Classic Essays

Plague on Both Houses


This 1976 book review was the first Bob Whitaker (pictured) sighting in the racialist press known to your editor. Bob has become somewhat more radical since then.

THE UNITED STATES is such a remarkable institution that it can undergo a complete change of oligarchy without a change in government. The southern planters, who had done the most to lead the new nation through the revolution and its early years, lost their ascendancy by the 1850s and the Internecine War destroyed them as a group. Industrialists became the new ruling class, but they in turn began to decline around World War I and were overthrown in Roosevelt’s bloodless coup of 1933. Under the name of conservatives some of them now form part of the weak and token opposition to the present or third American establishment.

In his new book A Plague on Both Your Houses (Robert B. Luce, Washington, DC, $9.95), Robert W. Whitaker, a young historian, takes pains to describe the new ruling class because it is more diverse and much more broadly based than the two elites which preceded it. He calls it the education-welfare establishment, though it also contains elements of the super-rich, most of the mediacrats and practically all the minority leaders. To a large extent it lives off the tax money and the inflation generated by its endless human betterment programs, which almost always promise one thing and deliver the opposite. This mile-wide discrepancy between goal and fulfillment, instead of justifying their termination, furnishes excuses for the consistent expansion of such programs to the point where they are now getting completely out of hand. If the trend continues, the education-welfare establishment is bound to push the country beyond the breaking point, beyond the point where lower-middleclass whites will no longer have anything to lose. At that time, Whitaker contends, the white working man and the remains of the old conservatives will arise and vote the parasitic liberal politicos, bureaucrats, unioneers and academic types out of office. He does not rule out the possibility of a violent reaction, but hopes the present establishment will give up its power as gracefully as did the industrialists. Whatever the outcome, Whitaker writes “We are now for the third time in our history as an independent nation in the stage of popular rebellion against an elite group.”

Whitaker describes the here-again, gone-again Wallace movement as the first manifestation of a born-again American populism. Two young minority members recently wrote a book called The New Populism, which also predicted a rebirth of populism. But their populism was to be a coalition of blacks, chicanos and poor whites. This is by no means the middleclass populism that Whitaker has in mind.

Populism, which provided such an interesting and stormy interlude in American history, was primarily based on rural opposition to the late 19th century New York banking circles and their political and academic minions. One might ask Whitaker, if the basic populist voting base of the smalltime farmer and other dwellers in the boondocks has eroded, how can populism be resurrected? Also it should be remembered that populism foundered in the South, where it should have been most successful because it threatened to divide the white (anti-Negro) vote. Whitaker implies but does not say that the populism he both predicts and urges has a racial tinge. If this is so, we should give it a more accurate name.

There are a few social and economic groups Whitaker neglects in his stimulating analysis. One is the vast new bureaucracy of hired managers, the non-entrepreneurial executives of the multinational corporations. Usually they are more liberal and radical than civil servants, if not so far to the left as academics. On the other hand, small business, the only area where anything resembling free enterprise still functions, is forgotten.

The outlook of Whitaker’s book is Marxist in the sense that class struggle is its central theme. This is an excellent strategy in that it turns the liberal establishment’s own arguments against itself. The all-important global situation looms up for no more than a few seconds as the result of a passing reference to The Camp of the Saints. Presumably interested in straight thinking, Whitaker occasionally drops off the deep end, especially when he praises a scientific charlatan (and convicted forger) like Erik van Daniken.

In one sense Whitaker’s Plague fills in some empty spaces of The Dispossessed Majority, which concentrates on race and culture and devotes much less space to economic and class issues. Perhaps a third book is needed to examine the interaction of race and economics. Richard Swartzbaugh’s The Mediator covers the ground very well in an abstract and theoretical manner, but it seems to be beyond the ken of college graduates (let alone the hardhat crowd). We also need a study that probes the warped souls of the Majority renegades whose cooperation has brought the education-welfare establishment into being.

Unfortunately for Whitaker, blue-collar people do not read books, not even ones as lucid as this. The boob-tube is their favorite diversion and we know all too well who is projecting the images there. Conservatives drugged on Birch society fantasies will not be able to benefit from A Plague on Both Your Houses (or from anything else), nor will dyed-in-the-wool libertarians. Nevertheless, Whitaker offers a great deal for serious-minded Majority members to ponder, when he shows that the short-term interests of the incommunicative white working masses represent the only real political power that could be adapted to the Majority cause. Conservatives, he indicates, have always done their very best to keep this power firmly in the leftist camp.

Whitaker declares — and who can dispute him? — that the education-welfare establishment is leading to total ruin, as it expands its voting base to include hordes of immigrants fleeing from the teeming, steaming slums of Latin America and East Asia.

As an optimistic aside to A Plague on Both Your Houses, we note that the publisher, Robert B. Luce, was once the publisher of the liberal-minority propaganda sheet New Republic, and that the book has a foreword by William Rusher, the crown prince of the Buckley empire, who recently distinguished himself by opposing William Shockley in an aborted debate at Yale. If the arch-leftist Luce can publish a book and the arch-equalitarian Rusher can praise a book that is so hostile to their previously touted ideologies, then Majority members have cause for at least a thin smile, if not a stentorian guffaw.

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Source: Instauration magazine, November 1976

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7 June, 2015 5:00 pm

If popular rebellion and class struggle fails to be blood based, the results will be inert–empty.