Tag Archives: CIA

Marcuse’s deep state ties

Marcuse’s first published article in 1928 attempted a synthesis of the philosophical perspectives of phenomenology, existentialism, and Marxism, anticipating a project which decades later would be carried out by various “existential” and “phenomenological” Marxists, such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, as well as others in Eastern Europe and the United States in the post-war period. Marcuse argued that Marxist thought had degenerated into a rigid orthodoxy and thus needed concrete “phenomenological” experience to revivify the theory. He also believed that Marxism neglected the problem of the individual and throughout his life was concerned with individual liberation and well-being, in addition to social transformation and the possibilities of a transition from capitalism to socialism.

Marcuse published the first major review in 1933 of Marx’s just published Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, anticipating the tendency to revise interpretations of Marxism from the standpoint of the works of the early Marx. At the same time that he was writing essays synthesizing Marxism and phenomenology, Marcuse wrote a “Habilitations” dissertation on Hegel’s Ontology and Theory of Historicity (1932). The text stressed the importance of the categories of life and history in Hegel and contributed to the Hegel renaissance that was taking place in Europe. These works revealed Marcuse to be an astute student of Germany philosophy and he was emerging as one of the most promising young philosophers of his generation.

In 1933, Marcuse joined the Institut fur Sozialforschung (Institute for Social Research) in Frankfurt and soon became deeply involved in their interdisciplinary projects which included working out a model for critical social theory, developing a theory of the new stage of state and monopoly capitalism, and providing a systematic analysis and critique of German fascism. Marcuse deeply identified with the “Critical Theory” of the Institute and throughout his life was close to Max Horkheimer, T.W. Adorno, Leo Lowenthal, Franz Neuman, and other members of the Institute.

In 1934, Marcuse — a German Jew and radical — fled from Nazism and emigrated to the United States where he lived for the rest of his life. The Institute for Social Research was granted offices and an academic affiliation with Columbia University, where Marcuse worked during the 1930s and early 1940s. His first major work in English, Reason and Revolution (1941), traced the genesis of the ideas of Hegel, Marx, and modern social theory, and demonstrated the similarities between Hegel and Marx. Marcuse argued for discontinuities between Hegel’s philosophy of the state and German fascism, placing Hegel instead in a liberal constitutional tradition. The text introduced many English speaking readers to the Hegelian-Marxian tradition of dialectical thinking and won Marcuse a reputation as an important interpreter of Hegel and Marx.

In December 1942, Marcuse joined the Office of War Information as a senior analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence. He prepared a report on “Presentation of the Enemy” that proposed ways that the mass media of the allied countries could present images of German fascism. In March 1943, Marcuse transferred to the Office of Secret Services (OSS), working until the end of the war in the Research and Analysis Division of the Central European Branch. Marcuse and his colleagues wrote reports attempting to identify Nazi and anti-Nazi groups and individuals in Germany and drafted a “Civil Affairs Handbook” that dealt with denaziification. In September 1945, he moved over to the State Department after the dissolution of the OSS, becoming head of the Central European bureau, and remaining until 1951 when he left Government service.

After working for the U.S. government for almost ten years, Marcuse returned to University life. He received a Rockefeller Foundation grant to study Soviet Marxism, lecturing on the topic at Columbia during 1952-1953 and Harvard from 1954-1955. At the same time, he was intensely studying Freud and published in 1955 Eros and Civilization, an audacious synthesis of Marx and Freud which sketched the outlines of a non-repressive society. His vision of liberation anticipated many of the values of the 1960s counterculture and helped Marcuse to become a major intellectual and political influence during that decade.

In 1958, Marcuse received a tenured position at Brandeis University and became one of the most popular and influential members of its faculty. Marcuse published a critical study of the Soviet Union in 1958 (Soviet Marxism) which broke the taboo in his circles against speaking critically of the USSR and Soviet communism. While attempting to develop a many-sided analysis of the USSR, Marcuse focused his critique on Soviet bureaucracy, culture, values, and the differences between the Marxian theory and the Soviet version of Marxism. Distancing himself from those who interpreted Soviet communism as a bureaucratic system incapable of reform and democratization, Marcuse pointed to potential “liberalizing trends” which countered the Stalinist bureaucracy and that indeed eventually materialized in the 1980s under Gorbachev.

In 1964, Marcuse published One-Dimensional Man, which is perhaps his most important work. Marcuse’s wide-ranging critique of both advanced capitalist and communist societies analyzed the decline of revolutionary potential in capitalist societies and the development of new forms of social control. He argued that “advanced industrial society” created false needs which integrated individuals into the existing system of production and consumption via mass media, advertising, industrial management, and contemporary modes of thought. The result was a “one-dimensional” universe of thought and behavior in which the very aptitude and ability for critical thinking and oppositional behavior was withering away.

In One-Dimensional Man, Marcuse also analyzed the integration of the industrial working class into capitalist society and new forms of capitalist stabilization, thus questioning the Marxian postulates of the revolutionary proletariat and inevitability of capitalist crisis. In contrast to orthodox Marxism, Marcuse championed non-integrated forces of minorities, outsiders, and radical intelligentsia, attempting to nourish oppositional thought and behavior through promoting radical thinking and opposition. His book was severely criticized by both orthodox Marxists and academic theorists of various political and theoretical commitments. Despite its pessimism, it influenced many in the New Left as it articulated their growing dissatisfaction with both capitalist societies and Soviet communist societies.


