This is a post I wrote this morning on a thread about lobbyyists. I want to preserve it, is all. It's part of my long term narrative explaining to myself how we got from the brief moment in the sixties where there was a semi drug induced outcry from the masses in the long, industrializing propaganda process that's created this corporatized, globalized, technologized civilization in which human beings have become little more than parts of a giant machine. A machine that may, in the end, be the cancer that destroys the biosphere of the earth.

Quote DRC:Sawdust, the idea that "liberals" want big government command and control solutions to public policy issues is in your head. It is not in what we are proposing or supporting. It is corporate that cuts the guts out of local and drives everything from the top.

This anti liberal propaganda spiel that DRC addresses, has been going on since Lewis Powell wrote his memorandum: Attack on American Free Enterpirse System in 1971. Sawdust's indoctrination into that line of propaganda apparently began when Reagan came to office, judging from everything he's said about his post military educational era in the 70's and his rise to self employment beginning with his tool belt and a claw hammer.

These are the opening paragraphs to the epic memorandum:

Quote Lewis F Powell Jr:

No thoughtful person can question that the American economic system is under broad attack.1 This varies in scope, intensity, in the techniques employed, and in the level of visibility.

There always have been some who opposed the American system, and preferred socialism or some form of statism (communism or fascism). Also, there always have been critics of the system, whose criticism has been wholesome and constructive so long as the objective was to improve rather than to subvert or destroy.

But what now concerns us is quite new in the history of America. We are not dealing with sporadic or isolated attacks from a relatively few extremists or even from the minority socialist cadre. Rather, the assault on the enterprise system is broadly based and consistently pursued. It is gaining momentum and converts.

Sources of the Attack

The sources are varied and diffused. They include, not unexpectedly, the Communists, New Leftists and other revolutionaries who would destroy the entire system, both political and economic. These extremists of the left are far more numerous, better financed, and increasingly are more welcomed and encouraged by other elements of society, than ever before in our history. But they remain a small minority, and are not yet the principal cause for concern.

The most disquieting voices joining the chorus of criticism come from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians. In most of these groups the movement against the system is participated in only by minorities. Yet, these often are the most articulate, the most vocal, the most prolific in their writing and speaking.

In that memorandum, Powel laid out the framework for the attack on something labeled "liberalism." An attack which I would say, looking back, is more directly about destroying popular democracy for a participatory based general good, which was seen as a threat to a capitalistic based economics that puts the economic forces over people -- and it's seen as totally logical, which is how Reagan sold it to the narrow minded, reductionist thinking dimwits who think they are self made persons (men, mostly) and perpetuate this mythology. That attack continues unrelenting to this day. We have plenty of evidence of it on this site.

Nixon was the last conservative President to fear and therefore respond to the people's voice. And as a result of all that's been taking place, we have had nothing but increasingly further right, anti people Presidencies since, President's who speak a language that must have Orwell laughing hysterically in his grave.

Drew is probably right:

Quote drew013:Saw makes a good point here. The only problem I would have with the idea isn't the idea itself, but what the average American would do with the availability of such information.

The average American has been systematically commodified into silence. If anyone makes a "good point" about now systematically lousy legislation our corrupt legislators come up with to change the system, who is coming out of this anti liberal propaganda system, rest assured that they are seldom making a point that actually refers to the people doing something about this corrupt system for the good of common people. The tea partiers are clueless. They threaten no one, so these anti populists, pro capitalists are happy to support that particular version of a "populist" movement. It will not take apart the governing system that enriches them at the masses' expense. After all, they feel they belong on top, and most of the tea party rhetoric supports the continuance of authoritarian hierarchies.

I strongly recommend reading the Powell memo. Powell, by the way, was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, in case anyone doesn't remember. He has a reputation as a moderate. Moderate. As opposed to these five right wing crack pot extremists that dominate the court now. In his memo, this conservative moderate lays out the blueprint for how the wealthy elite can take back control of the government after it had been destroyed by FDR and all that took place as a result of the "liberal" caused Great Depression (just read all the revisionist historical literature that's come out on it if you don't believe me. Sawdust can direct you to it. The CATO Institute is another source.). Part of that blueprint included recommendations to develop a network of conservative think tanks to "balance" the heavily skewed ideology coming out of the "liberal" universities and propagated by a "liberal" press.

From the Wiki article on Powell:

In an extraordinary prefiguring of the social goals of business that would be felt over the next three decades, Powell set his main goal: Changing how individuals and society think about the corporation, the government, the law, the culture, and the individual. Shaping public opinion on these topics became, and would remain, a major goal of business.

An example from Powell's memorandum:

What Can Be Done About the Public?

Reaching the campus and the secondary schools is vital for the long-term. Reaching the public generally may be more important for the shorter term. The first essential is to establish the staffs of eminent scholars, writers and speakers, who will do the thinking, the analysis, the writing and the speaking. It will also be essential to have staff personnel who are thoroughly familiar with the media, and how most effectively to communicate with the public. Among the more obvious means are the following:


The national television networks should be monitored in the same way that textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance. This applies not merely to so-called educational programs (such as "Selling of the Pentagon"), but to the daily "news analysis" which so often includes the most insidious type of criticism of the enterprise system.12 Whether this criticism results from hostility or economic ignorance, the result is the gradual erosion of confidence in "business" and free enterprise.

This monitoring, to be effective, would require constant examination of the texts of adequate samples of programs. Complaints -- to the media and to the Federal Communications Commission -- should be made promptly and strongly when programs are unfair or inaccurate.

Equal time should be demanded when appropriate. Effort should be made to see that the forum-type programs (the Today Show, Meet the Press, etc.) afford at least as much opportunity for supporters of the American system to participate as these programs do for those who attack it.

Anybody who used to listen to NPR in the seventies in hopes of some original, un-tainted by corporate influence news knows what happend to NPR in the eighties. Anybody who listened in the eighties, thinking they were getting uncontaminated news, remembers what happened in the nineties. Anybody who thinks they are getting uncontaminated news in 2010 has no idea how completely they have been propagandized, because they have no memory and no experience to fall back on for comparison.

And so on. Read the memo. It's an eye opener for those who want the shock. You can learn to read the code in the matrix direct as it flows by you. It ain't pretty.


douglaslee's picture
douglaslee 7 years 47 weeks ago

Newt's bain attack on capitalism had not happened yet, and the judicial activism threat

so prominent in heritage foundation and right wing propaganda had actually not been used yet. The powell manifesto cultivated activism as a plan and was just put to use in citizens united.

Powell died in 1998. Were he alive to reflect on today's corporate excesses and scandals, the resurfacing of Wall Street avarice, the extremist fervor of radical conservatism, the singularly wide gulf between rich and poor, and the policies that exacerbate it, would he have questioned the harshness of his 1971 "attack" manifesto? His principal biographer never mentioned it. His moderation on the bench certainly surprised many. But would it have led Powell to reconsider and, perhaps, repudiate a memorandum written in the white heat of a stormy historical moment?

Might Powell have conceded on reflection that he'd been wrong, and that Nader and his Raiders were right - that corporations have grown much too powerful for the public good? We have had the benefit of hindsight. Justice Powell apparently did not.

Copyright 2002 Jerry M. Landay.

The writer wishes to thank John Jacob, curator of the Powell Papers at Washington and Lee University, and James Deakin, White House correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from Eisenhower to Reagan, for their assistance.

note this was before the 7 trillion in theft by the free enterprise system and the 60 trillion in bets on swaps markets made with federally insured deposits.

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