The Ford Foundation and the CIA, by James Petras

For those absolutely devoid of scruples, charity fraud is the field par excellance, in which you can simultaneously harvest kudos for your humanitarianism and make off with vast bundles of untaxed cash. Convictions for charity fraud are so rare as to be nonexistent, so any criminals operating in other fields of endeavor are incurring unnecessary risks.

The Ford Foundation and the CIA, by James Petras

Postby admin » Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:48 am

The Ford Foundation and the CIA
by James Petras
5 December 2001




The CIA uses philanthropic foundations as the most effective conduit to channel large sums of money to Agency projects without alerting the recipients to their source. From the early 1950s to the present the CIA's intrusion into the foundation field was and is huge. A U.S. Congressional investigation in 1976 revealed that nearly 50% of the 700 grants in the field of international activities by the principal foundations were funded by the CIA (Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War, Frances Stonor Saunders, Granta Books, 1999, pp. 134-135). The CIA considers foundations such as Ford "The best and most plausible kind of funding cover" (Ibid, p. 135). The collaboration of respectable and prestigious foundations, according to one former CIA operative, allowed the Agency to fund "a seemingly limitless range of covert action programs affecting youth groups, labor unions, universities, publishing houses and other private institutions" (p. 135). The latter included "human rights" groups beginning in the 1950s to the present. One of the most important "private foundations" collaborating with the CIA over a significant span of time in major projects in the cultural Cold War is the Ford Foundation.

This essay will demonstrate that the Ford Foundation-CIA connection was a deliberate, conscious joint effort to strengthen U.S. imperial cultural hegemony and to undermine left-wing political and cultural influence.
We will proceed by examining the historical links between the Ford Foundation and the CIA during the Cold War, by examining the Presidents of the Foundation, their joint projects and goals as well as their common efforts in various cultural areas.

Background: Ford Foundation and the CIA

By the late 1950s the Ford Foundation possessed over $3 billion in assets. The leaders of the Foundation were in total agreement with Washington's post-WWII projection of world power. A noted scholar of the period writes: "At times it seemed as if the Ford Foundation was simply an extension of government in the area of international cultural propaganda. The foundation had a record of close involvement in covert actions in Europe, working closely with Marshall Plan and CIA officials on specific projects" (Ibid, p.139). This is graphically illustrated by the naming of Richard Bissell as President of the Foundation in 1952. In his two years in office Bissell met often with the head of the CIA, Allen Dulles, and other CIA officials in a "mutual search" for new ideas. In 1954 Bissell left Ford to become a special assistant to Allen Dulles in January 1954 (Ibid, p. 139). Under Bissell, the Ford Foundation (FF) was the "vanguard of Cold War thinking".

One of the FF first Cold War projects was the establishment of a publishing house, Inter-cultural Publications, and the publication of a magazine Perspectives in Europe in four languages. The FF purpose according to Bissell was not "so much to defeat the leftist intellectuals in dialectical combat (sic) as to lure them away from their positions" (Ibid, p. 140). The board of directors of the publishing house was completely dominated by cultural Cold Warriors. Given the strong leftist culture in Europe in the post-war period, Perspectives failed to attract readers and went bankrupt.

Another journal Der Monat funded by the Confidential Fund of the U.S. military and run by Melvin Lasky was taken over by the FF, to provide it with the appearance of independence (Ibid, p. 140).

In 1954 the new president of the FF was John McCloy. He epitomized imperial power. Prior to becoming president of the FF he had been Assistant Secretary of War, president of the World Bank, High Commissioner of occupied Germany, chairman of Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan Bank, Wall Street attorney for the big seven oil companies and director of numerous corporations. As High Commissioner in Germany, McCloy had provided cover for scores of CIA agents (Ibid, p. 141).

McCloy integrated the FF with CIA operations. He created an administrative unit within the FF specifically to deal with the CIA. McCloy headed a three person consultation committee with the CIA to facilitate the use of the FF for a cover and conduit of funds. With these structural linkages the FF was one of those organizations the CIA was able to mobilize for political warfare against the anti-imperialist and pro-communist left. Numerous CIA "fronts" received major FF grants. Numerous supposedly "independent" CIA sponsored cultural organizations, human rights groups, artists and intellectuals received CIA/FF grants. One of the biggest donations of the FF was to the CIA organized Congress for Cultural Freedom which received $7 million by the early 1960s. Numerous CIA operatives secured employment in the FF and continued close collaboration with the Agency (Ibid, p. 143).

From its very origins there was a close structural relation and interchange of personnel at the highest levels between the CIA and the FF. This structural tie was based on the common imperial interests which they shared. The result of their collaboration was the proliferation of a number of journals and access to the mass media which pro-U.S. intellectuals used to launch vituperative polemics against Marxists and other anti-imperialists. The FF funding of these anti-Marxists organizations and intellectuals provided a legal cover for their claims of being "independent" of government funding (CIA).

The FF funding of CIA cultural fronts was important in recruiting non-communist intellectuals who were encouraged to attack the Marxist and communist left. Many of these non-communist leftists later claimed that they were "duped", that had they known that the FF was fronting for the CIA, they would not have lent their name and prestige. This disillusionment of the anti-communist left however took place after revelations of the FF-CIA collaboration were published in the press. Were these anti-communist social democrats really so naive as to believe that all the Congresses at luxury villas and five star hotels in Lake Como, Paris and Rome, all the expensive art exhibits and glossy magazines were simple acts of voluntary philanthropy? Perhaps. But even the most naive must have been aware that in all the Congresses and journals the target of criticism was "Soviet imperialism" and "Communist tyranny" and "leftist apologists of dictatorship" -- despite the fact that it was an open secret that the U.S. intervened to overthrow the democratic Arbenz government in Guatemala and the Mossadegh regime in Iran and human rights were massively violated by U.S. backed dictators in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and elsewhere.

The "indignation" and claims of "innocence" by many anti-communist left intellectuals after their membership in CIA cultural fronts was revealed must be taken with a large amount of cynical skepticism. One prominent journalist, Andrew Kopkind, wrote of a deep sense of moral disillusionment with the private foundation-funded CIA cultural fronts. Kopkind wrote:

"The distance between the rhetoric of the open society and the reality of control was greater than anyone thought. Everyone who went abroad for an American organization was, in one way or another, a witness to the theory that the world was torn between communism and democracy and anything in between was treason. The illusion of dissent was maintained: the CIA supported socialist cold warriors, fascist cold warriors, black and white cold warriors. The catholicity and flexibility of the CIA operations were major advantages. But it was a sham pluralism and it was utterly corrupting" (Ibid, pp. 408-409)."

When a U.S. journalist Dwight Macdonald who was an editor of Encounter (a FF-CIA funded influential cultural journal) sent an article critical of U.S. culture and politics it was rejected by the editors, working closely with the CIA (Ibid, pp. 314-321). In the field of painting and theater the CIA worked with the FF to promote abstract expressionism against any artistic expression with a social content, providing funds and contacts for highly publicized exhibits in Europe and favorable reviews by "sponsored" journalists. The interlocking directorate between the CIA, the Ford Foundation and the New York Museum of Modern Art lead to a lavish promotion of "individualistic" art remote from the people -- and a vicious attack on European painters, writers and playwrights writing from a critical realist perspective. "Abstract Expressionism" whatever its artist's intention became a weapon in the Cold War (Ibid, p. 263).

The Ford Foundation's history of collaboration and interlock with the CIA in pursuit of U.S. world hegemony is now a well-documented fact. The remaining issue is whether that relationship continues into the new Millenium after the exposures of the 1960s? The FF made some superficial changes. They are more flexible in providing small grants to human rights groups and academic researchers who occasionally dissent from U.S. policy. They are not as likely to recruit CIA operatives to head the organization. More significantly they are likely to collaborate more openly with the U.S. government in its cultural and educational projects, particularly with the Agency of International Development.

The FF has in some ways refined their style of collaboration with Washington's attempt to produce world cultural domination, but retained the substance of that policy. For example the FF is very selective in the funding of educational institutions. Like the IMF, the FF imposes conditions such as the "professionalization" of academic personnel and "raising standards." In effect this translates into the promotion of social scientific work based on the assumptions, values and orientations of the U.S. empire; to have professionals de-linked from the class struggle and connected with pro-imperial U.S. academics and foundation functionaries supporting the neo-liberal model.

As in the 1950s and 60s the Ford Foundation today selectively funds anti-leftist human rights groups which focus on attacking human rights violations of U.S. adversaries, and distancing themselves from anti-imperialist human rights organizations and leaders. The FF has developed a sophisticated strategy of funding human rights groups (HRGs) that appeal to Washington to change its policy while denouncing U.S. adversaries their "systematic" violations. The FF supports HRGs which equate massive state terror by the U.S. with individual excesses of anti-imperialist adversaries. The FF finances HRGs which do not participate in anti-globalization and anti-neoliberal mass actions and which defend the Ford Foundation as a legitimate and generous "non-governmental organization".

History and contemporary experience tells us a different story. At a time when government over-funding of cultural activities by Washington is suspect, the FF fulfills a very important role in projecting U.S. cultural policies as an apparently "private" non-political philanthropic organization. The ties between the top officials of the FF and the U.S. government are explicit and continuing. A review of recently funded projects reveals that the FF has never funded any major project that contravenes U.S. policy.

In the current period of a major U.S. military-political offensive, Washington has posed the issue as "terrorism or democracy," just as during the Cold War it posed the question as "Communism or Democracy." In both instances the Empire recruited and funded "front organizations, intellectuals and journalists to attack its anti-imperialist adversaries and neutralize its democratic critics. The Ford Foundation is well situated to replay its role as collaborator to cover for the New Cultural Cold War.

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghampton University, New York, and author of: Globalization Unmasked: Imperialism in the 21st Century with Henry Veltmeyer (Zed Books, 2001) James Petras is a frequent CRG contributor. His web site in English is at: A superset list of his articles in Spanish is at:

Copyright James Petras 2001, For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .
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Re: The Ford Foundation and the CIA, by James Petras

Postby admin » Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:30 am

Celebrating Gloria Steinem
by Ford Foundation
DECEMBER 19, 2013



In November, President Obama awarded the iconic feminist activist and writer Gloria Steinem with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States. Last night, friends, colleagues and compatriots gathered at foundation headquarters to celebrate Steinem’s profound achievements and lasting influence.

“This medal belongs to all of you. It is a medal for the movement,” Steinem told the crowd after an introduction by Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. “We are linked, not ranked....We’re on the cusp of something big, something that says we’re a circle, and not hierarchical.”

Steinem has been a leading figure in the women’s rights movement since the early 1970s, one of the most visible figures advocating for women’s ability to take control of and make decisions about their own lives. Her visionary leadership contributed to many of feminism’s triumphs, and helped build institutions that continue to advance freedom and justice for women.

“Very few people have had the staying power—and the adaptability—of Gloria Steinem,” said LaShawn Jefferson, Ford’s program officer for Protecting Women’s Rights. “She’s been able to show how women’s rights are applicable and relevant in all areas of life.”

For us at the Ford Foundation, Gloria Steinem is a continuing inspiration—and a valued partner in the ongoing work of social change.
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Re: The Ford Foundation and the CIA, by James Petras

Postby admin » Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:31 am

Gloria Steinem Discussing Her Time in the CIA

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Re: The Ford Foundation and the CIA, by James Petras

Postby admin » Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:31 am

Melvin J. Lasky
by Wikipedia



Melvin Jonah Lasky
Born: January 15, 1920, New York, NY, USA
Died: May 19, 2004, Berlin, Germany
Nationality: Polish-American
Alma mater: University of Michigan
Occupation: editor, journalist, author
Religion: Jewish
Spouse(s): Brigitte (Newiger) Lasky, Helga Hegewisch
Children: Vivienne Lasky, Oliver Lasky

Melvin Jonah Lasky (15 January 1920 – 19 May 2004) was an American journalist, intellectual, and member of the anti-Communist left. He founded the German journal Der Monat in 1948 and edited Encounter, the journal of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a CIA front organization, from 1958 to 1991.

For decades, these publications received funding from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).Lasky did admit to knowing about the CIA's role; however, rumors that he was actually a CIA agent were never substantiated.[1] In 1947, Lasky wrote an influential document that made the case for a cultural Cold War intended to win over European intellectuals.

He was the older brother of Floria Lasky, an influential entertainment lawyer, and Joyce Lasky Reed, the President and founder of the Fabergé Arts Foundation and former Director of European Affairs at the American Enterprise Institute.

