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Court Historians

It's easier to fool people that to convince them that they have been fooled. ~ Mark Twain

"Court Historians" are the intellectual bodyguards of the State. They shape and defend the "official line" or interpretation on the State's wars, its presidential regimes, or other key historical events and public policies. As a result they enjoy high esteem and recognition in the mainstream media and academia. As defenders of the status quo they frequently attack and label their critics as "conspiracy theorists," "revisionists," "isolationists," "appeasers," "anti-intellectuals," or other boogie men, rather than engage in civil discourse or discussion.

As Murray N. Rothbard noted:

All States are governed by a ruling class that is a minority of the population, and which subsists as a parasitic and exploitative burden upon the rest of society. Since its rule is exploitative and parasitic, the State must purchase the alliance of a group of “Court Intellectuals,” whose task is to bamboozle the public into accepting and celebrating the rule of its particular State. The Court Intellectuals have their work cut out for them. In exchange for their continuing work of apologetics and bamboozlement, the Court Intellectuals win their place as junior partners in the power, prestige, and loot extracted by the State apparatus from the deluded public. The noble task of Revisionism is to de-bamboozle: to penetrate the fog of lies and deception of the State and its Court Intellectuals, and to present to the public the true history of the motivation, the nature, and the consequences of State activity. By working past the fog of State deception to penetrate to the truth, to the reality behind the false appearances, the Revisionist works to delegitimize, to desanctify, the State in the eyes of the previously deceived public.

The Conspiracy View of History

The conspiracy view of history is based on the following presuppositions. First, people make history; impersonal forces do not. Second, events do take place within historical limits: economics, politics, ideas, etc. Third, powerful people are powerful. Fourth, powerful people seek to achieve their goals by means of public and quasi-public institutions that are financed by the general public, including their enemies. Fifth, in order to achieve many of these goals, the planners need to conceal their plans from their enemies. Events must be made to seem spontaneous and beyond the power of the leaders to control. Alternatively, events must be directed and made to appear as side-effects of other policies of which the public approves.

In short, the conspiracy view of history argues that self-interested people do get together to conspire against the interests of the public at large, or at least against the interests of the public as the public would interpret the facts, if they really understood what was going on. These acts need not be illegal in order to qualify as a conspiracy-view version of conspiracy. We are not necessarily speaking here of a violation of a nation's conspiracy statutes. Sometimes, however, we are talking about such a conspiracy. But a successful conspiracy probably cannot be prosecuted within the seven-year statute of limitations because the conspirators control the office of prosecutor.

The conspiracy view of history has been unpopular in our day. It is especially unpopular in university classrooms, though not so unpopular as it was in the classroom prior to 1965. Scholars prefer to talk more about impersonal historical forces, or the climate of opinion, or random events, or economic determinism, or just about anything except clandestine groups of self-interested manipulators, especially conspirators who have been quietly successful (as distinguished from Lenin and Hitler, who were visibly successful).

The Marxists are more willing to discuss specific manipulations by corporate capitalists. "New Left" historians have written histories of America and England that lend themselves to conspiracy historians who do not share their Marxist presuppositions. Perhaps one of the earliest examples is the use that libertarian historians have made of Gabriel Kolko's study of the Progressive movement, The Triumph of Conservatism (1963). 1 The book made little academic impact when it was first published, but then the Kennedy assassination and the revival of conspiracy theories rescued it. Kolko argues that the neo-liberal, reformist rhetoric of the Progressive movement was in fact a cover for big businesses that used the power of the Federal government to establish monopolies that became insulated from price competition from newer, more innovative firms. This is what the free market "Austrian School" economists have concluded, too, as have Murray Rothbard and his followers, who are in turn followers of free market economist Ludwig yon Mises.

Yet even here, there are exceptions. For one, the Federal Reserve System. Free market economists who are ready to label all the Progressive era Federal regulatory agencies as self-interested, competition-reducing bureaucracies accept the Federal Reserve System — privately owned — as a public-spirited organization. Typical is the standard economics textbook by Gwartney and Stroup. Its perspective is that of the "public choice" school of economics, noted for its adherents' rigor in seeking out hidden, self-serving agendas of government bureaucrats and agencies. But not when it comes to central banking: "The major purpose of the Federal Reserve System (and other central banks) is to regulate the money supply and provide a monetary climate that is in the best interest of the entire economy." 2 So much for public choice economic theory.

