by Diane Alden
The NewsMax Years #25
Still ON TARGET: July 06, 2000
Remember back in high school there was always that certain group of kids universally known as the “in” crowd. The rest of the denizens in the teen-age hell halls were usually a subgroup with a theme. There was the artsy crowd, the nerds, the greasers, the dweebs, the beats, the behavior disordered, the crazies, the zombies, the Goths, heavy metal, etc.
The subgroups never made it into the solar system of the in group. However, usually the in crowd was never crass enough to move about in unison like a highly synchronized water ballet. Rather there was an accepted and silent code of behavior and certain standards to uphold. Similar beliefs and subtle exclusion practices set them apart and made them “special.”
This special group existed in numerous small bands of beautiful people who occasionally hung out together. They spoke the same language, wore similar clothing, attended the same parties, got the leads in plays, headed the yearbook, or were elected student body president. Once in awhile the in crowd would accept a new member. Most often it was a poor but very pretty girl, a handsome jock or an individual with a talent or personality held in esteem by the in crowd.
The high school authorities often ignored their misbehavior. Their triumphs were exalted above and beyond those of more mundane and non-in-types. Everyone listened to them and wanted to be like them.
Life, politics, culture and government are much like high school and our experiences with the in crowd.
The esteemed conservative iconoclast and definer of the conservative movement, William F. Buckley, said in his book “God and Man at Yale,” “Yale derives its moral and financial support from Christian individualists … and then addresses itself to the task of persuading the sons of these supporters to be atheistic socialists.”
Buckley has extensive bona fides as an almost prehistoric conservative with ties to government and the Northeastern centers of power. He has been hailed and honored by academia, the press and government. Buckley is also part of the in crowd. From an old and privileged family, Buckley could be said to the manor born, acceptable to the movers and shakers from all over the political spectrum. He would fit as easily with Katherine Graham and the Kennedys as he would with Ronald Reagan and George Will.
The Northeast Power Elite
He is one of the power elite. These individuals are not indigenous to a political party or ideology. Rather their elitism is a condition of being. When the elite goes to school it goes to the same schools, belongs to the same clubs, summers at the same seashore or mountain retreat. Harvard, Princeton, Yale and a few other schools known as the Ivy League are part of their educational schematic. These schools have produced more world-class political, social and cultural leaders than any other inter-related system of scholarship in the United States.
It should not be too surprising that those who attend these schools have wielded enormous power over the direction of the United States from its beginnings until today. Sometimes, just like in high school, this elite allows an outsider such as Bill or Hillary Clinton to join.
Internationally known sociologist and political observer C. Wright Mills stated in his book “The Power Elite”: “As an elite, it is not organized, although its members often know one another, seem quite naturally to work together, and share many organizations in common. There is nothing conspiratorial about it, although its decisions are often publicly unknown and its mode of operation manipulative rather than explicit.
“It is not that the elite ‘believe in’ a compact elite behind the scenes and a mass down below. It is not put in that language. It is just that the people are of necessity confused and must, like trusting children, place all the New World of foreign policy and strategy and executive action in the hands of experts.”
The influence of the elite is pervasive and extends through business, government, academia, military, the media, religion and culture. This “in” group usually also belongs to such clubby organizations as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderbergers, International Monetary Fund, cultural and media groups as well as various councils, clubs and think tanks on the left and the right. The only president in recent memory who did not attend one of the Ivy League schools or belong, at least officially, to the CFR was Ronald Reagan. Jimmy Carter was an Annapolis grad, but that school is also East Coast establishment, as is West Point. Additionally, he was and still is a member of the CFR.
Historically, power has accumulated and remains in the Northeast corridor: Washington for government and New York as the prime center for media and culture.
If you check the background of the presidents of the various Ivy League schools, you will find that their histories are interchangeable. They have at least been educated in the Northeast. They move between government, military, academia, and business and private life in an almost seamless manner. Most are on the boards of the Fortune 500, and are mainstays of various philanthropic organizations such as Carnegie, Ford, Rockefeller and Pew foundations, to name a few. Therefore, most news and major events seem focused on the comings and goings, thinking and dealings of this elite.
Power, Not Plot
In this day and age a lot of people think that the elite is part of a long-standing historical plot. Many honest folks believe that these power groupings are part of a conspiracy, which extends all the way back to the 1700s, and an Austrian named Adam Westhempf. This man was the founding father of the historical conspiracy known as the “Illuminati.” This theory offers a convenient and simple explanation for the unexplainable.
It is difficult for its most ardent believers to think history could be so profoundly unfocused and chaotic as to suggest there was no rationale or power behind it. Surely, they insist, there is an explanation that history and individuals are either part of a plot or dupes to the plotters’ intentions. Well, unfortunately the historical “plot” is nothing more than the good and bad that comes out of human nature and the structure and order of living.
The believers in the Illuminati conspiracy do not understand that power and privilege throughout history protects and attempts to control and manipulate events and people – just like high school. It is human nature to want to maintain a kind of specialness beyond the ordinary and above the mundane lives of ordinary men.
Thus, we come to the underpinnings of irrational American specialness. Both political parties, Democrats and Republicans, like all groups and associations wish to assume some kind of moral high ground. This is the factor that makes them special. Therefore, they subscribe to the thinking and theories of other special people such as the policy wonks, foundations and experts that the world produces in great numbers. These special folks are usually ensconced in think tanks and universities. Often these “thinkers” do offer valuable information and foresee trends and possibilities. However, much of the information is either wrong or it is incorrectly used and does not lead to the desired outcomes.
