Thursday, June 28, 2012

Where Jack Hunter Fears to Tread: Power Elite Analysis and Hidden History

by Charles A. Burris
Over the past several weeks at LRC I have written various articles and blogs touching upon my favorite area of commentary: that of power elite analysis and the hidden history related to this subject.

These topics have included Watergatethe Bush dynastythe 1980 October Surprise, and the 1980s Vatican Banking scandal.

I have received quite a number of enthusiastic responses from readers seeking more information on these concerns. It seems our LRC audience loves stuff which "names names," and details chapter and verse how the power elite covertly operates in ripping them off by bamboozling them.

Accordingly they have asked for book titles and references with which they can further pursue exploring power elite analysis. So here are a dozen principal books which I particularly recommend one starts with which I have found extremely insightful over the past four decades.

Let’s begin at the beginning, the beginning of the American Republic.

Two books published contemporaneously in the early 1930s must be at the top of my reading list. They are Albert Jay Nock’s Our Enemy, The State; and John McConaughy’ Who Rules America: A Century of Invisible Government. The first is readily available, the latter is almost impossible to find (read it and you will know why it has been suppressed). Both are masterfully written, unflinching in their boldness, and authoritative. I have found nothing which supersedes them in dissecting this formative period of the American state.

The Ur-book of "Establishment studies" is Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Timethe importance of which I have commented upon previously at LRC.

Unsurpassed in detailed documentation is Philip H. Burch’s three volume set, Elites in American HistoryThe Federalist Years to the Civil WarThe Civil War to the New Deal, and The New Deal to the Carter Administration. Professor Burch, by his exemplary scholarship and meticulous research into the elite structure of the American Establishment, has written the landmark definitive series in the exploration of power in America.

One would be negligent in not mentioning that much-heralded hagiographic tome of "Establishment studies," The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made, by insiders Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas. The authors practically genuflect upon every page in paying homage to these overlords who once reigned supreme in the American presidium of power and privilege.

G. William Domhoff’s insightful The Higher Circles: The Governing Class in America; and the incomparable Peter Dale Scott’s American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan, complete this elementary canon which court historians would no doubt label "the dirty dozen."

But the intellectually curious reader should not stop here. At I have 104 Listmania! Book and DVD lists.

Here are a number of specific lists which delve further into the topic of power elite analysis:

Read the rest here.
Of course, you can ignore this post and close your eyes to the fact this stuff really happens and subscribe to the Jack Hunter view:

Most in the constitutional conservative or libertarian movements do not subscribe to conspiracy theories...but the small minority who do continue to embarrass and hinder everyone's efforts...There is no need to remove ourselves from the national conversation by having insular conversations that no one else cares about, that make us look crazy, or that turn inroads into permanent roadblocks.

Yes, nothing to see here, just keep moving. It all happens by spontaneous combustion.


  1. I just remembered this gem from Stephan Molyneaux that shows what I believe to be the shaky ground the Jack Hunters, Rand Pauls, et al, of the world to be on when they argue that the establishment must be taken over and/or reformed from the inside:

  2. Just because a person doesn't believe in some of the wild conspiracy theories floating around the internet (The Jesuit-Zionist-Illuminati-Freemason-Shape-shifting-lizard-men-from-outer-space) doesn't mean that the only other option is "spontaneous combustion".

    If this is all some gigantic conspiracy who purposely collapsed the Roman Empire? Or the old British, Spanish, or French colonial empires? Was this all "planned" as well? Who purposeful collapsed the Mongol Empire? Did Czar Nicholas II intentionally keep get his ass overthrown and he and his whole family massacred for the sake of "the secret elites"?

    Get real. I got some friends who think the Vatican created Communism, Fascism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness, and is the wealthiest institution in the world, blah blah. They also think the Jesuit "Black Pope" "rules the world" (well what else is new?). The Daily Bell thinks Anglo-American elites "rule the world". Some claim its Freemasons. Hell, even Ron Paul has been accused of being "controlled opposition" by the Freemason Illuminati whatever. It's just so absurd!

    Hell, when I try to insist that there is no "world conspiracy" by whoever (pick any current boogieman) I've actually been accused of being "in on the plot". LOL!!

    1. This comment is ridiculous. To suggest that EVERY "conspiracy" theory equates to :

      If this is all some gigantic conspiracy who purposely collapsed the Roman Empire? Or the old British, Spanish, or French colonial empires? Was this all "planned" as well? Who purposeful collapsed the Mongol Empire? Did Czar Nicholas II intentionally keep get his ass overthrown and he and his whole family massacred for the sake of "the secret elites"?


      Get real. I got some friends who think the Vatican created Communism, Fascism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness, and is the wealthiest institution in the world, blah blah. They also think the Jesuit "Black Pope" "rules the world" (well what else is new?). The Daily Bell thinks Anglo-American elites "rule the world". Some claim its Freemasons. Hell, even Ron Paul has been accused of being "controlled opposition" by the Freemason Illuminati whatever. It's just so absurd!

