EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Paul Gottfried on Economics, Neo-Cons and the Future of the Managerial State
By Anthony Wile - June 27, 2010

Introduction: Paul Gottfried, Ph.D., is Raffensperger professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College (PA) and a Guggenheim recipient. He is an adjunct scholar of the Mises Institute and the author of numerous articles and eight books including Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right (Palgrave-Macmillan, July 2007), The Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium (University of Missouri Press, 2005), Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards A Secular Theocracy (University of Missouri Press, 2002), and After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State (Princeton University Press, 1999). Gottfried has been a close friend of important political and intellectual figures Richard Nixon, Pat Buchanan, John Lukacs, Christopher Lasch, Robert Nisbet, and Murray Rothbard, and is now writing his memoirs. He is known as a critic of neoconservatives and has written about Jews who are critical of Zionism.

Daily Bell: Thanks for speaking to us. You are a recipient of the Guggenheim prize. Your background and sociopolitical perspectives are known to many, but for purposes of this interview please treat our audience as if they were not aware of your writing or background. With this in mind can you give us a short summary of your thought and where you stand as a free-market thinker?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: I have published a number of works, and I think at last count I have written ten books. I also publish in German, and occasionally in French. I suppose my most important work is a trilogy dealing with the managerial state and the end of the liberal bourgeois era of the nineteenth century. These three volumes deal with the inter-dependence of mass democracy, universal suffrage and the scientific public administration. I see all these things as characteristic of what is now understood as democracy, which is not merely self-government by the people, but has to do with socialization by the state regarding what are considered democratic attitudes and the gradual eclipse of any distinction between civil society and the state.

So this is what I see is characteristic of the marred political enterprise and in my works I show it taking form in the 19th century in the western world. And I also show the rise of multiculturalism as an ideology of open borders and global citizenship, a democratic welfare state. In the last volume, I go through a discussion showing the current ideology of the West is no longer Marxism, but is a combination of a large welfare state with massive social engineering and ideology of open borders.

Daily Bell: Give us some background professionally. How did you come to your present belief system? Where did you grow up and go to school?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: I did an autobiography, which I strongly recommend, called Encounters. I discuss my biographical data but I grew up in Connecticut. My families were Austrian/Jewish refugees who came to the United States. In the course of living in an academic world primarily, doing a great deal of learning and a great deal of traveling, I suppose I arrived at these views over a period of 40 years. Generally when I write I try to be dispassionate. I have very, very strong feelings, in fact, a profound contempt for the kind of government and ideology I am describing. But I think I pretty much leave these things out of my account of the rise of the managerial/therapeutic state. I have always been an outsider; my work is not widely received in the United States. I do not get reviewed in the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal.

I am, however, widely read in Europe and now Russians and Romanians are translating my works. In the US, I am an outsider and this has a disadvantage, I have not gone very far professionally but it also has an advantage that I am not part of any kind of establishment. I have been able to work, not entirely as a detached observer but certainly as someone who has not had interests with those who are in power. I am a free-floating intellectual and I suppose this has been my fate for most of my life.

Daily Bell: Are you an Austrian economist?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: Insofar as I have economic views, I lean strongly in that direction. I do not occupy myself primarily with economics but if people ask me what economic views I come closest to sharing, I suppose it would be those of the Austrian school.

Daily Bell: How did you come to join the Mises Institute?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: About 20 or 25 years ago, I formed a close friendship with Murray Rothbard. I knew Lew Rockwell and I knew Lew was working with Murray and they sort of drew me in to the Institute. At that time, they were very interested in the growth of the welfare state of the 20th century. I think that was a focal point of their interest back in the '80s and '90s. I think since then, they have shifted towards certain kinds of libertarian economic problems; but back then my work on the managerial state was of interest to them. I frequently did speaking engagements for them.

Daily Bell: Did the medieval Catholic Church provide a foundation for neo-classical economics – especially in Spain?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: I have to tell you, I've never bought into that argument. I am fully aware that this was Murray Rothbard's position but it was not mine. I think you can find some Catholic support for some capitalist ideas if one looks hard enough for them, for example, if you go back to the Spanish Jesuits of the sixteenth century. But I think it was not accidental that capitalism developed the financial revolution, which develops predominately in Protestant areas. It was Presbyterians and other non-conformist Protestants who were the significant inventors, the early captains of the industrial revolution. It was not in Spain, and it certainly was not in Austria where the Catholic Church typically fought for the financial and industrial revolutions. So, I don't buy that argument.

