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Sat Dec 15, 2012, 05:24 AM


The Philanthropies of American Imperialism: Foundations and American Power

Knowledge networks created in the service of American global hegemony are the main subject of Inderjeet Parmar’s book Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power (Columbia University Press, 2012). These, he argues persuasively, promote technocratic capitalist economics while failing to eradicate poverty... The modern foundation mediated between the modern university and the state and between universities and big business. The foundation organized crucial state agencies, international corporations, and the universities behind a hegemonic project of domestic federal-state building and U.S. global expansion: Progressivism and imperialism went hand in hand...

In addition to the incorporation of elites, mass public opinion and propaganda were not neglected by the foundations. Before and during World War II, The Rockefeller Foundation funded Princeton’s Office of Public Opinion Research led by Hadley Cantril, to enhance the “case for belligerence and to crush the case for isolation and neutrality.” “The U.S. Army. . . even went so far as to open an office at Princeton. . . a ‘Psychological Warfare Research Bureau...’” (p. 81)

In Indonesia the Ford Foundation-sponsored knowledge networks worked to undermine the neutralist Sukarno government...At the same time, Ford trained economists... for a future regime supportive of capitalist imperialism...Parmar’s labors in the Ford archives netted him clear evidence that Ford worked closely with the CIA in planning for the Indonesian massacre and transition to the U.S. friendly Suharto government. In Nigeria, the big three foundations created institutes, networks and university departments, providing resources that were otherwise very scarce, and thus incorporating even progressive Nigerians into the pro-Western, pro-capitalist camp.

Parmar provides details about the transformation of economics departments at Chilean universities (well before the military coup of 1973) under the aegis of Ford, Rockefeller and the Chicago Boys. Gradually radicals and Marxists were excluded and choices of different capitalist strategies were the only ones permitted...Even in the university-think tank area, there are mysteries requiring further sleuthing: Ford funding of economics education in China prior to its embarkation on the capitalist road, and funding of economics institutes affiliated with the Communist Party of India...

There was much regime change work to subvert Eastern European political systems, including Helsinki Watch (now Human Rights Watch) and subsidies to dissenters and overthrow groups via the East European Cultural Foundation and other “ pass-throughs.” In South Africa, the “big three” foundations played a role in the transition from capitalism with apartheid to capitalism without apartheid, despite the African National Congress commitment to socialism (see Roelofs, Foundations and Public Policy). Throughout Latin America, radical protest was shepherded into NGOs fragmented by identity politics; this is well described in the work of James Petras. Traditional religion was employed against godless Marxism when Ford funded rupee editions of religious tracts in India, while a Bible translation project in South America was used by Rockefeller to co-opt indigenous people (see G. Colby and C. Dennett’s Thy Will Be Done). The Philippine Educational Theater Association (street theater inspired by Brecht) was formed to question imperialism and exploitation; after Ford funding it gradually became a theater of “empowerment,” presenting plays about domestic violence and reproductive health...


On occasion, the most striking evidence of power and influence is the invisibility of its source. Since the early twentieth century, a number of foundations have been set up in the United States by the wealthy...A new study by American political scientist Joan Roelofs (Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism, State University of New York Press, 2003) provides an outline of the US foundations' activities, and an analysis of their role...A study of the political significance of the activities of US foundations is of obvious interest to people in India, since grants from foreign funders to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academics here are now pervasive...

Ideologies are promoted that counter the concept of unity among the toiling and oppressed. In the late 1960s the US ruling classes were disturbed by signs of unity among anti-establishment organisations of various oppressed sections (for example, the Black Berets, a militant Chicano group in New Mexico, began meeting with Black Panthers, the Young Lords and the American Indian Movement and expressing solidarity with Cuba). Thus began the foundation-supported emergence of the distinct 'identity politics' of each socially oppressed section. Beginning with early 1970s Ford began to fund women's studies too, a major area for it today...

By funding both sides of a debate, foundations can ensure that the debate remains in the ruling class frame. Brookings Institution is considered the chief 'liberal' think tank, and the American Enterprise Institute a leading right wing one. Both receive Ford grants... In place of mass movements, foundations support litigation. Litigation does not entail mass mobilization; it is a safe, conservative outlet for activists...

Among the most significant mass movements in the US was the one against racial oppression. Between the 1920s and 1940s the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) had taken up, against heavy odds and in the face of repression, the question of racial discrimination. As a result it had won a significant, loyal black following, alarming the powers that be. As a direct counter, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP)...received Ford funding in the 1950s... foundations multiplied public litigation organisations: Roelofs lists 23 created or vitally sustained by Ford Foundation between 1967 and 1975. In 1970 alone foundations channeled $15.6 million to the right type of black organisations. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference at first received funds, but when Martin Luther King Jr took it on a more militant path... that funding declined. After his assassination his memory was promptly sanitised by the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change established in Atlanta with foundation and corporate funds...

For observers of the Indian political scene, the relevance of Roelofs' work is obvious. Much of what she writes could apply with little change to the vast proliferation of NGOs here... many of them funded by US foundations. Public interest litigation, human rights organisations, women's studies, dalit studies, and adivasi organisations have received substantial funding, with results along the same lines as in the US.


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Reply The Philanthropies of American Imperialism: Foundations and American Power (Original post)
HiPointDem Dec 2012 OP
kooljerk666 Dec 2012 #1
HiPointDem Dec 2012 #2

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 06:17 AM

1. wow, Brookings is supposed to be "Liberal"????


The were always so close to AEI & such that I never gave them much thought. At this point with Bill Gates & how he is HARMING american education with his nice foundation, I believe very little from very few of them.

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Response to kooljerk666 (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 06:27 AM

2. i think it actually used to be more liberal (in a cold war kinda way) than it is today.


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