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OíSullivanís First Law
National Review Online ^ | June 26, 2003, | John OíSullivan

Posted on 06/27/2005 5:07:16 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion

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June 26, 2003, 1:45 p.m.
O’Sullivan’s First Law
An eternal truth.

By John O’Sullivan

EDITOR’S NOTE: This appeared in the October 27, 1989, issue of National Review.

obert Michels — as any reader of James Burnham's finest book, The Machiavellians, knows was the author of the Iron Law of Oligarchy. This states that in any organization the permanent officials will gradually obtain such influence that its day-to-day program will increasingly reflect their interests rather than its own stated philosophy. To take a homely example, congressmen from egalitarian parties somehow end up voting for higher pay and generous expenses for congressmen. We can also catch an ironic echo of Michels's law in Stalin's title of General Secretary, as well as in the fact that powerful mandarins in the British government creep about under such deceptive pseudonyms as "Permanent Under-Secretary." All of which is by way of introducing a new law of my own. My copy of the current Mother Jones (well, it's my job to read that sort of thing — I take no pleasure in it) contains an advertisement for Amnesty International. Now, AI used to be a perfectly serviceable single-issue pressure group which drew the world's attention to the plight of political prisoners around the globe. Many people owe their lives and liberty to it. But that good work depended greatly on AI's being a single-issue organization that helped victims of both left- and right-wing regimes and was careful to remain politically neutral in other respects. Its advertisement in Mother Jones, however, abandons this tradition by calling for an end to the death penalty.

  

The ad itself, needless to say, is the usual liberal rhubarb. "In American courtrooms," it intones, "some have a better chance of being sentenced to death." That is true: the people in question are called murderers. But Al naturally means something different and more sinister — namely that poor, black, and retarded people are more likely to face the electric chair than other murderers.

Let us suppose this to be the case. What follows? A mentally retarded person incapable of understanding the significance of his actions cannot be guilty of murder or of any other crime. A law that punishes him (as opposed to one that confines him for his own and society's safety) is unjust and should be changed — whether or not he faces the death penalty. On the other hand, someone who is guilty of murder may be executed with perfect justice. His race or economic circumstances do not affect the matter at all. The fact that other murderers may obtain lesser sentences does not in any way detract from the justice of his own punishment. After all, some murderers have always escaped scot-free. Would Amnesty have us release the rest on the grounds of equality of treatment? Finally, Amnesty's argument from discrimination could be met just as well by executing more rich, white murderers (which would be fine with me) as by executing no murderers at all. Significantly, Amnesty's list of death-penalty victims" does not include political prisoners. America does not, have political prisoners, let alone execute them. Why, then, Amnesty's campaign on the issue?

That is explained by O'Sullivan's First Law: All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing. I cite as supporting evidence the ACLU, the Ford Foundation, and the Episcopal Church. The reason is, of course, that people who staff such bodies tend to be the sort who don't like private profit, business, making money, the current organization of society, and, by extension, the Western world. At which point Michels's Iron Law of Oligarchy takes over — and the rest follows.

Is there any law which enables us to predict the behavior of right-wing organizations? As it happens, there is: Conquest's Second Law (formulated by the Sovietologist Robert Conquest):

The behavior of an organization can best be predicted by assuming it to be controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies. Examples: virtually any conservative party anywhere, the Ronald Lauder for Mayor campaign, and the British secret service. That last example is, however, flawed, since the British secret service actually was controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies in the form of Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, et al. In which case, Conquest's Law should have operated to make M1-6 a crack anti-Soviet intelligence service of James Bond proportions. But these are deep waters.

Incidentally, Bob Conquest, who also doubles as a poet and literary critic, presciently commented ten years ago on the recent controversy over the Mapplethorpe exhibition. His 1979 collection of essays, The Abomination of Moab (not, alas, published in this country), coined the term Moabites to describe the false friends of art as opposed to its open enemies, the

Philistines: "The characteristic of modern methods of destroying art is that they are carried out by those who far from being indifferent or hostile, are deeply concerned." The Biblical Moabites were the insidious enemies of Israel "who, from their capital at Shittim, infiltrated temple and harem and set the children of light whoring after strange doctrines." Today's Moabites have been out in force to defend both Mapplethorpe and a strange doctrine of — unrestrained government funding of the arts. The falseness of their friendship consists of their denial of any distinctions, moral or artistic or political, where Art is concerned. Morally, they argue that if Mapplethorpe's pornographic photographs are banned today, the Venus de Milo will have to wear a bra tomorrow. Artistically, they discern no distinctions between different works of art which would offer a general basis for providing or withholding subsidy. And, politically, they obliterate any distinction between the absence of a subsidy and outright censorship.

