We are Up Against an Iron Triangle

“An aristocracy in one department of society, introduces an aristocracy into all.”

William M. Gouge, A Short History of Paper Money and Banking in the United States (1833)*

“The fact that all political parties and religious creeds tend to exert an influence upon those in power and, whenever they can, to monopolize power itself, is the best proof that . . . they are convinced that to control all the more effective forces in a social organism . . .  is the best way to spread and maintain a doctrine.”

Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class (1939)**

Mosca tells us that nineteenth-century liberals were mistaken in their belief that freedom of expression and conscience must lead to the triumph of truth.  Nineteenth-century liberals were, indeed, absurdly mistaken because, “to be quite frank, it is hard to find a notion that involves a greater superficiality of observation and a greater inexperience of historical fact.”  Where there is freedom of conscience and an open marketplace of ideas, by far the largest trade will be in falsehoods that flatter, rationalize and console.

“There are doctrines that satisfy sentiments which are widespread and very deeply rooted in the human heart and, accordingly, have greater powers of self-propagation; and . . . doctrines that possess the quality to a lesser degree and therefore, though they may be more acceptable on the intellectual side, have a far more limited appeal.”***

What is more, many of the gnostic notions that sell like hotcakes in the open marketplace of ideas are poisons that addle the mind and riddle society with conflict, confusion and contradiction.  Mosca adduces the doctrine of social democracy, which has “very great powers of self-propagation” because it “is based on the sentiment of justice, on envy and on the craving for pleasure,” but which also “threatens the future of modern civilization.”  We might adduce the popular but upside-down notions that criminals are victims of society and sex is a cultural construct.

This is why truth cannot be left to defend itself against all challengers and rivals.  If it hopes to endure, truth must be succored, hedged, and bolstered by “all the more effective forces in a social organism.”  This means that ideological power requires the support of money power and political power, and that these three powers are only secure when they are joined in an iron triangle.

William M. Gouge was an American democrat who opposed but understood this reality.  The thinkers approved by the bankers naturally spread their ideas through the most costly and attractive media.  The bankers approved by the politicians naturally accumulate their wealth under the most favorable laws.  The politicians approved by these thinkers and bankers naturally rise to power on the most flattering accolades and the most copius treasuries.  This is why Gouge says,

“An aristocracy in one department of society, introduces an aristocracy into all.”

The cultural elite is raised and maintained by the political and economic elites.  The political elite is raised and maintained by the cultural and economic elites.  The economic elite is raised and maintained by the political and cultural elite.  This is the iron triangle.

Gouge was a nineteenth-century democrat who hoped to prevent an American aristocracy by opposing the centralization and aggrandizement of money power in a national bank.  Like other democrats of his day, Gouge also hoped to prevent an American aristocracy by opposing the centralization and aggrandizement of political power in the national government.  Gouge was himself editor of a Philadelphia newspaper, and he may have foreseen and feared that centralization and aggrandizement of cultural power would one day complete the iron triangle and consolidate an American aristocracy.

An established church proclaims its doctrines in the most sumptuous churches, and counts among its congregants the most elegant people.  If rival churches are tolerated, their doctrines are heard in dingy chapels, in the company of dowdy people.  The doctrines of a secular establishment are likewise proclaimed in sumptuous universities and slick media outlets, and are lent additional glamor by glamorous patrons.  Where dissident secular doctrines are tolerated, they are likewise obliged to declare their disgrace, and repel prospective converts, with grainy production un-beautiful clients.

An aspiring cultural elite enjoys no particular advantage when it has truth on its side.  What it needs on its side are moneymen, politicians, and celebrities.  It needs the real advantages that can be purchased with cash, compelled by law, and conjured by  glamor.  An aspiring cultural elite needs the advantage, the overwhelming and irresistible advantage, of being taken up into the iron triangle by the economic and political elite.

If an aspiring cultural elite succeeds in joining the iron triangle, it must use the power of its newfound friends to cripple and crush its rivals, to push them into dingy chapels, shabby magazines, and low-budget websites, if not into prisons or the graveyard of prudential silence.  Mosca tells us that persecution works, and that the only people who say otherwise are aspiring cultural elites who wish to sabotage the instruments of persecution.

“If a persecution is badly managed, tardily undertaken, laxly and falteringly applied, it almost always helps to further the triumph of a doctrine; whereas a pitiless and energetic persecution, which strikes at the opposing doctrine the moment it shows its head, is the very best tool for combating it.”†

We are up against an iron triangle of moneymen, politicians and propagandists, and this aristocracy grows daily more pitiless and energetic in its use of persecution.

*) Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class, trans. Hannah D. Kahn (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1939), p. 192.
**) William M. Gouge, A Short History of Paper Money and Banking in the United States (Philadelphia: T.W. Ustick, 1833), p. 93.
***) Mosca, Ruling Class, p. 190.
†) Mosca, Ruling Class, p. 191.

2 thoughts on “We are Up Against an Iron Triangle

  1. Sound money would wipe out a lot of nonsense. Letting the chips fall in 2008 would have wiped out a lot of nonsense. But we are so darned productive (for now) we can print money and buy our own debt with it.

  2. Pingback: NATO’s War on Russia: Part II | Winston Scrooge


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