The Era of the John Birch Society
The John Birch Society, created in 1958 by Robert Welch, took the center of the right-wing stage in America for close to a decade. It combined two preservatist traditions: the economic class conservatism of the Liberty League and the symbolic "anti-Communism" of McCarthy.
The historical context was, on the one hand, the growing uneasiness of the American people in the face of gathering changes on the domestic front--the initial civil rights revolution was in full flower; and on the other hand, the fact that a Republican administration had been in power for six years without serving the serious preservatist interests of economic ultraconservatives. It was the latter circumstance in which the Birch Society was most firmly anchored.
One of the twin centers of Birch ideology is antistatism. A Massachusetts businessman who retired to devote himself to his cause, Welch believes that government intervention in the affairs of man is bad: "Reduce all of the governments of all the nations of the world to one third of their present size . . . and you would immediately accomplish two things--you would reduce the likelihood and destructiveness of war by one ninth. The greatest enemy of man is, and always has been, government; and the larger, the more extensive that government, the greater the enemy." 1 The antagonism to government is pointed up in Welch's assumption that public