Early life and World War II

Lasky was born in The Bronx of New York City and schooled at City College of New York. He continued his education at University of Michigan and Columbia University.[2] He briefly considered himself a Trotskyist but at 22 moved away from communism entirely because of disgust with Stalin.[3] He began working for the New Leader in New York and was editor from 1942–1943.[4] Lasky wrote an editorial during this time criticizing the Allies for failing to address The Holocaust directly in their World War II efforts.[5]

He served in World War II as a combat historian for the 7th Army. Lasky remained in Germany after the war, making his home in Berlin, where he worked for American military governor Lucius D. Clay. During this time, Lasky was an outspoken critic of the United States' earlier reluctance to intervene to stop the genocide of European Jews.

Germany and Der Monat

After Lasky left the Army, he became a German correspondent for the New Leader and for the Partisan Review.[6] In 1947, Lasky sent a message to General Lucius D. Clay which became known as "The Melvin Lasky Proposal". In this document, Lasky argued for a more aggressive campaign of cultural and psychological operations to combat the Soviet Union in the Cold War.[2] It reads:

The time-honored U.S. formula of 'shed light and the people will find their own way' exaggerated the possibilities in Germany (and in Europe) for an easy conversion . . . It would be foolish to expect to wean a primitive savage away from his conviction in mysterious jungle-herbs simply by the dissemination of modern scientific and medical information . . . We have not succeeded in combatting the variety of factors—political, psychological, cultural—which work against U.S. foreign policy, and in particular against the success of the Marshall Plan in Europe.[7]

Soon after, Lasky received Marshall Plan funding to create the German-language journal Der Monat ("The Month"), airlifted into Berlin during the 1948 Soviet blockade. Its purpose was to support U.S. foreign policy and win over German intellectuals views that were socially progressive but anti-communist.[8] Der Monat continued as a prominent highbrow Germanophone journal, incorporating essays and articles from many Western European and North America intellectuals as well as dissidents from the Eastern Bloc. Contributors included Theodor Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Franz Borkenau, Thomas Mann, Arthur Koestler, Raymond Aron, Ignazio Silone, Heinrich Böll, Hans Sahl, Max Frisch, T. S. Eliot, Saul Bellow, Milovan Djilas, Richard Löwenthal, Peter de Mendelssohn, Hilde Spiel, Hermann Kesten. The journal also received funding from the Ford Foundation and the CIA.[9]

Lasky helped to found the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) at a 1950 conference he organized in West Berlin. Frank Wisner, of the CIA's Office of Policy Coordination, criticized Lasky for making American sponsorship of the conference too obvious. [10] Although temporarily expelled from the CCF by Wisner, Lasky was included again in 1953 as a member of the "Tri-Magazine Editorial Committee", which established policies and topics for Der Monat, Preuves, and Encounter.[11] As part of this committee, Lasky argued that these magazines must express some dissent against the American government or risk being perceived as propaganda.[12]

Der Monat was sold to Die Zeit and temporarily ceased publication in 1971. From 1978 until 1987, Der Monat (now titled Der Monat (Neue Folge) or simply Der Monat (N. F.)) re-surfaced as a Die Zeit quarterly without Lasky's involvement as editor-in-chief, but Lasky remained publisher along with his German wife Helga Hegewisch, while the journal's new editor-in-chief was SPD politician and later German Minister of Culture Michael Naumann. A new economy & marketing publication called Der Monat appearing in Germany since 1997 has nothing to do with the former journal's socio-political concept and design.


In the Anglosphere, Lasky was best known for his role as Editor-in-Chief of Encounter. He succeeded Irving Kristol, the original editor and founder, in 1958 and helped turn the young magazine into one of the most highly regarded periodicals in Europe. Lasky steered Encounter to represent the point of view of the anti-Communist, anti-Totalitarian Left, and reportedly favored the journal's political side over its more purely cultural endeavors.[13]

The time-honored U.S. formula of 'shed light and the people will find their own way' exaggerated the possibilities in Germany (and in Europe) for an easy conversion . . . It would be foolish to expect to wean a primitive savage away from his conviction in mysterious jungle-herbs simply by the dissemination of modern scientific and medical information . . . We have not succeeded in combatting the variety of factors—political, psychological, cultural—which work against U.S. foreign policy, and in particular against the success of the Marshall Plan in Europe.[7]

He remained at Encounter until the magazine folded in 1991.

Both Encounter and Der Monat had long received funding from the CIA-sponsored Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF). [size=120][b]Lasky denied knowledge of CIA funding in a 1966 letter (written jointly with Irving Kristol and Stephen Spender) to the New York Times.[14] However, Lasky confessed privately to Frank Kermode (recruited as editor in 1965) that he had known about CIA funding for some years.[15] In 1967, Ramparts and other publications revealed the CIA's relationship to the CCF and its publications, embarrassing many who were involved.[16]

Other activities and private life

Lasky was the author of many books including Utopia and Revolution, Voices in the Revolution, On the Barricades and Off, and The Language of Journalism.

He was married twice, to Brigitte Lasky (née Newiger) with whom he had two children, Vivienne Lasky and Oliver Lasky, and to German novelist Helga Hegewisch.

Lasky died in May 2004 of a heart ailment. In an obituary in the Guardian from Andrew Roth, he was described as "a very vocal poseur" in 1930s New York and at a later encounter, "he had grown thinner on top and thicker about the middle, but what never altered was his sardonic half-sneer and nasal whine. "[4] A portion of Lasky's unpublished memoirs appears in News from the Republic of Letters, as well as in The Berlin Journal, Spring, 2007.

The Lasky Center for Transatlantic Studies

In October 2010, the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich opened the Lasky Center for Transatlantic Studies, a research center associated with the university's American Studies department. The Lasky Center is home to Lasky's personal library and papers. Its director is Christof Mauch.[17]

Published Works

• 1988. The Use and Abuse of Sovietology. Transaction Publishers.
• 1988. On the Barricades, and Off. Transaction Publishers.
• 2000. The Language of Journalism: Newspaper Culture. Transaction Publishers.
• 2004. Utopia and Revolution: On the Origins of a Metaphor. Transaction Publishers.
• 2005. European Notebooks: New Societies and Old Politics, 1954-1985. Transaction Publishers.
• 2006. Voices in a Revolution: The Collapse of East German Communism. Transaction Publishers.
• 2007. Media Warfare: The Americanization of Language. Transaction Publishers.
• 2014. Profanity, Obscenity and the Media, Volume Two. Transaction Publishers.

See also

• Der Monat (German Wikipedia)
• Encounter (magazine)
• Congress for Cultural Freedom


• Saunders, Francis Stonor, Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War, 1999, Granta, ISBN 1-86207-029-6 (USA: The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, 2000, The New Press, ISBN 1-56584-596-X).
External links[edit]
• Melvin J. Lasky, 84; Outspoken Anti-Communist, Washington Post, May 27, 2004
• Cold Warrior: Saying goodbye to Melvin J. Lasky, Reason Online, June 2, 2004
• Letters They Wouldn't Publish, The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, January 23, 2006
• A Brief Encounter: Melvin Lasky is a legend. Better yet, he dislikes Maureen Dowd., Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2001
• Republic of Letters


1. Saunders, Cultural Cold War (1999), p. 44. "And what of Melvin Lasky? Was he not an ideal candidate to join the swelling ranks of the CIA? It would later be alleged that Lasky had become an agent. This he consistently denied. Like Thaxter in [Saul Bellow's novel] Humboldt's Gift, the rumour 'greatly added to his mysteriousness.' His constant presence at the forefront of the CIA's cultural Cold War for the next two decades would not go unnoticed."
2. Lasky, Melvin (21 May 2004). "Melvin Lasky". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
3. Botsford, Keith (Fall–Winter 2004). "François Bondy & Melvin J. Lasky". Republic of Letters (14/15). Retrieved 17 September2012.
4. Roth, Andrew (21 May 2004). "Melvin Lasky: Cold warrior who edited the CIA-funded Encounter magazine". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
5. Medoff, Rachel (23 January 2006). "Letters They Wouldn't Publish". New York Times. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
6. Saunders, Cultural Cold War (1999), p. 28.
7. quoted in: Saunders, Cultural Cold War (1999), p. 29.
8. Saunders, Cultural Cold War (1999), p. 30. "The result was Der Monat, a monthly magazine designed to construct an ideological bridge between German and American intellectuals and, as explicitly set forth by Lasky, to ease the passage of American foreign policy interests by supporting 'the general objectives of U.S. policy in Germany and Europe. Set up with General Clay's backing on 1 October 1948, under Lasky's editorship, it was printed initially into Munich and airlifted into Berlin aboard the allied cargo planes on which the city depended during the blockade."
9. Saunders, Cultural Cold War (1999), p. 30. "Across the years,Der Monat was financed through 'confidential funds' of the Marshall Plan, then from the coffers of the Central Intelligence Agency, then with Ford Foundation money, and then again with CIA dollars. For its financing alone, the magazine was absolutely a product—and an exemplar of—American Cold War strategies in the cultural field."
10. Saunders, Cultural Cold War (1999), p. 85. "Wisner returned to the problem of Melvin Lasky, whose peacock presence throughout the Berlin conference had so infuriated him. His earlier command to have Lasky removed from centre-stage having been so blatantly ignored, he wrote an angry internal memo, 'Berlin Congress for Cultural Freedom: Activities of Melvin Lasky,' stating that Lasky's visibility was 'a major blunder and was recognized as such by our best friends in the State Department . . .'"
11. Saunders, Cultural Cold War (1999), p. 217."
12. Saunders, Cultural Cold War (1999), p. 218"
13. Bagnall, Nicholas (17 March 2003). "Nil desperandum: Articles of Faith: the story of British intellectual journalism". New Statesman. Retrieved 17 September 2012. . . . nor the deliberate philistinism of Encounter's editor Melvin Lasky, whom Berry reports as having described Stephen Spender's bookish part in that magazine as 'Elizabeth Bowen and all that crap'.
14. Saunders, Cultural Cold War (1999), p. 378. "Spender added his signature to that of Kristol and Lasky in a letter to the New York Times, dated 10 May 1966, which stated: 'We know of no "indirect" benefactions. . . we are our own masters and part of nobody's propaganda,' and defended the 'independent record of the Congress for Cultural Freedom in defending writers and artists in both East and West against misdemeanors of all governments including that of the US."
15. Saunders, Cultural Cold War (1999), p. 384. "This was the moment of Lasky's soi-disant confession: he admitted to Kermode that he had known of CIA support for some years now, but that he could not possibly say this publicly."
16. Stern, Sol (Winter 2010). "The Ramparts I Watched". City Journal. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
17. "Lsky Center for Transatlantic Studies". LMU Munich. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
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Re: The Ford Foundation and the CIA, by James Petras

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Who Stole Feminism?
by Wikipedia



Cover of the first edition
Author: Christina Hoff Sommers
Country: United States
Language: English
Subject: Feminism
Published: June 3, 1994 (Simon & Schuster)
Media type: Print (hardcover and paperback)
Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0684801568

Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women is a 1994 book by Christina Hoff Sommers, a writer who was at that time a philosophy professor at Clark University. It received wide attention for its attack on American feminism, and it was given highly polarized reviews divided between conservative and liberal commentators.[1]

Sommers's book popularized the idea that there is a split within American feminism between what she called "equity feminism" and "gender feminism". Sommers contends that equity feminists seek equal legal rights for women and men, while gender feminists seek to counteract historical inequalities based on gender. Some feminist scholars responded that there was no such split in feminism, and that Sommers was promoting the social viewpoint of victim blaming. Some reviewers praised the book, while others claimed that Sommers' research, facts, and assumptions were flawed.


