We all know about the memory hole. That was the unofficial name of a department of government in George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. It was devoted to re-writing history. It destroyed historical documents to make this re-writing easier. This was its motto: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
Orwell used the Soviet Union as his model. The USSR was famous for using photo editing techniques to remove past leaders from old photos. These people became non-persons. Photoshop is simply a low-cost tool for modern media organizations to do similar sorts of things. They do it to sell more products. The USSR did it to maintain power.
These techniques are still being used inside what Mrs. Clinton calls the vast Right-wing conspiracy. Today’s leaders want to erase all traces of the earlier leaders.
Why? Because the time-servers who collect their salaries are nonentities. They do not want to be compared to the founders. They do not want the evidence of decline available for all to see. Max Weber had a phrase for this almost a century ago: the routinization of charisma. The bureaucrats inherit the earth.
PRESERVING THE PAST
One of the saddest aspects in the history of the post-World War II conservative movement is the fact that it is almost impossible to trace its history at the grass roots level.
Part of this problem is this: the little organizations used mimeograph machines to publish their message. This was a shoestring movement until at least the mid-1950’s. These materials were tossed out by survivors after the blue-haired ladies died. These women collected newspaper clippings, scoured the Congressional Record, published their newsletters, and had meetings. They left few traces.
The newsletters have disappeared. Think of the Dan Smoot Report. Think of the early years of Human Events. Think of Hilaire DuBarrier’s HduB Report. Think of Don Bell Report. They are gone with the wind.
I have a complete set of the HduB Report on a CD-ROM. I do not think it is possible to trace the history of the European Union without reading these reports. But they are not online. I do not know who owns the copyrights. Neither does the man who created the CD-ROM.
To construct the history of the conservative movement, the various organizations that published newsletters, magazines, and books should go into their files, send them to a specialist in producing searchable PDF’s, and then post all of that information online free of charge. This is the minimal commitment necessary to keep old ideas alive.
If an organization has spent decades asking for donations from its supporters in order to get out the message, and then it suppresses or ignores that message through the 80% of the history of the organization, then something is fundamentally wrong with the thinking of the present directors. Any organization that raises money for years to publish the true word, and then decides to deep-six the true word, has abandoned the true word.
All of that money was raised, all of that enthusiasm was generated, all of that information was published, yet the organization’s present salaried directors decide that it’s not worth preserving online free of charge.
Something is deeply wrong with any idea-based organization that does not post its entire body of published materials online.
I cannot imagine any ideological organization’s senior staff this shortsighted, yet I know it’s the case. I have seen it over and over. There is simply no strong commitment to preserving the legacy of the organization. The present directors implicitly dismiss all of the work of the previous directors, as if all that money, all those ideas, all that effort in publishing the material was not really worth it. It is as if all of this material is worthless today. The senior directors of the organization have self-consciously made a decision not to preserve this information for the present members of the organization.
I’m thinking of a particular organization. Let’s see if you can figure this out. It has been around for over 50 years. It published a great deal of material. It published a magazine every month. It published newsletters from the organization’s senior director. It raised money for years to try to get this information out to the public. It was one of the fundamental organizations in the history of the conservative movement. But its present directors have refused for over 15 years to put this information online.
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)