Another is 9-11. Libertarians will tell you that "the libertarian critique of government is not contingent on or tied to time and place, one that can be abandoned when the moment seems to call for government action. The libertarian critique of government is foundational. It says that in all times and places, the coercive power of the state violates rights, and this compulsive rights-violator cannot and should not be trusted to guard our security."

"Moreover, because government operates outside the ownership and trade matrixes of society, it lacks both the incentive and the means to carry out an efficient provision of any good or service. Finally, the libertarian critique warns against any grant of sovereign power to anyone, for once granted, it cannot be contained and it will be abused."

However, they will also carefully explain that, "The hijackers—19 guys with box cutters—seething in anger at US policy in the Gulf region and the Middle East, exploited a FAA-regulated system with plenty of loopholes for bad guys, to crash into a major financial center, and the US government, despite all its spending and promises, was powerless to stop it." 3 Strangely myopic when there is a wealth of evidence to the contrary.

Economic historians are not generally conspiracy theorists. They are ready to discuss personal self-interest of groups that seek power, but they usually shy away from any theory which asserts that economic interests are so uniform that a clandestine group of conspirators can use the State successfully to hold off competitive market forces for decades. They do not want to admit that the public can be hoodwinked that long. They want to see people as rational, and the interests of conspirators are not the same as the interests of voters. The voters will eventually catch on. A century of domination by an elitist group is just not conceivable for your typical economic historian. A decade, yes; two decades, maybe; but not a century. Only if the climate of opinion matches up with economic self-interest could a conspiracy rule that long — and then only if the conspiracy really did represent the people's best interests. But then it would not be a conspiracy any longer.


Those of us who hold a conspiracy view of history are also interested in discussing the climate of opinion, or economic forces that create the historical setting for a shift in the climate of opinion. What is the difference between our interpretation and the interpretations of conventional classroom historians? The difference is this: the conspiratorialists know that there is a continuing ideological war going on. Different players, same issues. New faces, same conflict. Some of those who favor a conspiracy view argue that there are fundamental issues — moral and political issues — that divide good from evil, good guys from bad guys. In short, conspiracy buffs usually are opposed to ethical relativism. They tend to be moral absolutists. They view history as a continuing personal struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. But the problem of evil is far from cut and dry: both good and evil are interwoven into the souls of every person on the planet. Any attempt to wholly decimate evil would destroy what is good within us as well. Admittedly, viewing life as a struggle of good versus evil is intoxicating, and, like most intoxicants, can prove addictive.

This is what outrages professional historians, including most economic historians. (An exception was Murray Rothbard, who believes in natural law and permanent ethical standards, and who was ready to consider almost any conspiracy theory.) They are weaned on a diet of ethical relativism; this perspective is basic to all the social sciences and humanities. They will admit today that Stalin was evil (by today's' standards). "But we need to understand that in his time, and confronting the situation of an economically backward nation, Stalin faced tremendous difficulties in modernizing Russia, so measures that we now regard as extreme had to be imposed... blah, blah, blah."

On the other hand, Hitler was absolutely evil. (Goodbye relativism — or so it initially appears.) Don't push them on why it is more evil to slaughter Jews than kulak peasants. They grow evasive. Why? Because their bottom line on political morality is pure pragmatism. The basis of their absolute opposition to Hitler boils down to this: Stalin, Churchill, and F.D.R. beat Hitler. In short, Hitler was a loser. He was a conspirator who got caught before he had consolidated his power. Herein lies his offense. To use language from another discipline, he went for an inside straight, and missed.

There was a period before the War when he looked as though he would be successful. In this period (you will never be told in any university classroom), some very powerful and influential Americans were sending him money. The same sorts of people who sent Lenin money. The same sorts of people who got Franklin Roosevelt elected. People on Wall Street. People who belong to, or have belonged to the Council on Foreign Relations (1921-), the Trilateral Commission (1973-), the Bilderberg Group (1954-), and similar organizations.

The Wall Street Connection

Want to become unemployable at any university in the United States? Write Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution, and have it published by Arlington House, the conservative publishing company. Demonstrate that the "kook" theory that New York bankers and big business leaders financed the Bolshevik revolution is really not so far off base. Name those businessmen who actually did it. Show why they did: to win lucrative trade monopolies with the new Communist government. Show that Lenin paid off, and that his successors did and still do.

