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Here is a long but extremely useful piece from the Wall Street Journal, about the way conservatives used philanthropical organisations to take control of the political agenda in the US. It is in many ways a companion to a similar article in Harper’s written by Lewis Lapham during last fall’s Presidential election race, but while Lapham’s piece had a strong wiff of the conspiracy about it, this one is much more matter of fact.
I think this is vital reading, particularly by anyone who remains persuaded of the political power of toking up, who believes with Gordon Phinn (see previous entry) that “the self-inflicted genocide of Cambodia soon overtook the imperial slaughter of Vietnam just as efficiently as the enslavement of cocaine replaced the liberation of pot.”
As I’ve remarked before: if the countercultural left had taken a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the money it has spent on pot since the sixties and directed into think tanks, endowed chairs, scholarships, and so on, there would be no reason to complain about conservatives dominating the intellectual agenda.
But of course, that’s nowhere near as fun as getting stoned and rolling around on the floor yelling “yippee” and calling it a political movement. Maybe it helps you converse with the dead. What do I know?
I do know that I am somewhat persuaded by a comment made by David Brooks, and repeated in the article I link above, that “asked to name influences on their thinking, most conservatives are able to list a number of books or authors, while liberals have difficulty identifying any. This lively engagement with a coherent body of ideas forms a crucial if much overlooked aspect of the rise of conservatism, and one in which conservative foundations have played a central role.”
Is this unfair? You tell me, lefties. What books, published since the end of the second world war, have most influenced your thinking? Do those books stand the test of time? Why? Help free this pontificating nerd from his neo-con naivte.

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