Part One – Fooling All The People
Article by Beth Porter
Chapter Three – The Chamber of Secrets
It’s tautological to note the inconsistent nature of the politics driving privileged white Virginians. Soft-spoken Lewis Franklin Powell Jr was no exception, having fulfilled his family’s expectations of a distinguished academic career in law, followed by subsequent military honors in the US Air Force.
Southern ‘old money’ like the Powells traditionally identify as Democrats, so it was somewhat a surprise when then President Nixon, a staunch Republican, asked to co-opt Powell to the Supreme Court bench.
Powell’s subsequent reputation as one of the most fair-minded jurors owes much to his unease in any biased voting during his term as Associate Justice between January 1972 and June 1987.
The truth is more complex. For political expediency, he flipped positions against Roe versus Wade, defended the Tobacco Institute while on the Board of Philip Morris, and allied himself with factions of the US Chambers of Commerce to assure corporate America had the muscle to resist attacks on ‘the American free enterprise system’.
Thanks to the drip-feed from the post-war press, Americans of every class understood the target was Communism, aka The Red Menace. Almost conveniently forgotten was the fact that the Soviet Union had been America’s military ally, as well as a self-aggrandising false assertion that the US single-handedly rescued Great Britain from a Nazi takeover.
The highly intelligent Powell was far too informed to believe such rubbish. To manipulate the direction of travel for his country, he capitalised on the American selective amnesia of political reality. In that, he was helped by the sympathy for and sycophantic friendship of members of Britain’s royal family for Herr Hitler and his entourage. The implication was clear: the Nazi political agenda was a better blueprint than Comrade Stalin’s.
None of this is hearsay, documented in Powell’s secret report outlining ‘avenues of action.’ In the form of a detailed memo to the US Chamber of Commerce, it’s become known as ‘a blueprint for the corporate domination of American democracy’.
Only recently come to light, it proves Powell’s primary interest wasn’t his angry mask of politics. Rather, he and his own ‘comrades’ were plotting to counter the emerging counter-culture. That, for Powell and pals, was the real threat.
It must have come as quite a shock to learn that kids otherwise so similar to his own, could subscribe to values so alien to the mainstream.
Past generations guiding American political policy had traditionally taken advantage of the predictable cycles of rebellion within families. Before they were called ‘teens,’ young people were expected to choose the restricted paths of the military, government, the law, the stock market, even the priesthood. Anything that wouldn’t bring shame to their families.
After the war Powell recognised that a coincidence of disposable income, education, and the sharing of international ideas through technology, was circumventing mere teen rebellion. This seemed an unstoppable movement.
Taking the long view, Powell was determined to thwart any meaningful socio-political change, especially by young people. Just who did they think they were?!
It’s telling, indeed, that his report included restrictions subsequently adopted by various international governments of whatever stripe even unto this day.
Those provisions made it illegal to bring a lawsuit against an incumbent, his or her advisors, and any ministry or official department of support. Furthermore, argued Powell, any such putative legal action should not itself be subject to public scrutiny.
No wonder his own public face within the Supreme Court was praised for his even-handed approach to the law. And, those of us who actually lived through the feeling of unity blowing in the wind, harbouring dreams of change that crossed oceans, we simply couldn’t understand how the depth of our passion could be so crushed by a bite-back of corporate control and armed force. Remember the televised massacre of students at Kent State?
This fact goes a long way to underpinning my own attempt to wring justice from the inviolate giant of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, in Part Two.
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