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John Birch Society

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  • Ram Lau
    Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man December 1, 1955, 50 years ago. That provided great momentum for the Civil Right Movement.
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2005
      Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man
      December 1, 1955, 50 years ago. That provided great momentum for the
      Civil Right Movement. Meanwhile, a group named the John Birch Society
      was formed in attempt to "fight communism" and coincidentally attack
      the social liberals who fought for the civil rights of the colored

      The John Birch society is still very active in the West, such as Idaho
      and Utah. (The strongly Republican states, so go figure.) JFK once
      said, "Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names." Never
      forget who these people were, and where they are.


      John Birch Society

      Robert Welch introduced the idea of the John Birch Society at an
      Indianapolis meeting he convened on December 9, 1958 of 12 "patriotic
      and public-spirited" men. The first chapter was founded a few months
      later in February 1959. The core thesis of the society was contained
      Welch's initial Indianapolis presentation, transcribed almost verbatim
      in The Blue Book of the John Birch Society, and subsequently given to
      each new member. According to Welch, both the US and Soviet
      governments are controlled by the same furtive conspiratorial cabal of
      internationalists, greedy bankers, and corrupt politicians. If left
      unexposed, the traitors inside the US government would betray the
      country's sovereignty to the United Nations for a collectivist new
      world order managed by a "one-world socialist government." The Birch
      Society incorporated many themes from pre-WWII rightist groups opposed
      to the New Deal, and had its base in the business nationalist sector
      discussed earlier.

      Welch was born in 1899 and worked "in the candy manufacturing business
      all of his adult life," for many years as the vice president for sales
      and advertising of the James O. Welch Company, founded by his brother.
      He was on the board of directors of the ultraconservative National
      Association of Manufacturers for seven years starting in 1950, and
      chaired NAM's Educational Advisory Committee for two years. It was at
      NAM, during the height of the Red Menace hysteria, that Welch honed
      his Americanist philosophy. Welch toured the country chairing meetings
      on the state of American education, and producing a 32-page brochure
      "This We Believe About Education," that "concluded that in America
      parents--and not the State--have the ultimate responsibility for the
      education of their children." 200,000 copies of the brochure were
      distributed by NAM.

      Welch served as vice chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party
      finance committee in 1948, and unsuccessfully ran for Lt. Governor in
      the 1950 Republican primary. Welch supported the ultraconservative
      Taft over the more moderate Eisenhower by running as a Massachusetts
      Taft delegate to the 1952 Republican convention. In 1952 Welch wrote
      May God Forgive Us, a study alleging "subversive influences" by
      government officials and their allies to shape "public opinion and
      governmental policies to favor the Communist advance." The book was
      published by the ultraconservative Henry Regnery Company, which in
      1954 also published Welch's The Life of John Birch, which told the
      story of a fundamentalist missionary in China who became an
      intelligence agent for General Claire Chennault's Flying Tigers. Birch
      was killed by Chinese communist soldiers while he was on a mission at
      the end of WWII. In February of 1956 Welch started publishing a
      magazine, One Man's Opinion, and in January 1957 he left the candy
      business to devote his energies to "the anti-Communist cause."

      Welch saw collectivism as the main threat to western civilization,
      writing "both the Greek and the Roman civilizations did perish of the
      cancer of collectivism, and the civilization of Western Europe is
      doing so today." This view was shared by many conservatives of the
      day, and had been developed by such conservative intellectuals as
      Hayek. The ingredient that Welch added was an "uncompromising
      conspiracy theory of world events, one that blamed domestic rather
      than foreign enemies for the spread of communism," as Diamond
      summarized. Although critical of Oswald Spengler's intellectual
      snobbery, Welch agreed with Spengler's thesis in Decline of the West,
      of a "cyclical theory of cultures," but Welch argued that western
      European civilization was being prematurely put at risk by a
      conspiracy to promote the decay of collectivism.

      According to the JBS theory, liberals provide the cover for the
      gradual process of collectivism, therefore many liberals and their
      allies must actually be secret communist traitors whose ultimate goal
      is to replace the nations of western civilization with one-world
      socialist government. "There are many stages of` welfarism, socialism,
      and collectivism in general," wrote Welch, "but communism is the
      ultimate state of them all, and they all lead inevitably in that
      direction." A core tenet of the JBS was that the US is a republic not
      a democracy, and that collectivism has eroded that distinction. That
      this distinction was largely a semantic trick--used to cover the
      essential autocratic elitism of Welch and the JBS philosoph--was
      examined by Lester DeKoster, a conservative Christian who warned of
      the JBS anti-democratic agenda in his monograph titled The Citizen and
      the John Birch Society.