Sommers argues that, "American feminism is currently dominated by a group of women who seek to persuade the public that American women are not the free creatures we think we are". Sommers uses the term "gender feminism" to refer to the ideology of feminists who believe that "our society is best described as a patriarchy, a 'male hegemony,' a 'sex/gender system' in which the dominant gender works to keep women cowering and submissive." Sommers criticizes feminist authors such as Gloria Steinem and Naomi Wolf, writing that in The Beauty Myth (1990), Wolf falsely claims that 150,000 women die of anorexia each year. According to Sommers, while "most experts are reluctant to give exact figures", the actual figure is likely to be somewhere between 100 and 400 deaths per year. She writes that many feminist theorists and researchers have dealt with male critics by calling them "sexist" or "reactionary", and female critics by calling them "traitors" or "collaborators", and that such tactics have "alienated and silenced women and men alike." Sommers identifies with what she calls "equity feminism", based on belief in fair treatment for everyone.[2]

In Sommers' view, gender feminism began to develop in the middle of the 1960s, partly as a result of the influence of thinkers such asKarl Marx, Jean-Paul Sartre, Herbert Marcuse, and Frantz Fanon. She points to Michel Foucault as an influence on Wolf and Susan Faludi. Discussing the influence of feminists on college campuses, Sommers argues that in many cases feminist "consciousness-raisers are driving out the scholars". She adds that, "The gender feminists have proved very adroit in getting financial support from governmental and private sources" and "hold the keys to many bureaucratic fiefdoms, research centers, women's studies programs, tenure committees, and para-academic organizations. It is now virtually impossible to be appointed to high administrative office in any university system without having passed muster with the gender feminist".[3]

Writers Sommers expresses a favorable view of include philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards, author of The Sceptical Feminist(1980), Katie Roiphe, author of The Morning After (1993), whom Sommers defends against criticism from Katha Pollitt, and literary critic Camille Paglia. Sommers argues that Paglia's Sexual Personae (1990) should have led to her being "acknowledged as an outstanding woman scholar even by those who take strong exception to her unfashionable views", and criticizes the Women's Review of Books for calling the book a work of "crackpot extremism" and feminist professors at Connecticut College for comparing it to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf (1925).[4]


Early reviews and responses

Who Stole Feminism? was first reviewed in Kirkus Reviews in April 1994, two months prior to publication. The staff at Kirkus said that Sommers' book highlighted instances of "shoddy" research in feminist studies but failed to tell the reader about similar poor quality research in other fields. Sommers was said to be confused about categories of feminism, to have invented a sort of "gender feminism" to fit her purpose of promoting her brand of liberal feminism, and that "ironically, she weaves a theory of conspiracy equal in force to those she seeks to debunk." Kirkus said that Sommers presumed to speak for the majority of feminists "without providing persuasive evidence that most women are liberal feminists." Sommers was praised for her valid challenges to feminist ideology, but her assumptions were described as flawed.[5]

A book review published in June 1994 by Nina Auerbach in The New York Times Book Review was widely seen.[6] Auerbach, a scholar of Victorian literature, was highly critical of Sommers, finding fault with her facts and logic; Auerbach said that the John M. Olin Foundation which paid for the book's publication should have found "a less muddled writer" for the task. Sommers responded to the criticism by saying that the Times should not have assigned Auerbach to the review, since as an organizer of a feminist event portrayed negatively in the book, she was sure to be prejudiced against the ideas in the book. Conservatives such as Jim Sleeper,Howard Kurtz and Rush Limbaugh defended Sommers; Limbaugh said that the Times was attempting to "kill this book".[7]

Editor Deirdre English writing in The Washington Post Book World was appreciative of the investigative aspect of Sommers' work but she questioned the polarized depiction of feminism. Calling Sommers a "well-published conservative [who] is itching for a fight", she said the book would likely provoke debate "as well as some retractions". English said of the book that "the root question is whether women want equality with men as they are, in the world men have shaped, or if women seek change in that world".[8]

Linda Hirshman was critical of facts found in the book; writing in the Los Angeles Times, Hirshman said that Sommers made mistakes in regard to her passages about the historic practice of a husband beating his wife to maintain discipline; Hirshman said that Sommers pointedly left out a case wherein the husband was not convicted.[9] Laura Flanders reviewed the book negatively in Extra!, published by progressive media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Flanders said that Sommers made the same mistakes she accused feminists of making, such that Sommers' book contained "unsubstantiated charges", cites to "advocacy research", and statistical errors likely based on a misreading of the source material.[10]

The book was positively reviewed by Cathy Young who was an executive colleague of Sommers in the Women's Freedom Network. It was also highly praised in the National Review by Sommers' close friend Mary Lefkowitz.[7] Paglia called the book a "landmark study... which uses ingenious detective work to unmask the shocking fraud and propaganda of establishment feminism and the servility of American media and academe to Machiavellian feminist manipulation", adding that, "Sommers has done a great service for women and for feminism, whose fundamental principles she has clarified and strengthened."[11] Melanie Kirkpatrick, writing in The Wall Street Journal, gave the book high marks, saying that "Sommers simply lines up her facts and shoots one bullseye after another."[12]

John M. Ellis, a scholar of German literature, praised Sommers for challenging the "intellectual deterioration" that feminism has caused within humanities departments in the United States. He writes that Sommers' book, along with others by authors with similar views, was met with "bitter hostility" from campus feminists, and that when Rebecca Sinkler, the editor of the New York Times Book Review, gave the book to her friend and former teacher Auerbach to review, the result was a "predictable trashing." According to Ellis, "the malice and dishonesty of Auerbach's review was so obvious...that it provoked not just a storm of protest but a response almost without precedent." According to Ellis, a series of newspapers, including the New York Daily News and The Washington Post, commented on what they saw as unethical behavior by Sinkler and Auerbach.[13]

Feminist columnist Katha Pollitt, however, thought Auerbach's review was too polite, that it failed to give Sommers' book "the pasting it deserved".[7]

Gay rights activist John Lauritsen, writing in A Freethinker's Primer of Male Love, agrees with Sommers that women are the main victims of "gender feminists".[14]

Sommers' claims regarding the legal permissiveness of wife beating have been criticized as inaccurate. In arguing that British law since the 1700s and American law since before the Revolution prohibits wife beating, Sommers quotes English legal historian William Blackstone as saying that the "husband was prohibited from using any violence to his wife..."[15] Critiquing the first edition of the book, Hirshman and Flanders separately argue that Sommers left out the other half of Blackstone's sentence that says in Latin "other than that which lawfully and reasonably belongs to the husband for the due government and correction of his wife". Flanders said that Blackstone's "complete text says the exact opposite of Sommers' partial quotation".[9] Sommers wrote a rebuttal column a week after Hirshman's Los Angeles Times piece stating that Blackstone's quotation had been misinterpreted, and had only been citing an outdated law since superseded.[16]

In the first edition of Who Stole Feminism?, Sommers wrote about how a figure of 40% increase of domestic violence incidents had been reportedly associated with the annual Super Bowl game. Sommers found that the figure was not based on any study. Sociologist Rhonda Hammer of University of California, Los Angeles, writes that Sommers, despite her debunking of the 40% figure, went too far in claiming that "no study shows that Super Bowl Sunday is in any way different from other days in the amount of domestic violence". Hammer said that Sommers ignored a variety of studies that showed increased domestic violence during the Super Bowl.[17] Writing on the same Super Bowl issue, criminologist Samuel Walker Kiewit was impressed by Sommers' debunking of the 40% statistic but he said she ignored the underlying seriousness of the domestic violence problem.[18]

Later reviews and analysis

Writing a decade after the publication of Sommers' book, Professor Anne-Marie Kinahan of Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada places the book in the context of a wider antifeminist backlash was framed by Sommers and two contemporary publications: The New Victorians by René Denfeld and The Morning After by Katie Roiphe. Kinahan views these three books as signalling a collective "fear of the perceived radicalism of feminism on university campuses", which is blamed by the three authors on the rise of queer theory and the growing power of lesbians and blacks in academia. Kinahan says that Sommers constructs in her book "a second type of feminism" called gender feminism which is supposedly a threat to traditional value systems; this demonstrates to Kinahan that Sommers is promoting a white, heterosexual and middle class value system, and that her book is advocating the continuation of "traditional hierarchies of morality, religion, and the nuclear family", as well as the stasis of traditional hierarchy in universities. Kinahan accuses Sommers of failing to consider the importance of the development of critical thinking in university students. Kinahan points out the contradiction in Sommers book which asserts that students are resistant to radical feminism, yet feminist indoctrination of students poses a great danger.[19]

Political scientist Ronnee Schreiber of San Diego State University expressed how the conservative and antifeminist Independent Women's Forum continues to use the book to portray feminists as scheming falsifiers of statistical data.[20]

Professors Dale Bauer and Katherine Rhoades writing about campus antifeminism in 2014 explained how Sommers book was mistaken in its assumptions about the way students approach challenging ideas presented to them in university. Sommers devoted a chapter to a negative depiction of a "feminist classroom" where the values of the teacher overwhelmed the students. Sommers advocated a classroom objectively free of values. Bauer and Rhoades contradict Sommers, describing how university students "always bring their own assumptions and values to class" and that they expect an active and lively exchange of ideas with the teacher and the other students. Bauer and Rhoades thought that the book's "most serious conceptual flaw" was the failure by Sommers to account for why women in society "have not always been treated fairly". Bauer and Rhoades said that they agreed with the assessment that Sommers wrote her book primarily to sell many copies, but that it would be a mistake to underestimate the threat that her book represented in its attempt to redefine feminism.[21]


1. Ehrenreich, Barbara (August 1, 1994). "A Feminist on the Outs".Time 144: 61.
2. Sommers, Christina Hoff (1995). Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 11, 12, 16, 18. ISBN 0-684-80156-6.
3. Sommers, Christina Hoff (1995). Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 33, 202, 229, 232, 273. ISBN 0-684-80156-6.
4. Sommers, Christina Hoff (1995). Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 27, 133, 214, 278. ISBN 0-684-80156-6.
5. "Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women, by Christina Hoff Sommers". Kirkus Reviews (David LeBreton). April 15, 1994. Review posted online May 20, 2010.
6. Auerbach, Nina (June 12, 1994). "Sisterhood Is Fractious". New York Times Book Review.
7. Pollitt, Katha (March 28, 2002). "Adventures in Book Reviewing". The Nation. Print version published April 15, 2002.
8. English, Deirdre (July 17, 1994). "Their Own Worst Enemies".The Washington Post Book World 24 (29). pp. 1, 11.
9. Hirshman, Linda (July 31, 1994). "Scholars in the Service of Politics: Those who would deny men's abuse of women twist statistics and skip the research". Los Angeles Times. RetrievedNovember 30, 2014.
10. Flanders, Laura (September 1, 1994). "The 'Stolen Feminism' Hoax: Anti-Feminist Attack Based on Error-Filled Anecdotes".Extra! (New York City: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).
11. Paglia 1995. p. xvi.
12. Melanie Kirkpatrick (1994-07-01). Wall Street Journal. Missing or empty |title= (help)
13. Ellis 1997. pp. 86-87, 218, 254-255.
14. John Lauritsen (1998). A Freethinker's Primer of Male Love. Pagan Press. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-943742-11-3.
15. Sommers, Who Stole Feminism, 1994, pp. 204–205.
16. Sommers, Christina (August 13, 1994). "Hirshman's Statistics". Los Angeles Times.
17. Hammer 2002. pp. 100–1.
18. Kiewit, Samuel Walker (1998). The Rights Revolution : Rights and Community in Modern America: Rights and Community in Modern America. Oxford University Press. p. 24.ISBN 9780195344714.
19. Kinahan, Anne-Marie (2004). "Women Who Run from the Wolves: Feminist Critique As Post-Feminism". In Althea Prince, Susan Silva-Wayne, Christian Vernon. Feminisms and Womanisms: A Women's Studies Reader. Canadian Scholars' Press. pp. 120–9. ISBN 9780889614116.
20. Schreiber, Ronnee (2012). Righting Feminism: Conservative Women and American Politics, with a New Epilogue. Oxford University Press. pp. 67–8. ISBN 9780199917020.
21. Bauer, Dale; Rhoades, Katherine (2014). "The Meanings and Metaphors of Student Resistance". In Veve Clark, Shirley Nelson Garner, Margaret Higonnet, Ketu Katrak. Anti-feminism in the Academy. Routledge. pp. 95–114. ISBN 9781317959076.


• Ellis, John M. (1997). Literature Lost: Social Agendas and the Corruption of the Humanities. New York: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-06920-0.
• Hammer, Rhonda (2002). Antifeminism and Family Terrorism: A Critical Feminist Perspective. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.ISBN 978-0-7425-1049-4.
• Lauritsen, John (1998). A Freethinker's Primer of Male Love. Provincetown: Pagan Press. ISBN 0-943742-11-0.
• Paglia, Camille (1995). Vamps and Tramps: New Essays. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-024828-5.
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Re: The Ford Foundation and the CIA, by James Petras

Postby admin » Wed May 06, 2020 2:39 am

Ford Foundation, a philanthropic facade for the CIA
by Paul Labarique
April 5, 2004



Between 1947 and 1966 the Ford Foundation played a key role in the network of US interference in Europe through the subvention of magazines, scientific programs and non-communist left-wing organizations. The largest philanthropic organization in the world was in fact providing a respectful facade for CIA financial and contact operations. This role was even more possible by the fact that the same persons designed and directed both organizations. Below you will find the first part of our research on the cultural aspects of the Atlantic interventionism.