Once something is called Art, Bob told me over the phone, Moabites take. it to be transcendental and beyond human criticism: "In which case it is, in effect, a religion and thus debarred from federal funding under the First Amendment."





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TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
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This is an oldie which my searching on FR did not turn up.It contains interesting discussion of laws of polics and government with which I was not familiar, tho I knew Sulivan's Law.

My own preferred proof of Sullivan's Law is to prove the following "law" of my own:

Free commercial journalism, under competitive pressure, will bully society at large.
Journalism is superficial because of its deadlines, negative for the same reason that the boy cried "wolf" - and in love with its PR power. Each individual journalist both loves his own PR power and fears the PR power of journalism as a whole.

That is why journalists are bullies - and why it requires courage to take the positive, long-range perspective of conservatism. Organizations for conservative purposes will therefore be bullied - and given dismissive labels such as "right wing" - by journalism.

Organizations which do not have explicitly conservative purposes will therefore distance themselves from conservative organizations to gain access to the protection of the cowardly, bullying herd of journalists and fellow travelers. Sullivan's First Law: "All organizations that are not actually right wing will over time become left wing," follows.


1 posted on 06/27/2005 5:07:16 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: fporretto; walford; Natural Law; Old Professer; RJCogburn; Jim Noble; hotpotato; JoeGar; ...
Bump.

2 posted on 06/27/2005 8:33:16 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

Media bias bump.


3 posted on 06/27/2005 9:02:23 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
That is why journalists are bullies

To my way of thinking, they're a bunch of wimps clothed in 1st amendment and "the pen is mightier than the sword" rags. Style/symbolism over substance is their only weapon. A weapon that has worked only too well on their target audience and an apathetic electorate.

FGS

4 posted on 06/27/2005 12:02:06 PM PDT by ForGod'sSake (ABCNNBCBS: An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
Did you ever meet a sportscaster who did not like football, basketball and other athletic games? Did you ever meet a sportscastor was not a fan of athletic contests ... did not want athletic games to expand and increase?

Can you imagine some one thinking.. "I am not a sports fan.. I think there should be fewer atletic events. Therefore I will make my living covering athletic events."

Did you ever meet a newscaster that did not like goverment ... local state and national? Did you ever meet a newscaster that was not infavor or courts having great power?.... Did you ever meet a newscaster that was in favor of smaller government?

Can you imagine someone saying "I dislike government and would like to downsize it and therefore I am going to make my career reporting on government.

The media is biased because they are government fans. The like government and want to see it grow and expand.

How do I explain people like Rush? That is simple. Rush says it himself. If you ask Rush his profession he will not say he is a jouralist or newscaster. He will tell you he is an entertainer. He got into radio and had his early success as a D.J. His job was to entertain listeners. When the people Ronald Reagan's appointed to the FCC made political talk shows legal, Rush understood that ruling would allow political talk shows to become entertainment. The reason liberals fail to have hit talk shows is they fail to make their shows enteraining.

Al Franken is not enteraining because his leftist beliefs make his audience the butt of his so called jokes. People who are the butt of jokes rarely find them funny.

But make no mistake... you can only get unbiased coverage from entertainers whose purpose is to entertain. When entertainers try to become talk show journalists they fail.. everytime. And government fans (newscasters) fall very flat on their entertainment face.

To a Newscaster shuting down a government agency is like telling a sportscaster you want to close Wrigley Field and do away with the Cubs.


5 posted on 06/28/2005 8:24:37 AM PDT by Common Tator
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To: Common Tator
To a Newscaster shuting down a government agency is like telling a sportscaster you want to close Wrigley Field and do away with the Cubs.
Republicans are the party of "the people" and Democrats are the party of government. Republicans are the party of people who believe in "the people," and Democrats are the party of people who think "the people" need a nanny.

