Friday, January 30, 2009

The John Birch Society... based in Appleton, Wisconsin. The society was named after Captain John Birch. During WWII, Birch was an American military intelligence officer...he was also a Baptist missionary. In 1945, he was supposedly murdered by elements of the Red Army while on official business in China. Apparently, the US government made no effort to save him or, in the aftermath of his death, recognize his apparent martyrdom. Birch is the name, face and driving back story of this organization's (so far) five decade mission. The John Birch Society was founded by former ardent Baptist turned Unitarian Nutjob of all trades, Robert W. Welch Jr., in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1958. Welch immediately gained some notoriety for calling President Dwight D Eisenhower a "conscious, dedicated agent of the communist conspiracy" and the John Birch Society was off and running. I've been reading JBS literature in an effort to try to understand whatever it is they are, and I'm still not sure that I have fully grasped some of their finer boilerplate points. It's a message that cannot be broken down into simple slogans or sound bytes, although they do have this one: "Less Government, More Responsibility, and, With God's Help, a Better World." They really need an outside PR firm. That slogan is mouthfull, completely lacking the simple, easy to remember power of....oh...something like....."Hope". The John Birch Society is opposed to any form of "internationalism', "globalism" or "new world order". They dislike the Rockefellers and the entire Trilateral Commission gang including members George H W Bush and Jimmy Carter (I have to admit, I'm with them on disliking those two clowns).
They have repeatedly opposed overseas war and "they have issued calls to "Bring Our Troops Home" in every conflict since its founding, including Vietnam." They oppose communism, facism and socialism (any redistribution of wealth). They are equally opposed to rampant capitalism and see great evil in worldwide corporate power. They especially oppose the United Nations and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). To the normal, everyday Democrat or Republican, they can be a mountain of contradictions - a Dem can easily agree with the anti-corporate power part of the JBS message and then back off at the first sign of United Nations bashing. Birchers must really hate Star Trek with it's United Earth and Federation of Planets. To the public, they are frequently portrayed as uber conservatives and they do define the label "conservative", "In the United States, a conservative is one who seeks to support and retain the traditional institutions of the U.S. government, including the rule of law under the Constitution, and the political doctrines of individual rights and freedom as espoused by the Founding Fathers." The "founding fathers" part continuously pops up in their literature. It's time to quote myself:"Never trust anyone who liberally uses the words "founding fathers." Birch Society power rose to a peak in the anti-commie early 60's, fell flat on it's face for a couple of decades and then peaked again with the emergence of the new right in the early 90's. Right now, they appear to be treading water. The move to Appleton is recent. The JBS complex here has the look of a standard issue industrial park office. Don't be fooled. A large, interconnected system of tunnels, storage,and office space(covering more acreage than the buildings above)lies underground. The John Birch Society publishes a magazine, The New American and is currently just beginning to enter the world of web based new media. Are they proto conservatives? Are they so far to the right that they've become the extreme left? Or are they merely Libertarians with a twist? I don't know. I do know that they have a martyr and that no organized movement with a martyr at the helm ever quietly faded away.


Steve said...

Nor has a movement with a martyr at the helm ever done anyone much of any good. Steve

Douglas McCloud said...

Nutjobs? Yep.

Wackos? Most certainly.

Underground tunnels to connect different buildings?

Ever been to Rochester, MN or UWGB?

Smart builders, this is Wisconsin.

canuckjohn said...

I've seen ththeir building above and below. Above ground its no larger than a medium sized dental office. The underground part is disproportionate to an extreme degree and I only saw about half of it. Can anyone say post nuclear survival command center?

Anonymous said...

Anti-WalMart?, Anti-war?They sound perfectly reasonable to me.

JBS said...

Stop by for a visit. They will give you a tour of the buildings. Their lower level is no larger than the upper level you see from the street. The two buildings have one tunnel so employees can easily walk to and from.

They are located across the street from Woodman's on N Westhill Blvd.

Anonymous said...

I once wrote away for some John Birch literature that criticized George H.W. Bush, and, lo and behold, one day two fellows in suits from the John Birch Society showed up at the office where I worked in New York to talk to me! I guess since they saw I worked in publishing they thought that I might be of some use in the movement -- but I was just a dirty hippy (and still am)! Still, I was impressed with their outreach effort!

Anonymous said...

I like Ike.

KWilde said...

I guess there's no such thing as "bad publicity".

WSUSP88 said...

They sound reasonable to me. What's wrong with hating an all controlling authority? What's wrong with challenging political and business monopolies?

Patrick Doyle said...

The JBS is alive and well, thanks to the Koch brothers, whose father, Fred, was a founding member of the Society. The group seemed to fade away in the mid-sixties after William J. Buckley, Jr. denounced them as "Anarcho-Totalitarians" and Barry Goldwater was forced to distance his presidential campaign from them (although the "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice" line was a shout-out to the Society).
But whn Reagan became President, they reappeared on the national scene, although far more subdued than they were before.
Charles and David Koch, sons of Fred began in earnest (after settling on who would retain control of the company they inherited) to spend oodles of money on political causes.
Taking a page out of the JBS playbook (which was, in turn, taken from the communist's playbook - strange, no?)they formed front groups such as Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform.
In fact, Mr Norquist has his fingerprints on much of the legislation that has transformed our society over the last 30-40 years.
For more, see: