By J.B. Shurk
The eminently quotable Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana said sometime back: “Our country was founded by geniuses, but it’s being run by idiots.” I heartily agree, and the problem is not self-correcting.
The principles behind the formation of America’s government were and are exquisite, but the American government, like all forms of government, is corrupt as hell. This isn’t an extraordinary statement. Exquisite things often break, and even the noblest of institutions become distorted over time until the original purposes for their creation are eclipsed (and often contradicted) by the personal motives of the men running those institutions into the ground.
This phenomenon is apparent anywhere there is power.
John O’Sullivan, a senior policy adviser for Prime Minister Thatcher, wrote a short essay thirty years ago that should have made freedom-minded conservatives rethink any lingering attachments to institutional authorities.
He asked a question we often ask ourselves: how is it that almost all institutional bodies — whether governmental agencies or purportedly “nonpartisan” scientific academies or even religious groups and charities — transform over time into left-leaning entities? In grappling with what might seem inexplicable, he corralled three insights about organizational behavior: (1) Robert Michels’s Iron Law of Oligarchy asserting that all forms of organization, regardless of how democratic their foundations, will come to be run by an elite group of people; (2) Robert Conquest’s Second Law stating that every organization behaves as if “headed by secret agents of its opponents”; and (3) O’Sullivan’s very own First Law positing that “[a]ll organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.” In other words, Michels tells us that the key to understanding any institution is its leadership, not its charter. Conquest argues that the leadership will always have objectives at odds with the organization’s intended purpose, if for no other reason than that the leadership’s continued employment and future power paradoxically depend upon never completely succeeding. And O’Sullivan takes this insight farther by noting that the type of person who staffs such organizations tends to disdain private profit and the historic composition of Western civilization’s free-market culture.
Note also that these three observational laws explicitly take as a premise that the organizations have not been actively infiltrated by Marxist saboteurs or actual enemy agents, but rather evolve over time by the weight of natural sociological tendencies. When we add Occam’s Razor into the mix, it is just as persuasive to suppose that all institutions become increasingly socialist over time at the rate of success that Marxists have in quietly but persistently insinuating themselves into the hierarchical ranks of absolutely any institution with power, whether those with legal teeth such as the FBI and CDC or those with cultural teeth such as Coca-Cola and Major League Baseball. Hence, if Gramsci’s “long march through the institutions” seems to have succeeded, it’s probably because the political left has never stopped marching.
Driven by internal mechanisms of organization; cancel culture campaigns given legitimacy by corporate journalists and social media platforms (ironically, the self-described “defenders” of the First Amendment); and the covert efforts of dark money groups to coerce, co-opt, and undermine any entity not yet “turned,” institutions are under sustained pressure at all times to bend toward total leftist control.
Taken together, the three “laws” above not only aptly describe how Marxist-socialists have succeeded in assimilating everything from the public school system to the CIA, but also make plain that the fight for conserving liberty requires much more than fighting to conserve institutions, even when (or perhaps especially when) those institutions have traditionally safeguarded American freedoms.
This seems to me a remarkable indictment of any Establishment position for defending and preserving institutional powers of any kind when the stated goal is to protect and strengthen American freedoms.
The political left consistently advances its aims by either refashioning existing institutions to advance its agenda or so compromising those institutions that their original purpose is moot. By doing so, Marxist-socialists create win-win scenarios for themselves by forcing societies to choose between keeping those corrupted institutions intact or tearing them down and starting from scratch.
Would you rather keep the illusion of an impartial Supreme Court committed to the rule of law even while it’s intimidated into making politicized decisions by Democrats threatening to expand its membership, or do you accept that the Judicial Branch gave up any pretense of fidelity to the Constitution long ago?
Can the Constitution be preserved as our governing document even though the plain meaning of its words has been bastardized by all three branches to authorize government powers it does not delegate, to justify discrimination among groups of people where it demands the opposite, and to encroach upon personal liberties where it explicitly protects them?
Can real representative government exist in the United States when elected officials choose to ignore their constituents by collecting cash and talking points from Washington lobbyists, and even though the unelected bureaucrats of our Leviathan administrative state govern with no voters to constrain their actions at all?
If the stated reason for the FBI’s inception was to pursue federal crimes that might otherwise be unenforced or overlooked in the interstate wilderness separating local jurisdictions, should it be allowed to survive when the bureau’s domestic intelligence force is instead harnessed to intimidate political enemies?
Should the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court continue to be seen as a legitimate check on the government’s unlawful surveillance of citizens when it readily excuses the FBI’s outrageous lawbreaking and its routine intrusion into Americans’ private electronic records?
Should Americans continue to depend upon a public school system that has replaced education with ideological indoctrination and knowledge with “social justice”? Or the Centers for Disease Control when it is inexplicably taking its cues from the teachers’ unions?
Doing nothing is no longer an option.
The Frankensteinian metamorphosis of America’s institutions is the fundamental reason why there is now an irreconcilable break between the small group of Establishment Republicans who have ostensibly run the party for decades and the actual voters who overwhelmingly chose President Trump as a much needed countervailing force for arresting our descent into tyranny.
Tradition is valuable, but giving legitimacy to institutions that actively work against us for tradition’s sake is foolish. And if all institutions become leftist siblings over time, we are best served by fearlessly seeking and destroying those who encroach upon our freedom, not conserving them.
Establishment Republicans keep insisting, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” But who has been watching the baby? American independence was a singular moment for liberty, and enemies of freedom have worked assiduously to smother it ever since. While Republican leadership has for decades remained preoccupied with making sure the bathtub is of the finest porcelain-enameled cast iron and ensuring that the water is neither too hot nor too cold, the political left has gleefully absconded with the newborn, so that it may finally abort two hundred and forty-five years after delivery!
“That government is best which governs least” was Thoreau’s motto. Surely the opposite is equally true, that government is worst when it governs most. When limited government is abandoned and liberty is deemed “selfish,” then America’s institutions have become a threat to America’s existence.
Image via Max Pixel.