Sunday, January 08, 2012

educating americans in the subtle art of imperial domination?

andrewgavinmarshall | In the 1950s, the Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation facilitated the development of African studies in American universities to create an American elite well-trained and educated in being able to manage a more effective foreign policy over the region. Another key project was in developing the Foreign Area Fellowship Program, where American social scientists would have overseas research subsidized by the Ford Foundation. The fellows also became closely tied to the CIA, who saw them as important sources of information to recruit in the field. However, when this information began to surface about CIA connections with foundation-linked academics, the Ford Foundation leadership became furious, as one Ford official later explained that the President of the Foundation had gone to Washington and “raised hell,” where he had to explain to the CIA that, “it was much more in the national interest that we train a bunch of people who at later stages might want to go with the CIA… than it was for them to have one guy they could call their source of information.”[26] It is, perhaps, a truly starting and significant revelation that the president of a foundation has the ability, status, and position to be able to go to Washington and “raise hell,” and no less, lecture the CIA about how to properly conduct operations in a more covert manner.

The Carnegie Corporation, for its part, was “encouraging well-placed American individuals to undertake study tours of Africa.” In 1957, the Carnegie Corporation gave funds to the Council on Foreign Relations to undertake this task of identifying and encouraging important individuals to go to Africa. Among the individuals chosen were Paul Nitze, who became Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in 1962; Thomas Finletter, a former Secretary of the Air Force; and David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan Bank.[27]

The Rockefeller Foundation also initiated several funding programs for universities in Latin America and Asia, notably in Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. By the early 1980s, the Rockefeller Foundation had awarded over 10,000 fellowships and scholarships. From the Ford Foundation’s inception in 1936 until 1977, it had allocated roughly $919.2 million to “less-developed countries.”[28] The Ford Foundation even maintained “a steady stream of scholarly exchange with the Soviet Union and other countries of Eastern Europe since 1956, and with the People’s Republic of China since 1973.” Ford and other foundations had also played significant roles in channeling intellectual dissent in developing nations into ‘safe’ areas, just as they do at the domestic level. This has required them to fund several radical (and sometimes even Marxist) scholars. The Ford Foundation had also supported the relocation of displaced scholars following the military coups in Argentina in 1965 and Chile in 1973. However, such foreign ‘assistance’ has not gone unnoticed entirely, as in 1971 there was violent resistance by radical university students and faculty at the University of Valle in Colombia, “a favored recipient of Ford and Rockefeller monies.”[29] As noted in the book, Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism:
The power of the foundation is not that of dictating what will be studied. Its power consists in defining professional and intellectual parameters, in determining who will receive support to study what subjects in what settings. And the foundation’s power resides in suggesting certain types of activities it favors and is willing to support. As [political theorist and economist Harold] Laski noted, “the foundations do not control, simply because, in the direct and simple sense of the word, there is no need for them to do so. They have only to indicate the immediate direction of their minds for the whole university world to discover that it always meant to gravitate to that angle of the intellectual compass.”
It is interesting to note the purposes and consequences of foundation funding for highly critical scholars in the ‘developing’ world, who are often very critical of American economic, political, and cultural domination of their countries and regions. Often, these scholars were able to collect information and go places that Western scholars were unable to, “generating alternative paradigms which are likely to provide more realistic and accurate assessments of events overseas.” One example was the funding of dependency theorists, who rose in opposition to the prevailing development theorists, suggesting that the reason for the Global South’s perceived “backwardness” was not that it was further behind the natural progression of industrial development (as development theorists postulated), but rather that they were kept subjugated to the Western powers, and were specifically maintained as ‘dependent’ upon the North, thus maintaining a neo-imperial status directly resulting from their former overt colonial status. Thus, the foundations have gained better, more accurate information about the regions they seek to dominate, simultaneously employing and cultivating talented scholars and professionals, who might otherwise be drawn to more activist areas of involvement, as opposed to academic. Thus:
[A] situation exists where information, produced by Latin Americans on situations of internal and external domination, is flowing to the alleged sources of oppression – rather than toward those who need the information to defend themselves against exploitation.
An example of this is in Brazil, where a regime tolerated the writings of radical social scientists who are supported by foundations. Many of these scholars have received international recognition for their work, which would make it unlikely that the regime itself would be unaware of it. Thus, the work itself may not be perceived as an actual threat to the regime, for two major reasons:
(1) it is not intelligible to the masses, for certainly, if the same sentiments were expressed not in academic journals but from a street corner or as part of a political movement which mobilized large numbers, the individual would be jailed or exiled; and (2) the regime itself benefits from the knowledge generated, while simultaneously enhancing its international image by permitting academic freedom.
Thus, the ultimate effect abroad is the same as that at home: prominent and talented scholars and intellectuals are drawn into safe channels whereby they can aim and hope to achieve small improvements through reform, to ‘better’ a bad situation, improve social justice, human rights, welfare, and ultimately divert these talented intellectuals “from more realistic, and perhaps revolutionary, efforts at social change.”

Again, we have an image of the major philanthropic foundations as “engines of social engineering,” and agents of social control. Not only are their efforts aimed at domestic America or the West alone, but rather, to the whole world. As such, foundations have been and in large part, remain, as some of the most subtle, yet dominant institutions in the global power structure. Their effectiveness lies in their subtle methods, in their aims at incremental change, organizing, funding, and in the power of ideas. Of all other institutions, foundations are perhaps the most effective when it comes to the process of effecting the ‘institutionalization of ideas,’ which is, as a concept in and of itself, the central facet to domination over all humanity.