Daily Bell: Have the Jesuits been a force for good within the Catholic Church and the larger world?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: It depends on the period of which one is looking at them. They obviously are a strong intellectual influence in Catholic countries. The Jesuits were often the creators of later important universities in Germany, Hungary and other places, and in Spain. In the United States, they were superlative teachers, in prep schools and even in some Catholic colleges, so they do have a rich intellectual tradition on which they draw. They have distinguished themselves particularly in pedagogy, at the university level in the US.

Daily Bell: You have been a close friend of many important people. How does one of your friends, Richard Nixon, compare to say Murray Rothbard. Rothbard was a deep thinker – was Nixon? What drove Nixon? Personal aggrandizement? A need to achieve?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: Except for the fact that they were both highly intelligent, I don't think that they were comparable individuals. I liked both of them. You are right; Murray was a deep thinker – the Germans say, "nicht tiefer Denker" – and he produced many great works. The ones that I like best are his historical works, particularly his study of the American depression, which I think is brilliant.

Nixon, on the other hand, was a political practitioner who also struck me as a very inept politician. He was shrewd, but he really had trouble verbalizing his ideas before the public. He was totally unsuited for television and the media. On the other hand, he was capable of some brilliant insights when the subject turned to foreign policy. And I think in his understanding of international relations, he was probably our greatest president of the 20th century.

Daily Bell: Was there a plot to run Nixon out of office?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: Let's put it this way, I think he made enemies within the media establishment who were out to get him. There's an old saying that even paranoid people are sometimes right. I don't know whether he was paranoid but he certainly was deeply suspicious of his enemies and they were real enemies; I make that clear in my book, Encounters.

He did not make up enemy lists on the basis of a deranged imagination. They were his enemies. They were people who hated him, who had hated him for decades and in many cases the hatred begins with this anti-communism in the late 40s and early 1950s, particularly his Senatorial campaign against Helen Gahagan Douglas in 1950.

They never forgave him. Anyone who is anti-communist will incur the wrath of the liberal media, with some exceptions. I think there are obviously anti-communist journalists, but for most of the journalistic campaign, the fact that he used that issue to win congressional and senatorial campaigns in California was seen as an indelible black mark against him. No matter what he did as President, they hated him. There was always something that struck me – the snide references they made in spite of the fact that on economic issues he was the most liberal president since FDR or Truman. Civil rights, even the beginnings of affirmative action go back to the Nixon period. Price and wage controls … I can't say I agreed with much of what he did but there were obviously things that a liberal establishment would have applauded had they not come from someone they already hated.

Daily Bell: How did the neoconservatives ascend to power?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: Well, they didn't ascend to power in the Bush years; they ascended to power in the Nixon years. That's when they ensconced themselves in the Department of Education, Foreign Service positions, human rights; that's when they created the National Endowment for Democracy, when they put their people in the National Endowment for Humanities, etc.

They are pretty much of a political presence in the Reagan years. Reagan does try for about a year and a half or two years to move to the right. That's when he insults David Stockman, an economic advisor. He starts to be attacked by the Wall Street Journal and other neoconservative organizations as an extremist president. He loses the mid-term election and starts turning to neoconservativism. Neoconservatives are going to be heavily represented in his administration and to really go to bat for him in the media. So I think that the rise to neoconservative power starts then, particularly with Vice President George Bush who does not agree with Reagan regarding foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East.

Daily Bell: You are not a fan of neoconservatives. Why not?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: It would probably take me at least six days to say why not but I think they are the most pernicious group in the United States. They are poisoning the America right, turning it into what is really a vehicle for ultra-Zionist ideas. I also believe that they have pushed the United States into a belligerent international posture by appealing to something, unfortunately, that is very popular in our country, which is this sort of Wilsonian, global-democratic strain in foreign policy.

Although the Obama administration is sort of drawing back on this a bit, they are stuck with wars that the neocons got us into. The worst thing is they are totally irremovable from their political and journalistic and media positions because they own so much real estate. They have FOX News, they have the Wall Street Journal and a whole bunch of other publications. They also write half the columns in the Washington Post as well. They are most importantly the only conservative opposition that is not concerned with the liberal establishment because they usually agree with the liberal establishment.

On foreign policy they are more belligerent than the liberal establishment with very strong Zionist views, which I think probably are acceptable to many of the Jewish liberals in the United States. George Macaulay Trevelyan, the English historian, writes of how the Earth may someday end, but that in the remnants of London Bridge, one will glimpse a Catholic bishop. Writing as a liberal Protestant in the 19th century, he had a very negative view of the Catholic Church, and obviously, his view was that even if everything falls into ruin in Britain, the Catholic Church will still remain standing.

