What Others Have Said about Willis Carto
I N S T I T U T E F O R H I S T O R I C A L R E V I E W
P.O. Box 2739 — Newport Beach, CA — 92659
After composing the attached letter, it occurred to me that at least some minority of its intended recipients might be unaware, or only vaguely aware — perhaps even in some measure mistakenly aware — of the exact role of Mr. Willis A. Carto in the structure and function of the Institute for Historical Review. An awareness of this role is necessary to understanding what follows. For the record, and at risk of boring those who are already perfectly aware, this information is given here.
The Institute for Historical Review (IHR) is totally controlled by one man, Willis A. Carto. This control is formally exercised by virtue of the structural set-up of the IHR. Its parent corporate body is the Legion for the Survival of Freedom, Inc. The Legion has a Board of Directors, and the Board’s permanent “authorized agent” is Willis Carto. Theoretically, the agent’s role is to carry out the wishes of the Board. In actual fact and practice, the agent’s role is to carry out the wishes of the agent — since the Board, for all practical (as opposed to legal) purposes, does not exist. The agent, Willis Carto, is not beholden to the Board or to anyone. The paper Board (its names are real, its meetings are not) is, rather, beholden to him — as the assets of the Legion are effectively controlled by him.
Although Willis Carto is not an officer of the IHR — his name is listed on letterheads only as “Founder” — the power he exercises over it is absolute, total, and all-pervasive, permeating every aspect of the organization’s operations. This power, which at bottom is financial power, may be mitigated only by Carto’s own discretionary impulses in not wishing to reveal it too openly. That is, it is not independently mitigated, or checked, by anything. Willis Carto is the Institute for Historical Review.
Carto exercises his power in many and various ways. He has absolute veto-power and insistence-power over everything. No article may appear in the [IHR] Newsletter without his approval. No article may appear in the Journal [of Historical Review] without his approval. No speaker may be invited to a Revisionist Conference without his approval. No conference site may be arranged without his approval. No book or pamphlet may be published without his approval. No promotional letter, fund-raising letter, or other public relations venture may proceed without his approval. No editorial staff person may be hired without his approval. No logo may be designed without his approval. No person may be added to, or subtracted from, the Editorial Advisory Committee without his approval … and so forth. The obverse of all this is equally true: if Carto wants an article to appear in the Journal or Newsletter, then that article will appear. If he wants a certain speaker to be invited, then that speaker will be invited. If he wants a certain letter to go out, then that letter will go out … and so forth. (These are all areas, incidentally, where Carto does, regularly and methodically and invariably, choose to exercise his prerogatives of power.)
By no means does Carto always get involved personally in the detailed nuts-and-bolts, ground-level running of every project or aspect of the organization. Much is delegated. But the orders come from him, and the ultimate overseeing is done by him.
When he is away from the IHR offices, Carto accomplishes his overseeing by regular phone calls — usually once every day or two. In these phone conversations orders are given by him and progress-reports made to him. At the IHR headquarters he has his own “inner sanctum” office, with typewriter, phone, shelving and filing space, for his use when there. This office is separate from — in back of — the regular, up-front office suite; it is so situated that he will not be seen by visitors unless he wants to be seen. None need even know that Carto’s own space exists. He uses this space not only for IHR matters, but for various of his projects, including running the newspaper Spotlight, of which is the de facto editor-in-chief, and some of the affairs of Liberty Lobby, the Populist Party, the Foundation to Defend the First Amendment, the Noontide Press, and Information Associates. Essentially, Carto’s IHR office is his “West Coast headquarters” for all his fronts. (It should be noted that the physical set-up described is the one this writer witnessed and was a part of; in July 1984 the IHR moved to new quarters, which I have not seen.) When present, Carto will usually call a conference at some point during the day, at which time the man who holds the title “Director” of the Institute, as well as any other editorial staff personnel who presence is required, will enter Carto’s office, sit on folding chairs before his desk, and take notes on his instructions of the day. It would be false to say that there is necessarily no give-and-take in these conferences; sometimes there is — ideas are bandied about and, of course, suggestions may certainly be made to Carto. But the power of final-decision rests solely with Carto.
These are the facts of the matter, which Mr. Carto is disinclined to admit. Indeed, he is quite inclined to lie. At the 1985 Revisionist Conference he stood in front of the assembled attendees and described himself, more than once, as merely the “founder” and “advisor” of the IHR. His only role, he said, was to “offer advice” and he had “no other role.”
After these utterances, he proceeded to announce that “the IHR has no secrets.”
Would you buy a used painting from this man?
Institute for Historical Review
June 1982 - November 1983
Journal of Historical Review
February 1983 - February 1985