The Council on Foreign Relations, the bugaboo of the far right and of those who believe in the “Illuminati,” is just one more good old boys club composed of elites. Occasionally, such groups allow a talented or useful outsider into their ranks: Newt Gingrich or Bill Clinton, for instance. But for the most part the list of its members reads like a Who’s Who of privilege and wealth and power. These same names might also be seen in the pages of Town and Country or Fortune Magazine. A fair percentage had relatives on the first boats into Massachusetts or Jamestown.
Members of these elites include relative newcomers such as Henry Kissinger or Harvard’s Jeffrey Sachs or Robert S. McNamara. These special people contribute their “wisdom” and expertise to the CFR and groups like it. With the firm belief they have a lock on insight and superb analysis of events, they routinely go about the business of the power elite, which is to dictate policy. Their interconnectedness goes beyond the bonds of partisan politics or even philosophy. They are the ones that researchers and media run to for an insider’s view and analysis of events.
Some critics and journalists call them the “usual suspects.” They spend their lives in the D.C.-New York corridor. There is no plot with these people; it is just the game they play. They are experts at rotating policy development, analysis and schlepping it to the general public and to other movers and shakers.
These usual suspects are merely part and parcel of a snotty elitism. Their function is to provide the power structure with information and cover on which to base policy decisions and law. Besides they bounce ideas around and share war stories at the cocktail parties in Georgetown or Manhattan. As often as not their wisdom and policy are anything but helpful and it all too often incorrect. After all, it was Henry Kissinger who wanted to assign the United States to second place behind the Soviet Union in the 1970s. It was a Midwesterner-turned-Californian named Ronald W. Reagan who told the establishment to go take a hike. For this he was called a cowboy and a yahoo, but he was correct in his analysis of Communism and just how far the United States could go in defeating the “evil empire.”
Then there are “in” insiders such as Harvard’s economic wizard Jeffrey Sachs. Additionally, our current Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers and foreign policy wonk Strobe Talbot, formerly with Time magazine, are among the usual suspects who move in and out of the various power systems equally well.
Creating Disaster in Russia
These gentlemen probably pray every night that the dumb leftist media and “in” conservative pundits will not remember and overlook their numerous and varied economic and foreign policy blunders. After all, it was the advice and resultant policy that came out of Harvard’s school of business that helped create the turmoil in Russia today. Sachs and his Harvard buddies advised giving U.S. and IMF loans to the former Soviet Union. This elite foolishly ignored practical political advice of groups and individuals outside the Northeast elites. Against the best of advice they hitched their wagon to Boris Yeltsin and his closest buddies.
The result was that thuggish oligarchs got rich, and the ordinary Soviet and American taxpayer got the shaft.
Over the past decade the potential for Russian default of loans has been a daily nightmare for the Harvard boys and more importantly the elites in general. It was the Harvard boys and the likes of Strobe Talbot who advised the IMF to hand money over to a country that had laid no groundwork for the establishment of a free-market economy. These guys pitted creaky elitist economic and foreign policy theory, along with U.S. government central planning, against reality. As a result the elites are scurrying around trying once again to turn things in their favor.
What the American taxpayer and citizenry has received for all this elitist expertise is another economic and foreign policy mess. Another big mistake, just like the one bigwig elitist Robert S. McNamara’s band gave us in “the light at the end of the tunnel” Vietnam policy.
The recent increase in gasoline prices may well be traced in part to the desire by the East Coast banking elite, establishment and the Clinton administration to stop the Russians from defaulting on their loans. It is no small wonder that the increase in gas prices in the United States helps the Russian economy and allows it to pay back those loans. The elite media and the government do not proclaim from the housetops that the American taxpayer has been screwed twice – one time by giving money for the original loans and secondly at the huge increase in the price of gas at the pumps.
We can thank the Harvard boys and the think tanks and policy wonks and foundations for the fact that the American taxpayer and consumer is paying for their mistakes. We can thank the Rockefeller, Ford and Pew foundations for funding goofy trends such as radical environmentalism as well as the absolutely moronic educational theories and policies so prevalent over the last 30 years. We can thank the “thinkers and wonks and elitists” for establishing America in its ignorance and loss of fundamental rights.
These Ivy League wonder kids, think tanks, foundations and good old boy clubs, along with the help of transnational corporations, have once again had their elitist way. The fact that they signed on to the recent China trade bill has as much to do with the concerns of these elites as it does with the dubious notion that economics will change totalitarian regimes for the better. Perhaps it will. But as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow these guys are more concerned with feathering their corporate and establishment nests than they are desirous of spreading good government abroad or to help the Iowa farmer or the autoworker in Detroit. Best not to bet the ranch on any deal set up by the elites. Congressmen, as part of this elite, have gone along with a lot of bad policy decisions for their own benefit and self-preservation rather than some grand idealistic theory of affecting events in other countries or helping Americans.
Would that these guys learn humility and benefit from their mistakes, but they seldom if ever do. However, being the privileged elite they will never run out of plans or theories to inflict on the rest of mankind. What is even more remarkable is that they continually dare to send us the bill.
(Coming next: American power elites and why and how they sow the seeds of their own destruction. Plus a wrap-up of the high school theory of history.)
This column first appeared in NewsMax.com, July 06, 2000. Copyright © 2000-2006 Diane Alden.
The Moral Liberal Senior Editor, Diane Alden, was one of NewsMax.com’s most popular and outspoken pundits ( 1999–2008), and before that, a wonk for The Nevada Policy Institute. A former DJ in Georgia, Diane of late has been a weekly guest on the East Coast hit program, The Marc Bernier Show. Diane is loved for her quick sense of humor, creative vocabulary, independence of mind, and her penetrating analysis of a wide range of political, economic, and cultural issues.