What is the Establishment? Why, that’s easy, you say: the Establishment is those persons, taken collectively, who run the System. But who are “those persons”? What are their names? What, if anything, do they have in common? How did they get into the Establishment in the first place? Is one born into it? Is it something like a fraternity or a secret society? Is great wealth a prerequisite for admission? Or is membership in the Establishment a prerequisite for owning great wealth in America?
There is a great deal of confusion on these questions because of the sloppy but prevalent tendency to equate prestige and status — i.e., social rank — with power in our society. Things don’t necessarily work that way. It is clear that the one meaningful criterion for distinguishing members of the Establishment from non-members is power — power to make independent decisions which directly affect the operation of the System. In applying this criterion, however, it is essential to distinguish between apparent power, or power of a purely formal sort, and real power.
As an example, consider the oft-mentioned “military-industrial complex.” The standard rhetoric on the subject would lead one to the conclusion that the brass hats — the generals and the admirals who make up the military side of the complex — are powerful men and, hence, part of the Establishment. But, as a matter of fact, this conclusion is false. Most generals and admirals exercise virtually no influence on the System. The average general may have a lot of tanks and guns to play with. An admiral may command a mighty aircraft carrier or a whole fleet of secretaries and typists in the Pentagon. But one thing these men may not do is make independent decisions.
All their gold braid does not change the fact that they are mere pawns in the game — and rather rigidly restricted pawns, at that. Being allowed to decide whether next Tuesday’s mission will be to blow up village “A” instead of village “B” in Viet-Nam does not constitute real power, in the System sense. Neither does having the authority to write a purchase order for one million mess kits, aluminum, collapsible. This is not to say that there is no truth in the Colonel Blimp caricatures of the military bureaucrat or that much of what’s wrong in public life today is not exemplified in the Pentagon hierarchy. But the example of Douglas MacArthur should serve to illustrate what can happen when a general begins to get ideas too big for his brass hat.
Similar considerations apply to much of the industrial side of the military-industrial complex — although the industrialists, because they have money, must be scrutinized more carefully than the generals. There is no denying the fact that any man with $500 million in the bank — provided he is also moderately clever — has a definite potential for calling the tune. Nevertheless, it is surprising how little correlation there is between personal wealth and real power — in most cases.
In the first place, the manufacturer who owns a $100 million dollar tire factory by no means necessarily has $100 million in financial weight to throw around. His liquid assets, available for buying politicians, silencing critics, influencing elections, etc., will generally be much smaller than his fixed assets, such as land, buildings, and machinery. He may find himself hard pressed just keeping his employees’ union bought off, the IRS off his back, and his yacht afloat.
The average Industrialist makes his contribution to the System not so much by pulling the strings as merely by playing along with it through his own money-grubbing self-interest. His control over our lives is largely mechanical — the filth his factories pour into the air we breath and the water we drink, the honking, flashing, screeching asphalt and neon jungle he has built for us to live in.
The control exercised over our lives by the System — and, thus, by the men of the Establishment — is much more profound. It reaches into our minds and our souls and twists our wills to its own ends; it manipulates us and subtly persuades us; it corrupts us and robs us of our strength and our virtue; and, when its purpose is so served, it coldly snuffs out our lives by the millions.
The military-industrial complex may glory in wars and it may profit from them, but it is the Establishment — not the generals and the factory owners — which makes the basic decisions as to whether there shall be a war and when and against whom. American involvement in both World Wars gives us an excellent example of how the Establishment works.
Neither in World War I nor in World War II were the interests of the American people served by intervention in European conflicts. Yet, in 1917 Wilson dragged a reluctant America into a European war, and 24 years later Roosevelt managed the same thing. In both cases the principal actors had been re-elected to the Presidency immediately beforehand on a platform of pacifism and nonintervention. And in both cases the mass media — principally the press, in that pre-TV era — had played the vital role of swinging public opinion into line behind the newly elected instant warriors.
But neither Wilson nor Roosevelt were the ultimate decision-makers. Nor was it the generals or the industrialists. In both cases the decision-makers — the men of the Establishment — worked behind the scenes to further their own vital interests at the expense of the American people. And they exercised the necessary control over the System to prevail.
