ARCHIVES: The Origins of the Overclass

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A MAN WHO DOES NOT KNOW THE TRUTH IS JUST AN IDIOT BUT A MAN WHO KNOWS THE TRUTH AND CALLS IT A LIE IS A CROOK! –BERTOLT BRECHT
A man is nothing else but what he makes of himself! –Jean-Paul Sartre
BY STEVE KANGAS†, The Origins of the Overclass (1998)
[print_link]  The wealthy have always used many methods to accumulate wealth, but it was not until the mid-1970s that these methods coalesced into a superbly organized, cohesive and efficient machine. After 1975, it became greater than the sum of its parts, a smooth flowing organization of advocacy groups, lobbyists, think tanks, conservative foundations, and PR firms that hurtled the richest 1 percent into the stratosphere.
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The origins of this machine, interestingly enough, can be traced back to the CIA. This is not to say the machine is a formal CIA operation, complete with code name and signed documents. (Although such evidence may yet surface – and previously unthinkable domestic operations such as MK-ULTRA, CHAOS and MOCKINGBIRD show this to be a distinct possibility.) But what we do know already indicts the CIA strongly enough. Its principal creators were Irving Kristol, Paul Weyrich, William Simon, Richard Mellon Scaife, Frank Shakespeare, William F. Buckley, Jr., the Rockefeller family, and more. Almost all the machine’s creators had CIA backgrounds.  PHOTO (LEFT): The late Steve Kangas.
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During the 1970s, these men would take the propaganda and operational techniques they had learned in the Cold War and apply them to the Class War. Therefore it is no surprise that the American version of the machine bears an uncanny resemblance to the foreign versions designed to fight communism. The CIA’s expert and comprehensive organization of the business class would succeed beyond their wildest dreams. In 1975, the richest 1 percent owned 22 percent of America’s wealth. By 1992, they would nearly double that, to 42 percent – the highest level of inequality in the 20th century.
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How did this alliance start? The CIA has always recruited the nation’s elite: millionaire businessmen, Wall Street brokers, members of the national news media, and Ivy League scholars. During World War II, General “Wild Bill” Donovan became chief of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. Donovan recruited so exclusively from the nation’s rich and powerful that members eventually came to joke that “OSS” stood for “Oh, so social!”
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Another early elite [member] was Allen Dulles, who served as Director of the CIA from 1953 to 1961. Dulles was a senior partner at the Wall Street firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, which represented the Rockefeller empire and other mammoth trusts, corporations and cartels. He was also a board member of the J. Henry Schroeder Bank, with offices in Wall Street, London, Zurich and Hamburg. His financial interests across the world would become a conflict of interest when he became head of the CIA. Like Donavan, he would recruit exclusively from society’s elite…
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Although many people think that the CIA’s primary mission during the Cold War was to “deter communism,” Noam Chomksy correctly points out that its real mission was “deterring democracy.” From corrupting elections to overthrowing democratic governments, from assassinating elected leaders to installing murderous dictators, the CIA has virtually always replaced democracy with dictatorship. It didn’t help that the CIA was run by businessmen, whose hostility towards democracy is legendary. The reason they overthrew so many democracies is because the people usually voted for policies that multi-national corporations didn’t like: land reform, strong labor unions, nationalization of their industries, and greater regulation protecting workers, consumers and the environment.
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So the CIA’s greatest “successes” were usually more pro-corporate than anti-Communist Citing a communist threat, the CIA helped overthrow the democratically elected Mohammed Mussadegh government in Iran in 1953. But there was no communist threat — the Soviets stood back and watched the coup from afar. What really happened was that Mussadegh threatened to nationalize British and American oil companies in Iran. Consequently, the CIA and MI6 toppled Mussadegh and replaced him with a puppet government, headed by the Shah of Iran and his murderous secret police, SAVAK. The reason why the Ayatollah Khomeini and his revolutionaries took 52 Americans hostage in Tehran in 1979 was because the CIA had helped SAVAK torture and murder their people.
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Another “success” was the CIA’s overthrow of the democratically elected government of Jacabo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. Again, there was no communist threat. The real threat was to Guatemala’s United Fruit Company, a Rockefeller-owned firm whose stockholders included CIA Director Allen Dulles. Arbenz threatened to nationalize the company, albeit with generous compensation. In response, the CIA initiated a coup that overthrew Arbenz and installed the murderous dictator Castillo Armas. For four decades, CIA-backed dictators would torture and murder hundreds of thousands of leftists, union members and others who would fight for a more equitable distribution of the country’s resources.
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Yet another “success” story was Chile. In 1973, the country’s democratically elected leader, Salvadore Allende, nationalized foreign-owned interests, like Chile’s lucrative copper mines and telephone system. International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT) offered the CIA $1 million to overthrow Allende — which the CIA allegedly refused — but paid $350,000 to his political opponents. The CIA responded with a coup that murdered Allende and replaced him with a brutal tyrant, General Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet tortured and murdered thousands of leftists, union members and political opponents as economists trained at the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman installed a “free market” economy. Since then, income inequality has soared higher in Chile than anywhere else in Latin America…
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Journalism is a perfect cover for CIA agents. People talk freely to journalists, and few think suspiciously of a journalist aggressively searching for information. Journalists also have power, influence and clout. Not surprisingly, the CIA began a mission in the late 1940s to recruit American journalists on a wide scale, a mission it dubbed Operation MOCKINGBIRD. The agency wanted these journalists not only to relay any sensitive information they discovered, but also to write anti-Communist, pro-capitalist propaganda when needed.