      The JBS concern that collectivism, statism, and internationalism would
      be ushered in through a subversive communist conspiracy naturally
      evolved into the JBS "Get US out of UN!" campaign, which alleged in
      1959 that the "Real nature of [the] UN is to build One World
      Government (New World Order)." Behind much of this concern was
      opposition to communism not only on economic, ideological, and
      pragmatic geopolitical grounds, but also because it was seen as a
      godless conspiracy. The influence of fundamentalist Christian beliefs
      on Birch doctrine are often obscured by the group's ostensible secular
      orientation. As Welch put it, "This is a world-wide battle, between
      light and darkness; between freedom and slavery; between the spirit of
      Christianity and the spirit of anti-Christ for the souls and bodies of

      Welch's magazine, renamed American Opinion, became the official JBS
      publication in 1959, as chapters began to be built. In January 1960
      the Birch Society had 75 chapters and 1,500 members, and by September
      1960 there were 324 chapters and some 5,300 members. In March of 1961,
      according to Welch, there was "a staff of twenty-eight people in the
      Home Office; about thirty Coordinators (or Major Coordinators) in the
      field, who are fully-paid as to salary and expenses; and about one
      hundred Coordinators (or Section Leaders as they are called in some
      areas), who work on a volunteer basis as to all or part of their
      salary, or expenses, or both." Estimates of Society membership by the
      end of 1961 ranged from 60,000 to 100,000. The actual membership
      figures are shrouded in secrecy and often disputed. Broyles argues
      that in 1966 the actual active membership was more like 25,000 to
      30,000, but this seems a low, and active members are outnumbered by
      paid members in most groups.

      No matter what the actual membership, the JBS pioneered grassroots
      lobbying, combining educational meetings, petition drives, and letter
      writing campaigns. One early campaign against the second Summit
      Conference between the US and the Soviet Union generated over 600,000
      postcards and letters, according to the Society. A June 1964 Birch
      campaign to oppose Xerox Corporation sponsorship of TV programs
      favorable to the UN produced 51,279 letters from 12,785 individuals.

      Much of the early Birch conspiracism reflects an ultraconservative
      business nationalist critique of business internationalists networked
      through groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR
      is viewed through a conspiracist lens as puppets of the Rockefeller
      family in a 1952 book by McCarthy fan, Emanuel M. Josephson,
      Rockefeller, 'Internationalist': The Man Who Misrules the World. In
      1962 Dan Smoot's The Invisible Government added several other policy
      groups to the list of conspirators, including the Committee for
      Economic Development, the Advertising Council, the Atlantic Council
      (formerly the Atlantic Union Committee), the Business Advisory
      Council, and the Trilateral Commission. Smoot had worked at FBI
      headquarters in Washington, DC before leaving to establish an
      anticommunist newsletter, The Dan Smoot Report. The shift from
      countersubversion on behalf of the FBI to countersubversion in the
      private sector was an easy one. The basic thesis was the same. In
      Smoot's concluding chapter, he wrote, "Somewhere at the top of the
      pyramid in the invisible government are a few sinister people who know
      exactly what they are doing: They want America to become part of a
      worldwide socialist dictatorship, under the control of the Kremlin."

      In a 1966 speech, Welch coined the name "The Insiders" to describe the
      leaders of the conspiracy. The Birch Society seems unable to make up
      its mind if the Insiders are direct descendants of the Illuminati
      Freemason conspiracy, although the basic concept is clearly related.
      During the late 1980's and early 1990's the Birch leadership
      downplayed the connection, while in the late 1990's, the Birch book
      list began sprouting titles seeking to prove the link to the
      Illuminati Freemason conspiracy. Many Birch members, and founder Welch
      himself, expressed support for this thesis, sometimes in writing,
      sometimes at Birch public meetings. According to the theory, there is
      an unbroken ideologically-driven conspiracy linking the Illuminati,
      the French Revolution, the rise of Marxism and Communism, the Council
      on Foreign Relations, and the United Nations. Of course, not all Birch
      members agreed with everything that Welch or the Society proposed.
      Welch's famous book, The Politician, caused a stir even among many
      loyal Birch members who were shocked by Welch's assertion that
      President Dwight D. Eisenhower was "a dedicated conscious agent of the
      communist conspiracy."

