Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

Dangerous deceptions, radical reactionaries

FreedomForceInternational.org is one of the better-designed specimens of a new internet phenomenon: conservative/libertarian sites that appropriate language and concepts reminiscent of Noam Chomsky (“ruling elite,” “power centers,” etc.) to advance doctrines that are in many cases very much at odds with anything that Chomsky would advocate. As such, it is dangerously deceptive, for, like many similar sites that have appeared lately, it is designed to co-opt real progressive readers who may be attracted by its censure of the powerful but fail to read closely enough to see it for what it is: a right-wing, anti-environmental, anti-regulatory, anti-government pit bull in cat’s clothing.

Freedom Force International founder G. Edward Griffin

Liberty for some: Freedom Force International founder
G. Edward Griffin.
[ Image Source ]

If you visit this page*, do so with a critical eye. Note carefully not merely what it says about the ruling elite — valid criticisms, in most cases — but also the subtext: Government is bad and should stop encumbering business with regulations; this appears both in the main text and in the numerous links to, e.g., climate change denial pages. This is classic neolibertarian cant cynically used to argue for the perpetuation of the neoliberal economic policies that have brought us a global recession, entire countries on their knees to predatory banking interests, runaway poverty and pollution on an unprecedented scale; the policies of deregulation it advocates are in fact exactly what led to BP’s 20 April disaster that has fouled the Gulf of Mexico and ruined the livelihoods of myriads already under ruinous financial pressure from other policies designed to facilitate the transfer of wealth to corporate plutocrats from the rest of us.

Any time you encounter literature in which “big government” is excoriated while big business gets mild criticism at worst — and particularly if it’s written by and for an organization with “freedom” in its name — you may be sure that behind the ersatz radical rhetoric lurks a reactionary, pro-corporate agenda.

This raises the venerable detective’s question that you will often find in my essays: Cui bono?: To whose good? What is the FFI, and whose purpose will be served by its existence?

As is often true of radical right-wing groups, there is little information available to casual search save what the groups themselves promulgate. But it is possible to learn that FFI was founded by a former child actor, G. Edward Griffin, who is also active in the John Birch Society and is a contributing editor for its magazine, The New American; he has also distinguished himself politically by writing for Gen. Curtis LeMay, vice-presidential candidate on the 1968 American Independent Party ticket headed by Alabama Governor and former Dixiecrat George (“Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”) Wallace.

Another interesting connection, which illustrates the real direction of the group’s political tilt: The John Birch Society, with which it is ideologically allied and with which its founder is an active participant, was created in part by Koch Industries founder Fred Koch, father to the Charles and David Koch who now fund countless “grassroots” conservative/libertarian groups (often dismissed as “astroturf”), notably including the Tea Party. (Please note that this is not an assertion that the FFI is directly linked to the Kochs; this I have not yet been able to ascertain, and I hereby invite anyone who has evidence to offer on this point to present it to me.)

Noam Chomsky has urged that everyone learn and practice “intellectual self-defense.” And since even Nazi propagandists offered valid and cogent criticisms of international ruling elites, and presented themselves as reformers in the interest of the ordinary man — much as the FFI does — it is necessary to defend ourselves with a potent weapon: skepticism. Otherwise, it is all too easy to be seduced by the rhetoric of mountebanks.

*Originally published as an adverse review of the freedomforceinternational.org home page.

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