Know Thine Enemy!
by Samuel Edward Konkin III
I have read both Higher Circles land Conspiracy but fail to see how talking about “THEM” advances libertarian thinking.
—David F. Nolan, postscript to last of the Nolan-Konkin Letters (NLN 15).
The year is 1941, and you are there. You have sat at the knee of Albert J. Nock, perhaps along with Frank Chodorov. You dig through old bookstores to find books by Lysander Spooner and trade copies of Benjamin Tucker’s Liberty with the “Remnant” like yourself. You speak out, perhaps on a campus, against “that man in the White House,” and his eclectic but statist economics. You are a libertarian activist, perhaps ahead of your time. And there is a bloody holocaust in Europe.
Many of the people you associate with on the Right, represented by Eugene Lyons’ American Mercury, are for going to war against National Socialism and Fascism, extreme Leftist ideologues viciously out to uproot and radicalize anything remotely “conservative.” According to the information available at the time they intend to ravage Europe like a horde of Huns, with fire and sword, blood and iron. Next to them, the Bolsheviks seem safe, tame, and non-interventionist.
The Left is almost universally opposed to American participation, at least until June; then the bellicose, more-American-than-thou Communists “Wrap themselves in the American Flag so you can hardly see the hammer-and-sickle” and join the crusade against their erstwhile ally, and split with the predominately pacifist Socialists. The ideologues and purveyors of political nostrums scream for “War!”, to save the Jews, the French, the Russians, Europe, Asia. . . the World! And you?
Even with this background, you may be ready to go along. After all, nothing is more statist than Fascism, right? Would it not be worth it to use limited states (such as the U.S. and Great Britain) against the totalitarians?
This fork in the road towards either successful anti-state strategy or towards becoming dupes of the power elite creates a choice which requires additional information to rationally make. Suppose, unlike many of your friends and allies, you have been talking to the Harry Elmer Barneses, the Charles Beards, and their students—talking about THEM: the ruling class, power elite, superstatists, etc. You know from Franz Oppenheimer (through Nock) that the State splits society into two classes: those that make a net gain by its existence (the “exploiters”) and those that lose (the “exploited”) and leading those whose wealth is amassed by wholesale theft and murder, the elite plutocrats who the Revisionists expose. You know how they caused World War I, and the financial killings (non-market, needless to say) the Warburgs, Mellons, and Shiffs made. You look for signs of that around you.
And if you look deep enough, they are there. Speeches of “Liberal” bureaucrats exhorting support for the newly enacted draft and the mobilizing War Machine. Plans in the “in” Journals for heavy economic controls, cartelization, and nationalization as in World War I—but these won’t be dismantled this time. You see Roosevelt meeting with Churchill, promising him all support “short of war,” and then see his actions: U.S. Navy ships firing on Axis submarines, U.S. “gift” of 50 destroyers to the U.K., U.S. invasion of Iceland, U.S. support to China in the Far East, U.S. embargo of Japan, U.S. seizure of all Japanese assets in the U.S., U.S. refusal to negotiate with an almost begging Japan unless Japan denounces all her allies, abandons all territories outside its own islands, and completely reverses her foreign policy to subservience under the U.S.
With an ounce of morality in you, you Join America First! You campaign against Roosevelt’s actions, and expose him at [FIXME: missed text?] every turn. You burn your fellow libertarians’ ears with your Revisionism so they won’t support the domestic power grab, and tell everyone to fight the fascism at home, leaving Europe to fight its own. You may fail when the Japanese are driven to bomb Pearl Harbor to get “them” before “they” get the Japanese, causing the American populace to drop their isolationism and follow Roosevelt. And the Germans fall into the trap by almost insanely living up to their Pact with Japan, even though their hands are full in Africa and Russia. But thirty years later, a new, resurgent libertarian movement arises out of the Right and Left where your allies had become dupes, denouncing them for their folly, and looking back for trades of your heroic opposition for their new inspiration.
Today, the “Peace” movement rolls over, fetches, and does-simple tricks for Richard Nixon when it comes to his foreign policy. An era of detente, thawing of the Cold War, peace everywhere, myths shattering, and the Wall Street Barons realizing the limitations of U.S. “world policeman” role. What shivers of ecstacy!
What a pile ordure to any Revisionist with his nose open! China, manipulated into a paranoia of Russians, reversing policy to desiring U.S. presence in Asia as a “counter-balance”! The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, finally paying the price of following Marxist zero-think on agricultural economics and starving, goes hat in hand to the U.S., begging for food. The terms are $24 million a year, to pay a debt (until 2001) neither the Russian slaves nor even their present masters incurred thirty years before, to repay not the individuals residing in North America who had originally been ripped-off for 100-times as much, but those who follow in the footsteps of the thieves. In short, every Russian is paying a dime a year tribute to the Empire of America.
Pepsi-Cola is granted a monopoly by the Soviet statist to sell cola, in exchange for the Monsieur Henri wines branch of Pepsi selling Russian booze in the U.S. Monopolies coming and going as the U.S. power elite shows their junior partners in Moscow how to rake it off. Favors are thrown to the agri-plutocrats in the form of a grain deal windfall along with cut-rate prices to the properly humbled Soviet satraps—at U.S. taxpayer expense. Imperium reigns and Pax Americana rules the world.
Rumor has it David Rockefeller wants his grandchildren named Julius and Augustus.
And, the advanced elements of the Libertarian Party investigates Building graft in New York City.
1. The Higher Circles by G. William Domhoff.
2. None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen.
3. See A.J.P. Taylor’s The Origins of the Second World War for what the German plans actually were in 1939—a leavealone policy in the West and an eventual gradual push to the East (with Poland as ally!).
4. See Revisionist Viewpoints by James J. Martin.
5. Our Enemy, the State (1936) by Albert J. Nook.
6. Martin, op. cit.
8. All listed, with references, in Special Revisionism Issue of New Libertarian Notes (11), article “U.S. Foreign Policy Towards the Axis.”
The Southern Libertarian Messenger
Editor: David Rosinger
January, 1973 / Vol. I, No. 9