But I see similarities. I always joke that even if a nuclear conflagration were to devastate the United States, neoconservatives would somehow survive and remain in power. I see no way that we can possibly get rid of them at this point. And I think they are the source of perpetual mischief.

Daily Bell: But yet you're pro-Zionist? Why? What is Zionism?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: Zionists believe in the existential need for a Jewish state or the importance of the Jewish state surviving in the Middle East. I would say I am somewhat sympathetic to the survival of the state that now exists. I think what distinguishes me from the neoconservatives is that I cannot run around calling anyone who holds a different view an anti-Semite.

I find the way they recklessly attack people one of their most disgusting features and I myself was kept out of a graduate position at a Catholic university about 25 years ago because the neoconservations called and accused me of being hard on Israel. There was no evidence, but in any case this is what kept me from being allowed to teach a course in ancient political theory. There is no limit to the kind of mischief that these people are willing to make in pursuit of their ideas or their special causes. My own personal experiences with them and the fact that I am a contemporary historian, makes me able to comprehend the depth of their power. It is not going to change.

I have also raised questions whether all their thinking is reducible to exuberant Zionist fever or support for Israel and in particular the Israeli right. I don't think that is the case. I disagree with those who take that position. The neoconservatives have their own worldview, and it is one that goes well beyond the question of Israel's existence.

I think they have a very definite set of prejudices, preferences for certain countries together with a genuine belief that the United States in the name of Wilsonian ideals should dominate the rest of the world. I think they are unleashed imperialists. I think they are very hard to control. They get the country into wars that really cost us dearly. I do not believe they can be replaced with any other kind of opposition. Someone like Ron Paul is not going to be able to replace the neo-conservatives. They will destroy him and his son; their power is that formidable.

Daily Bell: Are Jews the chosen people?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: In what sense are they chosen? Obviously the Old Testament says so. I think the Jews view themselves as special people, but then so do Armenians, Turks and a whole bunch of other groups. I think in this respect, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants are different from the rest of the world because they have no sense of ethnicity that I can determine. They may have had such a sense at one time but not any more. Jews are on the opposite side of the spectrum and they are deeply ethnic and have a very strong sense of ethnic solidarity. The other side of the spectrum typified by the Jews is occupied by a lot of other groups, and they have a comparable sense of ethnic solidarity, so those who do not are the exceptions in the world.

Daily Bell: We think Jews, in aggregate, are manipulated by a power elite – the same power elite that is attempting to reconfigure Charlemagne's empire in Europe and the same elite that has done much damage to the US. Agree? Disagree? Why?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: Well that is such a vague question and I don't know how to answer it. I do think that Jews and others are manipulated by certain elite, which are not entirely Jewish. I think the neo-conservatives are a significant part of that elite but they're not the only element within it. I don't know what Charlemagne's empire is … I suppose it would be France, Germany, Belgium and whatever other areas the King of the Franks occupied in the year 800s.

Daily Bell: What do you think of the Holocaust? Was the Jewish state a reaction to it?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: It wasn't a reaction. It was just something that happened more rapidly than what might otherwise have been the case because it was preceded by the Holocaust and it also creates certainly among western Christian, eastern Europe a sense that Jews are entitled to have their own country after what happened in Germany and eastern Europe. I think it really hastens a particular historical development. I don't think it is the only reason that this historical development occurred.

Daily Bell: Why is Western society self-obliterating its free institutions?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: My books actually go into a discussion of this. We are living in a post-bourgeois, post-national age and the ties that kept together Western societies, national, religious, social, marriage are all gone . What has become the unifying element is multi-cultural ideology, which is obviously ideology of western suicide, total destruction.

This managerial state by the way can be easily globalized, as it is not tied to any national tradition or to any kind of specific Western culture. The refusal of the European Union to even recognize Christianity as part of the heritage of western Europe and the constant blather about human rights and universalism, I think suggests that this is not an European Union. It is a stepping-stone to a global or multi-cultural dictatorship or managerial dictatorship.

Daily Bell: Is the 21st century the century of Asia and China?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: Certainly at the present time, one could easily predict that China and other Asian powers are going to rise because of the obliteration of Europe. The demographic obliteration of Western Europe is well underway. We won't include the Swiss or the Flemings or some of the others … but France and Germany in particular are a wreck, a moral wreck and a political wreck. Spain is another one.

