How to Infiltrate and Destroy a Political Movement

by Lester MacGurdy

When we think of infiltrating and destroying a movement, we assume that means attempting to bring about the immediate end of the movement. This is a naive perception of the actual mechanics of infiltrating and destroying a popular political movement of the people. Why would CIA, FBI, etc. want to destroy OWS? Most would answer that OWS is a powerful movement that has the power to cause systemic change in government and challenge corporate power. However, that’s exactly why government wouldn’t necessarily be inclined to end the movement. We live in America, the land in which a price tag hangs from everything, including our souls. Political movements that gain popular support have political power, and political power has monetary value, just like everything else. The expenditure of labor by millions of people around the globe has, like any expenditure of labor directed toward a desired end, produced a commodity with market value. The goal of the Corporate Government complex isn’t to erase that value, it is rather to capture that value. But the question is “How could government or the private sector Captain the ship of OWS?”

By buying it.

It’s easily done, as our history has abundantly shown. If it can’t be bought (a big “If”) then the leaders are framed for crimes they didn’t commit, and either jailed or executed. In no case does government just want a movement to just fizzle out, because that is the only way that a movement can end without transferring the power it generated to government. Government always has something to gain, either in gaining more police powers by an unnecessary violent conflict with the movement (as was done in Waco) or in gaining the loyalty of the masses and turning a profit financially (as the historically racist Democrat party did by co-opting the Civil Rights movement and in so doing, erasing public awareness of their authorship of Jim Crow laws and the Southern system of American apartheid). However, in a Capitalist world, any tactic aside from simply buying the movement is rarely necessary. For an example of how this works, we can look at the early labor/socialist movement.

In the years between WWI and WWII, Socialism, as it had existed prior to that period, was utterly destroyed by the concerted efforts of government and capital. Once eradicated, it was replaced with an imitation in the form of a Capitalist welfare state in which men and women no longer fought for their fair share of the natural bounty of their physical world, but a state in which technocratic specialists argued that the wages of the middle class, rather than the exponential profits of the Capitalist class, be heavily taxed to support the once more powerless poor.

Woodrow Wilson passed a law called the Sedition Act which, among other things, made it illegal to deter men from joining the army or fighting in WW I. The Socialists were, as they are today, anti-war, so Wilson used the Sedition act to sentence Eugene V. Debs and the leaders and financers of the Socialist Party to ten-year sentences in Federal prison. In the labor arena, the American Federation of Labor (now the AFL-CIO) continued its betrayal of labor by fighting to end Socialism and the Socialist party (ending rival unions in the process) since it enthusiastically supported entry into WW I. The AFL-CIO profited from the eradication of Socialism, becoming an arm of the Democratic Party, as it remains to this day. The Rand School of Social Sciences (a socialist school that provided free education to the working classes) was raided and driven into closure (its library is now held at NYU). The Charles H. Kerr publishing company (the only socialist publisher in the nation, publishing the only socialist periodical) was labeled subversive and denied the use of the Postal Service, forcing it into bankruptcy. The American Legion was formed as a manifestly fascist organization that roamed the streets in mobs, even committing a massacre in Centralia, Washington in which 6 were killed (most of them members of the IWW).

The first “Red Scare” was manufactured in America in 1919 (two years after the Russian Revolution). The New York Times (then still a far-right newspaper) published lurid articles claiming that Anarchists in the Soviet Union had declared all females over 18 to be public prostitutes. In Congress, legislation was introduced to deport anarchists to a penal colony created in the Philippines. 500 leftists (including Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman) were loaded aboard a ship and deported to the Soviet Union for ideological associations alone. In the New York State Assembly, Republicans had the Sergeant at Arms drag the five Socialist assemblymen before the House and had them expelled. Race riots between black and white laborers in Chicago were fomented.

Simultaneously, John D. Rockefeller II gradually assumed control of Rockefeller philanthropy, which had already been effectively organized for a tool of societal subversion by the Baptist minister and Rockefeller Sr’s right hand man, Frederick T. Gates. Rockefeller Jr, not wanting to try to compete with his father’s reputation as a Capitalist, decided to devote himself to philanthropy (which is the unelected shaping of society via the purchase of its institutions and creation of its ideals).