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The instigators of MOCKINGBIRD were Frank Wisner, Allen Dulles, Richard Helms and Philip Graham. Graham was the husband of Katherine Graham, today’s publisher of the Washington Post. In fact, it was the Post’s ties to the CIA that allowed it to grow so quickly after the war, both in readership and influence.
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MOCKINGBIRD was extraordinarily successful. In no time, the agency had recruited at least 25 media organizations to disseminate CIA propaganda. At least 400 journalists would eventually join the CIA payroll, according to the CIA’s testimony before a stunned Church Committee in 1975. (The committee felt the true number was considerably higher.) The names of those recruited reads like a Who’s Who of journalism…
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The CIA also secretly bought or created its own media companies. It owned 40 percent of the Rome Daily American at a time when communists were threatening to win the Italian elections. Worse, the CIA has bought many domestic media companies. A prime example is Capital Cities, created in 1954 by CIA businessman William Casey (who would later become Reagan’s CIA director).  Another founder was Lowell Thomas, a close friend and business contact with CIA Director Allen Dulles. Another founder was CIA businessman Thomas Dewey. By 1985, Capital Cities had grown so powerful that it was able to buy an entire TV network: ABC.
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For those who believe in “separation of press and state,” the very idea that the CIA has secret propaganda outlets throughout the media is appalling. The reason why America was so oblivious to CIA crimes in the 40s and 50s was because the media willingly complied with the agency. Even today, when the immorality of the CIA should be an open-and-shut case, “debate” about the issue rages in the media…
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The CIA’s fingerprints were all over Watergate. First, we should note the CIA had clear motives for helping oust Nixon. He was the ultimate “outsider,” a poor California Quaker who grew up feeling bitter resentment towards the elite “Eastern establishment.” Nixon, for all his arch-conservatism, was surprisingly liberal on economic issues, infuriating businessmen with statements like, “We are all Keynesians now.” He created a whole host of new agencies to regulate business, like the FDA, EPA and OSHA. He signed the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, which forced businesses to clean up their toxic emissions. He imposed price controls to fight inflation, and took the nation fully off the gold standard. Nixon also strengthened affirmative action. Even his staffers were famously anti-elitist, like Kevin Philips, who would eventually write the bible on inequality during the 1980s, The Politics of Rich and Poor.
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Add to this Nixon’s withdrawal from Vietnam and Détente with China and the Soviet Union. Nixon and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, had not only tried to remove control of foreign policy from the CIA, but had also taken measures to bring the CIA itself under control. Not surprisingly, Nixon and his CIA Director, Richard Helms, could not stand each other. (Nixon fired him for failing to cover up for Watergate.) Clearly, Nixon was fighting at cross-purposes with the CIA and the nation’s elite.
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As it turns out, the CIA had inside knowledge of Nixon’s dirty work. Nixon had created his own covert action team, “The Committee to Reelect the President,” more amusingly known by its acronym, CREEP. The team consisted of two CIA agents – E. Howard Hunt and James McCord – as well as former FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy. They also employed four Cubans with long CIA histories. In fact, a CIA front called the Mullen Company funded their activities, which ranged from disrupting Democratic campaigns to laundering Nixon’s illegal campaign contributions.
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The CIA not only had intimate knowledge of Nixon’s crimes, but it also acted as though it wanted the world to know them. When the FBI began investigating Watergate, Nixon tried using the CIA to cover up for him. At first the CIA half-heartedly complied, telling the FBI that the investigation would endanger CIA operations in Mexico. But a few weeks later it gave the FBI a green light again to proceed again with their investigation.
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Furthermore, Watergate was exposed by the CIA’s main newspaper in America, The Washington Post. One of the two journalists who investigated the scandal, Robert Woodward, had only recently become a journalist. Previously Woodward had worked as a Naval intelligence liaison to the White House, privy to some of the nation’s highest secrets. He would later write a sympathetic portrait of CIA Director Bill Casey in a book entitled Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA. It was Woodward who personally knew and interviewed “Deep Throat,” the unnamed source who revealed inside information on Nixon’s activities. Many Watergate researchers consider one of Woodward’s old intelligence contacts to be a prime candidate for Deep Throat…
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In the mid-1970s, at this historic low point in American conservatism, the CIA began a major campaign to turn corporate fortunes around. They did this in several ways. First, they helped create numerous foundations to finance their domestic operations. Even before 1973, the CIA had co-opted the most famous ones, like the Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations. But after 1973, they created more. One of their most notorious recruits was billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. During World War II, Scaife’s father served in the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA. By his mid-twenties, both of Scaife’s parents had died, and he inherited a fortune under four foundations: the Carthage Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Scaife Family Foundations and the Allegheny Foundation. In the early 1970s, Scaife was encouraged by CIA agent Frank Barnett to begin investing his fortune to fight the “Soviet menace.” From 1973 to 1975, Scaife ran Forum World Features, a foreign news service used as a front to disseminate CIA propaganda around the world. Shortly afterwards he began donating millions to fund the New Right.
STEVE KANGAS, a leftwing activist known by many on the Web as “the Web Warrior” died in 1999 under extremely mysterious—some would say suspicious—circumstances (see below letter by John Van Matre).
A sampler of his articles—edited and personal can be found at:

A letter from John Van Matre

When I first heard that Steve Kangas may have died in Pittsburgh, I searched for an obituary and could find none.  I wanted to know about the circumstances.  I knew Steve Kangas had written an investigative essay on Richard Mellon Scaife and wondered whether there might be a connection, though I really didn’t expect to find one.  Finally, someone with Lexus Nexus access verified that Steve Kangas had actually died, and sent me the short obituary from the the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of Feb. 12:

“The body of a 37-year-old man found in a 39th floor bathroom of One Oxford Centre late Monday night has been identified as Steven Kangas of Las Vegas. He died of a gunshot wound to the head. The Allegheny County coroner’s office ruled the death a suicide.”

I plugged in One Oxford Centre and Scaife -what popped up made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Scaife Foundations One Oxford Centre 301 Grant Street, Suite 3900 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219-6401

Since then, the questions surrounding the death of Steve Kangas have snowballed.  There were two parallel tracks being taken.  One track was seeking more information about Steve’s death and wanting a further investigation.  The other track was bent on smearing Steve’s reputation and turning him into everything from an embezzler to a neo nazi to a down and out womanizing drunk to an assassin out to murder Richard Mellon Scaife.  For instance Tucker Carlson, in an article “Stalking Scaife” characterized Steve Kangas as, “Kangas, a 37-year-old Internet pornographer from Las Vegas” and Tony Snow, in an article “Steve Kangas Left-Wing Vince Foster” characterized Steve Kangas as, “Squeeky Frohme with intellectual pretensions.”For any who are unfamiliar with Steve Kangas and wish to make up their own mind, I suggest you visit his web page and read through his essays (“The Origins of the Overclass” is the essay that mentions Scaife). He posted his last essay to his Web site on February 3, just five days before his untimely death.  In my opinion, it is not the writings of a man in throes of alcoholism, though people like Richard Scaife have suggested as much and he may well view Steve’s work as pornography. There are more questions than answers.  Richard Scaife hiring a detective to try and dig up dirt on Steve Kangas raises a red flag.  He used the same detective, Rex Armistead, that was used to try and dig up dirt on President Clinton for the Arkansas Project.  The Pittsburgh police should have been so thorough.  I doubt the police even questioned Richard Scaife, though one report did say they were thinking about it.  The systematic attempted trashing of Steve Kangas’ raises questions.  Discrepancies between the coroner’s report, in which Steve was injured when first found, and the police report, with no mention of injuries when he was first found raises questions.  The quick cremation and the erasure of Steve Kangas’ hard drive raises questions. If magically I could have three questions about the circumstances around this case answered, I suppose they would be — (1) Is the checking of the circuit breakers in One Oxford Centre rest rooms sop, and is there a log to prove this? (2) Was the gun that killed Steve empty when found? The news articles infer this, stating 47 rounds were found in his backpack and in one pocket.  This is important because if Steve Kangas were in custody of Scaife security, they may have initially taken his gun away and emptied the clip.  There may even be prints on the bullets or the clip, if the gun is still in evidence.  (3) One intriguing puzzle piece that doesn’t fit with the theory of suicide — the bullet found around the time that Steve Kangas was found.  There was a bullet hole found in the window of a street level clothing store.  The slug was found inside the store.  The bullet got there somehow.  The location of One Oxford Centre doesn’t appear to be a part of Pittsburgh where random bullet holes would be found.  I suspect this may be the first time ever that a bullet hole was found in a window of one of the shops.  Maybe some time after all the stores had closed, Steve Kangas had attempted to leave, was stopped by Scaife security, shots or a shot were fired, with Steve Kangas was forced to go back up to the 39th floor.  If that bullet is connected, suicide becomes implausible. I don’t know what happened to Steve Kangas on the evening of February 8.  I can write several scripts from the facts, as reported in the various newspaper articles.  Many of the facts of the case seem suspicious and do not fit well with the theory of suicide.  When I started digging on my own, that is what I expected to find.  But from the burglar alarm system, to the \$300 gun, to the intensive work he’d been doing on his political web site, that does not seem to be where Steve Kangas was at. And then there is that bullet hole in the window of the Kountz and Rider clothing store. For Steve’s sake, this case deserves to be investigated further by someone with the means and abilities far greater than I.  Hopefully someone, or some agency, will investigate the death of of Steve Kangas in the manner it deserves. Rest in peace Steve Kangas. John Van Matre

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