Monday, September 06, 2004

The Liberal Message Machine's Money Matrix

One of the problems of US politics is that too many intellectuals (most of whom have working-class or petit-bourgeois backgrounds) have come to depend on liberal rich donors and their foundations for livings (a post-modern feudalism!), rather than on public-sector employers like universities or (better yet) a political party funded by dues-paying working-class and petit-bourgeois members.
[A veteran Democartic Party operative Rob] Stein read a few reports that liberal research groups had published on the rise of the conservative movement. Then he began poring over tax forms from various conservative nonprofits and aggregating the data about fund-raising and expenditures. He spent hours online every night, between about 9 p.m. and 1 in the morning, reading sites like, which is devoted to tracing the roots of conservative groups and their effect on the media. To call this an obsession somehow seems too mundane; Stein spent much of the spring of 2003 consumed with connecting the dots of what Hillary Clinton famously called the ''vast right-wing conspiracy'' and then translating it into flow charts and bullet points.

The presentation itself, a collection of about 40 slides titled ''The Conservative Message Machine's Money Matrix,'' essentially makes the case that a handful of families -- Scaife, Bradley, Olin, Coors and others -- laid the foundation for a $300 million network of policy centers, advocacy groups and media outlets that now wield great influence over the national agenda. The network, as Stein diagrams it, includes scores of powerful organizations -- most of them with bland names like the State Policy Network and the Leadership Institute -- that he says train young leaders and lawmakers and promote policy ideas on the national and local level. These groups are, in turn, linked to a massive message apparatus, into which Stein lumps everything from Fox News and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page to Pat Robertson's ''700 Club.'' And all of this, he contends, is underwritten by some 200 ''anchor donors.'' ''This is perhaps the most potent, independent institutionalized apparatus ever assembled in a democracy to promote one belief system,'' he said. (Matt Bai, "Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy," New York Times Magazine, July 25, 2004, p. 30+)
I'd like to see an analysis of the Liberal Message Machine's Money Matrix, which is more of a problem for us than its conservative counterpart, as the liberal rich-non-profit industrial complex sucks intellectuals out of our social movements and puts them into an enemy camp running liberal non-profits that support the Democratic Party, whereas its conservative counterpart doesn't cause us any sizable brain drain (only occasional "The-God-That-Failed" converts who are a good riddance from our point of view anyway).

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