Revilo Oliver on the John Birch Society
by Revilo P. Oliver (pictured)
WITH THE July-August issue of 1966, my connection with American Opinion came to an end. I think that is the point at which to conclude this series of selections. The cycle begun in 1954 was completed in 1966, and I had leisure to look back on twelve years of wasted effort and of exertion for which I would never again have either the stamina or the will.
After the conference between Welch and myself in November 1965, I determined to verify conclusively the inferences that his conduct had so clearly suggested, and, with the assistance of certain friends of long standing who had facilities that I lacked, I embarked on a difficult, delicate, and prolonged investigation. I was not astonished, although I was pained, by the discovery that Welch was merely the nominal head of the Birch business, which he operated under the supervision of a committee of Jews, while Jews also controlled the flow, through various bank accounts, of the funds that were needed to supplement the money that was extracted from the Society’s members by artfully passionate exhortations to “fight the Communists.” As soon as the investigation was complete, including the record of a secret meeting in a hotel at which Welch reported to his supervisors, I resigned from the Birch hoax on 30 July 1966 with a letter in which I let the little man know that his secret had been discovered.
On the second of that month I had kept an engagement to speak at the New England Rally in Boston, where I gave the address, “Conspiracy or Degeneracy?”, which was later published with documentary and supplemental notes by Power Products, a short-lived publishing firm in Nedrow, New York. After the speech, I was warmly congratulated by Welch, who was delighted that it had been generously applauded by an audience of more than two thousand from whom he might recruit more members: he had not yet been informed by his supervisors that they disapproved. They did give him something of a dressing-down, and when I resigned, he had the idea of pretending that he had been horrified by a speech that contained racial overtones, such as well-trained Aryans must always eschew. And he had the effrontery — which he later mitigated by claiming he had not received my letter — he had the effrontery, I say, to fly to Urbana, accompanied by his lawyer and a former Director of the Federal Reserve, on the assumption that a poor professor could easily be bribed to sign a substitute letter of resignation, which he had thoughtfully written out for me, together with the article in the Birch Bulletin in which he was going to announce his surprise at receiving the letter he had written for me.
Welch’s sales talk was perhaps a little constricted because he had always to speak with my tape recorder operating on the table between us, and since I wished to say nothing that he could later misinterpret, l resisted the temptation to feign negotiations and thus ascertain what was the very highest price he was prepared to pay for my honor and self-respect.
Since that sickening afternoon, I have been unable to think of the little shyster without revulsion and a feeling that I have been contaminated by association with him. I have tried to be not only scrupulously fair to him in the foregoing pages, but to give him the benefit of every possible doubt, and I believe I have succeeded, but it has cost me some effort.
There were other resignations at approximately the same time. Dr. Draskovich, whose personal observation of the preliminaries of a Bolshevik take-over gave him expert knowledge, had investigated the Birch Society’s field operations and come to the conclusion that the Society served only to waste in futile and nugatory activities the money, time, and energy of its patriotic members, so that it really served the purposes of the very forces that it professed to be fighting. He resigned with a public statement. The three Directors of Public Relations, the Society’s most important officers after Welch himself, all resigned, although he was able to induce them in various ways not to make their departures quite simultaneous. Each of us acted independently of the others, and I had not tried to influence anyone, but Welch characteristically saw a chance to claim that I had tried to “undermine” him and replace him as the head of his racket, and he went slinking about the country with a fifty-seven-page denunciation of me, most of it so libelous that he had to show it only on an “eyes-only” basis to wealthy contributors whom he wanted to continue milking. By that time, he could have done nothing that would have augmented my contempt and loathing, and perhaps I should have felt flattered by the fifty-seven pages. A man who joined the Council long after I left and has recently resigned tells me that he was accorded only seventeen pages of paranoid denunciation.
After that last nauseating conference, I issued to the press an announcement that was widely reproduced:
Professor Revilo P. Oliver, one of the founding members of the John Birch Society, issues the following statement:
“I have resigned from the Council of the John Birch Society (and from the Society itself) because I can no longer in conscience remain a member. I have also resigned as Associate Editor of American Opinion and I will no longer contribute to that magazine.
“I was one of the eleven men who met with Mr. Robert Welch in Indianapolis on December 9, 1958, when the Society was formed. The Mr. Welch who founded the Society was a man in whom I had great confidence.
“Since then, however, changes which have taken place internally in the organization and in its policies leave me no alternative but to dissociate myself from it.”
I felt a moral obligation to persons whom I might have influenced to join the Birch operation, and I thought that my statement and especially the phrase “in conscience” would suffice to warn them that something was putrescent in Belmont.
To the men who had been my associates on the Council I sent a letter of which the substance is the following:
The compelling reasons for my resignation were stated in my letter to Mr. Welch, . . . I enclose a copy of the statement which I am making to the press. You will note that it is couched in the mildest possible terms and eschews mention of the real issues. I am resolved not to elaborate on that statement or make public my letter of resignation to Mr. Welch, unless he forces me to do so by grossly misrepresenting its contents or publicly making defamatory charges against me.