Then write Wall Street and FDR. Have Arlington House publish that, too. Show that Franklin Roosevelt began his career as a lawyer with the law firm whose principle client was the New York banking firm of J. P. Morgan. Show that he got his first appointment in government, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, because of the intervention of Morgan partner Thomas W. Lamont. Show that after his ill-fated candidacy for Vice President in 1920, he became vice president of something else: Fidelity & Deposit Insurance Co. of Maryland, and resident director of the company's New York office. Franklin Roosevelt was on the board of directors of eleven corporations, the president of a large trade association, and a partner in two law firms, 1991-28. Show that, by profession, FDR was a banker and an international speculator. "FDR and the Corporate Socialists."

Give an account of his relatives, who were also well-connected on Wall Street. FDR's favorite uncle, Frederic Delano, was appointed in 1916 by Woodrow Wilson to the Federal Reserve Board, and he was later chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (1931-36). He was the president of three railroads along the way.

Then go the whole nine yards. Write Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler. Even Arlington House won't touch that one. Get Gary Allen to publish it.

That, of course, is what Antony Sutton did. But why not? He was already unemployable in high-level academia. He was a judicious and remarkable scholar who wrote himself out of an academic career, despite (possibly because of) the erudition of his performance in Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development (3 volumes, Hoover Institution Press), which shows that 95% of all Soviet technology had been imported from, or stolen from, the West, 1917-1967. Because of what he discovered when writing this academic study, he concluded that the Soviet Union must have purchased most of its military technology from the West, too.

He then made the mistake of publishing this conclusion, along with the evidence, in a popular form through a conservative publishing house: National Suicide (Arlington House, 1973). He demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt that profit-seeking U.S. firms have gotten rich by selling the Soviet Union the military technology that alone made it a credible threat to the West. One doesn't voice such embarrassing conclusions to "the conservative rabble" if one is on the staff of the Hoover Institution, a respectable conservative Establishment think-tank. So he got fired. (Amazingly, Harvard University's distinguished historian and Sovietologist, Richard Pipes, acknowledged in his book, Survival Is Not Enough, that Sutton's thesis regarding the Western origins of Soviet technology is essentially correct, and he also admitted in a footnote that the academic world has deliberately ignored Sutton's three-volume work because his conclusions embarrassed them. This admission came about a dozen years too late for Sutton's academic career.) 4

Well, then, why not blow the whole career deal? Once blown, Sutton really took the plunge: with a book on "The Order," which Sutton believes (though has not yet proved) is an international conspiracy. 5 Its one visible manifestation in the U.S. (as far as the evidence now indicates) is Skull and Bones, Yale's ancient secret society, which President George Bush Sr.(Council on Foreign Relations — resigned) and William F. Buckley, Jr. (C.F.R.) belong to. This thesis was too much even for Gary Allen. "I find it hard to believe," Allen told me, "that the conspiracy's control over America is ultimately determined by the Registrar at Yale University." Sutton got a newsletter publisher, Research Publications, to publish the initial versions of the book.

What is the point? Simple. Any graduate student or untenured scholar who starts writing articles demonstrating how self-interested, super-rich groups have captured America's liberal, democratic, and progressive institutions, and still control these institutions, will find himself isolated and ultimately unemployed. If he is incorrect about the details of his thesis, he will be easily dismissed as a crank, and I do mean dismissed. If he is correct, and his case starts getting a hearing, those who set the climate of opinion need only make a few discreet phone calls, or publish a devastating review or two in prestigious academic journals. Such things as existing conspiracies that are successfully misleading the people are simply not supposed to be mentioned by prudent scholars. Heads, he loses; tails, he loses. Right or wrong about the conspiracy, he loses.

A Crucial Alliance

People with Ph.D.'s are not stupid people. Narrow-visioned, perhaps, but not stupid. They respond to sticks. They also respond to carrots. Carrots have been made available. A cozy relationship has grown up between "public-spirited" foundations — Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie, etc. — and departments of history and social science at major graduate schools. That relationship is marked by the presence of "research fellowships." But we are not supposed to think of this arrangement as a form of bribery. No, it is simply the enlightened funding of much-needed scholarship.

