My Digital Strategy to Fill in the Memory Hole

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controls the past controls the future; who controls the present
controls the past.

memorable phrase, articulated by George Orwell in Nineteen
(1948), is profound, but at bottom it is incorrect.
Orwell made this phrase the motto of a modern totalitarian regime.
Had he made it the motto of the equivalent of the Russian Orthodox
Church or some other traditional establishment, it would have applied
far better. It does not apply to any modern political party or regime.
Here is what does apply:

controls men’s vision of the future controls the present; to legitimize
this vision, he must also control the past.

Control over the public’s understanding of the past is essential,
for no vision of the future can be sustained politically without
confirmation by the past. The directionality of history toward the
Promised Land must be continuously confirmed by the historical record.
The longer a society has been on the highway to the Promised Land,
the more confirmation from history is required. When this confirmation
is lacking or becomes suspect, people begin looking for an exit
ramp. They may even make a run for it across a weed-covered field.

history of Communism has illustrated this truth better than any
other movement in history. Its original eschatological vision was
undeniably powerful: the redemption of man. Its means of achieving
this goal was a monstrous lie: regeneration through bloody revolution.
To this were harnessed the ever-popular related goals of envy and

methods of social control from the beginning required escalating
terrorism. Communist rulers justified terrorism to themselves and
to their intellectual followers in the West by the magnitude of
Communism’s eschatological vision. But the magnitude of the terrorism
was so great that it might eventually call into question the legitimacy
of the Communists’ methods to achieve their messianic eschatology.
So, they had to lie.

historically unprecedented magnitude of the lies necessary to conceal
the all-pervasive level of Soviet terror — terror necessary
to control the present — after 56 years finally proved insufficient
to suppress the truth of these techniques of terror. Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s
first volume of The
Gulag Archipelago
(1973) can accurately be said to have
delivered a mortal ideological wound to Communism’s apologists in
the West. It was not what he wrote that was decisive. It was that
he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature before he wrote it. He
had been officially credentialed. Western intellectuals evaluate
truth in terms of credentials, and there are no higher credentials
than the Nobel Committee’s awards: the right to give a lecture in
a tuxedo to people in tuxedos, and a check for $1.3 million.

his magnificent and horrifying new book, Koba
the Dread
, Martin Amis wrote a sentence that can serve as
a tombstone’s last words for the Soviet Union, the archetype of
all Communist regimes.

could no longer be enforced, and the regime fell.”

Then, like dominoes, the other Communist regimes fell. Only Cuba
and North Korea remain true to the received faith: Marx’s religion of revolution.


modern political regime’s eschatological vision requires legitimacy
in order to be sustained in the hearts and minds of the voters,
who are officially identified as the sole agents of legitimacy.
Without legitimacy, the regime will fall.

is the supreme problem for most modern political regimes and all
empires, always: the degree of lying necessary to sustain the public’s
faith in the ability of a regime to deliver on its eschatological
promises is far greater than the public is prepared to accept. If
the lies are uncovered and then believed, not only is the regime’s
ability to deliver the future called into question, the legitimacy
of the regime’s eschatological vision may be called into question.
Political survival therefore depends on the ability of the regime
to keep the de-legitimizing truth from the public.

our world of flawed political eschatologies, systematic lies, and
misplaced legitimacy has come the Internet — ironically, a
physical infrastructure put in place by the United States Defense
Department. The Internet got away from its inventors because of
Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the address system that made possible
the World Wide Web. Then came the Web browser, developed by a group
of students at the University of Minnesota. Then came Netscape and
Internet Explorer. “And the rest is history!” This, from the politicians’
point of view, is the essence of the problem: history.

international digital revolution — no other word suffices —
is today verifying Hayek’s theory of the spontaneous order. It is
also undermining the efforts of various not-so-spontaneous orders.
One by one, the Internet is castrating the bodyguard of lies.