      Genuine people have legitimate concerns about world events and the secrecy around them. Insulting people without knowing anything about what they're proposing makes you look like a fool. But obviously that's all you want to do, throw insults.

    2. You are committing reductio ad absurdum by trying to ridicule the mentioning of certain conspiracy theories, by asking questions about things (such as the Roman Empire) which have not been mentioned by Robert or anyone else in the article.
      So it's also a strawman in a sense, since you are implying those things you mentioned are also believed to be conspiracy theories by RW and others mentioned in the article.

      Furthermore, RW mentioning "spontaneous combustion" was obviously meant to be sarcastic and aimed at those (including you, apparently) that dismiss all conspiracy theories about the elites out of hand.

  3. I had a conversation with a friend about conspiracy theories. He ardently does not accept them outright (and sometimes misappropriately labels people as hyperbolic, which is a derogatory way of conceding they may have some point but if he can label them as hyperbolic he can dismiss the way they say it, which infects the point they may be trying to make). Anyway, I don't accept them all, but I do accept the fact that often different people can have converging selfish interests, and they can either together deliberatly or they can act in the same way without knowledge of the other's actions. What did Rothbard say? There are good conspiracy theories and bad ones. Anyway. I think Hunter is off base on this subject, althought I agree with him on many others.

  4. THINK CARTELS. They exist but are highly unstable. Rothbard did an excellent examination I'm Man, Economy, and State on such and just think of it on terms of power. We deal with selfish people and Government power only enables such 'reign' over the world through its apparatus. Not so hard to believe its just the details that we don't and honeslty can't. All that is left is speculation as in all other things unknown. When we think we have it figured out is when we don't though. Remember how big this universe is, how the world isn't flat, how sneezes are not evil spirits. Just take care of yourself and others to the best of your ability and live noble lives.

  5. Whoever has the power is "The State." The details of which evil individuals are pulling the strings are interesting for personal curiosity, but aren't that important in my opinion. The State taxes, the State passes laws. My favorite book title is "Our Enemy, the State" because it so clearly identifies the problem.

  6. Ah, conspiracies. A wise man once said that the only conspiracy that matters is the conspiracy of the psychopaths against the rest of us.

    Check this out:

  7. It all happens by spontaneous combustion.

    ...very good point!

  8. Perhaps we should not endeavor to argue conspiracy theory, but rather to debate plausible truths as to the existence of the vilest shadow-system of totalitarian rule spawned from the evolution of corrupt political systems, from which an array of unintended consequences might organically manifest.

    Empirical and unequivocal truths, impartial, pure, incorruptible and absolute in nature and substance, must effectually beyond all reasonable doubt, prove the existence of such structures be they conspiratorial or simply another symptom of unintended dysfunction.

  9. THINK GLOBAL(IST) MAFIA on their way to rule the entire world. The Daily Bell is spot on, imho:

    "In finance, there are names such as Ben Bernanke and Melvyn King. In politics, there are David Cameron, Barack Obama and Angela Merkel. Even in business, it seems clear that certain individuals are designated to speak for all – people like Donald Trump and Warren Buffet.

    The idea that top men and women speak for all of us is not only palpably false, it is also a manipulation, a carefully scripted serial presentation that we have come to call directed history.

    In truth, history is not so neat. Individuals at the level on which the Big Four function have far less power than is apparent. They are, in fact, likely employees of what appears to be a handful of dynastic families that run the world's 150 central banks and thus control the world's wealth.

    In aggregate, this .0000001 percent want to create global governance and use all sorts of phony crises to frighten people into accepting carefully prepared globalist solutions.

    We are well past the point where we believe the "crisis" is anything other than a kind of directed history, a manufactured economic bust. Nonetheless, every part of the crisis has been elongated. It's a kind endless orgy of breathless crises that inevitably end with another press conference, another solution, another international monetary facility.

    The European Union itself in its current incarnation is an entirely manufactured entity. Its incompetent evolution was aggravated by the imposition of the euro and further complicated by the determination of Europe's largest banks to lend to the EU's staggering south.

    None of what today passes for a "crisis" was necessary. With the benefit of hindsight, none of it was remotely useful. But in aggregate, every piece of this phony crisis was assembled for maximum impact.

    And now we are where we are. The real solution is simply to let the euro slip into the sordid backwaters of history. Let countries reclaim their sovereign currencies and natural economies. This would be a big step forward toward solving the current "crisis."