I don't see Europe as being any kind of strongly competitive entity in dealing with the rise of China. There are other specific Asian Pacific Rim countries that are doing particularly well. India is becoming important as a military power. So I think relative to the Western World, certainly relative to Europe, Asia is becoming powerful. I would not however count out the United States. Our material abundance is enormous. We are still the economic, military power-house of the world. Even if our leadership is deplorably bad we still have this power. So I don't see the United States necessarily declining in relation to the rise of China.

Daily Bell: You have written your memoirs. Can you tell us about them?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: They basically deal with important people I have known and from whom I learned a great deal. Those are the two criteria selection. I also included my father and other members of my family, who influenced me deeply. I suppose all these people were critical at the time in which they were living and were not particularly optimistic about the American future. In any case I was attracted to the celebrities whom I feature in my autobiography.

Daily Bell: You are not hopeful generally about the world. Does the expansion of the Internet and its occasional truth telling make you more hopeful?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: I think what the Internet has done is allow a certain type of opposition, including my opposition, to receive a hearing. I am aware that those people who dominate the printed media and also the television media are in a stronger position in terms of the Internet, than our side. On the other hand we would have no resources available if we did not have the Internet.

Equally relevant is that Ron Paul was able to mount a credible presidential campaign despite the fact that he was treated like a pariah by the neo-conservative controlled FOX news, and despite the fact that the Republican press really went after him with a vengeance. That was because he had a lot of support on the Internet and probably used the Internet a lot more effectively than any of the other presidential candidates. So I think outsiders can do well, certainly in the short run, if they are able to use the Internet. As I said before, the effect of the Internet has been to sustain an opposition that would not been able to exist, otherwise.

Daily Bell: Do you think the Internet has made an impact on the powers-that-be and pushed them back a little? Will it?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: I think it may have that effect. Yes. Now, I would say that the more widely recognized part of the Internet is the left. I mean you have the Huffington Post and what they have done is push the Obama administration from the left. The people of the paleo-conservative or paleo-libertarian right have nothing like the firepower that is available to the left.

Daily Bell: Where do you see the world headed in the next few years? Will there be widespread war?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: No, I don't think there will be a war; I think there will be an economic crisis and I am not sure how the economic crisis will play out. Right wing groups in Europe may become more powerful. I also have some limited hope for the tea party movement as a counter force to the neo-conservatives and regular republicans. The problem is that the alignment of forces at this point really does not favor our side, unless something very drastic happens, like the economy goes into a tailspin.

Such a tailspin would involve people losing tremendous amounts of money, so that governments can no longer pay for their welfare programs, all of which by the way, I would consider very hopeful signs. As I told people, I was delighted that Obama beat McCain because at the end of the day I am a Leninist in this sense. "The worse the better," is the relevant quote here. The faster the worst happens, the better. I am getting old, and I think something very cataclysmic has to happen to turn things around. If we go into a tailspin economically and the effects are felt gradually, people will simply look to the state for more social welfare programs.

I was just looking at a poll from a few days ago – about what Americans like best about their country and I have to say I almost vomited when I read it. They like all government programs; they are delighted with civil rights enforcement, which means constant government surveillance of everybody's life. They like the entertainment industry, they like sports, they have all been socialized by the state and the media, all of which represent the same multicultural, therapeutic perspective.

The problem is if the government cannot provide for its subjects because they don't have the cash flow that allows them to enjoy the entertainment. If the government also tries to give preferences to minorities at the expenses of the dominant white males, all of these things might create a backlash because they work best in a culture of affluence. When the affluence begins to evaporate then I think the goodwill for the managerial therapeutics state also evaporates.

Daily Bell: How will the 21st century turn out? Will it be a rerun of the 20th or will it be different – and it what ways?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: Well, one thing is for sure, the 20th century was the worst century for utter destruction of Western society. The wars that were fought in the West in the 20th century had absolutely disastrous consequences. I cannot see the 21st century creating wars of the same kind, I could be wrong, maybe there will be nuclear confrontation but I don't think anyone will be dropping nuclear weapons on anybody.

I could see more small-scale wars of the kind that we're fighting in Afghanistan, but I don't think the 21st century is going to be characterized by the military destructiveness of the 20th century. What will happen however is that large numbers of Third World people, most of them with little education, will continue to pour into the West. They will colonize regions in which the indigenous populations show rapidly declining birth rates and have given themselves over to bizarre sexual practices, instead of reproductive practices. This will lead to the further disintegration of anything resembling the Western Christian bourgeois society that existed a hundred years ago. And those who will likely take over will ride roughshod over those whom they are supplanting.

