The Occult Technology of Power, Anonymous, Dearborn, MI: Alpine Enterprises, 1974, 35 pp., $2.00.
One of the most delightful little books of the last few years is either a satire or an updated version of Machiavelli's Il Principe. Written with a cynical, yet very clever statement of the techniques and methods with which "the father" has successfully consolidated and maintained a financial and political empire, the book presents a scenario which many readers will find persuasive. The fictional setting is given as the 30th birthday of "the son," heir-apparent to the reins of power. His father has gathered together seven close advisors at a weekend retreat to explain the family business, and to initiate "the son" into the brotherhood. The book is presented as the transcripts of that initiation.
The writer ("transcriber") comments: "Any resemblance of these characters to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Any resemblance of their methodology to that of real ruling elites is purely intentional." This comment is in the last chapter, of course. In the first chapter he says: "My son,…I have chosen you to be heir to my empire." Come all ye who lust after Power. Lick your chops—and read on!
Whether or not you accept the hypothesis of an international insiders' conspiracy, you must acknowledge the popularity of such an idea. The most eager supporters of conspiracy theories are young left-wing students and radical rightists. The U.S. Labor Party is very concerned about Nelson Rockefeller, only a heartbeat away from the Presidency. The Socialist Workers Party is positively convinced that giant corporations and finance capitalists rule the world. Anyone who puzzles over world affairs, and feels powerless to affect events, is susceptible to a conspiracy theory.
The Occult Technology of Power should be a best seller among the Left. This reviewer would hope so, because the book is a good little primer on the economics of inflation and central banking. The writer argues in Chapter 2—entitled "On Occult Knowledge as the Key to Power"—that when secret magic tricks become public knowledge, the people become immune to mysticism and deception. The example of ancient astrology is interesting. The priests could use their mathematics and scrolls to predict the seasons. The common people, however, who based their planting and harvesting on the seasons could hardly even count to 21 (since few had six toes). The priests were able to sell their secret knowledge for wealth, power, and human sacrifices. Today, of course, astronomy is taught in grade schools and astrologers no longer frighten kings with their secret, occult powers.
Chapter 3 is entitled, "On the Economics of Central Banking." The writer points out that the common people no longer depend on the seasons, but the inflation and unemployment cycle is fearful and dangerous in a complex economic system. The little guy is afraid of losing his job, and the politician is afraid of protest at the polls. The modern occult "science" is economic prophecy
Certainly the United States would have been spared a large measure of our current economic malaise if Nixon had not imposed wage-price controls in 1971. You will recall that at that time the pressure to "do something" about inflation, which had risen to 4.5 percent ("intolerable"), had become almost irresistible—and controls were very popular for a while. This is an example of modern mysticism, based on a massive public ignorance of economics. Who can doubt that if more people understood the sources of inflation, Congress would find itself eagerly slashing those so-called "uncontrollable" expenditures. Instead of demanding more credit expansion, the friends of the little guy might demand some price stability or deflation instead.
The purpose of this book, aside from the author's profit motive (a noble purpose, to be sure), is summed up near the end by one of the young man's professors: "However, a trend toward rationality in human affairs plods along inexorably quite outside the reach of our power.…Some have theorized that, eventually, widespread rational egoism will overturn our order." The little book is written as if it were a set of lectures by the central philosophers of a master conspiracy. Their personal viewpoint is rational egoism, but they want to keep the wisdom of this perspective secret—since it is impossible to exploit a person who maintains a self-conscious, self-interested frame of reference.
By this time you have probably guessed that the writer, who remains anonymous as would befit an insider, is familiar with the writings of the libertarian philosophers. Insidiously, he counsels the young man, "…in the current era, while minds are yet in the thrall of altruistic, collectivistic, and divine moralistic spooks, the egoist's rational course is to utilize such spooks to control others." This is a very neat twist to the usual presentation libertarian writers make. It seems that Alpine Enterprises has given us a libertarian version of the Screwtape Letters.
This reviewer is very pleased with the discovery of a text we had at first avoided because of its title. The little book is very much worth its price. As Prof. Mises used to say, "Vote with your dollars." A vote of appreciation is in order.
Joe Cobb is a director and Secretary of the Economic Civil Liberties Association. He is employed as Fiscal Officer of the Industrial Commission of Illinois.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "The Occult Technology of Power".