Henry Ford, a militant anti-Semite that published La Juiverie Internationale [1], created the Ford Foundation in 1936. A legendary figure in the automotive industry, he supported all totalitarian projects that existed during the 20th century: prior to 1933 he financed the German national-socialism; in 1938 Hitler granted him the Great Cross of the German Eagle and he provided a large part of the capital of IG Farben Chemist, manufacturer of Zyklon B gas. During the 30’s he also constructed the first auto factories for Stalin, in Gorki and during the 50’s and 60’s he continued manufacturing in the USSR all vehicles destined for the North-Vietnamese army.

Great Cross of the German Order of the Eagle. Decoration received by Henry Ford on July 30, 1938.

Nevertheless only after his death his foundation reached its summit upon inheriting 70 million dollars of the Ford enterprises thus transforming it into the largest philanthropic association in the world. As Henry Ford II, the new president of the council of administration, expressed, the years 1949-1959 «marked a turnover in the history of the Ford Foundation».

This took place when the USA reached the status of a first-line world power. In Washington, the former Ambassador to the Soviet Union, general George F. Kennan, pushed a campaign to convince its compatriots of the fact that the red menace is bigger than the Nazi one convincing President Truman not to disarm the country, but rather to hide the US war machine and to get ready for a new confrontation.

He also convinced Under Secretary of War, John J. McCloy, into not dismantling the secret service that worked during the II World War, but rather to adapt that service to the new times. He is the theoretician fostering the “stay-behind” tactics, a network initially formed by Natzi and fascist agents that remained behind the front lines after the Reich collapse and that later was used by the Anglo-Americans to continue the fight against communist influence in Europe.

Likewise, a group of industrialists gathered around jurist H. Rowan Gaither Jr. and prevented the dismantling of the research and development service in the War Secretariat, privatizing it and giving it the name of Rand Corporation (Rand is the acronym of Research And Development).

Kennan, after implementing all these, created a permanent and secret structure of the State apparatus by means of the National Security Act, validated by the Congress in 1847. He institutes the CIA, the National Security Council and the Inter-Army Joint Staff. This group also has a public intervention plan, promoted by General George C. Marshall, presented as a loan for reconstruction granted to European states, under the umbrella of Washington and whose implementation is given to Paul G. Hoffman.

John McCloy

The United States and the USSR are confronting each other in a implacable war, although not directly in the military battle field, something they avoid, but rather in the political, intellectual and social ones. Their achievements in these fields, as well as the space conquer are mere symbolic victories. US foundations, headed by the Ford Foundation, are Washington “soldiers” in this “Cold War”.

The new financial dimension attained by the Ford Foundation in 1947 opened its appetite. The administration council, to redefine its objectives, decided during the Autumn of 1948 to commission a «detailed study (...) to competent and independent persons to serve as a guide on the form (...) where the expanded funds of the Foundation could be used as best as possible in the sake of general interest».

The commission created for that purpose is headed by H. Rowan Gaither Jr., who just created the Rand Corporation thanks to the bank guarantees of the Ford Foundation. Gaither was manager of MIT during the war and had relations with physicists working in the Manhattan [2]. Under the advise of this commission, the council of administration moved the director of the Marshall Plan, Paul G. Hoffman, to the position of president of the Foundation, a role he assumed on January 1st, 1951. According to journalist Volker R. Berghahm, this entails «the broadest and international role designed by the Gaither report for the Foundation,» [3]. The pattern was set: on a parallel basis to the stay-behind network in the political field and the Marshall Plan in the economic one, the Ford Foundation will be the cultural branch for US interference networks in Europe.

Nevertheless, in spite of its appearance, the Foundation is not only a supplementary tool for the device designed by Kennan in the period between 1946 and 1948, but also it is a position of retreat. Within the leading elite in the US that favored the Korean War, the father of the Cold War walked along the path of the extreme right helped by a fearful theoretician, Paul H. Nitze. Likewise, the internal political life is submerged into a "witch hunt", headed by Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Most of the foundations that flourished at the end of the war used a large part of their budget in national programs: thus, the Ford Foundation used from 1951 to 1960, 32,6 million dollars in educational programs, 75 millions in teaching activities for both economy and management, and around 300 millions in hospitals and medicine training schools. Nevertheless, some of its cadres wanted to direct the activity towards the international arena.

A first attempt refers to the Free Russia Fund, whose chairmanship was entrusted, of course, to the father of the Cold War, General George F. Kennan, who finds a way to prolong his career. Its budget was US 200,000 dollars. In July 1951, the Foundation also offered 1,4 million dollars to the Free University in West Berlin. This university had been created in 1948, at that time the oldest Berlin University, and located within the Soviet sector, and it had been “Stalinized”.

In the annual report of 1951, Henry Ford mentioned the “creation of peace conditions”. This program will be aimed at “trying to reduce tensions exacerbated by ignorance, envy and misunderstanding” and to “increase maturity in judgment and stability in determination both in the USA and abroad”. Hoffman created a team devoted to the promotion of this idea of “peace conditions”.

Gathered around him were Rowan Gaither, Milton Katz, his former assistant in the administration of the Marshall Plan (ECA) and Robert M. Hutchins from the Chicago university. As of January 1st, 1952 the team was reinforced by another consultant from ECA, Richard M. Bissell Jr. On July 15, 1952, the budget the Ford Foundation has devoted to international projects was closed to US 13,8 million dollars, that is to say, half of the amount allotted for national programs.

Richard Bissel

In March 1952, Richard M. Bissell drafted a 16-page document with the title “To Create Peace Conditions”, setting the guidelines for the future program. According to the document, the «aim of the Foundation should be that of contributing to the creation of a scenario where the West will be able, thanks to the new position of the military force under implementation, to negotiate a just and honorable peace with the East».

This will go through “a debate on disarmament” leading to a negotiation process that will create “a favorable public opinion” to this process. Bissell rejects the idea of a direct confrontation, but he does not believe neither in the possibility of disarmament nor in a real peace. He is rather of the idea that «it is possible to live in the same world with the Russians without going into war in spite of the deep and constant differences regarding mentality and interests". For this he creates a doctrine closer to the "peaceful coexistence"» suggested by Kroutchov after the death of Stalin in 1956.

The moderate acting of Bissell is equally applied at a national level: according to his opinion, «the opinion state prevailing in America is too tense and emotional, too close to a religious war». Thus, he is opposed to McCarthyism, but he recommends being prudent. He is of the criteria that any ostensible acting around the idea of disarmament could be misunderstood at the internal level, since the public opinion was not ready to think on a system where there will not be “neither war nor peace”. Bissel proposed that Ford Foundation should not involved publicly in this type of combat, but that it should try to set into motion its idea by collecting data and contacting experts in international relations. In this context, Hoffman went to former Joint Secretary of War, John J. McCloy (who worked as President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, predecessor of the World Bank) who joined the Foundation bringing with him one of his aides: Shepard Stone.

According to Volker R. Berhahn, since its very origins, the Ford Foundation initiative was something else than a simple development of a “counterbalance” for McCarthy anti-communism embodied in itself or a battle against the Cold War through more subtle ways. Given the fact that the US has been transformed into a world power and that the world public opinion was not yet ready to face the challenges to come, the aim was that of creating the popular basis for a democratic foreign policy to be implemented by the elites of the East coast and to ensure they will not loose grounds when confronted to the new populist and isolation policies.

Starting on the summer of 1952 Hoffman got involved with Dwight D. Eisenhower, a candidate for the presidential election, hoping to get the seat as Secretary of State in the new administration. A team from the Foundation, headed by Shepard Stone, hurried to draft the Republican presidential candidate program, exploiting the susceptibilities of the Democrats.

The attempt to forge an alliance failed and since is stepping into the White House, Eisenhower designated John Foster Dulles as his Secretary of State. His brother Allen Dulles, is named to head CIA where he takes the toughest stand regarding USSR, developing the "rollback" strategy in Central Europe [4].

These nominations are a new camouflage for the projects of Hoffman, Kennan, Stone, McCloy and Milton Katz, that continue multiplying contacts for liberal intellectuals and experts on international issues to carry out a more diplomatic strategy regarding the USSR. During these meetings ideas emerged regarding the fact that the non-aligned countries could constitute good grounds for pilot projects drafted by the Foundation.

According the files holding the correspondence among different leaders of the Foundation, John J. McCloy was asking himself at that time if "the work they were doing was not more difficult (...) than ruling Germany or trying to establish a European community".

Finally, the leaders of the Foundation, thanks to the contacts held, could consider it a “stimulating element of direction” to rethink the Soviet-American relation according the final report of McCloy and Stone.

According to this document, Western Europe should be a key region whose institutional basis would be strengthen and where the Ford Foundation «could sponsor, in a useful way, the creation of an institution or a series of institutions devoted to the study of problems affecting the European community». This project bears the title Program for Peace Conditions. A consultative committee was created, headed by McCloy, and Shepard Stone assumes the job as its director.

One of its objectives was to draft a method allowing to “obtaining the support from Socialists in Europe for international peace”. Thus, the Foundation should “consider the idea of gathering advanced socialists thinkers from these countries, men with prestige within their own parties, to study the problem of the coexistence and to propose solutions”.

The program provokes personal ambitions. When the influence battle is over, it is placed under the jurisdiction of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) [5] and Shepard Stone transformed himself into a key element acting as head of the Division for International and European Affairs of the Ford Foundation.

No matter what, the Foundation is a tool that each ministerial department wants to use. As of May 5, 1951, Hans Speier, of the Rand Corporation, sends a memo to Rowan Gaither stating that the State Department and the High Civilian Commissioner of Germany wish to disguise their support to organizations in West Germany so that they might not be considered as under the rule of Washington. Thus, together with the CIA, they try to find ways to facilitate funds indirectly.

On March 20, 1952, Milton Katz circulated a memo within the direction of the Foundation recalling the special importance of Europe for US diplomacy. According to this memo, Europe could only be considered “in a constructive way if it is a member of the Atlantic community”. In this sense it is important to contribute to the liberation of «the large French and Italian trade-unions from the grasp of communism».

Katz enumerates then a series of projects by the Ford Foundation such as «the creation of an equivalent of the Committee for Economic Development in continental Europe». It concludes with a list of personalities that could propagate the action by the Foundation: Jean Monnet, Oliver Franks, Hugh Gaitskell, Geoffrey Crowther, Robert Marjolin, Dirk Stikker and Dag Hammarskjöld.

In May 1953 Rowan Gaither drafted a memo mentioning a new principle: the Foundation should avoid «what ever might be a prolongation or a repetition of effective actions by the government or by other agencies». After all, it continues saying, «some of the most important opportunities for the Foundation (...) might be in the fact of completing, stimulating and better the activities of others, especially those of the government». The link US government/Ford Foundation finds here is modus operandi.

With the end of McCarthyism and the beginning of peaceful coexistence, the debate in Washington is softened. The Ford Foundation is no longer seen as an alternative to the CIA, but rather as its associate. Richard Bissel Jr. abandoned the Foundation to take hold of the operative direction of stay-behind, while the Ford Foundation assisted the CIA in several large operations.

It is replaced in the funding of the Congress for Freedom in Culture and entrusted David Lerner and Raymond Aron, an essential figure in the Congress, a study on the failure of the treaty the European Defense Community in France.
It financed the Hungarian Philharmonic Orchestra made up by musicians compelled to exile due to Stalinism and whom the CIA wanted to present as symbols of the free world.

It also financed the American Committee on United Europe (ACUE), a front for the CIA entrusted with supporting the construction of a Federal Europe according to the interests of Washington. The ACUE is headed by the former director of secret services during the War World and its Vice-President is a founding member of the CIA.

The action taken by the Ford Foundation with the Congress in favor of Freedom for Culture is possible, as Grémion explains, given the proximity among the actors staffing both entities. Just like the Congress, the Ford Foundation comprises «liberals» (according to the American sense for this expression), that is to say, by the non-communist left. «A tool for a non-governmental diplomacy, the objective of its leaders (in the field of art) is that of providing a different image of the US culture, away from the frequent image of the mass popular culture».