I think self-loathing countries like Germany are already demographically and culturally doomed. So I think that this is going to be the great crisis of the 21st century.

There was a German historian of Jewish ancestry who is hardly ever read anymore, Ludwig Gumplowicz (1838-1909) who foresaw the agonies of the present age. Gumplowicz argued voluminously that ethnic struggle is characteristic of the rise and fall of civilizations. The Western world, and particularly Europe, not only chooses to ignore this possibility, but they have begun to throw in jail those who dare to notice it too loudly, providing the offenders are Westerners. I suspect ethnic conflict far more than economic crises may be the major problem of the Western world in the coming century. World War One was the trigger, the event that triggered the Occident's suicide.

Daily Bell: What are your plans for the future?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: I have been working through my Strauss-study slowly and without much enthusiasm but that is my current project.

Daily Bell: Can you recommend further reading – some of your fine books or articles?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: I did a book in 2009 called The Conservative Movement. It is about the changing nature of the American conservative, why it keeps changing and why is moves steadily to the left.

Daily Bell: Any closing remarks?

Dr. Paul Gottfried: I would just repeat Albert J. Nock's observation made about 70 years ago, that "the state is the enemy." Anything that can reduce its sway is OK with me. Needless to say, I am not an opponent of all political authority. I am simply opposed to the managerial manipulation that I describe in my books.

Daily Bell: Thank you for your time. It was most interesting.

After Thoughts

Dr. Paul Gottfried, a most thoughtful man whose writings ought to be known to more, makes numerous interesting points in this interview. His MOST interesting point from our humble perspective is that the entire cultural impetus of the 20th century was in a sense configured for international consumption – and thus stands as the world's culture-in-waiting. Here is what he says, excerpted from the interview above:

This managerial state by the way can be easily globalized, as it is not tied to any national tradition or to any kind of specific Western culture. The refusal of the European Union to even recognize Christianity as part of the heritage of western Europe and the constant blather about human rights and universalism, I think suggests that this is not an European Union. It is a stepping-stone to a global or multi-cultural dictatorship or managerial dictatorship.

This is a wonderfully well-stated observation and a brilliant insight. We have intimated the same thing in articles, using the metaphor of "dreamtime." Here is what we wrote back in 2008 as the current financial crisis was hitting hard:

The money men behind the Federal Reserve, behind Wall Street, behind Roosevelt and the Great Depression and all the other financial triumphs and failures of the 20th century had one goal in mind: financial internationalism. To get to that goal, they created a central bank at the heart of the most powerful free-market country in the world – in order to inflate its economy and speed up an orderly and sometimes disorderly transition to a global financial environment.

Looked at this way (admittedly an unusual point of view) the many events that have shaken Western economies in the past century are merely the effluvia, the ephemera of this larger goal. Portable pension plans? Grand retirement accounts. Fabulous stock picking. Hedge fund masters – all the unintended though expectable outcome of the single transcendent goal, to move the creation and control of capital out of the hands of the "little people" and into the hands of a monetary elite that believes in its privilege and power.

OK … perhaps this is an unduly negative view of the situation. But in New England all the mills are rotten now, and falling down. There are fewer carpenters and bricklayers. More people work for the government, federal, state or local. Try to use gold and silver in New England, or anywhere in the US, to buy something. People won't get it. They will understand it if you tell them about a "hot stock" of course. That kind of "opportunity" has been made clear to them. But now, in the wake of these collapses, they will be somewhat hesitant to even discuss the matter.

It is as if they are only just waking up from a … dreamtime. What they held sacrosanct is no more. The portable pensions, the stocks, the mutual funds and other investments – even the thousands and thousands of theories on how to "invest" and the magazines that trumpeted them – they remain for the moment, but confidence is shaken. Some of the certainty has leaked away.

…Wall Street was never a business model. It was an invention of monetary stimulation, a convenient way to centralize assets and remove the spending power of the people's specie (gold and silver coin). The Wall Street model is dead, indeed. But in our opinion it never really lived. It was merely a means to an end. It was a show, a parade, a gilded curtain designed to hide the reality of the man in the booth, the "Great Oz."

To read the full article, click here: The End of Wall Street?

