By the way, I know whereof I speak in regard to bills and legislation and the mechanisms and central working mechanics of our government. I went to school in Washington, D.C., and I had a lot of friends up on the Hills during the next few years, and during 1941 I decided to push a button. A friend of mine (a public-relations man from the Pacific Northwest) and I were sitting over coffee and we decided the government was too calm. We decided we would push a button and see what happened.
There was an outfit known as the Army Air Corps, and there was a lot of pressure to make it into a separate department of air forces like England had. We decided the air force needed an autonomous status. The representative from Massachusetts had been talking about this as part of his press campaign for some time.
So here we were, a writer and a public-relations man. We walked into the third floor of the government office building, and we had connections but didn’t want anything.
That’s how government becomes complicated–by wanting something out of it. You can do almost anything you want with government if you don’t want anything, because you just have no classification. Nobody can classify you, and as a result everybody just walks around and is glad to meet you because you are not asking any favors. And this is so strange that it gives you quite a bit of “pep” (that means publicity, within the cliques that work with the cliques).
We pushed the button on Monday and the autonomous status of the United States Air Force happened on Tuesday. We did it as a little experiment. We didn’t care whether the United States Air Force was flying helicopters or digging holes. It was just a point that there was sentiment existing on in some lines. All we had to do was go down and write a bill requesting what we wanted. We merely said, “Senator Phlipsenbalm just sent us down to write up these bills; he’s quite interested in it.” As a matter of fact the senator had muttered something like that the night before; it was rather indistinct because of Scotch, but he had. We went over to the House of Representatives and wrote a bill. Then we sent an alarm report that this bill was going through to tear the air force away from the army and the navy and to set up a new department.
So of course this just went along by word of mouth. It was wonderful! Senator’s office after senator’s office was alerted by the army and the navy, because the army and navy have patrons up on the Hill; they are not orphans. Finally we had collected a long series of names of people who were alarmed that this was going to happen. Then we told them something worse was going to happen–the air force would be set up as an independent department of defense. Then all we had to do was to tell the fellow who was a press relations man for the secretary of war, “Look, boy! You’d better get on the ball because this and this and this.”
“Huh! I’ll see the secretary immediately!”
Autonomous status for the United States Air Force was created. That is how it happened. You think this sounds too incredible, that a government could be so loose, so poorly controlled, so utterly unplanned, that anyone could just walk into the center of this government and do something like that. This government today is not very stable. I wish it were more stable.
Mind you, I happen to be a loyal American, I happen to be for the American people and I definitely enjoy our old friend Jefferson and the rest of them. It is just that occasionally I don’t enjoy seeing these things departed from too far. Even Jefferson’s statement that a government ought to be reorganized completely every twenty-five years doesn’t throw aside the fact that he was a pretty loyal American. I think there are people who will agree with the statement that he was a loyal American.
Suppose I had been an agent provocateur from Moscow or Italy or Germany; it wouldn’t have made any difference. I would have had the same connections and could have done the same thing. And suppose the point wasn’t quite as innocent, and a similar job had been done just before the war by this infiltration process, which prevented all the navy yards from getting machine tools to build battleships in case we went to war with Germany.
In other words, we don’t seem to have a good organisational plan going. We look for the people who are in charge and for the people who are doing the planning and so on, and we find some guy who is sitting out doing nothing much but pushing a few buttons and getting compromises, and occasionally jockeying something around or getting his boss a contract (because his boss is also the vice president of some manufacturing company). It’s pretty loose.
But we have, over all this, this huge illusion of terrific planning. We have the illusion of an organisation, we have an illusion that this country is held together today by a great democracy. It is being held together less and less by that. Actually this country is held together by the loyalty and ability of its individual citizens who form the social organism, not by a bloodless outfit such as those I described to you.
It is held together because in our minds we have this idea; we have an idea of what we want out of our government, that this is the kind of government we want and we hope that we have got. But now all the government has to do is keep convincing us that we have got it and things are running that way and they will go on running that way.1
- Hubbard, L. R. (1950, 5 September). Political Dianetics. Public and Professional Course, (5009C05). Lecture conducted from Los Angeles, California. ↩