The Co-Option Pillar of American “Democracy”

The best way to control the opposition is to lead it”—[A quote often attributed to Lenin]

If way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at the Worst.”—Thomas Hardy

 Phil Ochs: “Love me, I’m a Liberal

I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
Tears ran down my spine when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I’d lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X got what was coming
He got what he asked for this time
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal [1]

I go to civil rights rallies
And I put down the old D.A.R.
I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
I hope every colored boy becomes a star
But don’t talk about revolution
That’s going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal . . .

I read underground papers and Newsweek
I’ve learned to take every view
I’ve warned Vietnam is atrocious
I wish to God that fighting was through
But when it comes to the army of Israel
There’s no one more red white and blue
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

Phil Ochs, 1940-1976

I vote for the Democratic Party
They want the U.N. to be strong
I attend all the Phil Ochs concerts
I sure wish he’d write some new songs
I’ll send all the money you ask for
But don’t ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

Sure, once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
Ah, but I’ve grown older and wiser
And that’s why I’m turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal


Introduction:  Pillars of American “Democracy”

How did the bankers and their accomplices manage to steadily increase their power and wealth at the expense of the vast majority?  How did they manage to undermine freedom, justice, peace—and humanity’s prospects for long-term survival?  What accounts for their astounding success in turning this beautiful blue and green planet into a raging cauldron of materialism and hate? [2] The answer to such questions is of great scholarly and humanitarian interest, involving an extremely complex, multi-faceted, answer. The answer is also an essential component of a revolutionary toolkit, as Sun Tzu explained:  “If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

The edifice the bankers built rests on a dozen or so mutually-supporting pillars.  I have drawn attention to five of these pillars elsewhere:

The next series of articles explores a sixth pillar: Co-option.


Benefits of Leading, Infiltrating, or Co-opting the Opposition:

1. Diminishing the number of potential revolutionaries. As a rule, a compassionate truth-seeker attempting to escape the cave of political illiteracy does so labori ously and gradually. At a certain point, she realizes that most mainstream schools, universities, religions, newspapers, books, movies, websites, radio and television broadcasts everywhere in the world, are little more than mind-control operations. As she strikes out on her own, desolate and disillusioned, she naturally seeks companionship and validation of her new, hard-gained, insights.

Plato’s Cave, Flemish School, 16th century, Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai, France

At that point, the ruling bankers are there, waiting to outfox her again with their phony reform organizations, media outlets, and dissidents. If our truth seeker is disturbed by the bankers’ needless program of environmental destruction, she may gravitate to organizations such as the Sierra Club or the Union of Concerned Scientists, which have all the trappings of reform organizations but which are part of the bankers’ network of control. Concerned about human rights? Well, the bankers are already down there in the trenches, along with their well-financed Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Civil Liberties? Welcome to the ACLU. Civil rights? Why not try the co-opted NAACP, SPLC, or Barack Obama? Sunshine bribery in politics? Common Cause welcomes her into their fold with its $50 or whatever-she-can-afford plea.

Or maybe our struggling truth-seeker is trying to improve her understanding of humanity’s plight and learn from those ahead of her in the ascent to the sunlight? Here she will encounter the bankers-supported Democracy Now, Nation Magazine, the Guardian, Counterpunch, Fair, National Public Radio, and so many other front organizations—well-meaning perhaps, but constrained by their dependence on bankers’ money.

Thus, co-option sees to it that most compassionate truth seekers never emerge farther than this web of manufactured dissent.

Even those few who emerge may require years or decades to do so. By then, they might be too old or weary to fight the system. At the very least, the bankers managed to slow down their advance towards truth and meaningful action.

Moreover, our hapless truth seekers, having come so far, might become disillusioned and wrongly conclude that all human beings are worthless, and that there is no point fighting for a better world.

Photo: Besides the murdered Hugo Chavez (pictured) and Pat Tillman, Noam Chomsky played a key role in the partial awakening of another idealist–Aaron Swartz.


2. A magnet for genuine dissidents. Or maybe our waking sleeper is looking for like-minded individuals for camaraderie, validation, and exchange of ideas? Again the bankers are there, ready to direct her to all the leading, naive or double-crossing, dissident historians, authors, observers, journalists, broadcasters, and activists fit to print or listen to. David Martin offers one example of this Machiavellian device:

Pat Tillman’s attempt to leak to the fake dissident Chomsky might well have been what got him killed.  That’s one of the reasons the secret government creates phony critics.  They serve as magnets for would-be whistleblowers.”

3. Confusing the general public. With captive information sources and compromised reformers, with so many reputable (and well paid) “dissidents” and “skeptics” and so many “disputes” about elementary points, how is the average person to figure out what policy best serves her interests and convictions?

Climate disruptions [3] and Cold War I [4] provide two examples of changing the course of history by infiltrating and bribing the scholarly community.  The disgraceful role of the late population geneticist, “Sir” R.A. Fisher in the tobacco controversy provides another example. Finally, co-opted dissidents, historians, and progressives play a key role in suppressing a free marketplace of ideas about 9/11 and the culling of the Kennedy clan.

4. Squandering the humanitarian camp’s meager resources. The co-opted opposition diverts to itself donations of time and money that could otherwise reach genuine reformers. Consider for instance donations from misguided middle-class donors to the National Wildlife Federation. These donations could have been used for something other than supporting a federation that depends on the enemies of wildlife for its cushy existence and which acknowledges paying its CEO an annual salary (in 2,013) of $365,908.

