Institutional Capture

I’ve mentioned before that the left has, in the long-term, won almost every political battle of the last century. The one big area where the US (and just the US) has not been moving overly left is gun freedom. The main reason for this is the NRA, but the NRA wasn’t always as powerful or hardline as it is now.

In the second half of the 1970s, the NRA faced a crossroads. Would it remain an Establishment institution, partnering with such mainstream entities as the Ford Foundation and focusing on shooting competitions? Or would it roll up its sleeves and fight hammer and tongs against the gun-control advocates? Or flee to the Mountain West? The latter was appealing, and the NRA leadership decided to move the headquarters to Colorado and also spend $30 million to build a recreational facility in New Mexico called the National Outdoor Center.

The moderates felt rejected by both the NRA hard-liners and the Washington elite.

“Because of the political direction the NRA was taking, they weren’t being invited to parties and their wives were not happy,” says Jeff Knox, Neal’s son and director of the Firearms Coalition, which fights for the Second Amendment and against laws restricting guns or ammunition. “Dad was on the phone constantly with various people around the country. He had his copy of the NRA bylaws and Robert’s Rules, highlighted and marked. My father and a lot of local club leaders and state association guys organized their troops.”

Theirs was a grass-roots movement within the NRA. The solution was to use the membership to make changes. The bylaws of the NRA gave members power on the convention floor to vote for changes in the NRA governing structure.

“We were fighting the federal government on one hand and internal NRA on the other hand,” Aquilino says.

In Cincinnati, Knox read the group’s demands, 15 of them, including one that would give the members of the NRA the right to pick the executive vice president, rather than letting the NRA’s board decide. The coup took hours to accomplish. Joe Tartaro, a rebel, remembers the evening as “electric.” The hall’s vending machine ran out of sodas.

By 3:30 in the morning the NRA had a whole new look. Gone were the Old Guard officers, including Maxwell Rich, the ousted executive vice president. The members replaced him with an ideological soul mate of Knox’s named Harlon Carter.

Carter, a longtime NRA board member, had arrived in Washington in 1975 as founding director of a new NRA lobbying unit, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA). His pugnacious approach, which rankled the Old Guard, was captured in a letter he wrote to the entire NRA membership to discuss the fight in Congress over gun control: “We can win it on a simple concept —No compromise. No gun legislation.”

The right is holding its own in this particular battle because hardliners captured the NRA (and then later recaptured it after a moderate pushback). This is how the left has always won, by capturing institutions: the academy, NGO’s, the media, the bureaucracy, etc.

If the right wants to win, it needs to figure out a way to take over pre-existing institutions. Making institutions is also good, but it takes a lot more effort. Conquering pre-existing institutions and their resource base is better.


  1. Recapturing existing institutions from the left is a non-starter. The left is good at only a very small number of things, but among the things it’s brilliant at are capturing institutions and then defending them against recapture. They are ruthless and thorough in purging their institutions of even the tiniest hint of regressive thought. They delight in making examples of powerful, even indispensable men, who deviate from the established line. If they set their sights on you, nothing will protect you – not talent, not wealth, not popularity, nothing.

    If the right’s victory hinges on recapturing existing institutions from the left, then we might as well all quit what we’re doing and take up gardening, because that’s never going to happen. The best thing we can do is to figure out how to position ourselves on the leading edge of trends – societal and technological – that will make existing institutions obsolete and provide an opportunity to replace them with something better, more modern, and more amenable to our point of view. The internet is one that was handed to us. The college bubble is an interesting one – what comes next after it pops?

    Time to get ahead of the curve.

  2. Its going to be very difficult to reconquer most of the current institutions. The left is a highly specialised parasite and its specialty is subversion. They are better at it than we are and always will be.

  3. In the States, gun issues have been moving right-ward. First, concealed carry was by permit. Now, in many states, no permit is required for concealed carry. The NRA tolerates liberals now and protects liberal incumbents who have good gun records. We need to adjust that a bit. For example, figure out a way to craft laws so that targeted liberals will have to vote for gun control or against Obamacare. Put them on the horns of a dilemma. Train candidates like Carson about gun rights and gun culture. He fucked up badly on gun issues and is unelectable, now or ever. The NRA has a long memory.

  4. This is an issue I might be uniquely qualified to comment on, being a reactionary currently in the process of infiltrating a central institution of the Cathedral.

    The above comments about the Left being experts at subversion and counter-subversion are true. The gate-keeping is extremely thorough here. In order to even survive a single day, let alone a week, a right-wing subverter needs to subject himself to extreme levels of mental and spiritual duress. This is due to constant expectations of loyalty affirmation and the mental gymnastics required to get through them without self-compromise. Due to the simple fact that in order to avoid being revealed, a reactionary subverter must, and I repeat, must, burn incense to Leftist pieties. It is not possible to just sit at the back of the room and rub your hands together, you *will* be expected, almost daily, to recite shibboleths. Even a slight lack of enthusiasm can, and does, raise eyebrows.

    It’s easy to talk about these things from a safe distance, but when you’re surrounded daily by people who would do all they could to destroy you for a single slip of the tongue, it wears you down. Easier said than done.

  5. I can confirm Senghendrake’s perspective from my perch in California. Nothing defines the Left like Commissariats, internal police and elaborate loyalty tests. They will drown dissent in their own blood if they have to. The OP’s account of the NRA says the rank and file acted before the SJWs could revoke the bylaws that provided a check on corruption and purge the ILA. Such opportunities are long past for existing institutions.

  6. As a further comment, I would warn that the Left might be evil, but it’s not always stupid. The cannon fodder privates on Tumblr might be, but the general officers in Academia aren’t to be underestimated.

    As we speak, they have already reconnoitered our plans for alternate institutions, and have already begun to maneuver to head us off at the pass. There’s a reason why degree requirements have suddenly appeared for every possible job, and more importantly, why as of late even private schools are being pressured into only accepting teachers with Education “qualifications” (which barely merit the term). Forget about infiltration, they are working hard to make even outside institutions as hard as possible to create without passing through the Gate.

    That isn’t to say that they’re invincible. Most of them only have the vaguest idea about what illiberals actually think, or how to distinguish different kinds of illiberal thought. They can recognize a thought criminal in general terms, if he’s imprudent enough to let something slip, but are otherwise in the dark about the details (especially with regards to how many thought criminals are out there- they have forced us into camouflaged positions, which greatly hinders their scouting patrols).

  7. If it works, do it. Situations will be different every time, and nothing should be ruled out, though in general membership organisations are better at being clubs and less good about getting things done. At the level of individual participation, I’d rather see donations being given when particular issues are being addressed, rather than buying annual memberships.


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