Web has several billion pages on-line, and Google can search 3 billion
of them in one-fifth of a second. This technology has changed our
lives. I spend about 12 hours a day staring at either of two screens.
I sit in a cheap swivel and swivel in a 45-degree arc that lets
me view these two screens: one for my Web research and the other
for writing. My fear of computer viruses is why I have two computers.
I keep my writing computer off the Internet. But I could do my work
with only one screen. Basically, I live half of my life in 50 square
feet of space. Yet my output today is far above what it was in 1996.
So is my audience. The Internet makes the difference.

have changed in other ways. I used to write 200 letters a year.
They were sometimes quite detailed. I have several filing cabinets
full of the carbon copies and photocopies. I have not seen carbon
paper in 25 years. Today, I write thousands of letters, most of
them under three sentences. When my hard disk died last year, I
lost most of them. The world is no worse off.

to my office is a large room in which I have 13,000 or more books.
I rarely walk into that room. Yet the cost of the building and the
cost of the books constitutes a significant investment. In terms
of how often I use this capital today, it was a waste. The Web did

am committed to the Web. I am also addicted to it. As Garrett Morris
might have said, “The Web has been bery, bery good to me.”

am convinced that a new civilization lies ahead. I think the Web
is that significant. For the first time in the history of man, there
are no longer gatekeepers who can control the flow of information
to the public. No longer can the Powers That Be control ideas by
controlling printing presses, paper, and ink.

is my firmly held belief (this week) that what brought down the
Soviet Union was the photocopier. It replaced carbon paper as the
technology of samizdat: underground writing. Surely, the FAX machine
was a key tool on Yeltsin’s ability to resist the Communist Party’s
coup. There were other technological factors besides the photocopier,
but it was surely not people’s access to guns that brought down
the USSR. It was access to forbidden ideas.

political establishment rests on a specific view of the way the
world works — or at least should work. To maintain their power,
men must control the public’s access to ideas. Those ideas that
run counter to an establishment’s paradigm are a threat to the system.

in the history of man has anything threatened the legitimacy of
establishment paradigms to the extent that the Internet does. While
politicians publicly anguish over naked digital ladies, it is naked
digital documents that worry them.

Internet is going to bring down all of the existing establishments.
All of them rest on lies and deliberately contrived misinformation.
They all rest on some version of the technique that Orwell named
in Nineteen Eighty-Four: the memory hole.


am a trained historian. I know how the memory hole game is played.
Certain theories of historical cause and effect are not allowed
to be discussed by members of the historical guild. If one of them
breaks ranks, and if he has not gained tenure, he will lose his

means of control has been the printing press: textbooks, journal
articles, monographs, and newspapers (especially the New York
Times). The establishment guild of historians has bet the farm
on its ability to keep unapproved ideas away from the public. But
the Web has breached a hole in the guild’s defensive lines.

D. Roosevelt knew on December 6, 1941, that the Japanese attack
on Pearl Harbor was coming on December 7, and he deliberately
failed to warn the military at Pearl Harbor. More than this: he
deliberately provoked the attack.”

the age of 16, I believed this. I wrote a term paper on it. That
was in 1958. There were many books devoted to proving it, but hardly
anyone had heard of any of them, let alone had read them. They were
in few libraries, even university libraries. No history textbook
discussed this possibility. Yet two of the anti-Roosevelt books
on Pearl Harbor were written by two of the most distinguished historians
in America: Charles A. Beard and Charles C. Tansill. The guild of
historians destroyed both of their careers and reputations within
months of the publication of each of their books: Beard’s in 1948
and Tansill’s in 1952.

books had not been the first. In 1946, a reporter with the Chicago
Tribune, George Morgenstern, wrote a series about Pearl Harbor,
and in 1947, his book was published by an obscure conservative publishing

is a scene in the Academy-Award-winning 1946 movie, “The
Best Years of Our Lives
,” that heads off the story in advance.
The hero of the movie gets into a fight with a Roosevelt critic
who has dared to tell a disabled vet that he had been injured for
nothing, that the government had lured Japan into starting the war.
The insensitive big-mouth waves a newspaper in front of the vet.
“It’s all in here.” Well, it was all in there, and the entire historical
guild has been adamant to keep that story from spreading.

that the public might discover the truth, the Rockefeller Foundation
in 1946 gave $139,000 — a huge sum in 1946 — to the Council
on Foreign Relations to hire two historians from Harvard,Langer
and Gleason, to write a book disproving the anti-Roosevelt thesis.
They did. William Bundy (CIA,
State Department
), writing four decades later in the CFR’s magazine,
, waxed euphoric about this project.

two volumes produced under the Langer project are still, I believe,
the standard reference on the subject, generally accepted as honest
and full. And there has never been a repeat of the bitter controversy
of the 1930s, apart from a natural level of criticism and revisionism
about FDR’s pre-war policies. I would say that the Langer project
was a major and largely unsung public service.

we graduate students were never told by our professors was that
both of them had worked for the OSS, the predecessor of the CIA.
One of them (Gleason) became the State Department’s in-house historian.
From that vantage point, he worked with Langer.

