The Money Quote

For the entry below I was scanning David Brock’s book Blinded by the Righta key book for for beginning to understand what the right has been doing to us – and came across this, the beginning of Chapter four, “A Counter-Intelligentsia”, pages 71-73.

“Midway through the Bush administration, I left my job at the [Washington] Times to serve at the Heritage Foundation in a yearlong fellowship underwritten by the John M. Olin Foundation, a philanthropy supported by the Olin family petrochemical fortune. From this sinecure, working for the first time not among writers and editors but among hard-core movement activists, I saw how right-wing ideology was manufactured and controlled by a small group of powerful foundations like Olin, the Adolph Coors Foundation, the Smith-Richardson Foundation, the Scaife Family Trusts, and others that lavishly underwrote the effort. William Simon, a rock-ribbed conservative and high-profiled leveraged buyout king who had been treasury secretary under Presidents Nixon and Ford, became president of Olin in 1976 with the explicit intention of redirecting its grant-making to achieving partisan political results for the right. He also founded the Institute for Educational Affairs, which bankrolled the right-wing campus reviews. “The only thing that can save the Republican Party … is a counter-intelligentsia,” Simon said.

Following the Watergate scandal and the economic recession of the mid-1970’s, major American corporations, especially in the West, teamed up with the Wall Street venture capital class to coordinate their political activities. They gave targeted donations in the tens of millions to conservative political action committees like Terry Dolan’s National Conservative Political Action Committee and Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress PACs; and they promoted right-wing ideology through a network of think tanks and issue lobbies and publications advocating free-market capitalism, deregulation, and lower corporate taxes. In his 1978 book, A Time for Truth, Simon called on business leaders and corporate foundation executives to fund “intellectual refuges for the non-egalitarian scholars and writers in our society who today work largely alone in the face of overwhelming indifference or hostility. The must be given grants, grants, and more grants in exchange for books, books, and more books.”


No institution better exemplified the convergence of various strains of conservatism than Heritage, founded by Paul Weyrich and Edwin Feulner, with start-up money from Coors and additional backing from a range of corporate sponsors, including oil and gas, electronics, and pharmaceutical interests. Companies like RJ Reynolds tobacco and the consumer goods giant Amway were major doors. The foundation recruited for its board Richard Mellon Scaife, an heir to the Mellon banking fortune; Lewis Lehrman, a drugstore magnate; Dr. Robert Krieble, founder of the worldwide chemical corporation Loctite; and writer Midge Decter. Lavishing six-figure fellowships on such figures as Edwin Meese and William Bennett, Heritage promoted aggressive anti-Communism, laissez-faire economics, and the moral traditionalism of the New Right. Heritage made its first mark in 1981 with a volume called Mandate for Leadership that became the ideological blueprint for the new Reagan Administration. Heritage is a tax-exempt foundation, requiring that it not engage in activities or lobbying benefiting a political party. However, the organization functioned as a de facto arm of the GOP, churning out slick position papers, called Heritage Backgrounders, that were then marketed on Capitol Hill by a specially designated congressional relations shop. The authors of the papers were nominally independent researchers, but in the argot of Grover Norquist, they were expected to behave as loyal members of the conservative movement “team.” Essentially, the papers backed up an already fixed ideological viewpoint, dictated directly by a tier of Heritage executives who decided the organization’s position on a given issue, and indirectly by the outside foundations that help Heritage’s purse strings.”

So go read Some History of the Conservative Movement and go help the Commonweal Institute do something about it.