I spend much time on my blog and on the air (“Facts Matter” Sundays, 11 am-1pm on KSCO Santa Cruz 1080 AM) debunking conspiracy so-called “theories.” (They are never real “theories.”) My main point is that any 26-year old upstart with a blog, any graduate of a third-rate college, even any alert janitor, can earn fame an fortune by revealing any half-way serious conspiracy. But, but, as I have noted before, there are tacit conspiracies. They are not really conspiracies in the usual sense but shared cultural understandings of how the world works and specific shared goals. To put it another way, four horses don’t have to confer to pull together. Somehow, this reminds me of communism.
A reminder: Communist parties and authoritarian Marxist movements under various other names have generally taken power guns in hand or thanks to the guns of others. There are two exceptions: the Czechoslovak Communist Party between 1945 and 1948 and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in 1979-1980. I leave the latter example mostly aside for the time being although it’s well worth reading about it. 1948 Czechoslovakia was the most literate, the most developed and the most industrialized of all the countries that fell to communism. Please, make a mental note of this.
The story of the Communist take-over of Czechoslovakia is interesting as a non-military scenario. I am completely sure that no American communists under any name, will take over the US through a military putsch. This country’s armed forces comprise people who have taken an oath to defend the Constitution, not any particular President or any particular Congress. There are only reasons to believe that they take their oath seriously. Unlike the case in military coup-type countries, the US rank-and-file are neither hapless draftees nor the sons of starving peasants who can be trained like fierce attack dogs. Instead, they are better educated, mentally healthier, and more religious than the general population.
So, the relevant intellectual exercise is this: How would a small, radical group with a collective ideology go about implementing a Czechoslovak kind of take-over of this country? I mean by using the conventional political process, including formally valid elections.
Here are some of the things such a small group of revolutionaries would do:
First of all a small group of dedicated revolutionaries would have to practice “entrisme” successfully. This French word refers to the practice of softly entering into a variety of non-political organizations in order to take control of their levers of command. Trotskyst groups everywhere have been using this strategy to gain an influence extremely disproportional to their tiny numbers. (A French Prime Minster for several years was a “former” Trotkyst. Similar infiltrations took place in Germany.)
Leftist entristes are opportunistic. They will grab anything they can, even the Little League if need be. In this country, you would expect their chief targets to be: labor unions, quasi-religious mass movements with ill-defined beliefs and goals (such as many environmentalist groups); some churches, and voluntary associations intended to relieve various forms of human misfortune. The latter constitute especially attractive targets because they are chronically short of funds to do all the good they sincerely wish to do. They can thus be bought with small government largess and at the cost of few pangs of conscience.
It would use legal means and nearly-legal means to erode popular attachment to constitutional government. It would do so by means of myriads of small breaches that would generate tolerance much the way one can develop a tolerance for bee venom and other poisons. It would do so also by bribing a fraction of the population with arguments of the following form: Whether it is completely constitutional or not, many people, including yourself, find themselves immediately better off thanks to this government measure.
It would use, annex and exploit the existing national culture. It would produce, groom. construct a savior resembling something in the culture. If this took place in India, the providential leader would seem like the avatar of a beloved and familiar Hindu god. If it took place in Russia (again), the providential leader would remind one of Peter the Great, a somewhat brutal but effective ruler. If it happened in a genuinely Christian country such as the US….
It would exploit the national culture in another, more refined way. It would use indubitably shameful aspects of the national history to mute the criticality of many in the educated classes, beginning with academics. A fraction of the upper strata (which have generally more formal education than the rest) would thus support the radical group out of a sense historical shame.
It would develop and apply quickly economic policies designed to turn large numbers into government dependents. Government social services in general achieve this end. Services the provision of which induce mass impoverishment do it faster. Creating a large new entitlement that the country cannot afford generates masses of government-dependent people in three ways. Directly: what the government gives it can take away. Indirectly because shrinking real incomes make people feel vulnerable and more desirous of government help. Directly again: In a poor economy offering little opportunity for personal success, government jobs look more appealing than they do in a booming capitalist economy.
It would intimidate economic groupings and associations that oppose the take-over with threats of precisely directed tax hikes and massive fines.
It would prepare the general population to tolerate large-scale, extra- judicial repression by trumpeting the small deeds and alleged seditious intentions of tiny and insignificant fringe groups, armed groups if possible. It would actively infiltrate such fringe groups. In some cases, it would create them. (In every society, there are small numbers of excitable individuals who can be incited fairly easily.)
Finally, if the target country were a superpower as the US is, the leadership would do its best to ensure that it’s less feared and less respected internationally.
Here are more government actions typical of attempts to socialize an economy not limited to communist coups:nationalizing segments of the production apparatus and gaining control over banks and other financial institutions.The GMtake-0ver does not amount to much economically but it opens the way for the crucial idea of government-owned industries.Bailing out failing banks plays the same role.
This program for dictatorship would be the all the more successful if the revolutionaries had media support. I means media as in newspapers, conventional television networks. and the movie industry.
Do I suggest that President Obama is the leader of a communist revolution? I am less and less willing to say categorically “No.” That’s in part because he seems to have come from nowhere, as if he had been invented by central casting. There are important parts of his biography that don’t ad up. As a retired university professor, I am especially perplexed by his unwillingness to divulge his undergraduate grades. What if he had a C- GPA at 22, like both Pres. Bush and Senator Kerry? Would anyone really care? For how long would it be news? Those who are inclined to think so already know he is an affirmative action wonder. What is the real reason for this stubborn dissimulation of presumably trivial facts? I can’t stop wondering.
Yet, the President does not appear intelligent enough or well educated enough to play the part of a Lenin. (The leader of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution was both very intelligent and very cultured.) But he might just be a fairly moderate figurehead manipulated by a small group of well financed extremists with a well understood agenda. Lenin called people like Obama “useful idiots.” Large numbers of mild liberals would follow stupidly because their power of analysis and their mental habits do not incline them to criticality. Also, many are cowards. When the Red Army put the German communist party in power in East Germany, the local social democrats followed like sheep. (German Social Democrats in 1950 were pretty much like the core of the current Democratic Party in this country today.)
Note: The claim that President Obama is not very cultured is not a gratuitous insult in the mold of the old Bush Insanity Disorder on the left. I reached this evaluation after listening to many of the President’s speeches (too many). It’s obvious that he often stumbles on ordinary words, like someone who never read beyond the assigned reading. On a recent occasion, I heard him repeatedly refer to Navy “corpsemen, ” as if the Navy had personnel specializing somehow in corpses, in cadavers. The fact that it happened several times, that he never caught himself, also does not speak well of his intelligence.
Paradoxically, the scenario above makes sense in Marxist terms. (Like nearly anyone who has read Karl Marx beyond the few easy pages of the Communist Manifesto, I am not quick to dismiss Marxism as a mode of analysis.) Marx never anticipated that a communist revolution would first explode in backward countries like Russia and China. He was thinking more in terms of Germany, and even of Great Britain, the USA of their time. It’s notable that the few Marxist analysts of the failure of communism everywhere argue precisely that it was never intended for poor and backward countries. Face-to-face, at scholarly meetings for example, they will tell you that communism has not failed because it has never been tried. It’s a program for an advanced, rich country, they claim.