We all know about the memory hole. That was the unofficial name of a department of government in George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. It was devoted to re-writing history. It destroyed historical documents to make this re-writing easier. This was its motto: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
Orwell used the Soviet Union as his model. The USSR was famous for using photo editing techniques to remove past leaders from old photos. These people became non-persons. Photoshop is simply a low-cost tool for modern media organizations to do similar sorts of things. They do it to sell more products. The USSR did it to maintain power.
These techniques are still being used inside what Mrs. Clinton calls the vast Right-wing conspiracy. Today’s leaders want to erase all traces of the earlier leaders.
Why? Because the time-servers who collect their salaries are nonentities. They do not want to be compared to the founders. They do not want the evidence of decline available for all to see. Max Weber had a phrase for this almost a century ago: the routinization of charisma. The bureaucrats inherit the earth.
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One of the saddest aspects in the history of the post-World War II conservative movement is the fact that it is almost impossible to trace its history at the grass roots level.
Part of this problem is this: the little organizations used mimeograph machines to publish their message. This was a shoestring movement until at least the mid-1950’s. These materials were tossed out by survivors after the blue-haired ladies died. These women collected newspaper clippings, scoured the Congressional Record, published their newsletters, and had meetings. They left few traces.
The newsletters have disappeared. Think of the Dan Smoot Report. Think of the early years of Human Events. Think of Hilaire DuBarrier’s HduB Report. Think of Don Bell Report. They are gone with the wind.
I have a complete set of the HduB Report on a CD-ROM. I do not think it is possible to trace the history of the European Union without reading these reports. But they are not online. I do not know who owns the copyrights. Neither does the man who created the CD-ROM.
To construct the history of the conservative movement, the various organizations that published newsletters, magazines, and books should go into their files, send them to a specialist in producing searchable PDF’s, and then post all of that information online free of charge. This is the minimal commitment necessary to keep old ideas alive. The Betrayal of the Am... Best Price: $11.20 Buy New $18.50 (as of 07:55 EST - Details)
If an organization has spent decades asking for donations from its supporters in order to get out the message, and then it suppresses or ignores that message through the 80% of the history of the organization, then something is fundamentally wrong with the thinking of the present directors. Any organization that raises money for years to publish the true word, and then decides to deep-six the true word, has abandoned the true word.
All of that money was raised, all of that enthusiasm was generated, all of that information was published, yet the organization’s present salaried directors decide that it’s not worth preserving online free of charge.
Something is deeply wrong with any idea-based organization that does not post its entire body of published materials online.
I cannot imagine any ideological organization’s senior staff this shortsighted, yet I know it’s the case. I have seen it over and over. There is simply no strong commitment to preserving the legacy of the organization. The present directors implicitly dismiss all of the work of the previous directors, as if all that money, all those ideas, all that effort in publishing the material was not really worth it. It is as if all of this material is worthless today. The senior directors of the organization have self-consciously made a decision not to preserve this information for the present members of the organization.
I’m thinking of a particular organization. Let’s see if you can figure this out. It has been around for over 50 years. It published a great deal of material. It published a magazine every month. It published newsletters from the The Left, The Right, a... Best Price: $26.40 Buy New $14.95 (as of 03:30 EST - Details) organization’s senior director. It raised money for years to try to get this information out to the public. It was one of the fundamental organizations in the history of the conservative movement. But its present directors have refused for over 15 years to put this information online.
I know a man who has put all of the material into PDF’s, and he even put it up on a website. But he doesn’t have the copyright to the publications, so he is not allowed by the organization to post this material publicly. I have seen it. I have used it. But you can’t find by searching for it online, because the individual has not posted it where the general public can get at it. The reason for this is simple: he does not own the copyright.
Could this be an organization that you have committed money to? Have you even asked this about the organizations that you do commit money to. Have you made sure that you are not donating a dime to any organization that has a body of material like this, but which has not put all of this material online, free of charge?