In that sense, «the Ford Foundation places in that way its action from the beginning, within the framework of an illustrated patronage practice». In the economic field, the action taken by the Foundation «is instilled in the reformist trend of the New Deal» and this gets it favors from the intellectuals in the Congress, that in general support planning and the Welfare State.

Finally it is oriented towards the development of social sciences: Rowan Gaither estimates that, one day, social sciences will allow obtaining brilliant results in the social field such as engineering in the field of technology. The Ford Foundation favors financing social sciences on top of humanity and medicine. It also fosters university and academic exchanges, as well as institutional creations: it finances the Center of European Sociology of Raymon Aron and the network of planners of Bertrand de Jouvenel.

Its presence is so discreet that, according to a memo drafted by Shepard Stone after a trip to Europe in 1954, the Foundation enjoys a great acknowledgment in Europe “even within the circles of the extreme left of the British Labor Party, the German SPD and among numerous leftist intellectuals in France”. Admiration is reciprocal: Shepard Stone feels great attraction towards the European culture, which he opposes to the American popular culture and he feels closer to intellectuals in the Congress, that, after critizing communism “they value the virtues of individual freedom and of a free society”. That is why the finance magazines that are close to the Congress such as Encounter, Preuves y Forum.

After several months of internal conflicts, Shepard Stone obtained the direction over the whole of the European program by the Ford Foundation in mid 1956. The activity waged by the Ford Foundation was expanded. Stone requested a supplementary amount of five million US dollars from the budget simply for the European program. The Hungarian and Polish revolutions of 1956, repressed by the Soviets, convinced all shareholders to grant their demands.

This money allowed to help refugees coming from Hungary or Poland and to create structures to accommodate them. The Ford Foundation equally organized training and study programs for scientists coming the Warsaw Pact, which were invited to the USA and West Europe. In all this there was a sort of perverse game as preferred by special services: the CIA expected to recruit agents among economists, researchers in social sciences and experts invited by the Ford Foundation, while the KGB considered the possibility of sending reliable elements to acquire American knowledge.

At the same time, Japan was launching English language promotion programs, US studies and contacts between Japan and Europe. The philanthropic diplomacy of the Ford Foundation covered the whole world. It took the fostering of the US culture everywhere and tried to win to its side the Non-Aligned Countries. In Africa, the threat of an alignment with Moscow on the part of the recently independent countries motivates the creation of numerous aid programs for that region, especially in Algeria. In the same way an agricultural program have been created in India with the help of European investors to whom Shepard Stone convinced of creating Ford style foundations.

At the university level, the Ford Foundation financed, in 1959, St Antony’s College in Oxford, specialized in Humanities. The European Center of Nuclear Research (ECNR) also received subventions in 1956, as well as the institute run by the Danish nuclear physician Niels Bohr. So the, with the approval of the CIA, the Foundation brings to Denmark delegations of Polish, Soviet and even Chinese scientists, officially, by virtue of the “scientific dialogue”. In that same line, even the Oxford University got a subvention of a million dollars in 1958, just like the Churchill College of Cambridge.

In France, the Maison des sciences de l’homme, under the direction of Gaston Berger, received one million dollars in 1959 for the creation of a social science research center defended by university professors just like Fernand Braudel.

The revelation, in 1966 and 1967, of the financing by the CIA of the Congress for the Freedom of Culture, resulted in a discredit for the Ford Foundation. The idea of a link between the Ford Foundation and the American Secret Service extends all over. But beyond that, is the set of so-called philanthropic actions done by the Ford Foundation in Europe which seen now through a new perspective: isn’t it a formidable operation of American cultural interference?



[1] The International Jew - The World’s Foremost Problem

[2] Pierre Grémion, Intelligence de l’anticommunisme, Editions Fayard, 1995, France

[3] Volker R. Berhahn, America and the intellectual cold wars in Europe, Princeton University Press, 2001.

[4] The "rollback" strategy consists in forcing a retreat of the Russian positions in Central Europe. It opposes the “containment” policy whose objective is to instill the state of the forces present and impede Soviet expansionism. The "rollback" was replaced by "containment" after the collapse of the USSR.

[5] On May 6, 1953, the Council on Foreign Relations organizes a seminar, with Ford Foundation funding, devoted to relations between the USA and the USSR. Attending the seminar are: John J. McCloy (President), Henry L. Roberts (Research Secretary), John Blumgart (Rapporteur), Henry L. Roberts (banker/investor), Robert Amory (CIA), Robert Bowie (Department of State), McGeorge Bundy (Harvard), Merle Fainsod (Harvard), George S. Franklin Jr. (CFR), Howard Johnson (Ford Foundation), Devereux C. Josephs, J. Robert Oppenheimer (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton), Dean Rusk (President of the Rockefeller Foundation), Shepard Stone and Henry M. Wriston (President of the Brown University)
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Re: The Ford Foundation and the CIA, by James Petras

Postby admin » Wed May 06, 2020 2:55 am

Modern art was CIA 'weapon'
Revealed: how the spy agency used unwitting artists such as Pollock and de Kooning in a cultural Cold War
by Frances Stonor Saunders
Sunday 22 October 1995 00:02



For decades in art circles it was either a rumour or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art - including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko - as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince - except that it acted secretly - the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years.

The connection is improbable. This was a period, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the great majority of Americans disliked or even despised modern art - President Truman summed up the popular view when he said: "If that's art, then I'm a Hottentot." As for the artists themselves, many were ex- communists barely acceptable in the America of the McCarthyite era, and certainly not the sort of people normally likely to receive US government backing.

Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.

The existence of this policy, rumoured and disputed for many years, has now been confirmed for the first time by former CIA officials. Unknown to the artists, the new American art was secretly promoted under a policy known as the "long leash" - arrangements similar in some ways to the indirect CIA backing of the journal Encounter, edited by Stephen Spender.

The decision to include culture and art in the US Cold War arsenal was taken as soon as the CIA was founded in 1947. Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the new agency set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.

The next key step came in 1950, when the International Organisations Division (IOD) was set up under Tom Braden. It was this office which subsidised the animated version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, which sponsored American jazz artists, opera recitals, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's international touring programme. Its agents were placed in the film industry, in publishing houses, even as travel writers for the celebrated Fodor guides. And, we now know, it promoted America's anarchic avant-garde movement, Abstract Expressionism.

Initially, more open attempts were made to support the new American art. In 1947 the State Department organised and paid for a touring international exhibition entitled "Advancing American Art", with the aim of rebutting Soviet suggestions that America was a cultural desert. But the show caused outrage at home, prompting Truman to make his Hottentot remark and one bitter congressman to declare: "I am just a dumb American who pays taxes for this kind of trash." The tour had to be cancelled.

The US government now faced a dilemma. This philistinism, combined with Joseph McCarthy's hysterical denunciations of all that was avant-garde or unorthodox, was deeply embarrassing. It discredited the idea that America was a sophisticated, culturally rich democracy. It also prevented the US government from consolidating the shift in cultural supremacy from Paris to New York since the 1930s. To resolve this dilemma, the CIA was brought in.

The connection is not quite as odd as it might appear. At this time the new agency, staffed mainly by Yale and Harvard graduates, many of whom collected art and wrote novels in their spare time, was a haven of liberalism when compared with a political world dominated by McCarthy or with J Edgar Hoover's FBI. If any official institution was in a position to celebrate the collection of Leninists, Trotskyites and heavy drinkers that made up the New York School, it was the CIA.

Until now there has been no first-hand evidence to prove that this connection was made, but for the first time a former case officer, Donald Jameson, has broken the silence. Yes, he says, the agency saw Abstract Expressionism as an opportunity, and yes, it ran with it.

"Regarding Abstract Expressionism, I'd love to be able to say that the CIA invented it just to see what happens in New York and downtown SoHo tomorrow!" he joked. "But I think that what we did really was to recognise the difference. It was recognised that Abstract Expression- ism was the kind of art that made Socialist Realism look even more stylised and more rigid and confined than it was. And that relationship was exploited in some of the exhibitions.

"In a way our understanding was helped because Moscow in those days was very vicious in its denunciation of any kind of non-conformity to its own very rigid patterns. And so one could quite adequately and accurately reason that anything they criticised that much and that heavy- handedly was worth support one way or another."

To pursue its underground interest in America's lefty avant-garde, the CIA had to be sure its patronage could not be discovered. "Matters of this sort could only have been done at two or three removes," Mr Jameson explained, "so that there wouldn't be any question of having to clear Jackson Pollock, for example, or do anything that would involve these people in the organisation. And it couldn't have been any closer, because most of them were people who had very little respect for the government, in particular, and certainly none for the CIA. If you had to use people who considered themselves one way or another to be closer to Moscow than to Washington, well, so much the better perhaps."

This was the "long leash". The centrepiece of the CIA campaign became the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a vast jamboree of intellectuals, writers, historians, poets, and artists which was set up with CIA funds in 1950 and run by a CIA agent. It was the beach-head from which culture could be defended against the attacks of Moscow and its "fellow travellers" in the West. At its height, it had offices in 35 countries and published more than two dozen magazines, including Encounter.

The Congress for Cultural Freedom also gave the CIA the ideal front to promote its covert interest in Abstract Expressionism. It would be the official sponsor of touring exhibitions; its magazines would provide useful platforms for critics favourable to the new American painting; and no one, the artists included, would be any the wiser.

This organisation put together several exhibitions of Abstract Expressionism during the 1950s. One of the most significant, "The New American Painting", visited every big European city in 1958-59. Other influential shows included "Modern Art in the United States" (1955) and "Masterpieces of the Twentieth Century" (1952).

Because Abstract Expressionism was expensive to move around and exhibit, millionaires and museums were called into play. Pre-eminent among these was Nelson Rockefeller, whose mother had co-founded the Museum of Modern Art in New York. As president of what he called "Mummy's museum", Rockefeller was one of the biggest backers of Abstract Expressionism (which he called "free enterprise painting"). His museum was contracted to the Congress for Cultural Freedom to organise and curate most of its important art shows.

The museum was also linked to the CIA by several other bridges. William Paley, the president of CBS broadcasting and a founding father of the CIA, sat on the members' board of the museum's International Programme. John Hay Whitney, who had served in the agency's wartime predecessor, the OSS, was its chairman. And Tom Braden, first chief of the CIA's International Organisations Division, was executive secretary of the museum in 1949.

Now in his eighties, Mr Braden lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, in a house packed with Abstract Expressionist works and guarded by enormous Alsatians. He explained the purpose of the IOD.

"We wanted to unite all the people who were writers, who were musicians, who were artists, to demonstrate that the West and the United States was devoted to freedom of expression and to intellectual achievement, without any rigid barriers as to what you must write, and what you must say, and what you must do, and what you must paint, which was what was going on in the Soviet Union. I think it was the most important division that the agency had, and I think that it played an enormous role in the Cold War."

He confirmed that his division had acted secretly because of the public hostility to the avant-garde: "It was very difficult to get Congress to go along with some of the things we wanted to do - send art abroad, send symphonies abroad, publish magazines abroad. That's one of the reasons it had to be done covertly. It had to be a secret. In order to encourage openness we had to be secret."

If this meant playing pope to this century's Michelangelos, well, all the better: "It takes a pope or somebody with a lot of money to recognise art and to support it," Mr Braden said. "And after many centuries people say, 'Oh look! the Sistine Chapel, the most beautiful creation on Earth!' It's a problem that civilisation has faced ever since the first artist and the first millionaire or pope who supported him. And yet if it hadn't been for the multi-millionaires or the popes, we wouldn't have had the art."

Would Abstract Expressionism have been the dominant art movement of the post-war years without this patronage? The answer is probably yes. Equally, it would be wrong to suggest that when you look at an Abstract Expressionist painting you are being duped by the CIA.

But look where this art ended up: in the marble halls of banks, in airports, in city halls, boardrooms and great galleries. For the Cold Warriors who promoted them, these paintings were a logo, a signature for their culture and system which they wanted to display everywhere that counted. They succeeded.

* The full story of the CIA and modern art is told in 'Hidden Hands' on Channel 4 next Sunday at 8pm. The first programme in the series is screened tonight. Frances Stonor Saunders is writing a book on the cultural Cold War.

Covert Operation

In 1958 the touring exhibition "The New American Painting", including works by Pollock, de Kooning, Motherwell and others, was on show in Paris. The Tate Gallery was keen to have it next, but could not afford to bring it over. Late in the day, an American millionaire and art lover, Julius Fleischmann, stepped in with the cash and the show was brought to London.