6 posted on 06/28/2005 11:01:11 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: Common Tator
Al Franken is not enteraining because his leftist beliefs make his audience the butt of his so called jokes. People who are the butt of jokes rarely find them funny.
I think that is an important point which needs amplification. If indeed Republicans are the party of the people, the people will not find "jokes" funny if Republicans are the butts. But a joke about government is a different thing. Or, as Rush's shtick is, a joke about the arrogance of journalism's pretensions to virtue.

7 posted on 06/28/2005 11:15:36 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
O’Sullivan’s First Law" states that "All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing."
And although O'Sullivan himself gives some examples as a lame "proof," his law is demonstrably true. My proof follows:
  1. Journalism is negative (if it bleeds, it leads)
  2. Journalism is superficial (because of deadline pressure)
  3. Journalism is arrogant (in claiming the virtue of objectivity, and also in its belief that "you never get into an argument with someone who buys ink by the truckload").
  4. Journalism is cowardly (in that each journalist fears all the others - taking the "you never get into an argument with someone who buys ink by the truckload" warning to heart when journalism in general needs to be opposed by a courageous voice.
  5. It follows that journalism is cynical and bullying.

  6. It follows that any organization or individual such as a SCOTUS justice - which is courageous and principled will be labeled "right wing" - or, perhaps, "out of the mainstream." Anyone who lacks courage and principle will be pulled to conformity with the left wing by the flattery and derision of journalism - and be praised as "moderate' and "mainstream" (and, before they ran the word into the ground, "liberal").

8 posted on 07/03/2005 2:11:16 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: ForGod'sSake
O’Sullivan’s First Law:
All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.

O'Sullivan was right, but his article announcing his law lamely cited a few examples and just left it. The reason his law is true lies in the Newspeak definitions of ideological labels:

Notice that "objective," "moderate," and "centrist" are classical virtues and are positive labels; likewise "liberal" and "progressive" are American virtues and are positive labels - at least to the extent that their Newspeak definitions have not been realized by the public. OTOH "conservatism" is not an American virtue - drilling for oil or developing genetically modified corn, IOW progress, is something American "conservatives" favor.

Why Broadcast Journalism is
Unnecessary and Illegitimate


9 posted on 01/28/2007 2:02:51 AM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters except PR.)
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To: All
O'Sullivan's First Law::
All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.

I cite as supporting evidence the ACLU, the Ford Foundation, and the Episcopal Church. The reason is, of course, that people who staff such bodies tend to be the sort who don't like private profit, business, making money, the current organization of society, and, by extension, the Western world. At which point Michels's Iron Law of Oligarchy takes over — and the rest follows.

Michels's Iron Law of Oligarchy
The iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German syndicalist sociologist Robert Michels in his 1911 book, Political Parties.[1] It claims that rule by an elite, or "oligarchy", is inevitable as an "iron law" within any organization as part of the "tactical and technical necessities" of organization.[1] Michels particularly addressed the application of this law to representative democracy, and stated: "It is organization which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organization, says oligarchy." He went on to state that "Historical evolution mocks all the prophylactic measures that have been adopted for the prevention of oligarchy.” Michels stated that the official goal of representative democracy of eliminating elite rule was impossible, that representative democracy is a façade legitimizing the rule of a particular elite, and that elite rule, that he refers to as oligarchy, is inevitable.
I think that O’Sullivan’s First Law is true, and is so because journalism of the inherent tendency of wire service journalism. Capitalism proposes that people deserve authority to the extent that they deliver for the people. Socialism, OTOH, proposes (without actually saying in so many words) that people deserve authority based on how effectively they criticize those who deliver for the people. And that is precisely the inherent tendency of journalism. And it is exacerbated by the suppression of ideological competition which is inherent in the business model of any wire service (any wire service has to claim objectivity, and since it cannot deliver even a good-faith attempt at objectivity while claiming to actually be objective, any wire service would suppress ideological competition and call it “objectivity").

10 posted on 11/13/2012 12:04:58 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which ¬ďliberalism" coheres is that NOTHING actually matters except PR.)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
 
 
BTT
 
 

11 posted on 09/10/2014 2:45:17 PM PDT by lapsus calami (What's that stink? Code Pink ! ! And their buddy Murtha, too!)
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