    But instead, the world's top men and women march onward, grimly and determinedly, in a kind of predestined lockstep. In truth, they have no choice. Their masters – those who control the world's purse strings – seem determined to present the current spectacle and to prolong as much as possible"

  10. Is is crazy to ask what democratically elected officials are doing in secretive meeting? I thought transparency was one of the great virtues of democracy!
    As far as "conspiracy theory" is concerned, the RICO Act defines it as:
    "Under RICO, a person who is a member of an enterprise that has committed any two of 35 crimes—27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes—within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and sentenced to 20 years in prison per racketeering count. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of "racketeering activity." RICO also permits a private individual harmed by the actions of such an enterprise to file a civil suit; if successful, the individual can collect treble damages."
    Crimes covered under RICO:
    "Under the law, the meaning of racketeering activity is set out at 18 U.S.C. § 1961. As currently amended it includes:

    Any violation of state statutes against gambling, murder, kidnapping, extortion, arson, robbery, bribery, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in the Controlled Substances Act);
    Any act of bribery, counterfeiting, theft, embezzlement, fraud, dealing in obscene matter, obstruction of justice, slavery, racketeering, gambling, money laundering, commission of murder-for-hire, and several other offenses covered under the Federal criminal code (Title 18);
    Embezzlement of union funds;
    Bankruptcy fraud or securities fraud;
    Drug trafficking; long-term and elaborate drug networks can also be prosecuted using the Continuing Criminal Enterprise Statute;
    Criminal copyright infringement;
    Money laundering and related offenses;
    Bringing in, aiding or assisting aliens in illegally entering the country (if the action was for financial gain);
    Acts of terrorism." (

  11. Ever since the tower of Babel was toppled there have been those fully devoted towards ultimate centralization. Fewer still are those self consciously devoted to decentralization. Decentralization has been running on the gas of geographic dispersion, different languages, distances, rival factions etc. for 5000 yrs. The world is becoming a smaller place and this encourages and enables the centralizers. What I admire about LRC, Ron Paul and the rest of intellectual wing of libertarianism is that they deal mainly in ideas. The others always do err once they get caught up in names, guilty parties, organizations and particular individuals. Alex Jones is typical of this. While I applaud his courage and effectiveness he misses the boat in a major way. The UN, IMF, ECB, EU, trilateralists, etc. are all just partakers of the centralization spirit. It has been around since before the tower of Babel and it will remain until the end of the world. Don't get caught up in names. Fight back with the rival idea of individualism. The way to challenge the false duality of "one for all and all for one" is not to pick either but rather to assert the antithesis "All for all".

  12. Murray Rothbard, one of the champions of power elite analysis, was one of the premier Austrian economists. One of the key elements of the Austrian school perspective is the focus on praxeology, the actions of acting individuals. Historical forces do not shape history, acting individuals do. But it is not an either/or between ideas or individual actors which shape history. Why people choose to act (or not), what motivates them, how they see the world, what is their world view or ideology, are crucial factors in this equation.

    As Rothbard earlier noted:

    "One method is to induce historiographical determinism, as opposed to individual freedom of will. If the X Dynasty rules us, this is because the Inexorable Laws of History (or the Divine Will, or the Absolute, or the Material Productive Forces) have so decreed and nothing any puny individuals may do can change this inevitable decree. It is also important for the State to inculcate in its subjects an aversion to any "conspiracy theory of history"; for a search for "conspiracies" means a search for motives and an attribution of responsibility for historical misdeeds. If, however, any tyranny imposed by the State, or venality, or aggressive war, was caused not by the State rulers but by mysterious and arcane "social forces," or by the imperfect state of the world or, if in some way, everyone was responsible ("We Are All Murderers," proclaims one slogan), then there is no point to the people becoming indignant or rising up against such misdeeds. Furthermore, an attack on "conspiracy theories" means that the subjects will become more gullible in believing the "general welfare" reasons that are always put forth by the State for engaging in any of its despotic actions. A "conspiracy theory" can unsettle the system by causing the public to doubt the State's ideological propaganda."

    The cited article critiquing all this by Jack Hunter demonstrates that he has no conception of power elite analysis and just wants to appear "mainstream," above all this base seach for motivation and consequences, and acceptable to the "respectable conservative" venues that publish his tripe. Self-interest and career advancement no doubt play a part in this, as do ego and arrogance.

    His article demonstrated that Hunter's primary research is very sloppy and can not get his basic facts correct. For example, Calvin Coolidge did not attend Yale, and thus was not Skull and Bones. He attended Amherst (probably their most distinguished alum up to that time). He got his start in his law practice through assistance form Amherst alums. Coolidge rose to national prominence and the VP position under Harding due to efforts by Amherst colleagues Frank W. Stearns and Dwight Morrow. Coolidge appointed Amherst alum Harlan Fiske Stone attorney general. Stone's law partner was Herbert L. Saterlee, son-in-law of the late J. P. Morgan.

    In the election of 1924 the American people were presented the wonderful choice of Democrat John W. Davis, attorney for J P Morgan, and Republican Coolidge, who Murray Rothbard (and other power elite analysts) pointed out was always in the ambit of the House of Morgan (and its crucial operatives) all his political career. It was a win/win victory for Morgan.

    Rothbard makes a point of how Coolidge consulted his Amherst colleagues during his administration, especially Morgan partner Dwight Morrow (whose daughter married Charles Lindbergh). As even the Wikipedia entry for Morrow illustrates, Coolidge relied upon Morrow several times for crucial matters pertaining to his administation.

    And this minor factual error by Hunter promted him to miss the bigger picture involved in the story of Coolidge -- his connections to Amherst, its alumni which influenced his career path, and to the J P Morgan banking interests -- and not whether he was in Skull and Bones.

    That is what power elite analysis can demonstrate.