I urge each of you personally to investigate very thoroughly the present situation of the Society and the extent to which its leader does, in fact, determine its policies. I hope that the Society can be salvaged, but that is your responsibility.
Two men telephoned me to say that they had already intended to fade out without publicity, thus avoiding the nastiness of an open break with the Welcher. How the others reacted then or at the following meeting of the Council, I do not know, nor was I interested in finding out. I felt that I had given them, too, sufficient warning while sparing them possible embarrassment.
I have paid almost no attention to the Birch business since I resigned. I am somewhat astonished that Welch’s superiors still think it worth the expense of supporting it, even though it does provide a playground on which innocent but perturbed Americans can run off their energies in harmless patriotic games. Friends still send me copies of some of the more remarkable verbiage that spurts from Belmont, and I note that Welch, perhaps on instructions, no longer has much to say about the “Communist Conspiracy,” and, after flirting with the notion of reactivating Weishaupt’s diabolic llluminati, seems to have settled on the conveniently nameless and raceless “Insiders” as the architects of all evil, inspired by an unexplained malevolence. The principal purpose, aside from keeping the members in a revenue-producing excitement, is to make certain that their chaste minds are insulated against a wicked temptation not to love their enemies. The pronouncements from Belmont are of some slight interest, since one may be sure that the B’nai Birch are told only what has been approved by the B’nal B’rith. In addition to the Bulletin, often called the “Welch Belch” by bored members, the Society still publishes American Opinion and the Review of the News, for which very competent journalists are hired to write under Jewish supervision, and both periodicals contain some authentic information that is not found in the New York Times, since they are censored for distribution to a different audience. A considerable misdirection of the members’ thinking is thus produced, but even as an impediment to the American cause, the Birch hoax is virtually negligible. As Mr. Thomas J. Davis, the former Director of Public Relations of the Birch Society, told the Wall Street Journal in 1967, “I do not know of anything that would make the John Birch Society rise to a position of importance.”
It is true that today, fourteen years later, the salesmen, thanks to well-written house organs, can still sell memberships to earnest people who are worried and don’t know what to do about it, but in practical terms the Birch Society has a political importance about equal to that of the Mennonite churches, which have a much larger membership of earnest and hard-working men and women in various communities, where they may be seen driving their covered buggies on the shoulders of highways while they resolutely hold to their faith and avert their eyes from all the works of the Devil. I have discussed Welch’s promotion in these pages only because the record requires some explanation of my mistaken association with it, and the Society that was founded in 1958 has some historical significance as comparable to Colonel Hadley’s Paul Reveres and Major Pease’s International Legion Against Communism, which also had a quite considerable potential at one time, although they failed for different reasons.
After my resignation, many individuals urged me to “expose” the Welcher, but almost all of them had already perceived that the Society had become a Jewish auxiliary, primarily used to keep the goyim confused and docile and to frustrate patriotic movements that had any potentiality of effectiveness. A retired justice somewhat whimsically suggested the formation of a John Birch Alumni Association, which could have a membership much more numerous than the “undergrads” who were still paying dues to Belmont. A number of men and women urged me to take the lead in establishing an organization that would really have the purposes that Welch professed. I refused to attempt what I was certain was impossible, because, as I have explained earlier, there could be no second chance.
The Birch Society was essentially an effort by the Aryans of the middle class. My pleasantest memories connected with it are of my gracious hosts, the members of local chapters in various cities throughout the nation who sponsored my lectures on its behalf. The men and women whom I thus met were the finest type of Americans, and I enjoyed the afternoons and evenings I spent in their company, and they were all (so far as I could tell) members of our race. But almost without exception, those intelligent and amiable men and women had failed to draw the obvious deduction from that fact — failed to regard the racial bond that was the one thing they all had in common, for the managers of the Birch business had actually endorsed the poisonous propaganda that teaches Aryans that they are the one race that has no right to respect itself or even be conscious of its identity, and that they must forever cringe before their unappeasable enemies, both sophisticated and savage, while toiling to subsidize them. Many of those estimable persons would have been shocked by a suggestion that they had a right to consider first their own welfare and that of their children, for that would have been “selfish” and even sceptics have been imbued with the hoary Christian hokum that we must love those who hate us. There was, therefore, no feasible course of action in 1966, when I knew that those well-meaning Aryans had been betrayed and I felt certain that their cause had been irretrievably lost — although I tried to hope that my estimate was somehow wrong.
