Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A Left-Wing Infiltration of the Conservative Movement by Gary North

The enemies of your enemies may also be your enemies.
Just because someone joins you in opposing some government policy or political movement is no guarantee that this person shares anything more than your opposition. He may in fact be a lot more dangerous to you than the opposition.
Anarchists prior to the Russian Revolution were allies with the Bolsheviks in their attempt to overthrow the czar. After the revolution, when Lenin came to power, he made sure that the anarchists were shipped to Siberia or were executed. They would have been wiser to put up with the czar.
For approximately 60 years, I have been aware of the Left-wing movement that has systematically infiltrated the Right. I first became aware of this in 1958. My father was an FBI agent. It was his job to monitor a Marxist organization known as the Socialist Workers Party. He also occasionally monitored the Communists. One of his informants was a conservative. Anyway, he called himself a conservative. After he had ceased being an informant, my father occasionally invited him to our home.
The ex-informant was an affable fellow. In a discussion with me, he saw that I had conservative leanings. At a later meeting, he handed me a paperback book, Money Made Mysterious. I had been reading The Freeman for a few months by then. I was getting to know something about free-market economics. I was aware of arguments in favor of the gold standard. Those arguments persuaded me. As I began to read this book, I was presented a different line of reasoning. It was a defense of unbacked paper money -- fiat money. The book was a compilation of articles from the far-Right magazine, The American Mercury. The book is still being sold. If you should ever want to read it, The Unz Review website has published the original articles for free. They are here. (Amazingly, the author, Paul Stephens, switched sides. He became a strong supporter of the gold standard. I started writing for The Freeman in 1967. In 1973, he started writing for it. These articles also appear on Unz's site. They are worth reading.)
That was my first encounter with the Greenback movement. It would not be my last.
The movement was born in the aftermath of the Civil War. The war had been partially funded in the North by the issue of fiat money, known as greenbacks. The South had financed far more of the war by the issue of similar paper currency. This led to hyperinflation in the South. It did not in the North, which had not issued as much fiat money.
Greenbackers were (and are) populists who favor an expanding federal government that is funded solely by the issue of paper money. They insist that this will cost taxpayers nothing. They insist that this will strengthen the economy. The money should be issued by Congress. They trust Congress.
The Greenback movement was part of the left-wing reform movements after the Civil War. They became part of the populist movement. They even had a political party. It merged with the Populist party in 1892.
These people became prominent during the battles against the establishment of the Federal Reserve System. They hated banking because banking charged interest. They wanted debt-free paper money. They hated the banks. Opponents of the Federal Reserve who were in favor of the gold coin standard found themselves in an alliance with people who were far more hostile to the gold standard than the Federal Reserve's founders were in 1913.
There was another attempt of these leftists to capture the conservative movement during the late 1930's. The most prominent greenback or, father Charles Coughlin, became an opponent of Roosevelt. He originally had supported Roosevelt. His influence became considerable. He was an opponent of bankers. Verbally, so was Roosevelt, although he had been a corporate bond salesman prior to his election as governor of New York in 1928. Conservative opponents of Roosevelt's unilateral destruction of the American gold coin standard at 1 AM on the Monday morning after his Saturday inaugural address found enemies in their camp.
This infiltration has gone on for over a century. It is still going on.
I have followed this movement from the sidelines ever since 1958.
I was a rarity in southern California in the 1960's: a hard-core conservative college student. I began to come across more and more books and articles favorable to Greenback economics as I became more familiar with the conservative movement.
I majored in history in college. I read more about the Greenback movement in my upper-division years in college. In my graduate school years, I pursued the matter in greater detail.
In 1965, I wrote a privately circulated paper on books written by a Greenbacker in the 1930's whose books were still circulating in the conservative movement. I later published this paper in my book, An Introduction to Christian Economics (1973), chapter 11. You can read it for free here. An updated version of this article was published as a book in September 2010 by the Mises Institute. You can read it for free here.
Shortly after this, I was invited to speak to a local meeting of the John Birch Society. I spoke on gold and the gold standard. There, I encountered a pair of Greenbackers. It was obvious to me that they had been doing their best to persuade Birch members of the Greenback position on money. I could see that one of them, a woman, was seething at my presentation on the benefits of the gold standard. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
The Greenbackers continue to infiltrate the far Right. They have worked especially hard to take over the Patriot movement, which opposes the IRS and the income tax.
In 2007, a greenback lawyer named Ellen Brown self published her book, The Web of Debt. I began seeing favorable references to it on conservative websites. I recognized immediately that this book was following the agenda of the greenback movement that had begun a century earlier. It was ostensibly an attack on fractional reserve banking. But it was in fact a promotion of fiat money issued by Congress.
I decided I had to write a refutation of her book. I devoted something over 100 hours to a line by line refutation. I published them in late September 2010. The first group of 31 articles, refuted her historical documentation supporting her economic views. The second group of 21 articles, dealt with her economic errors.
She responded in an email to a few of my criticisms of her historical statements. I wrote responses to all of them, which I linked to in updates of my original articles. She did not bother to respond after that.
Six weeks later, she switched sides. She had made a reputation within far-Right circles as an opponent of the Federal Reserve System. In late November 2010, she became a cheerleader for Bernanke's QE2 policies. I immediately wrote about her switch. My article is here.
She was a leftist and a statist from day one. But she gained followers on the Right. They could not distinguish conservatism from statism, any more than my father's ex-informant could in 1958. I used to receive outraged emails from them. How dare I critique their guru?
On January 24, 2019, Truthdig published her glowing article on the German government's promotion of the green energy agenda. Truthdig is a popular Left-wing site. The German government owns a bank that has lent money to companies that produce solar and wind based electrical power generation. It has lent this money at the low interest rates. You can read her article here.
You can read more about her in my department devoted to her: https://www.garynorth.com/public/department141.cfm.
Sadly, the Right, including the Alt-Right, is filled with people who are emotionally opposed to the federal government, but who have little intellectual understanding of economics. The Apostle Paul described such people: zealots without knowledge (Romans 10:2). They are easy targets for statists with agendas presented in the name of nationalism, patriotism, and traditional values. Be aware of this before you get on someone else's bandwagon. The bandwagon may be headed into the arms of some federal bureaucracy.

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