Politics 101: Walter Karp and Power Elite Analysis

For almost fifty years I have been an enthusiastic fan and promoter of the works of the great Walter Karp. Karp was a masterful prose writer and political analyst, a true Jeffersonian republican and foe of the plutocratic oligarchy which has dominated our nation-state since its inception.

Read his powerful essay, Republican Virtues, originally published in Harper’s, July 1979. The essay also appears in Buried Alive: Essays on Our Endangered Republic (a posthumously gathered collection of Walter Karp’s essays edited by Lewis Lapham and Ellen Rosenbush) under the title “The Two Americas.”

In such uncompromising works as Indispensable Enemies: The Politics of Misrule, The Politics of War: The Story of Two Wars Which Altered Forever the Political Life of the American Republic, and Liberty Under Siege: American Politics 1976-1988,  Karp demonstrated his unparalleled ability to accurately see and cogently describe the raw essence of political power. His works are therefore essential to understanding power elite analysis. Nicholas Strakon has written a powerful, penetrating critique of Karp’s Indispensable Enemies, which is also deeply appreciative of his path-breaking analytical genius, describing Karp as “a political Galileo and Linnaeus.” Strakon’s essay also draws upon such necessary works as Murray N. Rothbard’s “Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy,” G. William Domhoff’s The Powers That Be, James Burnham’s The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, and Walter E. Grinder and John Hagel III, “Toward a Theory of State Capitalism: Ultimate Decision-Making and Class Structure.”

Every day we see further distortions and egregious outrages concerning “cancel culture” and the teaching of American history in schools and universities. In his classic essay, Text Book America. The Teaching of History, Karp goes beyond this present degeneracy to outline the roots of how the teaching of our history was subverted.

Finally, in these heated days of campaign 2020, with machinations, manipulations, and egregious frauds being inflicted upon the American public, a quick review of Politics 101 via Walter Karp and power elite analysis is called for by all LRC readers.


6:56 am on August 11, 2020