      Birch Society influence on US politics hit its high point in the years
      around the failed 1964 presidential campaign of Republican candidate
      Barry Goldwater who lost to incumbent President Lyndon Johnson. Welch
      had supported Goldwater over Nixon for the 1960 Republican nomination,
      but the membership split with two-thirds supporting Goldwater and
      one-third supporting Nixon. A number of Birch members and their allies
      were Goldwater supporters in 1964 and some were delegates at the 1964
      Republican convention.

      The John Birch Society White Book was a spiral-bound collection of all
      JBS Weekly Bulletins issued in the previous year and handed to every
      new member. The Bulletins in the 1964 White Book contain chatty and
      anecdotal information about the campaigns important to the JBS. A
      major effort was conducted under the slogan "Impeach Earl Warren,"
      which was reported to be generating 500 letters per day to members of
      Congress. The JBS also sought to restore prayer in school, repeal the
      graduated personal income tax, stop "Communist influences within our
      communications media," and stop the "trend of legislation by judicial

      The phrase "legislation by judicial fiat," was widely interpreted
      within the JBS as opposition to federal assistance to the goals of the
      civil rights movement over the objections of persons insisting that
      state's rights should supersede federal laws. During its heyday in the
      mid-1960s the Birch response to the civil rights movement and urban
      unrest was to launch two "campaigns under the banners of Support Your
      Local Police, and Expose The 'Civil Rights' Fraud.

      The "Support Your Local Police" campaign opposed the use of federal
      officers to enforce civil rights laws. "[T]he Communist press of
      America has been screaming for years to have local police forces
      discredited, shunted aside, or disbanded and replaced by Federal
      Marshals or similar agents and personnel of a national federalized
      police force," one article complained. Another reason articulated for
      opposing the civil rights movement was that it was a creation of
      Communists, and Birch members were urged to "Show the communist hands
      behind it." According to a 1967 personal letter from Welch to retired
      General James A. Van Fleet inviting him to serve on the Birch National

      ==="Five years ago, few people who were thoroughly familiar with the
      main divisions of Communist strategy saw any chance of keeping the
      Negro Revolutionary Movement from reaching decisive proportions. It
      was to supply the flaming front to the whole 'proletarian revolution,'
      as planned by Walter Reuther and his stooge, Bobby Kennedy"

      Despite its opposition to civil rights, throughout this period the JBS
      had a handful of black conservative members who supported this
      position on philosophical grounds involving states rights, economic
      libertarianism, and opposition to alleged communist subversion of the
      civil rights movement.

      The JBS simultaneously discouraged overt displays of racism, while it
      promoted policies that had the effect of racist oppression by its
      opposition to the Civil Rights movement. The degree of political
      racism expressed by the JBS was not "extremist" but similar to that of
      many mainstream Republican and Democratic elected officials at the
      time. This level of mainstream racism should not be dismissed lightly,
      as it was often crude and sometimes violent, treating Black people in
      particular as second-class citizens, most of whom had limited
      intelligence and little ambition. In Alan Stang's book published by
      the JBS, It's Very Simple: The True Story of Civil Rights, Rev. Martin
      Luther King, Jr. is portrayed as an agent of a massive communist
      conspiracy to agitate among otherwise happy Negroes to foment
      revolution, or at least promote demands for more collectivist federal
      government intrusion.

      The same is true with JBS levels of personal and political
      antisemitism. When crude antisemitism was detected in JBS members,
      their membership was revoked. The most celebrated incident involved
      Birch leader Revilo P. Oliver who moved over to work with Willis Carto
      and the Liberty Lobby after being forced to resign from the Birch
      Society for making antisemitic and White supremacist comments at a
      1966 Birch rally.

