Harpers magazine has an interesting article this month on the rise of the right-wing spin machine in America. The "mighty wurlitzer" of right-wing think-tanks and media outlets didn't come from nowhere, and it didn't evolve from grassroots pressure to represent popular interests. Instead, it was created by some very wealthy conservative Americans with the explicit purpose of manipulating public opinion.
Not that I'm saying that there's anything wrong with this. All's fair in love and politics, and vigorously waging memetic warfare is simply good tactics. But it's interesting nonetheless, for two reasons: firstly, the American left was left behind by this strategy, and has not managed to restore the balance of power; and secondly, it's been happening here - witness the Business Roundtable, Maxim Institute, and all their single-purpose glove-puppet spinoffs like the Education Forum and Local Government Forum. The lesson the for the New Zealand left is clear: we need to create our own think-tanks to provide memetic ammunition, otherwise, in the long-term, we will be outgunned.