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Author and editor's note

This review-essay first appeared in Whole Number 13 of The Last Ditch (May 3, 1996), which was devoted to an appreciation and analysis of the work of Walter Karp. The text of my essay posted here reflects minor revisions in the pursuit of clarity.

Nicholas Strakon
June 8, 2002


Will the real oligarchs
please stand up

A review-essay on Walter Karp's Indispensable Enemies: The Politics of Misrule in America


Earlier this year, I heard the head of the national Libertarian Party relate with relish the story of how an LP candidate for some local office did far better than most LPers usually do when he found himself in a two-way race against a weakened major-party candidate. That latter worthy had been indicted for some criminal offense, and the other big party didn't field a candidate.

Grinning, I asked the LP chief: "One party's candidate was under indictment, yet the other guys really didn't run anybody?" He nodded impatiently, apparently thinking I hadn't been paying attention. The gravamen of what he was saying escaped him utterly. I realize that he was focusing on the LP's exploits, but still he came off like the fellow who, describing an air crash that killed 400 people, finds the most riveting detail to be: "I took that same flight three years ago!" Needless to add, it was the indictee, not the LP candidate, who won the race in question, in yet another triumphant yawp of the vox populi. [1]

Collusion between the established ruling parties as a standard operating procedure is a pretty big idea to wrap one's mind around. We sometimes half-recognize evidence of it — as, for instance, when we describe some particularly spastic candidate as "this year's designated loser." And we grope about halfway to the truth when we sum up the duopoly parties as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. But nurtured on republican assumptions as all of us were, even the radicals among us often miss what is in front of our nose.

Until reading Walter Karp's Indispensable Enemies, that is. This great book is the mental equivalent of a dose of smelling salts.


2: One-party America

3: Plague of locuses

4: Oligarchs or creatures?

5: Warmongering

6: Fascist circles

7: The wielding

8: Power to which people?

9: What Karp means to me


Posted June 8, 2002

Posted in 2002 by WTM Enterprises.

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