Lest readers be skeptical of this accusation, be it noted that the Rockefeller Foundation's Annual Report in 1946 announced that it was going to give the Council on Foreign Relations $139,000 (1946 dollars!) to produce a history of the United States' entry into World War II. This assignment, which was subsequently written by Harvard historian William L. Langer, was designed to counter any "revisionist" histories that might argue that America were tricked into war by the Roosevelt Administration. The Council sought to avoid a repetition of the post-World War I episode in revisionism, when several highly successful academics demonstrated that the U.S. was tricked by Wilson into entering the War. 6

The Perversion of Scholarship

Fraternities, sororities and football, along with other outsized athletic programs, have decimated most major American universities. Scholarship, inquiry, self-criticism, moral autonomy and a search for artistic and esoteric forms of expression - in short, the world of ethics, creativity and ideas - are shouted down by the drunken chants of fans in huge stadiums, the pathetic demands of rich alumni for national championships, and the elitism, racism and rigid definition of gender roles of Greek organizations. These hypermasculine systems perpetuate a culture of conformity and intolerance. They have inverted the traditional values of scholarship to turn four years of college into a mindless quest for collective euphoria and athletic dominance.

There is probably no more inhospitable place to be an intellectual than on the campuses of the Big Ten Conference colleges, although the poison of this bizarre American obsession has infected innumerable schools. These environments are distinctly corporate. To get ahead one must get along. The student is implicitly told his or her self-worth and fulfillment are found in crowds, in mass emotions, rather than individual transcendence. Those who do not pay deference to the celebration of force, wealth and power become freaks. It is a war on knowledge in the name of knowledge.

"Knowledge," as C. Wright Mills wrote in The Power Elite, "is no longer widely felt as an ideal; it is seen as an instrument. In a society of power and wealth, knowledge is valued as an instrument of power and wealth, and also, of course, as an ornament in conversation."

There are few university presidents or faculty members willing to fight back. Most presidents are overcompensated fundraisers licking the boots of every millionaire who arrives on campus. They are like court eunuchs. They cater to the demands of the hedge fund managers and financial speculators on their trustee boards, half of whom should be in jail, and most of whom revel in this collective self-worship. And they do not cross the football coach, who not only earns more than they do but has much more power on the campus.

The corporate world sees football players, fraternity brothers and sorority sisters as prime recruits. They have been conditioned to join the team, to surrender moral autonomy, to accept and carry out acts of personal humiliation, to treat with contempt those who oppose them or who are different, to define their life by an infantile narcissism centered on greed and self-promotion and to remain silent about crimes they witness or take part in. It is the very ethic of corporations.

Corporate culture, which now dominates higher education, shares the predatory culture of the military. These cultures are about subsuming the self into the herd. They are about the acquiring of technical, vocational skills to serve the system. And with the increasing budget cuts, and more craven obsequiousness to corporate donors, it will only get worse. These forces of conformity are hostile to the humanities that teach students to question assumptions and structures, that prod them to seek a life of meaning and an ethical code that challenges the blind, utilitarian obedience to power and profit that corporations and the military instill. We will, I fear, continue to turn out the intellectually stunted and maimed, those who know school football records but no philosophy, drama, art, music, theology, literature or history. The goal of an education is not, in the end, to tell students what to think but to teach them how to think.

College and university administrators defund libraries, close foreign language and classics departments and invest staggering sums in gargantuan sports arenas and athletic programs. And the only time the student body protests or riots is when, as at Penn State, something unpleasant happens to the beloved football coach. Pity the student who goes there to learn. The faculty and administration will not help them; they are complicit or intimidated. Sadly, today's Universities have become little more than the "Academic-Indoctrination-Industrial-Complex."

Economist Gary North notes:

"One of the strange aspects of modern historiography and academic social science is this. The phrase "special interest group" is widely accepted, but the phrase "conspiracy history" is one of contempt. From an economic standpoint, a special-interest group lobbies politicians to get laws passed that restrict new entrants into the field which is presently dominated by the particular special-interest group. This is widely recognized as being basic to modern political life, and academicians have no doubts about following the money back to a capitalistic special-interest group: a corporation, a trade association, or a cartel. In other words, they follow the money when the money leads back to a specific group of capitalists. This tradition goes back to Adam Smith in the wealth of nations. It is a long-established tradition.