The money that Fleischmann provided, however, was not his but the CIA's. It came through a body called the Farfield Foundation, of which Fleischmann was president, but far from being a millionaire's charitable arm, the foundation was a secret conduit for CIA funds.

So, unknown to the Tate, the public or the artists, the exhibition was transferred to London at American taxpayers' expense to serve subtle Cold War propaganda purposes. A former CIA man, Tom Braden, described how such conduits as the Farfield Foundation were set up. "We would go to somebody in New York who was a well-known rich person and we would say, 'We want to set up a foundation.' We would tell him what we were trying to do and pledge him to secrecy, and he would say, 'Of course I'll do it,' and then you would publish a letterhead and his name would be on it and there would be a foundation. It was really a pretty simple device."

Julius Fleischmann was well placed for such a role. He sat on the board of the International Programme of the Museum of Modern Art in New York - as did several powerful figures close to the CIA.
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Re: The Ford Foundation and the CIA, by James Petras

Postby admin » Wed May 06, 2020 2:58 am

CIA and the Cultural Cold War
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/5/20



During the Cold War, in addition to being a political and economic battle, the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union was a clash of cultures. Communist party leaders depicted the United States as a cultural black hole and cited their own significant culture as evidence that they were the inheritors of the European Enlightenment (Wilford 100). Americans, on the other hand accused the Soviets of “disregarding the inherent value of culture” and subjugating art to the controlling policies of a totalitarian political system. The United States saw itself as being saddled with the responsibility of preserving and fostering the best cultural traditions of western civilization, as many European artists sought refuge in the United States before, during, and after World War II (Wilford 101). Europe and European Universities turned out to be in the epicenter of the Cultural Cold War.[1]


Role of the CIA and the CCF

In 1950, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) surreptitiously created the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) to counter the Cominform’s “peace offensive”. The Congress had “offices in thirty-five countries, employed dozens of personnel, published over twenty prestige magazines, held art exhibitions, owned a news and features service, organized high-profile international conferences, and rewarded musicians and artists with prizes and public performances” at its peak (Saunders 2000). The intent of these endeavors was to “showcase” US and European high culture, including not just musical works but paintings, ballets, and other artistic avenues, for the benefit of neutralist foreign intellectuals.[2]

CCF and the realm of music

Many US government organizations used classical symphonies, Broadway musicals, and jazz performances (including musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie) in attempts to persuade audiences worldwide America was a cradle for the growth of music (Wilford 108-109). The CIA and, in turn the CCF, displayed reluctance to patronize America's musical avant-garde, experimental, including artists such as Milton Babbitt and John Cage. The CCF took a more conservative approach, as outlined under its General Secretary, Nicolas Nabokov, and concentrated its efforts on presenting older European works that had been banned or condemned by the Communist Party.[2]

In 1952, the CCF sponsored the “Festival of Twentieth-Century Masterpieces of Modern Arts” in Paris. Over the next thirty days, the festival hosted nine separate orchestras which performed works by over 70 composers, many of whom had been dismissed by communist critics as “degenerate” and “sterile,”; included in this group were composers such as Dmitri Shostakovich and Claude Debussy (Wilford 109). The festival opened with a performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, as performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra (109). Thomas Braden, a senior member of the CIA said: “The Boston Symphony Orchestra won more acclaim for the US in Paris than John Foster Dulles or Dwight D. Eisenhower could have brought with a hundred speeches”.[2]

The CIA in particular utilized a wide range of musical genres, including Broadway musicals, and even the jazz of Dizzy Gillespie, to convince music enthusiasts across the globe that the U.S. was committed to the musical arts as much as they were to the literary and visual arts. Under the leadership of Nabokov, the CCF organized impressive musical events that were anti-communist in nature, transporting America's prime musical talents to Berlin, Paris, and London to provide a steady series of performances and festivals. In order to promote cooperation between artists and the CCF, and thus extend their ideals, the CCF provided financial aid to artists in need of monetary assistance.

However, because the CCF failed to offer much support for classical music associated with the likes of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, it was deemed an “authoritarian” tool of Soviet communism and wartime German and Italian fascism. The CCF also distanced itself from experimental musical avant-garde artists such as Milton Babbit and John Cage, preferring to focus on earlier European works that had been banned or condemned as “formalist” by Soviet authorities.

Nicolas Nabokov- Secretary General of the CCF

Nicolas Nabokov was a Russian-born composer and writer who developed the music program of the CCF as the Secretary-General. Before gaining this position, he composed several notable musical works, the first of which was the ballet-oratorio Ode, produced by Serge Diaghilev's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, in 1928. This composition was shortly followed by Nabokov's Lyrical Symphony in 1931. Nabokov moved to the U.S. in 1933 to serve as a lecturer in music for the Barnes Foundation. A year after moving to the U.S. Nabokov composed another ballet, which was entitled Union Pacific. Nabokov's career then leads him to teach music at Wells College in New York from 1936 to 1941, and later at St. John's College in Maryland. During this time, Nabokov officially became a U.S citizen, in 1939.

In 1945, Nabokov moved to Germany to work for the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey as a civilian cultural adviser. He returned to the U.S. just two years later to teach at the Peabody Conservatory before becoming the Secretary-General of the newly created CCF in 1951. Nabokov remained in this position for over fifteen years, spearheading popular music and cultural festivals during his tenure. During this time he also wrote music for the opera Rasputin's End in 1958 and was commissioned by the New York City Ballet to compose music for Don Quixote in 1966. When the CCF disbanded in 1967, Nabokov returned to a career in teaching at several universities throughout the U.S., and composed music for the opera Love's Labour's Lost in 1973.

Festival of Twentieth-Century Masterpieces of Modern Arts

This 30-day arts festival, held in Paris, was sponsored by the CCF in 1952 in order to alter the image of the U.S. as having a bleak and empty cultural scene. The CCF under Nabokov believed that American modernist culture could serve as an ideological resistance to the Soviet Union. As a result, the CCF commissioned nine different orchestras to perform concertos, operas, and ballets by over 70 composers who had been labeled by communist commissars as “degenerate” and “sterile.” This included compositions by Benjamin Britten, Erik Satie, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Pierre Boulez, Gustav Mahler, Paul Hindemith, and Claude Debussy.

The festival opened with a performance of Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, conducted by Stravinsky and Pierre Monteux, the original conductor in 1913 when the ballet instigated a riot by the Parisian public. The entire Boston Symphony Orchestra was brought to Paris to perform the overture for the large sum of $160,000. The performance was so powerful in uniting the public under a common anti-Soviet stance that American journalist Tom Braden remarked that “the Boston Symphony Orchestra won more acclaim for the U.S. in Paris than John Foster Dulles or Dwight D. Eisenhower could have brought with a hundred speeches.” An additional revolutionary performance at the festival was Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints, an opera that contained an all-black cast. This performance was selected to counter European criticisms of the treatment of African Americans living in the U.S.

Louis Armstrong and the Cultural Cold War

During the Cold War, Louis Armstrong was promoted around the world as a symbol of US culture, racial progress, and foreign policy. It was during the Jim Crow Era that Armstrong was appointed a Goodwill Jazz Ambassador, and his job entailed representing the American government’s commitment to advance the liberties of African Americans at home, while also working to endorse the social freedom of those abroad.

Armstrong’s visit to Africa’s Gold Coast was hugely successful and attracted magnificent crowds and widespread press coverage. His band’s performance in Accra resulted in public enthusiasm due to what was deemed an “unbiased support for the African course….”.

Although Armstrong was indeed advocating the US foreign policy strategies in Africa, he did not whole-heartedly agree with some of the American government's decisions in the South. During the 1957 school desegregation crisis in Little Rock, Arkansas, Armstrong made it a point to openly criticize President Eisenhower and Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus. Instigated by Faubus's decision to use the National Guard to prevent Black students from integrating into Little Rock High School, Armstrong abandoned his ambassadorship periodically, jeopardizing the US's attempt to use Armstrong to represent America's racial position abroad, specifically in the Soviet Union.

It was not until Eisenhower sent federal troops to uphold integration that Armstrong reconsidered and went back to his position with the State Department. Although he had deserted his trip to the Soviet Union, he later went on to tour several times for the US government, including a six-month tour African tour in 1960-1961. It was during this time that Armstrong continued to criticize the American government for dragging its feet on the Civil Right issue, highlighting the contradictory nature of the Goodwill Jazz Ambassadors mission. Armstrong and Dave and Iona Brubeck (other Ambassadors at the time) asserted that although they represented the American government, they did not represent all of the same policies.

Ultimately, although America no doubt benefited from the tours by Black artists (including Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie), these ambassadors did not advocate a singularly American identity. They instead encouraged solidarity among Black peoples, and were constantly contesting those policies that did not fully sympathize with the aims of the Civil Rights movement.

See also

• Hebert Marcuse — OSS agent and revisionist New Left pioneer
• Gloria Steinem — CIA agent and second-wave feminist pioneer
• A Beacon of Hope


1. Natalia Tsvetkova. Failure of American and Soviet Cultural Imperialism in German Universities, 1945-1990. Boston, Leiden: Brill, 2013
2. Wilford, Hugh. The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America. London, England: Harvard University Press, 2008.

Further reading

• Cold War Constructions: The Political Culture of United States Imperialism, 1945-1966. Culture, Politics, and the Cold War. Christian G. Appy. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 2000.
• An American Half-century: Postwar Culture and Politics in the USA. Michael Klein. London & Boulder, Colorado: Pluto Press, 1994.
• Rubin, Andrew N. Archives of Authority: Empire, Culture, and the Cold War. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.
• Saunders, Frances Stonor. Introduction to Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War. Granta 1999/2000
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Re: The Ford Foundation and the CIA, by James Petras

Postby admin » Wed May 06, 2020 3:03 am

Congress for Cultural Freedom
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/5/20



Congress for Cultural Freedom
Motto: To counter the Communist "cultural offensive" and uphold the importance of intellectual freedom
Founded: 26 June 1950
Dissolved: 1979 (as International Association for Cultural Freedom)
Location: Paris
Origins: Central Intelligence Agency
Area served: Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, Latin America, Australia
Method: conferences, journals, seminars
Key people: Melvin J. Lasky, Nikolai Nabokov, Michael Josselson
Endowment: CIA to 1966; Ford Foundation to 1979

The Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) was an anti-communist advocacy group founded in 1950. At its height, the CCF was active in thirty-five countries. In 1966 it was revealed that the United States Central Intelligence Agency was instrumental in the establishment and funding of the group.[1][2]

Historian Frances Stonor Saunders writes (1999): "Whether they liked it or not, whether they knew it or not, there were few writers, poets, artists, historians, scientists, or critics in postwar Europe whose names were not in some way linked to this covert enterprise."[3] A different slant on the origins and work of the Congress is offered by Peter Coleman in his Liberal Conspiracy (1989) where he talks about a struggle for the mind "of Postwar Europe" and the world at large.[4]

Origins, 1948–1950

The CCF was founded on 26 June 1950 in West Berlin, which had just endured months of Soviet blockade. Its stated purpose was to find ways to counter the view that liberal democracy was less compatible with culture than communism. In practical terms it aimed to challenge the post-war sympathies with the USSR of many Western intellectuals and fellow travellers, particularly among liberals and the non-Communist Left.

