).


[1] Other related members are stated as including: Vladimir Bukovsky, Michael Novak, Richard Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, Herman Kahn, Russell Kirk, Irving Kristol, Milton Friedman, George Gilder, Friedrich von Hayek, Edward H. Teller and William F. Buckley (Philadelphia Society, 2011).

[2] Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn resigned from Mont Pelerin with Wilhelm Röpke over the ‘Hunold controversy,’ a power struggle that fractured the Society when its secretary Albert Hunhold fell foul of Wilhelm Röpke and Hayek by writing ‘How the Mont Pelerin Society Lost Its Soul,’ in the Society’s Mont Pelerin Quarterly, a publication entirely unwanted by Röpke and Hayek (Starbuck, 2001).  Kuehnelt-Leddihn was also said to have had lengthy meetings with Hayek (Campbell, 1999).

[3] Notice that ‘the spirit of competition,’ and ‘anarchism’ and others connect to nothing.  The work rails against a situation whereby: “The Pseudo-Romanticism of our days showed such mad outbursts as weird Californian sects, blue fingernails, tree sitting, and “jitterbug” dancing. The advent of national socialism and communism was marked by a curious and sudden increase of all kinds of extravagant fads even in the religious sphere of which the hysteria in connection with Rasputin and the cheese-eating Weissenberg sect were the most conspicuous.”  It also adds that: “Homoeroticism is anything but rare among leading Leftists of the nationalistic or the international brand. It is a well-known fact that the latter have openly fought for decades against laws prohibiting not only this vice but have defended even more bestial practices […] It is not mere coincidence that the great bard of democratism in its most herdist and antipersonalist connotation was an extremely repulsive homosexual—Walt Whitman” (Campbell, 1943: 20).

[4] The term is from panem et circenses (‘bread and circuses’).

[5] Bochenski (a chaplain and an intelligence officer in the Polish Army) and Niemeyer’s work on Communism tends to inform the philosophic interpretations of various classified texts of the period by projecting a religiosity onto its interpretation of Marx and Engels as Christian faith is put at the centre of the political analysis (Krieger, 1963; Nicgorski, 2002).

[6] Drawing on the Society’s web site, these include: Philip Miller Crane (the Western Goals Foundation), Midge Decter (Committee on the Present Danger, Jamestown Foundation), M. Stanton Evans (Voice of America), Edwin J. Feulner (CSIS, Center for Security Policy, IEDSS), Milton Friedman (Hoover Institution), Steven Hayward (AEI), 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 (NSIC, IEDSS), Ernest van den Haag (Office of War Information).

[7] Sokal (2008: xvi) quotes Goldwater’s views on the incipient US theocracy from a trenchant 1981 speech: “There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, Or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls his supreme being. But, like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factors [sic] that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their positions 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on any particular moral issue, they cajole, they complain, they threaten you with loss of money or votes or both. […] I am frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every rollcall in the Senate.”

[8] These were that 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, 2007).

[9] This ‘politicisation’ is evident in the remarks made on Friedman’s death by Margaret Thatcher who stated: “Milton Friedman revived the economics of liberty when it had been all but forgotten.  He was an intellectual freedom fighter” (Independent, 2006).  In the UK both Labour and Conservative governments assessed that the Unions had too much power and devised methods to tackle it.

[10] The IEDSS’ Antonio Martino studied under Milton Friedman and George J. Stigler at the University of Chicago in the late 1960s, eventually joining them in the Mont Pelerin Society and in this context he has expressed some interesting libertarian notions of freedom, as reported by the (1985) National Review: “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.”

[11] On Friedman’s influence in the UK see Keegan (1984: 39-45) on the role of the IEA, Samuel Brittan and Peter Jay in promoting Friedman’s work; and Galbraith (1987: 123) that locates Friedman as an avatar of Herbert Spencer and Vilfredo Pareto.  Galbraith described the UK as a “Friedmanite guinea pig,” with the UK’s social services and unemployment insurance softening its effects.

[12] The Society’s web site states that 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) ‘US 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.’

[13] Examples here include: Webster (1926) or Hoskyns (1974) prepared for the Centre for Policy Studies.  The corollary of this is the hidden book that contains the ‘masterplan.’  Lipsett also founded the Invisible Hand Society, whose exact purpose is unknown (Von Kannon, 1996).  Both factions tend to assume a uniformity and allegiance and rationality that is rarely in evidence.

[14] Its board of trustees is something of a Georgetown elephant’s graveyard of former Nixon/Reagan appointees: Feulner, Ed Meese, Richard V. Allen and other right wing luminaries 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” (Cribb, 2006).

[15] The Chairman of the ASC and ASC Foundation (1955-2002), Fisher (2005) confirms the findings of writers such as Herman and O’Sullivan in several respects and reads like a conspiracy theory.  It downplays the extreme right-wing nature of the ASC and argues that their work was: “the largest bi-partisan combinations of liberal, moderate and conservative leaders.”

[16] Fisher also acknowledges the involvement of Major General John K. Singlaub, and also adds: “The ASC continued to organize successful coalition campaigns to: 1) support such weapons systems as the B-1 Bomber, the Trident Submarine, MX Missile, and increases in defense budget, freedom fighters in Angola and Nicaragua and the wars in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf and 2) oppose such things as bad arms control treaties and the nuclear freeze.”

[17] This 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, according to Bellant, 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.  Bellant states that at least four CPTS member organisations still openly support the enemy axis governments of WWII. The ASC was 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 1960s), Gen. John Singlaub (a once ubiquitous figure from the world of the neo-Nazi fringe, a leading light of the World Anti-Communist League, named as the chief fund-raising contact to the contra army in Central America), Dan Graham (head of the Defence Intelligence Administration in 1974 and described as the senior zealous anti-Communist in intelligence).  Herman and O’Sullivan’s analysis detailed the ASC’s links to the US far-right as extensive and spectacular.  Its CPTS was itself composed of 171 organisations that include a substantial number of anti-semite, racist, vigilante and fascist organisations. Russ Bellant states that several émigré groups that were part of the CPTS are dominated by Nazi collaborationists and émigré fascists. 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 CPTS 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 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.

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