We didn't spell it out further, but when one does truly examine the magnitude of the experiment – as Dr. Gottfried has perceived of it – one's jaw drops. Ours does anyway. He is not just alluding to the economy here, but of the very CULTURE of Western societies. They have been, he is suggesting, radically reconfigured to serve as a global portmanteau. While he does not in this interview go deeply into the methodologies of such changes, the tools, in our estimation, include fiat money, taxes, modern (versus common) law, regulatory pressure and, of course, war.

In the past for instance, we had a hobby of reading books about World War One to try to figure out exactly why the "world" went to war. This is an important point, for as Gottfried points out above, the Occident committed "suicide" way back at the beginning of the 20th century. The flower of Western manhood was decimated and generations reeled. Hemingway wrote about the "lost generation" and he was correct. But it wasn't the generation that was lost, it was the culture of classical liberalism, of free-men living freely within a society of just (or fairly just) laws.

Compare yesterday's world with today's, as portrayed by, say, Stephan Zweig's The World of Yesterday. Modern Western societies are focused on control and their production is authoritarian. It includes multiple warrantless wiretappings, "justice" systems in which those who write the laws also adjudicate and enforce them, a regulatory democracy that spews forth a torrent of inept, illegitimate and unenforceable regulations, a fiscal/tax system that is so complex as to be unintelligible, a mercantilist fiat-money system that gradually bankrupts nations by debasing the currency – the world has changed! Not, we would submit, for the better.

So we kept trying to find the trigger for World War One, thinking that such an important event would surely have an equally important justification. But, no … try as we did, we could never figure out exactly what started World War One. (Yes, we aware of the standard explanations but it still seems to us that the world went to war because it wished to, not because it had to.) World War Two was at least a little bit clearer, but not by much. Our point is that regulatory democracy seeks out war in a sense, for war is both the anvil and hammer – and Western culture has been considerably reshaped in between.

Today, schools are public; history has been revised to reflect authoritarian viewpoints, real economic theory has been suppressed and the cult of statism has been glorified at the expense of religion. But it is even more than that. The West, especially the Anglo-American West, has undergone wholesale homogenization and corporatization. Local foods have been reconfigured by "fast food" outlets. Supermarkets have replaced farming co-ops. Regional music has been replaced by rock and roll or "easy listening" pop. Local entertainment has been replaced by Hollywood mega-blockbusters.

Art is dominated by a marketplace that has substituted bloodless "modern" creations of no particular viewpoint or recognizable shape for statues of local and regional martial and spiritual heroes. "Brands" are international now, regardless of quality. Relentless commercialization makes them in-demand. Science has been perverted to serve political ends; and health care is politicized as well.

Even sports have been internationalized and drained of local flavour. Try watching any major U.S. sports match – as witnessed during the recent Stanley Cup hockey playoffs – and you will clearly see the intrusion of the U.S. military-industrial complex's propaganda machine. Teary eyed fans stand and salute their flag, as military "heroes" fresh from spreading democracy in foreign lands stand shoulder-to-shoulder in full decoration enthusiastically blasting out such inspiring words as "the bombs bursting in air." This is how dominant social themes become integrated into society.

Gottfried is correct. This is a portmanteau culture that the mainly Anglo-American axis has produced. It has no referential bearings. It is "good to go" and can be as relevant in Beijing as London or New York. We see the tools at work as well; the modern "science" of psychology and the application of advertising principles of mass persuasion. Is it all accidental?

What kind of minds would have conceived of such a thing? We are in awe. The inter-generational conspiracy of the power-elite that we track every day on this site seems to have a plan that is so vast, so all-encompassing that simply to conceive of its ambition is to be staggered.

We don't want to come across as Luddites here. Change is inevitable; technology extends life-spans and often increases the quality of life. The power elite doesn't necessarily create worlds out of whole cloth. The elite, instead, is opportunistic. It sees a trend in art or technology and seizes on it to turn it to its own advantage. But, nonetheless, the Anglo-American culture has served as a jumping-off-point. It is ready to replace over time the world's idiosyncratic traditions and lifestyles.

There are many more insights in Dr. Gottfried's interview, but this is the one that struck us with the most force. Doubtless some may disagree with such an analysis, terming it overly conspiratorial and not in line with today's more mundane (if urgent) realities. We wish we could concur. But Dr. Gottfried has perceived a cultural evolution that we find unhappily persuasive.

Yes, while our own perceptions may be easily questioned (and often are), we believe he has a point. It explains a good deal of what actually happened in the 20th century and why. As we look back on that time, we wonder increasingly if one could fairly label it a kind of "dark age," assuming of course that the Internet is bringing us, at least partially, into the light.

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