Formation of the CCF came in response to a series of events orchestrated by the Soviet Union: the World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace in Wroclaw (Poland) in August 1948; a similar event in April the following year in Paris, the World Congress of Peace Partisans;[5] and their culmination in the creation of the World Peace Council, which in March 1950 issued the Stockholm Appeal.[6] As part of this campaign there had also been an event in New York City in March 1949: the Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was attended by many prominent U.S. liberals, leftists and pacifists who called for peace with Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union.[7]

The founding conference of the Congress for Cultural Freedom was attended by leading intellectuals from the U.S. and Western Europe. Among those who came to Berlin in June 1950 were writers, philosophers, critics and historians: Franz Borkenau, Karl Jaspers, John Dewey, Ignazio Silone, James Burnham, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Bertrand Russell, Ernst Reuter, Raymond Aron, Alfred Ayer, Benedetto Croce, Arthur Koestler, Richard Löwenthal, Melvin J. Lasky, Tennessee Williams, Irving Brown, and Sidney Hook. There were conservatives among the participants, but non-Communist (or former Communist) left-wingers were more numerous.[8] The man who would become the "godfather of Neoconservatism" Irving Kristol was also present.[3][9]

The Manifesto of the Congress was drafted by Arthur Koestler, with amendments added on a motion proposed by historian Hugh Trevor-Roper and philosopher A.J. Ayer.[10]

Executive Committee and Secretariat

An Executive Committee was elected in 1950 at the founding conference in Berlin, with seven members and six alternate members: Irving Brown (Haakon Lie), Arthur Koestler (Raymond Aron), Eugen Kogon (Carlo Schmid), David Rousset (Georges Altman), Ignazio Silone (Nicola Chiaromonte), Stephen Spender (Tosco Fyvel) and Denis de Rougemont who became President of the Committee.[11]

The management of the CCF was entrusted to its secretariat, headed by Michael Josselson.[3] By the time Josselson joined the Congress of Cultural Freedom in 1950 he was "undoubtedly a CIA officer".[12] A polyglot able to converse fluently in four languages (English, Russian, German and French), Josselson was heavily involved in the CCF's growing range of activities – its periodicals, worldwide conferences and international seminars – until his resignation in 1967, following the exposure of funding by the CIA.[13]

Activities, 1950–1966

At its height, the CCF had offices in thirty-five countries, employed dozens of personnel, and published over twenty prestigious magazines. It held art exhibitions, owned a news and features service, organized high-profile international conferences, and rewarded musicians and artists with prizes and public performances.[1][3]

Between 1950 and 1966 the Congress sponsored numerous conferences. A selective list describes 16 conferences in the 1950s held principally in Western Europe but also in Rangoon, Mexico City, Tokyo, Ibadan (Nigeria) and South Vietnam: the Founding Conference in Berlin was followed in 1951 by the First Asian Conference on Cultural Freedom, held in Bombay. A further 21 conferences over an even wider geographical area are listed for the first half of the 1960s.[14]

In the early 1960s, the CCF mounted a campaign against the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, an ardent communist. The campaign intensified when it appeared that Neruda was a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964 but he was also published in Mundo Nuevo, a CCF-sponsored periodical.[15]

CIA involvement revealed, 1966

In April 1966, The New York Times ran a series of five articles on the purposes and methods of the CIA.[16][17][18][19][20]

The third of these 1966 articles began to detail false-front organizations and the secret transfer of CIA funds to, for example, the US State Department or to the United States Information Agency (USIA) which "may help finance a scholarly inquiry and publication, or the agency may channel research money through foundations – legitimate ones or dummy fronts."[21] The New York Times cited, amongst others, the CIA's funding of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, Encounter magazine, 'several American book publishers', the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies,[22] and a foreign-aid project in South Vietnam run by Michigan State University.[23]

In 1967, the US magazines Ramparts and The Saturday Evening Post reported on the CIA's funding of a number of anti-communist cultural organizations aimed at winning the support of supposedly Soviet-sympathizing liberals worldwide.[24] These reports were lent credence by a statement made by a former CIA covert operations director admitting to CIA financing and operation of the CCF.[25] The CIA website states that "the Congress for Cultural Freedom is widely considered one of the CIA's more daring and effective Cold War covert operations."[7]

That same year in May, Thomas Braden, head of the CCF's parent body the International Organizations Division, responded to the Ramparts report in an article entitled "I'm Glad the CIA is 'Immoral'", in the Saturday Evening Post, defending the activities of his unit within the CIA. For more than ten years, Braden admitted, the CIA had subsidized Encounter through the CCF, which it also funded; one of the magazine's staff, he added, was a CIA agent.[26]


In 1967, the organization was renamed the International Association for Cultural Freedom (IACF) and continued to exist with funding from the Ford Foundation. It inherited "the remaining magazines and national committees, the practice of international seminars, the regional programs, and the ideal of a worldwide community of intellectuals." There was also, until 1970, "some continuity of personnel".[27]

Under Shepard Stone and Pierre Emmanuel the dominant policy of the new Association shifted from positions held by its predecessor. No "public anti-Soviet protests" were issued, "not even in support of the harassed Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov". The culmination of this approach was a vast seminar at Princeton on "The United States: Its Problems, Impact, and Image in the World" (December 1968) where unsuccessful attempts were made to engage with the New Left. From 1968 onwards national committees and magazines (see CCF/IACF Publications below) shut down one after another. In 1977 the Paris office closed and two years later the Association voted to dissolve itself.[28]

Certain of the publications that began as CCF-supported vehicles secured a readership and ongoing relevance that, with other sources of funding, enabled them to long outlast the parent organisation. Encounter continued publishing until 1991, as did Survey, while the Australian Quadrant and the China Quarterly survive to this day. While the revelation of CIA funding led to some resignations, notably that of Stephen Spender from Encounter, outside Europe the impact was more dramatic: in Uganda President Milton Obote had Rajat Neogy, the editor of the flourishing Transition magazine, arrested and imprisoned. After Neogy left Uganda in 1968 the magazine ceased to exist.

The European Intellectual Mutual Aid Fund (Fondation pour une Entraide Intellectuelle Européenne) set up to support intellectuals in Central Europe, began life as an affiliate of the Congress for Cultural Freedom. In 1991 it merged with the Open Society Foundations, set up and supported by financier and philanthropist George Soros.[29]

The records of the International Association for Cultural Freedom and its predecessor the Congress for Cultural Freedom are today stored at the Library of the University of Chicago in its Special Collections Research Center.


Some of the Congress's publications are the following:

Name / Country / Date / Notes

Aportes / ILARI / closed 1972 / Produced by the Latin American Institute for International Relations (ILARI), established in 1966, which was closed by IACF in 1972.[28]

Black Orpheus / Nigeria / 1957–1975 / Founded by German expatriate editor and scholar Ulli Beier, Black Orpheus has been described as a powerful catalyst for artistic awakening throughout West Africa.[30]

Cadernos Brasileiros / Brazil / 1959–1971 / A quarterly (until 1963), later bi-monthly, literary magazine.[31] ICAF subsidy ceased in 1971.[28]

Censorship / United Kingdom / 1964–1967 / Edited by Murray Mindlin the six issues dealt with censorship around the world. (In 1972 Index on Censorship, a publication covering the same themes, was founded by Stephen Spender.)[32]

China Report / India / 1964–1970s / Established at the New Delhi bureau of the Congress, China Report became a bimonthly journalistic enterprise.[33] After its IACF subsidy ended in 1971 it found other sources of funding.[28]

The China Quarterly / United Kingdom / 1960 to present / Became a leading journal on Communist China (and also Taiwan) by reason of its lack of rivals in the field and the scholarly standard of its articles.[34] When its IACF subsidy ceased in 1968 it found other sources of funding.[28]

Cuadernos del Congreso por la Libertad de la Cultura / Paris, intended for distribution in Latin America / 1953–1963 / Edited by Julián Gorkin, assisted by Ignacio Iglesias and Luis Mercier Verga – a cultural quarterly magazine that reached 100 issues.[35]

Encounter / United Kingdom / 1953–1991 / A literary-political magazine founded by Stephen Spender and Irving Kristol. By 1963 its circulation had risen to 34,000[36] and that year the magazine secured independent funding.[37] Edited from 1958 onwards by Melvin J. Lasky.

Examen / Mexico / 1958–1962 / A cultural magazine.[38]

Forum / Austria / 1954–1965 / A political and cultural magazine in founded by Friederich Torberg and others. In 1965 it was taken over by Gunter Nenning and became Neues Forum, a publication devoted to Christian-Communist dialogue.[39]

Hiwar / Lebanon / 1961–1967 / [40]

Informes de China / Argentina / 1960s / Set up to provide Latin America with information about China.[41]

Jiyu (Freedom) / Japan / 1960 to present / One of the most heavily subsidized of all the CFF magazines.[3] Edited by Hoki Ishihara.[42] The chief editor Isihara found other sources of funding when subsidies from Paris and the national committee ceased to exist.[43]

Kulturkontakt / Sweden / 1954–1960 / Bimonthly political and cultural magazine, published by Svenska kommittén för kulturens frihet (Swedish Committee for Cultural Freedom).[44] Publishers were Ture Nerman (1954–57) and Ingemar Hedenius (1957–60). Edited by Birgitta Stenberg, Kurt Salomonson and Bengt Alexanderson.[45]

Minerva / United Kingdom / 1962 to present / A quarterly started by sociologist Edward Shils to address issues relating the "worldwide intellectual community", and particularly the growth in universities.[46]

Der Monat / Germany / 1948–1987 / A German-language journal airlifted into Berlin during the 1948 Soviet blockade and edited by Melvin J. Lasky until 1978, when it was purchased by Die Zeit. ICAF subsidy ceased in 1968.[28] It continued as a quarterly until 1987.

Mundo Nuevo / Latin America / 1963–1971 / Successor to Cuadernos (see above). It published established and political writers, holding a variety of views such as Pablo Neruda and Jorge Luis Borges,[15] ceasing to exit when IACF funding ended in 1971.[28]

Perspektiv / Denmark / 1953–69[47] / Described itself as "a magazine for politics, science and culture". Published by Hans Reitzel, edited by Henning Fonsmark[48] and H.C. Branner. Entered a partnership with Selskabet for Frihet og Kultur (Association for Freedom and Culture), the CCF's Danish counterpart, in 1956. Directly funded by the CCF from at least 1960, when the organization established an office in Copenhagen.[49]

Preuves / France / 1951–1970s / A cultural, intellectual and literary monthly magazine. CCF's first magazine. Preuves means “proof” or “evidence” in French. Editor was François Bondy, a Swiss writer.[3]

Quadrant / Australia / 1956 to present / A literary journal published by the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom, edited by Catholic poet James McAuley, had an "anticommunist thrust".[3][50][51] ICAF subsidy of the Association and of Quadrant ceased in 1972.[28]

Quest / India / 1955–1958 / English only.[3] In 1971 IACF stopped supporting New Delhi and Calcutta offices.[28]

Sasangge / South Korea / 1953–1970 / [30]

Science and Freedom / -- / 1954–1961 / Edited by Michael Polanyi. Biannual bulletin with "a tiny readership"[3] of 3,000. In 1961 the Congress Executive replaced it with Minerva (see above).

Social Science Review / -- / -- / ICAF subsidy ceased in 1971; the Review found other sources of funding.[28]

Solidarity / Philippines / 1960s & 1970s / A cultural, intellectual and literary monthly magazine.[30] After its IACF subsidy ended in 1971 it found other sources of funding.[28]

Soviet Survey (became Survey) / -- / 1955–1989 / At first a monthly newsletter edited by Walter Laqueur, the CCF’s official representative in Israel. After 1964 became a quarterly journal, edited by Leopold Labedz, focused on Soviet bloc. IACF subsidy ceased in early 1970s; the magazine found other sources of funding.[28]

Tempo Presente / Italy / 1956–1968[28] / Edited by Ignazio Silone and Nicola Chiaromonte.[3]

Transition Magazine[30] / Uganda / 1961–1968[52] / Editor Rajat Neogy.[52] Sales reached 12,000 in early 1960s (a quarter of them in the US) but the arrest, detention and subsequent emigration of editor Neogy in 1968 marked the end of this controversial literary-political magazine.[53]


• Bahr, Ehrhard (2008). Weimar on the Pacific: German Exile Culture in Los Angeles and the Crisis of Modernism. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520257955.
• Berghahn, Volker R.: America and the Intellectual Cold Wars in Europe. Shepard Stone between Philanthropy, Academy, and Diplomacy. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2001. Addresses links between Ford Foundation and CCF.
• Coleman, Peter, The Liberal Conspiracy: The Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Struggle for the Mind of Postwar Europe, New York: Free Press, Collier Macmillan, 1989.
• Michael Hochgeschwender, Freiheit in der Offensive? Der Kongreß für kulturelle Freiheit und die Deutschen, München, 1998 (comprising academic study on the origins, in German).
• Andrew N. Rubin,: Archives of Authority: Empire, Culture, and the Cold War. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012. Addresses the effects of CCF's activities on the visibility and canonization of writers.
• Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, 2000, The New Press, (ISBN 1-56584-596-X). Originally published in the UK as Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War, 1999, Granta, ISBN 1862070296.
• Wellens, Ian (2002). Music on the Frontline: Nicolas Nabokov's Struggle against Communism and Middlebrow Culture. Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-0635-X

See also

• CIA and the Cultural Cold War
• Who Paid the Piper?


