In 1971, corporation attorney Lewis F. Powell became worried about the loss of social prestige suffered by business – mainly big business – in
The Powell memo calls on American business to fight back aggressively, and Powell went so far as to list the avenues and fora through which business should fight back: academia, television and the news media, books and journals, paid advertising, politics, and the courts.
Powell represented this fight not as a fight for business interests but as a battle for “the American economic system,” and undoubtedly he thought of it as such. However, Powell named for criticism not only prominent leftists like William Kunstler but also Ralph Nader, whose book Unsafe at any Speed had recently focused public attention on corporate malfeasance in the automobile industry, bringing about long-overdue safety reforms. (Traffic accidents killed as many Americans each year, for years, as the entire Vietnam War.)
Powell’s key recommendations were that business organizations like the Chamber of Commerce step up their (1) organizing and (2) funding, to support, recruit and train cohorts within academia, the media, and the other sectors on his list.
Suffice it to say that by now, 2005, his recommendations have been maximally implemented. A raft of right-wing publications, think tanks, and lobbying groups have grown up since 1971, including “Accuracy in Academe,” the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, etc. These and similar entities routinely publish the writing of pundits, former officeholders, and other political animals of their persuasion – beefing up the authors’ credibility by providing credentials of a sort, while also furthering versions of key messages (supporting regressive taxes, opposing “welfare,” offering “reforms” for successful programs like Social Security, etc.). Meanwhile, they also pay their writers – more than can be said for most progressive media – so the writers and scholars have an actual living income. (Then they get to sneer at the unwashed left.)
A prime unit in this army of the night has been the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace. Founded as the Hoover War Library in 1919 by Herbert Hoover to preserve documents and foster study on the causes and consequences of World War I, it holds an enormous repository of materials on both World Wars. Its genuinely valuable holdings, however, have enabled it by now to mutate into a major force in para-scholarly publishing on history, politics, and economics and not incidentally to provide personnel for the Reagan and both Bush administrations. Condoleezza Rice is a recent example.
“It is located on the
On public policy, the Hoover Institution has turned a cold eye toward campaign finance reform (http://www.campaignfinancesite.org), changing or abolishing the International Monetary Fund (http://www.imfsite.org), liability lawsuits, and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol (re global warming).
But the Hoover Institution is not simply a dedicated, if intellectually isolated, group of curmudgeons exercising their First Amendment right to support curmudgeonly social policy.
The precise extent to which it is supported by Stanford (and thus indirectly by public funds, which all private institutions benefit from) is unclear. What is clear is that most of the millions of dollars supporting the Hoover Institution comes from a few rightwing foundations and from corporations. The Olin Foundation (which recently gave a fellowship to pundit Dinesh d’Souza), the Bradley Foundation (which recently gave $250K to war-boosting Charles Krauthammer), and the Scaife Foundation have been particularly consistent in support.
Condoleezza Rice’s ties to
In 1985-1986 she held another National Fellowship from
Speaking of history, it is significant that when Rice returned to Stanford after the first Bush administration, the Cold War was officially over, and Rice was a Cold War scholar. In the early 1990s, the Cold War period was important primarily as . . . history. Its heyday as a generator of hot think-tank postures, media attention, and political campaigns was over, at least partly because its heyday as a generator of immense federal contracts had ended. So, what to do, for people like Bill Kristol, Rice, and Charles Krauthammer, who had invested their entire adult careers in Cold War discourse? For Rice, the Hoover Institution stepped up to the plate again, with a senior fellowship which tided her over from 1991 to 1993, when she was named provost of Stanford.
Rice is today “the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution” (www.hoover.stanford.edu/pubaffairs/Releases/0700rice.html). She received this endowed chair during the 2000 election. The annual income is not publicized, but endowed chairs always pay a solid six figures. The Stephensons, major GOP contributors, also donated heavily to Bush.
Since Rice is listed as “on leave” from
Nice work if you can get it – except for that little matter of having to support the most inhumane “wartime” policies ever devised by a democracy.