When the trail of money leads to well-known Establishment organizations, such as the Council on Foreign Relations or the Trilateral Commission, or worse, to the Federal Reserve System, the academic historian draws the line. "Thus far, and no farther." He ceases to follow the money. It is legitimate, he says, to follow the money back to organizations whose sole purpose is making money. These are the bad guys. But it is illegitimate to continue following the money when it leads to nonprofit government advisory organizations made up of the prominent people in business, academia, the media, and the highest levels of national government. Rothbard, in defense of the conspiracy view of history, put it this way. He singled out David Rockefeller.

Do we say that David Rockefeller's prodigious efforts on behalf of certain statist public policies are merely a reflection of unfocused altruism? Or is there pursuit of economic interest involved? Was Jimmy Carter named a member of the Trilateral Commission as soon as it was founded because Rockefeller and the others wanted to hear the wisdom of an obscure Georgia governor? Or was he plucked out of obscurity and made President by their support? Was J. Paul Austin, head of Coca-Cola, an early supporter of Jimmy Carter merely out of concern for the common good? Were all the Trilateralists and Rockefeller Foundation and Coca-Cola people chosen by Carter simply because he felt that they were the ablest possible people for the job? If so, it's a coincidence that boggles the mind. Or are there more sinister political-economic interests involved? I submit that the naïfs who stubbornly refuse to examine the interplay of political and economic interest in government are tossing away an essential tool for analyzing the world in which we live.

Academic historians do not follow him on this. Why not? It is because they know who butters their bread. It is also based on their training. They have been trained for years to recognize where this leads: to unemployment. They recognize the unstated rules of the game, as all guild members do. They recognize the existence of boundaries, which begin with academic etiquette but extend to teaching contracts that do not get renewed. They know which topics gentlemen do not discuss in polite company. Conspiracy is such a topic. They say it is because there are no such things. I say it is because there are."

Lately, a term The Daily Bell has popularized has taken hold in the alternative media. "Directed History."


Basically, for the Court Historian, this is about keeping a "politically correct" attitude because speaking out about such topics as the man-made global warming scam, the official 9/11 story (fantasy), Israel's genocide in Palestine, etc. may not serve their career and public image. So much of what people do is driven by the need for acceptance, appearance, approval, money, status and security. We need only consider the fact that billions of people today have bought into and support the lie that is the psychopathic 'war on terror', which has as its goal the murder and domination of as many innocent people as possible. What does that fact alone (among many other deceptions that people have bought in to) say about the level of knowledge and awareness of the human race as a whole? The ability to deny is an amazing human phenomenon, a product of sheer complexity of our emotional, linguistic, moral and intellectual lives. Denial is a complex unconscious defense mechanism for coping with guilt, anxiety and other disturbing emotions aroused by reality.

What better way to maintain the status quo than to view inattention, anger, anxiety, and depression as biochemical problems of those who are mentally ill rather than normal reactions to an increasingly authoritarian society. We are now in another dark age, only the institutions have changed. Americans desperately need anti-authoritarians to question, challenge, and resist new illegitimate authorities and regain confidence in their own common sense. Authoritarians financially marginalize those who buck the system, they criminalize anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologize anti-authoritarians while they market drugs for their "cure."

It is no sign of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. Precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society.


1 Gabriel Kolko, The Triumph of Conseratism: A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900-1916 (New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1963).
2 James D. Gwartney and Richard L. Stroup, Economics: Private and Public Choice (4th ed.; New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982), p. 281.
4 Richard Pipes, Survival Is Not Enough: Soviet Realities and America's Future (New York: Simon & Schuster; 1984), p. 290, footnote 99.
5 Antony C. Sutton, America's Secret Establishment: An lntroduction to The Order of Skull & Bones (Billings, Montana: Liberty House, 1986).
6 Harry Elmer Barnes, Genesis of the World War (1926); C. Hartley Gratten, Why We Fought (1929); Walter Millis, The Road to War: America, 1914-1917 (1935); Charles C. Tansill, America Goes to War (1938). See Warren I. Cohen, The American Revisionists: The Lessons of Intervention in World War I (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967).