Feis, author of The
Road To Pearl Harbor
(1950), another major establishment
book on Pearl Harbor, had been a State Department policy-maker throughout
the period 1939-45. The American Historical Association has awarded
a prize named after him ever since 1982.

until I used Google to run a search on the names of the joint authors,
Langer and Gleason, did I discover a Web page that lists American
scholars who worked for the OSS-CIA. The list includes some of the
leading historians whose works I was required to read in graduate
school a generation ago. Believe it or not, Marxist Herbert Marcuse
is on the list, the man who taught Angela Davis. So is Arthur Schlessinger,
Jr., the chief establishment historian of the New Deal.

days, word about Roosevelt’s advance warning about Pearl Harbor
has gotten out. Robert Stinnett’s book, Day
of Deceit
(1999), which actually favors Roosevelt’s actions,
makes it clear: the critics were right. But he never cites them.
He cites primary sources instead.

does not remind a handful of professional historians who will actually
read his book that: (1) their academic predecessors were engaged
from day one in systematic historical deception and villification;
(2) they themselves have been dupes.

to modern America’s continuing acceptance of the New Deal’s legacy
of state control over the economy is Roosevelt’s saintly status.
What Stinnett accepts as morally valid — Roosevelt’s deliberate
deception, which led to thousands of deaths at Pearl Harbor —
the American establishment is still unwilling to risk affirming.
The establishment remains terrified of the truth that Stinnett documents
with painstaking detail. Therefore, his book has been ignored by
the establishment’s historians and press. He is not a paid historian
on some university’s payroll, so the reviewers think they can still
get away with the black-out.

found a smoking gun: a 1941 memo from a young Naval intelligence
officer that outlined an 8-point plan that was immediately implemented
by Roosevelt to force the Japanese to attack. He also found the
files where the low-level military intelligence network in Hawaii
had de-coded Japanese transmissions from the carrier fleet in late
November, and had relayed this information to Washington. The senior
commandeers refused to warn Gen. Short and Admiral Kimmel, who were
a few miles from the tracking stations. Yet the academic guild has
refused to take Stinnett’s book seriously, despite enormously detailed
documentation from the primary sources.

have surveyed this story of Pearl Harbor and the cover-up elsewhere.
If you are interested, click through.

says that most of the government’s files on the de-coded transmissions
are disintegrating. The papers are falling to pieces. The files
are in cardboard boxes in rooms that are not designed for document
preservation. There is no Bill Gates to buy them and store them
at sub-zero temperatures in underground caves. (Gates has done this
with the Bettmann Archives, the largest private collection of photographs
on earth.)

everything published after 1880 was published on pulp paper. It
had high acid content. It is now disintegrating. I first read about
this in American Heritage in 1969. When I began publishing
books, I paid a premium for acid-free paper. In 1980, you still
had to ask. These days, it’s much more common.

world’s libraries are going to lose everything published from 1880
to around 1950 that was not put on microfilm. It’s just a matter
of time.

Web can help preserve these records. I want to be a part of that
preservation. That’s why I have hired a programmer to produce a
template for a documents-intensive Website that uses a tremendous
new technology for reproducing perfect images of books, articles,
diaries, maps — anything. I intend to distribute this template
for free in 2003 to anyone who asks. I want people to post all sorts
of documents on-line before the documents disintegrate. I want to
fill in the memory hole. The Web is the world’s largest library.
I want to help make it even larger.

$7 a month for a Website and $8 a year to secure a Web address,
you will be able to post an enormous amount of documents on-line.
All the hardware you will need is a cheap $50 scanner. I’ll provide
the free software. Anyway, that’s my goal. I hope my programmer
can deliver the digital goods. As soon as it’s ready to distribute,
I will announce this in my bi-weekly e-mail newsletter. For a free
subscription, click here,
and then click send.


me show you how it works in America. I was a friend of the man who
was the senior counsel for the Republicans in 1946 at the Pearl
Harbor hearings that the House of Representatives conducted. His
name was Percy Greaves [“graves”]. He died a few weeks after I did
an interview with him on tape, back in 1985. In his day, he knew
the Pearl Harbor story better than anyone else except possibly his
democratic counterpart on the House committee, Gerhard Gesell.