1. Frances Stonor Saunders, "Modern Art was CIA 'weapon'", The Independent, October 22, 1995.
2. Scionti, Andrea (2020-02-01). ""I Am Afraid Americans Cannot Understand": The Congress for Cultural Freedom in France and Italy, 1950–1957". Journal of Cold War Studies. 22 (1): 89–124. doi:10.1162/jcws_a_00927. ISSN 1520-3972.
3. Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, The New Press, 1999.
4. Peter Coleman, The Liberal Conspiracy: The Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Struggle for Mind of Postwar Europe, The Free Press: New York, 1989.
5. Milorad Popov, "The World Council of Peace," in Witold S. Sworakowski (ed.), World Communism: A Handbook, 1918–1965.Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1973, p. 488.
6. Suslov, M., The Defence of Peace and the Struggle Against the Warmongers, Cominform, 1950.
7. Origins of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, 1949-50
8. K. A. Jelenski, History And Hope: Tradition, Ideology And Change In Modern Society, (1962); reprinted 1970, Praeger Press.
9. Jacob Heilbrunn, They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons, Random House LLC, 2009. ISBN 0307472485
10. See The Liberal Conspiracy, Appendix A, pp. 249–251, for the text of this Manifesto.
11. Coleman, p. 37-40.
12. Coleman, p. 41.
13. Coleman, p. 232.
14. Coleman, The Liberal Conspiracy, pp. 253–257
15. Coleman, p. 194.
16. "The C.I.A.: Maker of Policy, or Tool? Agency Raises Questions Around World; Survey Discloses Strict Controls But Reputation of Agency Is Found to Make It a Burden on U.S. Action", New York Times, April 25, 1966, p. 1.
17. "How C.I.A Put an 'Instant Air Force' Into Congo to Carry Out United States Policy", New York Times, April 26, 1966, p. 30.
18. "C.I.A. Operations: A Plot Scuttled, or, How Kennedy in '62 Undid Sugar Sabotage", New York Times, April 28, 1966, p. 28.
19. "C.I.A Operations: Man at Helm, Not the System, Viewed as Key to Control of Agency", New York Times, April 29, 1966, p. 18.
20. Hugh Wilford, The CIA, the British Left and the Cold War: Calling the Tune? Studies in Intelligence; Routledge, 2013. ISBN 1135294704.
21. "C.I.A Is Spying From 100 Miles Up; Satellites Probe Secrets of the Soviet Union", New York Times, April 27, 1966, p. 28.
22. "M.I.T. Cuts Agency Ties", New York Times, April 26, 1966.
23. Francis Frascina, "Institutions, Culture, and America's 'Cold War Years': The Making of Greenberg's 'Modernist Painting", Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 26, No. 1 (2003), pp. 71-97.
24. Hilton Kramer, "What was the Congress for Cultural Freedom?" The New Criterion, Volume 8, January 1990, p. 7.
25. Peter Coleman, The Liberal Conspiracy, Free Press, Collier Macmillan, 1989.
26. Thomas Braden Archived 2009-09-03 at the Wayback Machine
27. Coleman, pp. 235-240.
28. Coleman, p. 240.
29. GUILHOT, NICOLAS (2006-01-01). "A Network of Influential Friendships: The Fondation Pour Une Entraide Intellectuelle Européenne and East–West Cultural Dialogue, 1957–1991". Minerva. 44 (4): 379–409. doi:10.1007/s11024-006-9014-y. JSTOR 41821373. – via ScienceDirect (Subscription may be required or content may be available in libraries.)
30. Andrew N. Rubin, Archives of Authority: Empire, Culture, and the Cold War
31. Kristine Vanden Berghe: Intelectuales y anticomunismo: la revista "Cuadernos brasileiros" (1959–1970), Leuven University Press, 1997. ISBN 90-6186-803-3.
32. Coleman, p. 193.
33. Coleman, p. 196.
34. Coleman, p. 195.
35. Ruiz Galvete, Marta: Cuadernos del Congreso por la Libertad de la Cultura: anticomunismo y guerra fría en América Latinaen "El Argonauta español ", Numéro 3, 2006 – retrieved October 19, 2009.
36. Coleman, p. 185.
37. Coleman, p. 221.
38. Ocampo, Aurora M. (ed.), Diccionario de escritores mexicanos, Siglo XX, UNAM, Mexico, 2000 (Volume V, p. xviii).
39. Coleman, p. 186
40. Scott Lucas, Freedom's War: The US Crusade Against the Soviet Union, 1945–56.
41. Coleman, p. 196
42. Solidarity, Volume 9
43. Coleman, p. 188.
44. "USA paid for propaganda in Sweden in the 1950s?". Sveriges Radio. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
45. "Kulturkontakt". Libris. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
46. Coleman, p. 197.
47. "Historiske tidsskrifter". Retrieved 22 November 2016.
48. Scott-Smith, Giles; Krabbendam, Hans (2003). The Cultural Cold War in Western Europe, 1945–60. London: Frank Cass Publishers. p. 245.
49. "Kold kulturkamp". Dagbladet Information. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
50. The Michael Josselson Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center.
51. Pybus, Cassandra, "CIA as Culture Vultures", Jacket, July 12, 2000.
52. The Salisbury Review, Volumes 9–10.
53. Coleman, p. 192.

External links

• The Cultural Cold War
• The Ghostwriter et la CIA
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Re: The Ford Foundation and the CIA, by James Petras

Postby admin » Wed May 06, 2020 5:34 am

Was Modern Art a Weapon of the CIA?
by Alastair Sooke
4 October 2016




In the immediate aftermath of World War Two, something exciting happened in the art world in New York. A strange but irresistible energy started to crackle across the city, as artists who had struggled for years in poverty and obscurity suddenly found self-confidence and success. Together, they formed a movement that became known, in time, as Abstract Expressionism. It is currently the subject of a major exhibition, featuring 164 artworks by 30 artists (including Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko), at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

One of the most remarkable things about Abstract Expressionism was the speed with which it rose to international prominence. Although the artists associated with it took a long time to find their signature styles, once the movement had crystallised, by the late ‘40s, it rapidly achieved first notoriety and then respect. By the ‘50s, it was generally accepted that the most exciting advances in painting and sculpture were taking place in New York rather than Paris. In 1957, a year after Pollock’s death in a car crash, the Metropolitan Museum paid $30,000 for his Autumn Rhythm – an unprecedented sum of money for a painting by a contemporary artist at the time.

Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm, 1957. The Metropolitan Museum in New York acquired Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm for an unprecedented sum in 1957, a year after the artist’s death (Credit: Metropolitan Museum)

The following year, The New American Painting, an influential exhibition organised by New York’s Museum of Modern Art, began a year-long tour of European cities including Basel, Berlin, Brussels, Milan, Paris, and London. The triumph of Abstract Expressionism was complete.

Unwitting helpers?

Before long, though, the backlash had begun. First came Pop Art, which wrested attention away from Abstract Expressionism at the start of the ‘60s. Then came the rumour-mongers, whispering that the swiftness of Abstract Expressionism’s success was somehow fishy.

Jackson Pollock (Credit: Credit: Getty Images). Pollock was a heavy drinker who lived a reclusive life, cut short by a car accident at the age of 44 (Credit: Getty Images)

In 1973, in an article in Artforum magazine, the art critic Max Kozloff examined post-war American painting in the context of the Cold War. He claimed to be reacting against the “self-congratulatory mood” of recent publications such as Irving Sandler’s The Triumph of American Painting (1970), the first history of Abstract Expressionism. Kozloff went on to argue that Abstract Expressionism was “a form of benevolent propaganda”, in sync with the post-war political ideology of the American government.

In many ways, the idea seemed preposterous. After all, most of the Abstract Expressionists were volatile outsiders. Pollock once said that everyone at his high school in Los Angeles thought he was a “rotten rebel from Russia”. According to David Anfam, co-curator of the Royal Academy exhibition, “Rothko said he was an anarchist. Barnett Newman was a declared anarchist – he wrote an introduction to Kropotkin’s book on anarchism. So here you had this nexus of non-conformist artists, who were completely alienated from American culture. They were the opposite of the Cold Warriors.”

Despite this, however, Kozloff’s ideas took hold. A few years before they were published, in 1967, the New York Times had revealed that the liberal anti-Communist magazine Encounter had been indirectly funded by the CIA. As a result, people started to become suspicious. Could it be that the CIA also had a hand in promoting Abstract Expressionism on the world stage? Was Pollock, wittingly or not, a propagandist for the US government?

Soft power

A number of essays, articles and books followed Kozloff’s piece, all arguing that the CIA had somehow manipulated Abstract Expressionism. In 1999, the British journalist and historian Frances Stonor Saunders published a book about the CIA and the “cultural Cold War” in which she asserted: “Abstract Expressionism was being deployed as a Cold War weapon.” A synthesis of her argument is available online, in an article that she wrote for the Independent newspaper in 1995. “In the manner of a Renaissance prince – except that it acted secretly – the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years,” she wrote.

Mark Rothko, No15 Dark Greens on Blue with Green Band,1957. Rothko’s No 15 Dark Greens on Blue with Green Band dates from 1957 (Credit: Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko ARS, NY and DACS, London)

The gist of her case goes something like this. We know that the CIA bankrolled cultural initiatives as part of its propaganda war against the Soviet Union. It did so indirectly, on what was called a “long leash”, via organisations such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), an anti-Communist advocacy group active in 35 countries, which the CIA helped to establish and fund. It was the CCF that sponsored the launch of Encounter magazine in 1953, for instance. It also paid for the Boston Symphony Orchestra to travel to Paris to participate in a festival of modern music.

According to Saunders, the CCF financed several high-profile exhibitions of Abstract Expressionism during the ‘50s, including The New American Painting, which toured Europe between 1958 and 1959. Supposedly, the Tate Gallery couldn’t afford to bring the exhibition to London – so an American millionaire called Julius Fleischmann stepped in, stumping up the cash so that it could travel to Britain. Fleischmann was the president of a body called the Farfield Foundation, which was funded by the CIA. It is therefore possible to argue that important British abstract painters, such as John Hoyland, who were profoundly influenced by the Tate’s exhibition in ’59, were shaped by America’s spymasters.

Nelson Rockefeller. Nelson Rockefeller was the president of MoMA in the 1940s and 1950s and had close ties with figures in US intelligence (Credit: Getty Images)

Saunders also highlighted links between the CIA and New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which was instrumental in promoting Abstract Expressionism. Nelson Rockefeller, the president of MoMA during the ‘40s and ‘50s, had close ties with the US intelligence community. So did Thomas Braden, who directed cultural activities at the CIA: prior to joining “the Company”, he was MoMA’s executive secretary.

‘Shrewd and cynical’

Even today, however, the story of the CIA’s involvement with Abstract Expressionism remains contentious. According to Irving Sandler, who is now 91, it is totally untrue. Speaking to me by phone from his apartment in New York’s Greenwich Village, he said: “There was absolutely no involvement of any government agency. I haven’t seen a single fact that indicates there was this kind of collusion. Surely, by now, something – anything – would have emerged. And isn’t it interesting that the federal government at the time considered Abstract Expressionism a Communist plot to undermine American society?”

David Anfam is more circumspect. He says it is “a well-documented fact” that the CIA co-opted Abstract Expressionism in their propaganda war against Russia. “Even The New American Painting [exhibition] had some CIA funding behind it,” he says. According to Anfam, it is easy to see why the CIA wished to promote Abstract Expressionism. “It’s a very shrewd and cynical strategy,” he explains, “because it showed that you could do whatever you liked in America.” By the ‘50s, Abstract Expressionism was bound up with the concept of individual freedom: its canvases were understood as expressions of the subjective inner lives of the artists who painted them.

Franz Klein. Franz Kline’s works are more rigorously composed and less spontaneous than those of other Abstract Expressionists (Credit: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago)

As a result, the movement was a useful foil to Russia’s official Soviet Realist style, which championed representative painting. “America was the land of the free, whereas Russia was locked up, culturally speaking,” Anfam says, characterising the perception that the CIA wished to foster during the Cold War.

This isn’t to say, of course, that the artists themselves were complicit with the CIA, or even aware that it was funding Abstract Expressionist exhibitions. Still, whatever the truth of the extent of the CIA’s financial involvement with Abstract Expressionism, Anfam believes that it was “the best thing the institution ever paid for”. He smiles. “I’d much rather they spent money on Abstract Expressionism than toppling left-wing dictators.”

Alastair Sooke is art critic of The Daily Telegraph.
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