During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, labor made its most significant advances against Capital and Government, to the point that Capital was actually afraid of labor, and saw the edifices of classic liberalism failing. Rockefeller Philanthropy had already donated over $100 million to the University of Chicago (which has been since then a virtual possession of the Rockefeller family), and close to $90 million for the education of blacks in the South. (The Tuskegee Institute was a Rockefeller-funded Institute. Booker T. Washington was a freed slave that argued that black people weren’t ready for actual education, only education in the trades, which was the curriculum offered at the Tuskegee Institute.) It donated tens of millions of dollars to universities around the nation, so now Rockefeller Jr. set about defining the curriculum of higher education.

The purpose of John D. Rockefeller Jr’s philanthropy was to prevent the end of the classic liberal, Capitalist republic, and that goal was sought through the philanthropic foundation of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial (LSRM). Rockefeller Jr. placed a man named Beardsley Ruml (behavioral psychologist, CEO of MACY’s and later chairman of the Federal Reserve) in charge of LSRM, and Ruml placed Charles Merriweather in charge of an organization called the Social Science Research Institute (SSRC).Through the LSRM, the SSRC began to provide funding for Social Sciences in order to establish them in higher education and government.

Some of the academic and governmental associations created and/or funded by the LSRM include the American Anthropological Association, the American Psychological Association, the Commonwealth Fund, the National Bureau of Economic Research, the National Science Foundation, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Rockefeller Jr. poured hundreds of millions into the social sciences, and once all these councils were dependent upon Rockefeller funding, the Problems and Policy Committee was formed. The Problems and Policy Committee was a group of Rockefeller insiders that took upon itself the authority to determine what research could be conducted and what personnel was allowed to involve themselves in research within all the dependent councils and organizations–within American higher education as a whole.

In reading the works of the Social Sciences in the inter-war years, it is clearly expressed that the Social Sciences were to be anti-socialist. The habit of modern academic Social Sciences of misleading students into believing that Auguste Comte or Emile Durkheim et al were the fathers of social science is just propaganda for incoming Freshmen. The father of our Social Sciences was David Hume and John Locke, and the institutional sponsors and creators of academic social sciences were employed to reinforce the dogmatic Skeptic philosophy of the early Classic Liberal philosophers. The academically respected research done by Social Scientists since then has, in one way or another, only reiterated or expanded upon the dogma of skepticism, denied the intrinsic humanity of all humans, and reinforced the atomization of our society.

Socialism, which was an ideology based upon dialectics, classical economic theory, or dialectic materialism was replaced by a skeptic impostor created by the Social Sciences and the public was none the wiser to the change because the catastrophes of the Great depression followed by the Second World War and then the Second Red Scare under McCarthy drew their attention away. To this day, the Social Sciences are only capable of attempting to perpetuate a Classic Liberal, Capitalist Utopia. That’s why specialists trained in the Social Sciences are virtually incapable of recognizing fundamental and systemic corruption and collapse in our society, or of realizing that every age of society, including ours, eventually comes to a close. They are marginalized by social controls embedded in Academic and Occupational socialization and accordingly believe, and teach, that some minor adjustment within the system will cure all ills, They are trained to deceive society to pursue minor, irrelevant change, all the while believing that deception is necessary because the human species is somehow flawed and incapable of social interaction or integration. This deception is accomplished in millions of ways, such as selective “studies” churned out with extreme bias, skewed statistics, little oversight or peer review of data, and complete lack of scientific method (the term “social science” is a public relations term, those academic disciplines have never been science, nor accredited as such by real science). This sloppy and subjective method implemented by the social sciences allows those engaging in it to retain their blindness to the fact that they just perpetuate the sacred values of their moral tribal community.

OWS is still a minor movement compared to Socialism in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. And the modern population is almost completely lacking in any political understanding, having been degraded to party lines and the false right/left dichotomy by the guiding hand of psychologists, sociologists, economists, and political scientists, etc. designing the majority of the lingual noise flooding our senses through omnipresent media, manipulation, and deeply embedded social controls. The government, and its senior partner Capital, never destroy popular dissent when that dissent can be co-opted, and all it takes to co-opt that dissent is to throw some money at it. As William Hockings said “Pragmatism demands that power must be maintained”. Buying OWS is a small matter compared to the co-opting of socialism and the labor movement. Powerful movements in opposition to Government and Corporate power are co-opted and converted rather destroyed. A good example is the “Civil Rights” movement. It went from Black Nationalism to Blacksploitation in under ten years thanks to the combination of government, education, and media capturing the movement and converting its valuable political power into profit and propaganda.