      The Birch Society promoted the book None Dare Call It Conspiracy by
      Gary Allen who included a dubious discussion of the Rothschilds and
      other Jewish banking interests as part of a sketch of a much larger
      conspiracy involving financial and political elites and the Council on
      Foreign Relations. Allen explicitly rejected the idea that by focusing
      on the early roll of the Rothschilds in investment banking he was
      promoting a theory of a Jewish conspiracy:

      ==="Anti-Semites have played into the hands of the conspiracy by
      trying to portray the entire conspiracy as Jewish. Nothing could be
      farther from the truth. The traditionally Anglo-Saxon J. P. Morgan and
      Rockefeller international banking institutions have played a key role
      in the conspiracy. But there is no denying the importance of the
      Rothschilds and their satellites. However it is just as unreasonable
      and immoral to blame all Jews for the crimes of the Rothschilds as it
      is to hold all Baptists accountable for the crimes of the Rockefellers.

      Nicely put, yet Allen used insensitive loaded language concerning the
      "cosmopolitan" nature of the "international bankers," and he slipped
      when comparing Jews to Anglo-Saxons, mixing issues of race, ethnicity,
      and religion. He seemed sincere in rejecting overt and conscious
      antisemitism and did not seem to be cloaking a hidden hatred or
      distrust of Jews, but he included a hyperbolic and inaccurate
      assessment of the role of the Rothschilds, Warburgs, and other Jews
      compared to the non-Jewish banking interests that grew along with
      industrial capitalism. The problem was unintentional, but still real,
      and the stereotype of a Jewish establishment was clearer in Allen's
      other work, as Mintz explained, "A conspiracist unimpressed by
      anti-Semitism could construe the material differently from a confirmed
      sociological anti-Semite, who could find a codification of his fears
      and anxieties."

      In a similar fashion the Society promoted conspiracist theories that
      involved mild antisemitism, and Welch once buttressed his claims of
      the Illuminati conspiracy by citing notorious British antisemite Nesta
      Webster. At its core, however, the Birch view of the conspiracy does
      not reveal it to be controlled or significantly influenced by Jews in
      general, or a secret group of conniving Jews, nor is their evidence of
      a hidden agenda within the Society to promote suspicion of Jews. The
      Society always struggled against what it saw as objectionable forms of
      prejudice against Jews, but it can still be criticized for having
      continuously promoted mild antisemitic stereotyping. Nevertheless, the
      JBS was closer to mainstream stereotyping and bigotry than the naked
      race hate and genocidal antisemitism of neonazi or KKK groups. When
      the Society promoted a historic tract about the conspiracy, it was
      usually their reprint of Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy.

      In a sense, the Birch society pioneered the encoding of implicit
      cultural forms of ethnocentric White racism and Christian nationalist
      antisemitism rather than relying on the White supremacist biological
      determinism and open loathing of Jews that had typified the old right
      prior to WWII. Throughout its existence, however, the Society has
      promoted open homophobia and sexism.

      The Society's anti-communism and states rights libertarianism was
      based on sincere principles, but it clearly served as a cover for
      organizing by segregationists and White supremacists. How much of this
      was conscious, and how much unconscious, is difficult to determine.
      That the Birch Society clearly attracted members with a more
      hate-filled (even fascistic) agenda is undeniable, and these more
      zealous elements used the JBS as a recruitment pool from which to draw
      persons toward a more neonazi stance on issues of race and culture. As
      Birch members assisted in building grassroots support for Goldwater's
      Republican presidential bid in 1964, critics of the JBS highlighted
      the group's more unsavory elements as a way to discredit Goldwater,
      who was labeled an extremist. For the JBS, however, Goldwater was a
      compromise candidate. JBS records from 1964 reveal Birch misgivings
      about the political reliability of Goldwater. Newspaper articles from
      the Birch archives show Goldwater quotes that conflict with Birch
      dogma heavily underlined and sporting rows of question marks; yet a
      racist and antisemitic attack on Goldwater by the White supremacist
      Thunderbolt, is labeled "Poison," with a bold pen stroke.

      After Goldwater was soundly drubbed in the general election, Welch
      tried earnestly to recruit another politician to accept the Birch
      torch-former Alabama Governor George Wallace. "It is the ambition and
      the intention of Richard Nixon, during the next eight years, to make
      himself the dictator of the world," warned Welch in a November 11,
      1968 post-election letter to Wallace. "The people of this country are
      ready for an anti-Communist crusade behind some political leader who
      really means it," wrote Welch urging Wallace to adopt the Birch platform.

