“The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.” — Tyler Durden, in the 1999 film, Fight Club.
The same rule applies to The Machine.
The Machine consists of representatives from 28 white fraternities and sororities (out of 65) at the University of Alabama. Many of the people (mostly men) involved go on to leadership roles in state politics. The first rule is that members of The Machine don’t acknowledge that they are members of The Machine. The second is that any sorority or fraternity member who disobeys the wishes of The Machine can kiss their future in state politics goodbye. Anyone from out-of-state or not in the favoured network faces considerable uphill slog.
The following are a list of links to Machine news coverage. The Machine prefers not to be in the news, so read’em while you can.
- ʺThe Most Powerful Fraternity in Americaʺ , by Philip Weiss for Esquire April, 1992
- An archive of Machine news coverage through the 20th century
- Machine coverage details (2011)
- Many have concerns about how The Machine operates, including some of its candidates
- The key fraternities and sororities support The Machine financially.
- John Archibald’s op-ed piece about The Machine.
- Although The Machine added some sororities to its support base in the eighties, it hasn’t always done right by them.
- Elliot Spiller, first African-American SGA president in four decades, wins against The Machine.
- Elliot Spiller’s win, due in part, to larger number of students from out-of-state.
- The Machine prevents SGA president Elliot Spiller from selecting his own staff.
- Taylor Frank’s 2012 student paper on The Machine.
Edit – additional links added after original publication date:
- University of Alabama continues to drag feet on dealing with “The Machine”
- Business Insider’s summary of Machine history
- From The Bitter Southerner – How Elliot Spiller was successfully elected as SGA president, and the dynamics of class and power
- October 26th, 2015 – UA political science sophomore, Alex Smith’s Birmingham News op-ed piece on her observations of the Machine at work on the UA campus.
If you are a foreigner doing business in Alabama, it’s a good idea to check out which fraternities or sororities your contact belonged to at college, especially if they attended the University of Alabama. Also be aware that this is a very cliquish club, almost all caucasian, with resources and money (with very few exceptions), and they have a strong interest in preserving the current power structure.