Given the long history and profit potential of gaining the trust of popular movements and then selling them to the highest bidder (it’s practically America’s pastime), there are always shrewd sociopaths intent on gaining control because the profit they understand can be made from betraying those movements. Every popular movement has these people attempting to gain control, and they usually do. True infiltrators don’t want to “prevent the process”, they want to maintain and increase the power of the movement while steering it toward the goal of creating a vehicle for personal profit. This is done through a gradual mitigation of Democratic participation and increase of powers at the top, and increasingly seeking to abandon the disenfranchised classes that began the movement in favor of the moneyed classes looking to purchase it. Popular movements go seeking funding without ever realizing that their greatest potential danger is finding a wealthy contributor, because once they do, their expenses rise to equal that level of funding, and then the movement is exponentially more dependent upon that source of wealth than they are upon the people the movement was created by and for.

How do you prevent it? Don’t give up your voice (Never agree that non-violent actions must be submitted for approval or consensus by group decision; when the spirit is willing and numbers are with you, just do it) or allow the Democratic process within assembly to be marginalized, and most importantly, just like everything else in our world, keep your eyes on the money and always ask, in any circumstance, “Que Bono?”

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  18 comments for “How to Infiltrate and Destroy a Political Movement

  1. December 23, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    In the last two words of the last paragraph, did you mean to say “Cui Bono” rather than “Que Bono”?

  2. December 23, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    Just do it, indeed.

  3. yarin zachary taylor
    December 24, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    Well spoken anyone reading this , wake up and take some positive actions.

  4. John Gardner
    December 24, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Right before I had ever heard of Zuccotti park, I was without any hope that anything could ever stop this capitalist machine from grinding up what was left of plant earth. I thought to myself, “Face it dude, there’s no way. Buy some guns, get some pit-bull, build walls around my home, hire a small army of illegals to guard my compound against the hungry ghouls roaming the streets after the 1%ers had patched the last irritating trickle-down leak, start growing as much food as possible, dig clams at low tide, hunt wild game and fish. Buy an off-road vehicle and jack it up so high I can get over any potholes as the roads deteriorate. Put a canoe on the top so I can ford any rivers when the bridges collapse. Let’s privatize everything. Fuck the fire department, the police, city water and sewage. If you want to start a war, hire your own army. Use the street lights and mailmen for target practice.”
    Then I watched a documentary on Phil Ochs, a singer-songwriter of the 60’s anti-war and civil rights movement. Again I thought to my self, “What happened? It’s so much worse now, why aren’t we protesting?” Then I remembered the slogan that put everything into perspective, the voice of reason seasoned with apathy and complacency — “The 60’s are over.” Give up dude—it’s over.
    But then one day, I can’t remember where, I heard about a group of people camping in New York. They were protesting Wall Street greed. Wow! A few weeks later I joined a march with about twenty others through the streets of Seaside, Oregon. The next day I took a Greyhound bus to Portland and the sound of the drum circles led me to Chapman Square. The next weekend I returned to find Lonsdale Square occupied. It was beautiful, I was hooked and still am. It’s funny how different ideas ring true for different people.
    Why do people react differently to different ideas and situations? Why do some people run out and buy almost anything a TV commercial tells them to and others make it a point not to buy it because they were told to? Why do some people hop in their cars to go anywhere and everywhere and others walk because they hate the use of fossil fuels and the pollution it causes. Why do some form an organized queue in a mall Apple store to buy the latest gadget, and others are repulsed by products made by slaves in China? Why do some people stand in the cold all night at a candle light vigil in front of city hall and others choose a cozy night at home watching Steve Jobs receive a posthumous Grammy? I guess it’s because we’re all different. To conclude that one belief or response is superior to another seems rather egotistical.
    Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. As someone who finds “truth” in the ideas of the occupy movement, I hope that the 99% will some day join us. I think it’s safe to say that one of these ideas is the end of rule by an elite class.
    If we leave behind all rhetoric and dreams of how we would like things to be and focus for a minute on reality we know that the 99% is, and always has been, ruled by the 1%. I know that some indigenous people were ruled by consensus and the Greeks practiced true democracy for a while. Looking at the facts, we would have to conclude that an elite class ruling the masses is human nature! The occupy movement is fighting, or offering an alternative to, something that probably predates historical records of human history.
    Sure, there have been times when the masses have risen up and destroyed the elite rulers but within a few years, it was business as usual for a new elite. A few years after the French revolution, we got Napoleon. What’s the situation in Russia and China after their revolutions. Oh, and we can’t forget where the lofty ideals of the revolt from England and the US constitution have led us today. According to the bible, even the Hebrew god, Jehovah instituted a politically leaderless nation of Israel, but after a while the children of Israel said at 1 Samuel 8;19, “Nay, but we will have king over us.” Except for a few, these kings were corrupt.
    In spite of reason , I still have hope. What will it take for the 99% to leave behind what seems to be inherent in human nature? When will they see “the light.?”
    I have a sister that lived in Berkeley in the late sixties. She protested in the streets and faced the national guard tanks that governor Ronald Reagan sent in to quell the People’s Park. In the seventies she quit protesting and became an avid yuppie consumer. I asked her what she thought of the occupy movement and her reply was pretty standard, “I agree with the ideas but, they need to become more mainstream. Get some articulate leaders.” So I thought about that. Maybe we could wash and launder the homeless before our events. We could even segregate the homeless from the more affluent. We could have our events catered by McDonalds and Starbucks. Let’s raffle off I-Pads, Priuses and trips to gay Paris. We could give free manicures and eyelash implants after the marches. Even doing these things wouldn’t help. Besides human nature, the occupy movement is up against the greatest elitist machine ever created. THE 99% HAS COMPLETELY DUMBED-DOWN AND BRAINWASHED. How can we compete with American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, Fox News, and that Kim Kardasian, she’s such a hottie? It’s like David and Goliath revisited, except this time Goliath is wearing riot gear.
    I repeat, “THE 99% HAS BEEN DUMBED-DOWN AND BRAINWASHED” DO YOU HEAR ME? YOU, “THE 99% HAVE BEEN LOBOTIMIZED!” It’s the truth. Try and prove me wrong. Turn off your TV. Get out of your car. Stop consuming. I dare you. You can’t do it. Your too far gone. The 1% are your masters and you do their bidding. HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!! WHAT A BUNCH OF SHORN SHEEP! IT’S IN YOUR GENES TO BE SLAVES TO YOUR MASTERS!
    Could this be a new tactic? It probably violates some Occupy rule. I’ll stop ranting now so I can stand at a corner and hold a sign that says, “Everything’s OK—Keep shopping.”