      The more pragmatic conservatives and reactionaries who had been
      fundraising and organizing specialists during the Goldwater campaign
      would form the core of what became known as the New Right. Although
      many New Right and new Christian Right activists were groomed through
      the Birch Society, the group's core conspiracism, passionate and
      aggressive politics, and its labeling by critics as a radical right
      extremist group tainted by antisemitism and racism, were seen as
      impediments to successful electoral organizing. The Birch Society
      became a pariah. In the late 1970's the New Right coalition of secular
      and Christian conservatives and reactionaries emerged as a powerful
      force on the American political landscape, and was influential in
      helping elect Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980. The eclipsed
      Birch Society saw its influence dwindle even further after Reagan took
      office, and further still after they attacked Reagan's policies.

      When Robert F. Welch died in 1985, the Birch Society had shrunk to
      less than 50,000 members. There then ensued an internal struggle over
      who would grab the reins of the organization. The victors even
      alienated Welch's widow who denounced the new leadership from her
      retirement home in Weston, MA. Magazine subscriptions, often a close
      parallel to membership, fell from 50,000 to 30,000 to 15,000.

      The collapse of communism in Europe and the end of the Cold War might
      have signaled the end of the Birch Society, but the UN role in the
      Gulf War and President Bush's call for a New World Order unwittingly
      echoed Birch claims about the goals of the internationalist One World
      Government conspiracy. As growing right-wing populism sparked new
      levels of cynicism regarding politicians, and economic and social
      fears sparked rightist backlash movements, the Birch Society
      positioned itself as the group that for decades had its fingers on the
      pulse of the conspiracy behind the country's decline. Between 1988 and
      1995 the Birch Society at least doubled, and perhaps tripled its
      membership to over 55,000.
      In the Birch Orbit
      Conspiracist anti-communism similar to that offered by the JBS was
      widespread on the nativist right during the 1950s and 1960s. In
      addition to the books by Gary Allen, Robert Welch, Dan Smoot, and Alan
      Stang are enough books in the genre to fill several library shelves.

      Among the most influential leaders of the countersubversion movement
      against the global communist conspiracy following the McCarthy period
      was Dr. Fred Schwarz and his California-based Christian Anti-communism
      Crusade. A tireless lecturer, Schwarz in 1960 authored You Can Trust
      the Communists (to be Communists) which sold over one million
      copies.Schwarz's newsletter once suggested that communists promote
      abortion, pornography, homosexuality, venereal disease and mass murder
      as ways to weaken the moral fiber of America and pave the way for a
      communist takeover.

      The assault on America by forces of godless communism were central
      themes in three other widely distributed books which were used to
      mobilize support for the 1964 Goldwater campaign. The best known book
      was Phyllis Schlafly's A Choice, Not an Echo which suggested a
      conspiracist theory in which the Republican Party was secretly
      controlled by elitist intellectuals dominated by members of the
      Bilderberger banking conference, whose policies were designed to usher
      in global communist conquest.Schlafly's husband Fred had been a
      lecturer at Schwartz's local Christian Anti-communism Crusade
      conferences. The title "A Choice, Not an Echo" became one of
      Goldwater's campaign slogans.

      Schlafly elaborate on the theme of the global communist conspiracy and
      its witting and unwitting domestic allies in The Gravediggers, a book
      on military preparedness co-authored with retired Rear Admiral Chester
      Ward. Ward, a member of the National Strategy Committee of the
      American Security Council was also a lecturer at the Foreign Policy
      Research Institute which formulated many benchmark Cold War
      anti-communist strategies.The Gravediggers, claimed U.S. military
      strategy and tactics was actually designed to pave the way for global
      communist conquest. The Gravediggers was tailored to support the
      Goldwater campaign.

      Often overlooked because of the publicity surrounding A Choice, Not an
      Echo was John Stormer's, None Dare Call it Treason, which outlined how
      the equivocation of Washington insiders would pave the way for global
      communist conquest. None Dare Call it Treason sold over seven million
      copies, making it one of the largest-selling paperback books of the
      day. The back cover summarizes the text as detailing "the
      communist-socialist conspiracy to enslave America" and documenting
      "the concurrent decay in America's schools, churches, and press which
      has conditioned the American people to accept 20 years of retreat in
      the face of the communist enemy." Stormer updated his text in the late
      1980's to expand on his theory, shifting his focus from anti-communism
      to claim secular humanism now played a key role in undermining America.

      One of the core ideas of the US right is that modern liberalism is an
      ally of collectivism and a handmaiden for godless communism.
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