If the organization is self-consciously suppressing this, then you should not donate to it. If the organization is run by men who are so shortsighted that they want to ignore 50 years of publication, then why should you continue to send money to it? The publication can be scanned in and converted to PDFs for about 35 cents a page. “We just can’t afford this!” Some minimum-wage intern could run copies through a standard copy machine, which will convert pages to searchable PDF’s if it has Adobe Acrobat installed. But the senior decision-makers in the organization have no vision of the future, because they have no vision of the past. If they think the past is irrelevant, then they think the future is irrelevant. All they care about is this month’s “scare ’em and skin ’em” fundraising effort. Reclaiming the America... Best Price: $3.59 Buy New $14.00 (as of 10:35 EST - Details)
One organization that does things right is the Mises Institute. All of the old materials in the Austrian school movement are available free of charge here: https://mises.org/Literature
Years ago, I put up the money for the Mises Institute to post all of the issues of American Affairs online. It had been edited by Garet Garrett. It was long forgotten. No organization owned them. This was not a matter of dropping materials down the organization’s memory hole. There was no succession. The Mises Institute believes in preserving legacies like this. The Mises Institute understands the importance of the past in building the future.
My recommendation: do not donate a dime to any ideological outfit that has not posted all of its past publications online for free. Simple. “No searchable PDF’s online for free — no donation.” This should be an unbreakable rule.
I did this over 15 years ago with the publications of my Institute for Christian Economics. I shut it down in December 2001, because I realized that I no longer needed to raise money to publish books. I can publish a book in 90 seconds in PDF form. I keep these materials, 1975-2001, online for free here:http://www.garynorth.com/public/department78.cfm.
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I understand the problem. Most people are not interested in history. Most people are not interested in the stories of how the movement or an organization got started. Most people care about the present mainly, and they barely care about the future. They surely do not care about the past.
The conservative movement is grounded philosophically on a vision of history that asserts the legitimacy of historical process. Conservatives believe that the past is important. They believe that preserving the memory of the past is important. They understand that the world today is the product of the past, and that he who does not understand the past is not going to have a coherent plan for shaping the future. But the leaders of the conservative movement have tended not to believe this. They have not been committed to preserving the past. They had been political activists, and the political activist has a vision not much longer than the next congressional election. This has been a deep-seated problem within the conservative movement ever since it began after World War II. It began mainly as anti-Communism, and interest in the past was limited to studies of how the communist infiltrated this or that organization. It was not in any way committed to pass conservative ideas, which had lost their power to persuade people by 1946.
So, the modern conservative movement began as an “anti-” movement. Such movements are inherently reactionary. They react to present crazies and present crises. They react to whatever the Establishment is doing, or plans to do, or might possibly do, in the near future. The conservative movement has always been 80% committed to putting out fires. You cannot build a movement, let alone a society, based on continual fire drills. But this is what Family of Secrets: The... Best Price: $3.69 Buy New $30.59 (as of 09:20 EST - Details) the conservative movement has attempted to do.
Frankly, I don’t think it’s much different today. Conservatives may be worried about whether Hillary Clinton is going to run, or whether she can win, but they are not at all concerned about what the world will be like after one term of whoever is elected president in 2016. I call this a lack of 2020 vision.
People whose time perspective does not extend beyond the next presidential election are not concerned with building up a body of materials that can serve as a foundation for restoring liberty. They are unfamiliar with how the American Republic became the American Empire, and they are basically committed to extending the American Empire through military means. Then they want to make things better by a few reforms, none of which stands a political chance. They want clean up the mess in government. They want to sweep the bad guys out.
We know where this leads.
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it Check Amazon for Pricing. empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation (Matthew 12:43-45).
If your favorite conservative organization does not have all of its previous magazines, newsletters, special reports, and so forth online, do not send it any more money.
Drop a note to the head of the organization. Explain your desire to get the organization’s old materials posted where Google can find them. Say that you are willing to make a donation to fund such a publication project.
If you get an explanation that “at the present time, we do not have the funds,” send your money elsewhere.
The Mises Institute is a good choice.