5. Weakening and dividing the opposition. The need for constant vigilance, for always looking over one’s shoulder when dealing with one’s comrades, encumbers the humanitarian camp. This is a major problem for revolutionaries and dissidents, well-documented in many historical cases. Fictional accounts (and possible solutions) include Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Ira Levin’s .This Perfect Day

6. Intelligence gathering. Consider, for instance, the bankers’ war against Martin Luther King. To smear, imprison, blackmail, preempt, and–when nothing else worked–assassinate King, the bankers needed inside information. Besides constant shadowing and illegal wiretapping, their FBI lackeys infiltrated King’s circle of trusted collaborators.

Martin Luther King’s friend and photographer was an FBI informant. Ernest Withers, who was trusted by the civil rights leader to sit in on strategy meetings, spied on black activists and white radicals.

E rnest Withers outside the Lorraine motel where Martin Luther King was shot

Martin Luther King must have imagined that the man with the camera so often at his side was doing no more than recording history. But it has been revealed that Ernest Withers – who was on hand to capture King riding newly desegregated buses and the shock of the civil rights leader’s allies immediately after his murder – was also an FBI informer.

The double life of one of the most celebrated photographers of the civil rights era was exposed by the Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis, which reported that Withers passed on photographs to the FBI along with names and background information about activists and details of schedules.”

7. Diverting attention of the vast majority from unspeakable government crimes which could perhaps trigger a revolution. James Corbett [5] explains:

The function of a gatekeeper is not to spout lies 100% of the time or to be some sort of a bumbling fool who doesn’t know what he is talking about.  It is to be exceptionally smart, exceptionally good, exceptionally keen analyst on enough topics that people would buy into what you are saying.  So that on one or two topics that you have to skirt around and that you have to get your audience to stop paying attention to, you can do so with some credibility—building up the capital in order to spend it.”

8. Covering up, justifying, or legitimizing policies which benefit the bankers but counteract the interests and convictions of the vast majority.
Here is an environmental example [6]: A co-option pioneer

W hile I witnessed these early stages of ecocide, I imagined that American green groups were on the people’s side in the corridors of Capitol Hill . . .  But it is now clear that many were on a different path – one that began in the 1980s, with a financial donation.

US environmental groups used to be funded largely by their members and wealthy individual supporters. They had only one goal: to prevent environmental destruction. Their funds were small, but they played a crucial role in saving vast tracts of wilderness and in pushing into law strict rules forbidding air and water pollution. But Jay Hair – the president of the National Wildlife Federation from 1981 to 1995 – was dissatisfied. He identified a huge new source of revenue: the worst polluters.

Hair found that the big oil and gas companies were happy to give money to conservation groups. Yes, they were destroying many of the world’s pristine places. Yes, by the late 1980s, it had become clear that they were dramatically destabilising the climate – the very basis of life itself. . . . He began to suck millions from them, and his organisation and others gave them awards for “environmental stewardship”. Companies such as Shell and BP were delighted. They saw it as valuable “reputation insurance”: every time they are criticised for their massive emissions of warming gases, or for events such as the massive oil spill that has just turned the Gulf of Mexico into the “Gulf of Texaco”, they wheel out their shiny green awards to ward off the prospect of government regulation and to reassure the public that they Really Care.”

9. Discrediting the dissident camp. If FBI agents infiltrate demonstrations against a rising tide of wanton police criminality in Baltimore, and if these agents then proceed to loot and vandalize homes and small businesses, the public at large will have less sympathy for the struggle against bankers-engineered police brutality. [7]

10. Replacing troublesome policy makers with compliant ones—in either countries or reform organizations. In 2014, the CIA and fake democracy groups such as the National Endowment for Democracy or Soros’ Open Society Institute led the opposition in Ukraine, thereby converting a livable, independent kleptocracy into a tragic U.S.-owned colony.  Similarly, by applying the carrot and stick approach, one tycoon (perhaps for understandable motives) precipitated the retirement from the Sierra Club of the principled environmentalist David Brower.  Brower went on to found Friends of the Earth from which he—the founder—was again fired by a compromised and “corrupt board of directors.” [8]

A twice-co-opted environmentalist


It will be seen then that leading, infiltrating, and controlling the opposition provide a powerful instrument in any war—including the tyrants’ war against humanity.

Forthcoming articles in this co-option series will document the ubiquity of compromised dissent, provide criteria for its detection, and apply these criteria to a sampler of organizations and individuals.


Notes and References

1. Thanks to the bankers, the term “liberal” had a different connotation for Phil Ochs than it does for us today.    What was once a “liberal” is now, probably, a “progressive.”

2. Another world is possible.  Historical examples of fairly happy people leading meaningful lives include ancient democratic Athens and the Iroquois Confederation.  Fictional accounts of seemingly realizable utopias include Aldous Huxley’s Island and Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed.  Most illiterate people were likewise happier than we are, e.g., Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. Lessons In Living from the Stone Age. And here is another confirmation I chanced across the other day (from Paul Hoefler, Africa Speaks, 1931, p. 351):

I wondered if all the thousands of intervening years had brought the measure of happiness to some of us that these people enjoy, for they do enjoy life every day, dancing and chanting, visiting one another, hunting when necessary.  This is their life, simple in all its elements, from the day of birth until death claims their pygmy bodies.”

3. Nissani, Moti.,  Media Coverage of the Greenhouse EffectPopulation and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 21: 27-43 (1999).

4. Nissani, MotiLives in the Balance: The Cold War and American Politics, 1945-1991 (1992).

5. Martin, David, 2012, Chomsky, the Fraud, on 9/11.

6. Hari, Johann, Polluted by profit, The Independent (2015).

7. See, for instance, Wikipedia: COINTELPRO.

8. Salzman, Lorna. The Decline and Fall of Friends of the Earth in the United States (1990).

Moti Nissani’s Webpage