The American middle class has now been liquidated, except for a few remnants that are found here and there and are tolerated because they have no vestige of political power and will soon disappear anyway. A middle class can be based only on property — on the secure possession of real property of which a man can be divested only by his own folly. A middle class cannot be formed of comparatively well-paid proletarians who may have a theoretical equity in a hundred-and-fifty-thousand-dollar house they are “buying” on a thirty-five year mortgage, and in a fifteen-thousand-dollar automobile for which they will not have paid before they “trade it in” on a more expensive and defective vehicle. Nor can it be formed of proletarians whose wives have to work — whether as “executives” or as charwomen — to “make ends meet.” With the exception of relicts who live on investments that have not yet been entirely confiscated by taxation, the economic revolution is as complete in the United States as in Soviet Russia: there are only proletarians, some of whom are hired to manage the rest. Managerial employees get more pay and ulcers than janitors and coal miners, but they are equally dependent on their wages and even more dependent on the favor of the employee above them. The nearest approximation to a middle class, both here and in Russia, is the bureaucracy, and it is their vested interest that the Birchers imagine they can destroy.
The poor Birchers go on playing patriotic games on their well-fenced playground. They pay their dues and buy books and pamphlets from Belmont to distribute to persons who may read the printed paper before discarding it. They continue, now and then, to coax a few friends to hear an approved speaker, who, if not a Jew himself, at least knows who his bosses are, and they all listen excitedly as he tells them how very bad everything is, from Washington to Timbuctoo, without ever mentioning any of the nasty facts of race and genetics, about which nice boys and girls should never think. Their little band is going to save the world politely and decorously by buying more books and pamphlets from Belmont and by practicing what Welch calls morality, an idle sentimentality compounded from the old hokum about “all mankind” and the inflated fustian of Emerson’s Transcendental rhetoric, seasoned, of course, with the famous “upward reach,” which employees in Belmont, who know what the business is about, privately call “the upward retch.”
So far as one can understand the mystique of the Birch boys, they imagine they are going to save the world by talking about what they are sold as neat packages of “truth,” and since they could never think of being unkind to anyone and would certainly swoon at the mere mention of violence, they must suppose that the wonder will be wrought by votes at some election. It appears, therefore, that they never take pencil and paper and compute the number of persons who are eligible to vote, noting how many are their hereditary enemies, how many are in one way or another directly on the Federal payroll, how many more are employed by local governments (all of which are now subsidiaries supported by “revenue-sharing”), and how many more depend on employers who depend on the favor or at least toleration of the great engine of corruption in Washington. Then they can compute the pitiable number of persons who would or could vote for “less government” etc., even if, by some miracle, they had a chance to do so.
Even more remarkable is the odd fact that Welch’s congregation seems never to reflect that the Birch business has been running for twenty years, has accomplished nothing whatsoever except sop up the money and energy of well- meaning American Aryans, and now, after twenty years, has a membership that, on the most optimistic estimate, is but half of what it had at its peak, sixteen years ago. Does no member reflect that even if the Birch line is the “truth,” it is obviously ineffectual — that it never did, and never will, attract even a modicum of politically significant support, and that by its very nature it can never generate the kind of enthusiasm that is willing to fight rather than to talk?
The B’nal Birch, to be sure, may bask in the approval of their amused and contemptuous Jewish supervisors, and they may feel some satisfaction that they keep their minds so pure and moral that they hate the wicked “racists,” who believe, rightly or wrongly, that our race is fit to live, and who have the one cause that might conceivably generate sufficient political power to preserve us from the ignominious end of cowards fit only for slavery and a squalid death. But even in this respect the Birch hoax, now so insignificant that the prostitutes of the press forget to say unkind things now and then to make the members feel important, has become so impotent that it will not measurably affect our fate, whatever that is to be.
So long as it was honest (if it ever was), the Birch Society represented the last hope of American Conservatism, of the effort to restore the values and the freedom of the way of life of our Aryan forefathers on this continent — to regain what they lost when they thoughtlessly permitted their country to be invaded, their government to be captured, and their society to be systematically debauched and polluted by whining aliens. The American tradition was a fair and indeed noble one, and it still has the power to awaken nostalgia for a world that no man living has himself experienced, but for practical purposes, it now has only a literary and historical significance. To be sure, there are, outside the inconsequential Birch playpens, earnest men and women who still hope to restore the decent society and strictly limited government of that tradition, and their loyalty to what has ineluctably passed away entitles them to respect, just as we respect the British Jacobites, who remained loyal to the Stuarts and nourished hopes for a century after Culloden, and as we respect the earnest men and women in France who, as late as 1940, remained loyal to the Bourbons and dreamed of restoring them to their throne. But such nostalgic aspirations for the past are mere romanticism. They are dangerously antiquarian illusions today, when the only really fundamental question is whether our race still has the will-to-live or is so biologically degenerate that it will choose extinction — to be absorbed in a pullulant and pestilential mass of mongrels, while the triumphant Jews keep their holy race pure and predatory.
American Conservatism is finished, and its remaining adherents are, whether they know it or not, merely ghosts wandering, mazed, in the daylight. And it is at this point that the present volume of selections from what I wrote on behalf of a lost cause fittingly ends.
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From America’s Decline (1981): Chapter VI. “Aftermath”