Republicans in 1946 challenged Roosevelt, saying that he had no
right to conduct foreign policy on his own authority without consulting
Congress. That was Greaves’ position. The Democrats denied this.
The President is solely in charge, they said. That was Gesell’s

forward forty-one years. Oliver North is on trial. He had worked
for Reagan, and it looked as though he broke Congressional law.
The Republicans insisted that Reagan had the right to conduct foreign
policy on his own authority. The Democrats insisted that Congress’s
laws had to be obeyed. North wound up in front of a judge, who was
known to be privately hostile to both North and the Republicans.
His name was Gerhard Gesell.

sides had switched. Each had challenged the other’s arguments both
times. But hardly anybody gave any thought to this monumental flip-flop.
I did, and Bruce Bartlett did. That’s because we are both anti-Roosevelt
revisionist historians who have written about Pearl Harbor. But,
in 1987, nobody else picked up this remarkable story. Reporters
who knew who Gesell was had no recollection of who he had been in
1946. People have short memories unless the establishment keeps
reminding them of the official version.

example: there was a leaker inside the White House other than Deep
Throat. It was he (or she) who brought down Nixon. Deep Throat (Pat
?) merely tipped off Woodward and Bernstein. But that
information was not enough to prove the case in court. What proved
the case were the tapes.

the press has never bothered to explore is this: the
prosecutors did not initially have the legal authority to confiscate
the tapes. The White House controlled them, just as it controlled
the archives. Until Judge “Maximum John” Sirica got legal access
to them, the prosecutors had to request specific tape sections from
the White House. The following story only right-wing crazies and
conspiracy theory junkies have followed. A site that has reprinted
my brief summary report on this matter was for years was the only
place where you could read this on the Web. Now there is another:
the one that has posted all of my friend Gary Allen’s book, The
Rockefeller File
— specifically, chapter 13.

information has been available to the public for almost three decades.
No one has bothered to follow up. Gary is dead. Dr. Susan Huck,
who spotted the anomaly, is forgotten. Here is the official account
from the files.

8, 1973 from 4:05 to 5:34 P.M. (E.O.B.)

approximately 10 minutes and 15 seconds into the conversation,
a segment lasting 6 minutes and 31 seconds:

approximately 67 minutes into the conversation, a segment lasting
11 minutes;

approximately 82 minutes and 15 seconds into the conversation,
a segment lasting 5 minutes and 31 seconds.

prosecutors requested specific sections of the tapes. They knew
exactly what to ask for. How? This is the story of stories regarding
Watergate. There was an inside man who was illegally passing on
this information. But no mainstream reporter, no university historian,
and no “60 Minutes” researcher has bothered to ask the question:



Web is a hole-filling instrument to fill the memory hole with forgotten
documents. Google is the primary instrument for sorting through
this buried treasure. Links (URL’s) from one site to another are
also important.

keep papers. There is a lust to keep records. I think this is because
every bureaucrat is looking for a way to cover his flanks. He wants
evidence that “I was just following orders.” That’s why lots of
incriminating evidence is available.

there is the fact of establishment control. Certain facts and lines
of reasoning are turned into official dead ends. The most important
book on this is now 40 years old: The
Structure of Scientific Revolutions
, by Thomas Kuhn. He
is an historian of science. His book shows how successful movements
in an academic guild gain control, and once they do, they create
an official history that shows how they, neutral pursuers of the
truth, discovered it. They re-write the story of the struggle, especially
if the losers still have a plausible case to make.

write the history books that get published, even in chemistry and
physics. Losers disappear from public view. So do rebel historians
who write the unofficial version. In the field of the history of
science, the premier example is Pierre Duhem. He gave too much credit
to medieval scientists. The French academic establishment kept the
second five volumes of his life’s work from being published for
over four decades. If you want to know how the academic game really
works, click here:


you have a diary that someone in your family wrote.

you found a pile of government reports that are now forgotten. I
have a set of the 45 volumes of the 1946 Pearl Harbor hearings that
ought to be on-line. I also have a copy of the legendary 1953 report
by the Reece Committee on non-profit foundations.

get the digital ball rolling.

23, 2002

North is the author of Mises
on Money
. Visit
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