In World War I those whose interests were served were the Zionists, who received England’s pledge, as later expressed in the Balfour Declaration, to deliver Palestine to them. In return they brought about U.S. intervention in the war on the side of England. Their agents in this were Louis Brandeis, the Zionist Supreme Court justice, who exerted his influence directly on Wilson, and a number of Jewish newspaper publishers who controlled a substantial portion of the American press.
In World War II world Jewry was faced with its most serious crisis in centuries as National Socialist Germany moved to destroy Jewish power and influence in Europe. Again, the media played an enormously important role in conditioning the American people to accept the necessity of a European war. In the war hysteria generated after the fortuitous — but not unforeseen — Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt and the press were able to sweep the public along on a monumentally destructive and murderous “Crusade in Europe.” We can again see the same process at work where the Middle Eastern war is concerned today.
The Omnipotent Media
It is not the generals and it is not the industrialists who are responsible for the U.S. backing Israel. Between them they couldn’t begin to talk the American people into another war now. But the media could — and are. The generals and the munitions makers have clearly recognizable spheres of self-interest. Thus, even the most credulous elements of the public immediately discount anything they say.
Unfortunately, the same is not true of the media. First, most people do not recognize that the media also, because of the tightly knit nature of the group which controls them, have a definite sphere of self-interest. Second, the media are truly (and inherently) Oriental in their subtlety. The average American thinks “propaganda” is what a plainly labeled spokesman for the System tells the people in order to keep them happy, win their support for a new government program, etc. He simply doesn’t think anyone would be devious enough to try to accomplish the same thing with the Wednesday Night Movie, or the Six O’Clock News, or an Associated Press release, or the Sunday supplement in his morning paper.
The pride of the media is their ability to create the illusion of a marketplace of diverse ideas and opinions, while in reality always representing only their own interests. Consider, for example, the spectrum of views presented by the media on the Middle East conflict. Some editorial writers are hot for all-out U.S. military support of Israel, while others feel a little less commitment would be more appropriate. Most commentators refer to the fedayeen as “terrorists”, while some use the more neutral term “guerrillas.” And while some columnists rage about “Arab aggression,” others gently remind us of the miserable conditions in the Palestinian refugee camps. But can you name a single major newspaper in America which advocates that we back the Arabs rather than the Jews? And when was the last time you heard David Brinkley refer to Israeli commandos as “terrorists”?
Indeed, we never get both sides of an issue from the media, but only various views of the same side. We are given the same sort of “choice” in forming our opinions that the Democrats and Republicans present to us every four years. In today’s world many things are important and represent power: money, the military… but the most important and powerful of all in a modern democracy is the mechanism for creating and controlling public opinion. The group which has this mechanism in its hands wields the ultimate authority.
That group is the Establishment — or, at least, the vital core of the Establishment. And, in 20th-century America, that group is predominantly Jewish. This may be hard to accept for those who have convinced themselves that the Establishment is Standard Oil and the Pentagon. In the world of 100 years ago that would have been the case. But today Mr. Rockefeller, despite all his millions and all his talent for deceit and all his conniving, grasping, unprincipled ambition, wields less power than say, Sam Newhouse, of whom most Americans have never heard.
Mr. Newhouse, the publicity-shunning son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, doesn’t own Standard Oil. But he does own 28 big-city daily newspapers, with a combined circulation of more than five million. The slanted news in one day’s printing of the Washington Post or the New York Times carries more weight than all the memoranda ever issued by all the generals in the Pentagon. Needless to say, both these papers are in the hands of Jewish families. If one considers not only direct ownership but also indirect control through advertising revenue — which is the lifeblood of any newspaper — virtually every major daily newspaper in America is subject to the dictates of the Jewish Establishment.
We are living in the age of the mass media. It is an age in which new rules apply. No longer is it necessary, in order to control a nation, for a ruling clique to have a monopoly on the capital assets and the firepower of that nation. These days control is exercised more subtly, but all the more surely, by manipulating the thoughts and the opinions of the populace. Universal literacy, which makes every American a newspaper reader, and unprecedented prosperity, which has put a TV receiver in every home, insure that the control will be all-pervasive. There is only one way to fight it, and that is to understand what it is and who exercises it – and then to go after them tooth and nail.