    • Grace
      December 24, 2011 at 10:13 AM

      has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”

      –Tyler Durden (from the movie Fight Club)

    • lester macgurdy
      December 24, 2011 at 7:50 PM

      Excellent response John. The lobotomized masses are the result of money. Take the money away and all the tools of societal control will lose their effectiveness. This matrix that the social sciences have built only appears to be unchallengeable. In reality it’s a flimsy edifice that will collapse under it’s own weight. All we have to do is give it a little nudge.

      The problem isn’t in destroying this monstrous system of abuse; that’s an inevitability, the problem is creating the structure to replace it.

    • ...*...
      December 25, 2011 at 11:32 PM

      thought you might have had a point coming for a while there, but nope. more meaningless yak

  5. AlonK
    December 25, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Thank you for an insightful article and reminding us that we did not invent the wheel and that we can and must learn much from what came before us. Learning about the lengths that the state will go to crush/destroy/buy-out dissent and dissenters, can save us from illusions and painful lessons. Learning about the rebels and dreamers who came before us always inspires me.

    You also write – “To this day, the Social Sciences are only capable of attempting to perpetuate a Classic Liberal, Capitalist Utopia.” These exist in academia but isn’t this a gigantic generalization that ignores thousands of radical scholars and teachers, who not only in their subjects but also in the way they conduct classes (not as “know it all” professors but using a more democratic model) have been fighting against the machine? Just look at a magazine like Radical History Review that has done excellent work since 1982? I could list many academics and even departments at universities (I am especially familiar with PSU, U of O, and UC Davis, the schools I taught at) as well as progressive schools (that tried to get away from the corporate/state model, such as Goddard College of Vermont and New College of Florida that are more student-centered, where people are different. You write also about the period between the 2 world wars, and then too there were scholars in programs like the Frankfurt Institute whose leftist scholars questioned everything, from imperial wars to Jazz and sports. Even in the midst of the conformist “Cold War” period, there were people like William Appleman Williams (at U of O) who dissected and denounced American imperialism, and sociologists like C. Wright Mills and Paul Goodman and many more, who imagined a different way of being.

    • lester macgurdy
      December 25, 2011 at 11:50 PM

      “isn’t this a gigantic generalization that ignores thousands of radical scholars and teachers, who not only in their subjects but also in the way they conduct classes”


      “many more, who imagined a different way of being.”

      Within acceptable post-modern/post-rationalist confines.

