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The Four Sins of 'Thawteffery'

The Four Sins of ‘Thawteffery’


The neologism thawteffery is for “thought F-ery.” F-ery connotes a short-run horizon, such as the election cycle. I pronounce it “thaw-tef-fery.”

Thawteffery is the wicked management of thought, election-to-election, by wicked people for wicked purposes. I speak of the wicked as forming “the junta,” even though the conspiracy may be rather spontaneous. We are talking about some amalgam of a wicked faction, the Deep State, the administrative state, the swamp, the blob, and so on. It has become clear that the CIA and other intel agencies, and the Left Pole, are central in the junta. 

Thawteffery involves a number of evils, which I turn to shortly. But, above thawteffery is the fuller array of strategies the junta employs to tyrannize and feed its vanity, and in the long-run. Satan, Rousseau, Karl Marx, Woordrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Antonio Gramsci had the big picture in view. 

Long-run strategies include K–12 indoctrination, the long march through the institutions, the corruption of scholarship and science, structural surveillance, protracted warmaking, the green tyranny, the welfare state, the regulatory state, the nanny state, and the governmentalization of social affairs in general. 

If you want a career, knuckle under now. In more recent years, another long-term strategy is chaotic mass immigration, to destroy social cohesion and political stability. Chaos destroys the rule of law, liberating tyranny.

But then there are operations for the short term, such as lawfare to interfere in the upcoming election and what I’m calling thawteffery: Screwing with thought in the current cycle. By “thought” we mean ideas, beliefs, images, impressions, sentiments, and feelings. 

If you are one of those who oppose wickedness, it may be useful to understand the elements of thawteffery. Then one can see how the thawteffery fits into the larger Satanic array. 

Also, then we can see how thawteffery itself is a system of operations. The system involves: (1) propaganda, (2) clientelism, (3) censorship, and (4) persecution of lynchpin personalities and leaders. 

Those four elements generally run together, with propaganda and censorship being the main combination. To control the narrative, the junta must, in the first place, have their narrative, consisting of big lies, which they blare out in propaganda organs such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, The Economist, and the Financial Times. Absent censorship, however, the big lies will be ripped to shreds. Thus, propaganda always comes with censorship. Propaganda depends on censorship, and censorship presupposes propaganda.

Also, the first two elements, propaganda and clientelism, are about blaring out the big lies, while the other two, censorship and persecution, are about silencing and crushing dissent and true intelligence. The first are blaring out their messaging, and the second two are moves against competing messaging. 

Altogether, thawteffery is a multipronged assault on the free marketplace of ideas, undertaken from wickedness, notably greed, vanity, and misanthropy.


The government can offer carrots, but it gets its carrots with sticks. Coercing is the one capacity that the government has an advantage in. That single advantage is the source of all their carrots. 

Clientelism is operations that are not just the stick but, rather, do involve some carrots. The carrots can be jobs, contracts, subsidies, licenses, favor (i.e., abstention from abuse and onerous regulation), prestige, camaraderie, love, flattery, awards and recognitions, access to intel, the revolving door, advertising revenue from allied corporations, and so on. 

The propagandists might be the clients of the junta, or the junta might be the client of propagandists. Or they are clients of each other’s clients. A carrot leads someone by the nose.

By the chain of carrots and sticks, big media are induced to do the bidding of the junta—the propaganda, the gaslighting, the hit pieces, and dirty work. Sometimes they partner in vanity and greed, sometimes they are made to heel. Usually, it is some combination of both, and vice keeps spiraling downward.

The clientelistic element is important for understanding classical liberalism. Classical liberalism is not merely about liberty. Yes, to accumulate resources and privileges for dispensation the government violates liberty. But the dispensation and favoring of loyal big players is a great evil in addition to and is conceptually separable from the liberty violation. That is why it is important to see that classical liberalism is not merely supportive of liberty for individuals; it is opposed to the governmentalization of social affairs. It is opposed to the evil done by big players who heel to the junta; those players are so big, and so evil, from the governmentalization of social affairs. 

Classical liberalism is not merely about throwing off restrictions that hamstring our pursuit of happiness; it is about throwing off the wickedness and perversions of governmentalization.


Once partnered, Google, Facebook, the NYT, and so on do the censorious bidding of the junta. The junta kindly shows who and what to censor.


Censorship is the shutting down of particular communications, channels, forums, and so on. The junta finds, however, that important personalities and leaders can readily find another soapbox, and once again may become a force by virtue of their personality and spiritual leadership. Indeed, the adversity may enhance the charisma. This popularity is apt to be dubbed “populist.” 

Ideas are dangerous to the junta, and ideas gain formulation and meaning from beings—beings with personalities. The junta needs to go after these lynchpin individuals, by lawfaring them into dust, by weaponizing the administrative state and the justice system, by destroying their careers, by siccing NGOs on them, by siccing arsonists and other ruffians on them, or by other means. Charismatic personalities opposed to the junta must be taken out.

Concluding Remark

Government is a unique player in society. A defining feature of government is that it institutionalizes the initiation of coercion. It institutionalizes what is criminal for your neighbor to do. 

Such coercion stands behind the tax revenue, the money monopoly, and the ten thousand commandments of the regulatory state. Thawteffery is based ultimately on coercion.

Another word that is pervasively relevant to the operations of thawteffery is intimidation. It plays a role in all four main elements: propaganda, clientelism, censorship, and persecution. If you object to any of those elements, you are liable to feel their intimidation, in any of its myriad forms.

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  • Daniel Klein

    Daniel Klein is professor of economics and JIN Chair at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he leads a program in Adam Smith. He is also associate fellow at the Ratio Institute (Stockholm), research fellow at the Independent Institute, and chief editor of Econ Journal Watch.

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