John Birch Society
Robert W. Welch Jr. could have enjoyed the easy life counting his money back in the early 1950s when he came up with the idea for the Sugar Daddy lollipop and other well-known candy favorites like Sugar Babies, Pom-poms and Junior Mints, but he had this burning desire to revamp the political system.
He had dropped out of the Naval Academy and Harvard Law School because he thought the professors' political views were annoying as well as incorrect. During his teenage years he had determined that communism was a serious threat to his well-being, and he believed that there were political conspiracies that promoted the advancement of communism within the US political system. In his mind, the US political system consisted of a mixture of communists, communist sympathizers, the ignorant who went along with the political tide and the uninformed who didn't understand the dangers of communism.
Welch decided to do something about the system he believed was a façade for communism. In December, 1958, he formed the John Birch Society and 11 members signed up immediately. John Birch was not one of the original members; in fact, Birch had nothing personally to do with the organization, though it was named after him. Birch had died in 1945 at the hands of Chinese communists in China. Birch was a US military intelligence officer and an American Baptist minister. Welch was a Baptist in 1958, but later became a Unitarian and then a Catholic.
The John Birch Society (JBS) was founded on the principles of anti-communism, personal freedom, a limited government and a constitutional republic. Over the years it has been labeled a radical right-wing group but the members don't consider their political views radical; they consider them practical.
Welch at one time referred to President Dwight D. Eisenhower as possibly a "conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy." He claimed that Franklin D. Roosevelt had knowledge about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor before it happened but did nothing to prevent it in order to get the country involved in the war and out of the Depression. Welch made those statements in his 1956 book, The Politician, although the John Birch Society later intimated that Eisenhower was more of a collectivist than a communist.
John Birch Society founder Welch said communist forces manipulate American foreign and economic policy on behalf of totalitarianism. The subversion within the US, in his opinion, began years before the Bolshevik Revolution. Welch described government as "always and inevitably an enemy of individual freedom." He claimed that the Progressive era, which expanded the federal government's role in curbing economic and social ills, was a dire period in our history. He believed Woodrow Wilson started the nation on its course to totalitarianism.
In the 1960s Welch became convinced that the communist movement was a tool of the total conspiracy and was run by a group of "Insiders." The conspiracy, he believed, was rooted in international families of financiers like the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds. Welch also claimed that the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Reserve System, and nongovernmental organizations like the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group and the Council on Foreign Relations, were part of the total conspiracy.
The John Birch Society upholds an original interpretation of the US Constitution, which, the JBS maintains, identifies with Christian values. The Society tries to limit the powers of government and opposes economic interventionism and wealth redistribution. The JBS opposes totalitarianism and collectivism, as well as fascism and socialism. The Society also opposed aspects of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as it believed the movement had communists in important positions. It also opposes all free trade agreements, including NAFTA, CAFTA and FTAA.
In a 1983 interview on "Crossfire" Congressman Larry McDonald, a Democrat from Georgia and the Society's newly appointed president, described the Society as belonging to the Old Right rather than the New Right. The Society argues that the US Constitution is being devalued in favor of economic and political globalization, a trend that is not accidental. The group claims the existence of the Security and Prosperity Partnership is evidence that there is a push towards a North American Union.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the group as an anti-government 'Patriot' citizens' group; other sources say it actually is a patriotic movement. In 1956 the Society began publishing a magazine called, One Man's Opinion, which has been renamed American Opinion. The JBS also publishes the bi-weekly journal, The New American.