Monday, September 4, 2006

Malcolm’s quiet day:

Malcolm has been left to his own devices today, which means he mused a little, read a bit, drank a couple of gallons of tea, and blogged. He sparked up his trusty 160GB LaCie drive to have his full iTunes library, and activated shuffle mode. So far, so good.

Eventually, one ear picked up a song from way back: the Chad Mitchell Trio bashing out ‘John Birch Society’ (don’t knock it: it got to #99 in May 1962):
Oh, we're meetin' at the courthouse at eight o'clock tonight:
You just walk in the door and take the first turn to the right.
Be careful when you get there, we hate to be bereft,
But we're taking down the names of everybody turning left.

Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society,
Here to save our country from a communistic plot.
Join the John Birch Society, help us fill the ranks:
To get this movement started we need lots of tools and cranks.
Which went right over the heads of the younger set.

The John Birch Society is named for a military man, who died in China in 1945, “the first victim of the Cold War”. It represents one of the early flushes in the continuing conspiracy-theory epidemic. Its peak was in the 1960s, opposing the Civil Rights movement and any other communistic tendency it could spot. It made a lot more noise than sense. Malcolm admits he was surprised to find it still in business, when he rushed off to wikipedia for an up-date. Its current programme is to oppose NAFTA and any other free-trade arrangement as being against American interests. A long-term aim has been US withdrawal from the United Nations. The JBS (as they are known among close acquaintance):
  • regarded Eisenhower as a Commie stooge under the control of his brother Milton.
  • supported Goldwater over Nixon in 1960 and 1964.
  • in the 1968 Election the JBS supported George Wallace over Nixon. After Nixon’s election, Robert Welch, the founder of the JBS , wrote to Wallace: ‘It is the ambition and the intention of Richard Nixon, during the next eight years, to make himself the dictator of the world’.
  • ran a candidate (John Schmitz) against Nixon in 1972—he got 1M votes.
  • found Reagan a disappointment, though Reagan’s election, bringing ‘mainstream conservatives’ into Government, was a major reason for the decline of the JBS (another was the in-fighting after Robert Welch’s death).
  • worked for the impeachment of Clinton.
The JBS enjoyed considerable financial support from oil magnates like Howards Hunt and Pew. This was, in part, the corporations exploiting the Taft-Hartley Act to distribute anti-union/anti-communist propaganda: by 1963 this was running at $25M a year, some of which went to the JBS.

Malcolm admits, wearily, that he simply cannot be arsed to work out what the JBS believes is the Great Conspiracy: the Illuminati, the London School of Economics, the Reds, Freemasons, weather control, the New World Order are all in there. It seems that the whole thing is done through the Bilderberg conferences.

And that is why the Chad Mitchell Trio brought it all back:
Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Fighting for the right to fight the right fight for the Right.
And, yes, if you think you recognise that voice on the Trio's later recordings, it really is Jimmy Thudpucker. Sorry that should read John Denver. Easy mistake to make. Not for nothing was Christopher Guest's A Mighty Wind thus named.

Raising his tea-mug, Malcolm toasted, ‘So, here’s to you, Arnie Saland, from NYC. You explained it all to us in the side bar of O’Neill’s back in ’64.’ Sphere: Related Content


Anonymous said...

First, the Kingston Trio album title may have informed Lord Guest's film about the folk revival. Also, has anyone heard from Arnold Saland since the last century?, (New Yorker exiled on the mainland.)

Dewi Harries said...

What a nice bloke....

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