      • AlonK
        December 28, 2011 at 9:13 AM

        I still maintain that you are making a giganticcccccccc generalization about academia and its reality and potential as a force for change, but this is just another one of the beautiful aspects of life- having different opinions, experiences, and perspectives.

        Perhaps this issue as well as the important issues of goals, what is possible, what we should aim at (in my opinion and life, not the scraps tossed our way by the masters, but always the stars, not to colonize them but to feel their beauty and inspiration) can be discussed in a setting other than the pixeleted symbols of the computer.
        Thanks and looking forward to reading more of youe interesting and thought-provoking articles,

        • lester macgurdy
          December 28, 2011 at 10:15 PM

          “I still maintain that you are making a giganticcccccccc generalization about academia and its reality and potential as a force for change”

          Of course you do, you’re a professor. You all think that you’re revolutionaries.

          Higher education is a sausage factory, but rather than being fed pigs and producing sausages,it’s fed impressionable young minds and it produces sociopaths.

          • December 30, 2011 at 7:09 AM

            Your correct and understandably guarded. But, do we really want or need purity tests? I can accept the “giganticcccccccc generalization” and move forward. I had a college professor who introduced me along with thousands of other students to our political economy in a manner similar to your own. That is how I find common cause with your message.

          • Rose
            December 30, 2011 at 9:31 AM

            In regards to education I agree that a large majority of institutions (and instructors) reinforce the sociopathic values of our broken society but there are individual instructors that attempt to broaden the perspective of their students; to open their eyes to these problems. Admittedly, there are few, but they are out there. By the time I graduated from college I only encountered one but she made a HUGE difference.

  6. swr
    December 26, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    This is a good article (especially the part about the social sciences), if a little scattered.

    I only wished he had distinguished between long term projects of the ruling class (corruping the social sciences through philanthropy) and short term projects of the ruling class (the Red Scare).

    Unlike socialism or anarchism, OWS really isn’t creating new ways of thinking (it actually relies on anarchism and socialism), but the ruling classes definitely want to smash it physically and buy off its message.

    Right now I’d be especially wary of liberals saying things like “well I like your message but not your tactics.” I think OWS should insist that its tactics are essential to its message and that anyone who wants to take one without the other and channel the energy of OWS into the election in 2012 should be told to take a hike.

  7. Antoine
    December 26, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    It is exciting reading this thread. That there is discussion and not ranting and name calling and slurring
    is fantastic. It ‘s difficult to have a curious, investigative discussion anymore where I live. I have been noting in my friends just who can listen, examine, wonder, and who becomes angry and defensive. I have begun to observe who seems likely to be trustworthy in the future, not in any knee-jerk reactionism, but with a careful culling and distancing. In the anonymity of a city much can be gained, so enjoy that ability to fade into the woodwork and to really feel solidarity with people close to you, not just miles and miles away.

    Lastly, re: buying out of movements. Beware the bait and switch – absolutely.

  8. Antoine
    December 26, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    Here is an article on a recent co-opt of OWS:

  9. AlonK
    December 29, 2011 at 6:50 AM

    You write “You all think,”- do you know ALL people who teach at university settings and who ever taught?
    You don’t know me, you don’t know anything about my life and struggles, my class background, poverty I knew and economic struggles I faced, my political commitment since age 14, being in jail for substantial time because of my political stands and work, the classes I teach/and learn in and how they are organized, what we learn together in class, how students’ awareness (and mine too of course) changes, what decisions people made after being in the class (if to stop driving a car and starting to ride a bicycle, after being in the history and culture of the Bicycle class I teach/learn in or joining the International Solidarity movement and joining a boat carrying supplies to Gaza after being in the Israeli-Palestinian Encounter class I teach/learn in (and no, I am not claiming that these changes are just because the class or that such change would not have occurred otherwise, but students have said that hearing in our class a Palestinian refugee guest speaker has altered their perspective) and yet you make assumptions and ignore people’s experiences. Furthermore, Have I ever claimed to be a “revolutionary?” Have you ever heard me say so?

    The same goes for many graduate students, adjunct teachers, and even tenured teachers- you don’t know them, and yet you lump them all together. Was Howard Zinn, tenured professor for most of his adult life, just a butcher in a sausage factory and a producer of sociopaths? Was Angela Davis, tenured professor, the same? I am mentioning them because they are well known, but the thousands of teachers and students, all over the world, (just recently in Wisconsin, campuses around the USA, the Arab world) who for centuries have tried, without claiming to be revolutionaries or better than anyone else, to add their efforts to changing themselves and the world, in the classroom and outside, are worthy of our respect.

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