31/03/2024 strategic-culture.su  5 min 🇬🇧 #245907

Ford Foundation, a Cia Facade: The Beginning

Eduardo Vasco

Intellectuals, journalists, artists and activists were financed directly or indirectly by the CIA to combat the influence of the Soviet Union and what it still represented, in one way or another.

Researcher Frances Stonor Saunders dedicated an entire book, under the title "Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War", to the work of the United States government to finance influencers of the non-communist left, mainly in Europe and North America.

Intellectuals, journalists, artists and activists (in addition, obviously, to professional politicians) were financed directly or indirectly by the US Central Intelligence Agency through programs to promote culture and development that were nothing more than a façade for it to pour money into determined sectors, in order to combat the influence of the Soviet Union and what it still represented, in one way or another (the revolution and the fight against imperialism).

The CIA's "cultural war" strategists were thinking not of modifying the leftist policy they financed, but rather of encouraging an already existing policy. It was a left compatible with its interests, which did not clash with the fundamental policy of imperialism. The objective was to strengthen this policy, make it "hegemonic" within the left, making revolutionary and anti-imperialist politics secondary ─ the final victim of these projects.

In this way, the CIA financed the holding of cultural congresses, exhibitions, concerts and the publication of newspapers, magazines, books and films with the intention of promoting "left-wing" ideas and policies perfectly compatible with its own.

Mainly journalistic and theoretical publications had as a fundamental aspect of their editorial line the fight against Marxist and anti-imperialist ideas.

This type of activity is often called "covert operations", when the US government uses front organizations to hide the involvement of its agencies in conspiracies and operations around the world. Two of the main organizations that serve as a facade for the CIA to this day are the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, "both of which were conscious instruments of the clandestine foreign policy of the United States, with directors and employees who had close ties to the US secret service. American, or were even members of it" (pp. 156-157).

Created in 1936, the Ford Foundation was the tax-exempt cream of the vast Ford fortune, and had assets totaling more than three billion dollars by the late 1950s. Dwight Macdonald memorably described it as "a vast mass of money, completely surrounded by people who want some." The architects of the Foundation's cultural policy after World War II were perfectly in tune with the political imperatives that supported the United States' massive presence on the world stage. At times, the Ford Foundation seemed to be a simple extension of the government in the area of international cultural propaganda. The Foundation had a history of close involvement in clandestine actions in Europe, working closely with those responsible for the Marshall Plan and the CIA on specific projects. This reciprocity was further amplified when Richard Bissell, a Marshall Plan planner whose signature had provided matching funds to Frank Wisner, joined the Ford Foundation in 1952, accurately predicting that there would be "nothing to prevent an individual from exercising as much influence through his work at a private foundation as he could have through government work." During his tenure at Ford, Bissell met often with Allen Dulles and other CIA officials, including Tracy Barnes, his former classmate at Groton, in a "reciprocal search" for new ideas. He left suddenly to join the CIA as special assistant to Allen Dulles in January 1954, but not before helping to bring the foundation to the forefront of Cold War thinking.

Bissell had worked directly under Paul Hoffman, who became president of the Ford Foundation in 1950. Having come to the Foundation directly from his position as administrator of the Marshall Plan, Hoffman had taken a thorough immersion course in the problems of Europe and the power of ideas for dealing with these problems. He was fluent in the language of psychological warfare and, echoing Arthur Koestler's 1950 exclamation ("Friends, freedom has gone on the offensive!"), spoke of "fighting the battle of peace." He also shared with Robert Maynard Hutchins, a spokesman for the Ford Foundation, the view that the State Department was "subject to so much domestic political interference that it can no longer present a complete picture of American culture."

In 1952, the Ford Foundation debuted in earnest as a CIA front in the international political-cultural arena. This is when the Intercultural Publications Program was created. It allocated 500 thousand dollars to launch the magazine "Perspectives", whose target audience was the French, English, Italian and German non-communist left. Its aim was "less to defeat leftist intellectuals in dialectical combat than to lure them away from their positions through aesthetic and rational persuasion," according to the program's head, James Laughlin. The magazine's policy was not to advertise the American lifestyle. "This omission alone will become the most important element of propaganda, in the best sense," said one academic at the time. That is, the aim was to convey right-wing politics as something left-wing.

(to be continued)