Making an End-Run Around Democracy, Part Two

John O'Sullivan14 Feb, 2021 4 Min Read
Leave it to the experts.

[Read Part One here.]

To achieve their grand goal of social engineering, the billionaires and their activist agents create a chain of institutions in which each link receives assistance or information from one level which it endorses and then passes onto the next level, and so on and so on, it sometimes feels, ad infinitum.

There are primary research bodies that assemble information on, say, the Green New Deal; secondary research bodies that endorse the “correct” information or point of view (and the think tanks that produce them) and undermine rival ones; motivational research groups that advise on how to tailor their emotional appeal to key constituencies; information technology panels that advise on how to ensure your message is placed before others in internet searches;  media outreach groups that package its messages in easy-to-use op-ed or soundbite forms; political education institutes that recruit potential election candidates to carry the torch in elections; and “activist” organizations that organize public protests, sit-ins, occupations of congressional offices, riots, and other civil disobedience events to suggest that a powerful movement of public opinion is backing the Green New Deal or some other cause de jour.

If this is activism, it’s astroturf activism.

They might be giants.

Put so baldly, this argument sounds a little like a conspiracy theory. Be aware of three points, however.

  • First, claiming that a hostile criticism is no more than a discredited conspiracy theory is Exercise One in the conspirator’s handbook. Please test any such denial against the evidence.
  • Second, Dr. Fuller examines four organizations in the food chain in detail, checking what they do, how they cooperate, and how they’re financed. What she discovers please read for yourself. It’s partly comic and partly sinister, half stage army, half octopus. But it ain’t chopped liver.
  • And, thirdly, the most damaging accusations against this and other networks of billionaire-financed NGOs is made by those activists and investors who are running them in the form of enthusiastic pep-talks.

If it’s a conspiracy, it’s what used to be called “an open conspiracy” which almost anyone can join, read about, or listen in on via the internet.

Dr. Fuller listened in on a webinar in which the leaders of two of the organizations discussed here, namely Sunrise and Momentum, which are respectively a movement of young activists and a political training operation, discussed their purposes and activities. She writes:

 Speakers stressed the need to become ‘the dominant political alignment’ which ‘defines the common sense of society’ and ‘directs social and economic policy’. Having realized that this would require ‘tak[ing] over the entire United States and all the institutions in it’, they began ‘finding and developing our first leaders’. This involved moving activists into ‘dorm-style Sunrise Movement Houses for three to six months’ in order to create leaders who had a deep level of commitment ‘for everything that would come afterwards.’

Dr. Fuller concedes that some of this training offers advice that is “not bad” but adds that the “entire impression is of a very steered, technocratic process that attempts to achieve theoretical concepts (‘3.5 percent mobilisation’, ‘dominant political alignment’) through a kind of brute-force factory production.” It’s a very well-funded factory production at that. And noting that a disproportionately large number of the activists and of those recruiting the activists are young and inexperienced people, from teens to postgraduates, she offers the following balanced judgment:

On one level, it is great that young people are taking part in politics. But on another level it is incredibly fake. The youthful participants aren’t so much being empowered as instrumentalized. After all, they are part of the portfolio of an investment fund that is using them to ‘shift power’, with part of the strategy being to shame politicians for not being nice enough to hysterical children.

Dr. Fuller doesn’t mention Greta Thunberg here, but for some reason Ms. Thunberg leaps to mind.

Patron St. Greta

In instrumentalizing the young activists, these well-funded progressive networks are also instrumentalizing democracy. They are seeking to manipulate the usual democratic tools—information, debate, controversy—not to create a national conversation on political goals and methods but to construct a simulacrum of that conversation in which its conclusions are determined in advance. And when those tools break in their hands—as happens when others intrude into their staged debates—they use “activism” to de-platform the intruders and to close down a debate escaping their control. We are likely to see much more of such covertly manipulative anti-democratic politics in the future.

Indeed, Time magazine has described how such an open conspiracy of corporate executives, labor union leaders, and progressive activists employed some of these methods and some of these troops to “prevent Donald Trump stealing the election” (i.e., to help the Democrats win the election.) That was very much a “macro” operation. And without being conspiratorial myself, I can assert that it certainly didn’t fail.

But how do these tactics work at a “micro” level—at the level of getting a parliamentary bill passed into law, ensuring that a government report conforms to progressive orthodoxies, or manufacturing a “Green” public opinion when most voters are skeptical. To examine how progressive activism can turn democracy into a ventriloquist’s dummy, I’ll be looking at Ben Pile’s monograph on the U.K.’s Climate Assembly, funded by Parliament to tell MPs what the people thought about Net Zero. It’s a fascinating story. Join me then.

 

John O'Sullivan is editor-at-large of National Review, editor of Australia's Quadrant, and President of the Danube Institute. He has served in the past as associate editor of the London Times, editorial and op-ed editor for Canada's National Post, and special adviser to Margaret Thatcher. He is the author of The President, the Pope and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World.

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