To summarize: when the Frankfurt School academics fled Germany, they relocated their home institution to Columbia University. In December 1942, Marcuse joined the Office of War Information, FDR’s domestic and foreign propaganda agency. (For more on OWI, see here.) A few months later, he transferred to OSS (the predecessor of CIA), worked there until 1945, and then transferred to State. After leaving State in 1951, he received a Rockefeller Foundation grant (and even CIA has admitted that, at the time, the Rockefeller Foundation was closely tied to CIA) to study Soviet Marxism, and eventually wrote a book on the subject, which “broke the taboo in his circles against speaking critically of the USSR and Soviet communism”, and which pointed to potential ‘liberalizing trends’ that “eventually materialized … under Gorbachev”, soon before Gorbachev’s government abolished the USSR. Then he developed the New Left line on the proletariat.

The geopolitical uses of abstraction

What would have been the geopolitical uses of abstraction? The theory, as it was proposed in articles published in Artforum and other journals in the nineteen-seventies, and then elaborated in Serge Guilbaut’s “How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art” (1983) and Frances Stonor Saunders’s “The Cultural Cold War” (1999), is that abstract painting was an ideal propaganda tool. It was avant-garde, the product of an advanced civilization. In contrast to Soviet painting, it was neither representational nor didactic. It could be understood as pure painting—art absorbed by its own possibilities, experiments in color and form. Or it could be understood as pure expression—a “school” in which every artist had a unique signature. A Pollock looked nothing like a Rothko, which looked nothing like a Gorky or a Kline. Either way, Abstract Expressionism stood for autonomy: the autonomy of art, freed from its obligation to represent the world, or the freedom of the individual—just the principles that the United States was defending in the worldwide struggle. Art critics therefore developed apolitical modes of appreciation and evaluation, emphasizing the formal rigor or the existentialist drama of the paintings; and the Museum of Modern Art favored Abstract Expressionists in its purchases and international exhibitions, at the expense of art whose politics might have been problematic—the kind of naturalist art, for example, that was featured in the “Advancing American Art” exhibition.


The New York Times

A handful of liberal and socialist writers, led by philosophy professor Sydney Hook, saw their chance to steal a little of the publicity expected for the Waldorf peace conference [the ‘Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace’, a pro-Moscow event organized by a CPUSA front group]. A fierce ex-Communist himself, Hook was then teaching at New York University and editing a socialist magazine called The New Leader. Ten years earlier he and his mentor John Dewey had founded a controversial group called the Committee for Cultural Freedom, which attacked both Communism and Nazism. He now organized a similar committee to harass the peace conference in the Waldorf-Astoria.

Hook’s new group called itself the Americans for Intellectual Freedom. Its big names included critics Dwight MacDonald and Mary McCarthy, composer Nicolas Nabokov, and commentator Max Eastman. Arnold Beichman, a labor reporter friendly with anti-Communist union leaders, remembered the excitement of tweaking the Soviet delegates and their fellow conferees: “We didn’t have any staff, we didn’t have any salaries to pay anything. But inside of about one day the place was just busting with people volunteering.” One of Beichman’s union friends persuaded the sold-out Waldorf to base Hook and his group in a three-room suite (“I told them if you don’t get that suite we’ll close the hotel down,” he explained to Beichman), and another union contact installed 10 phone lines on a Sunday morning.

Hook and his friends stole the show. They asked embarrassing questions of the Soviet delegates at the conference’s panel discussions and staged an evening rally of their own at nearby Bryant Park. News stories on the peace conference reported the activities of the Americans for Intellectual Freedom in detail. “The only paper that was against us in this reporting was The New York Times,” recalled Beichman. “It turned out years later that [the Times reporter] was a member of the Party.”


The deep Cathedral?

What is the role of gender in consolidating social identity and subjectivity? How has Conchita Wurst changed our aesthetics and political ethos?

openDemocracy is a website for debate about international politics and culture, offering news and opinion articles from established academics, journalists and policymakers covering current issues in world affairs. openDemocracy was founded in 2000 by Anthony Barnett, David Hayes, Susan Richards and Paul Hilder. Publishing started in May 2001.[1]

In dialogue with feminist, queer and transgender groups, the Challenging Male Supremacy Project works with male activists to raise consciousness and strengthen practices of accountability in order to counter the harms of male violence and privilege, and build broader struggles for transformative justice and collective liberation.

Prominent contributors to the webzine have included Kofi Annan, George Soros, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Shirin Ebadi, Sidney Blumenthal, Peter Hain, Pierre Bourdieu, Manuel Castells, Fred Halliday, and David Blunkett.

We must use our freedom to maintain a radical perspective and build an alternative to austerity and exclusion, says Tom Vickers.

openDemocracy’s mission statement asserts: “openDemocracy is committed to human rights and democracy. We aim to ensure that marginalised views and voices are heard. We believe facilitating argument and understanding across geographical boundaries is vital to preventing injustice”.[2]

Women have played a seminal role in keeping food cultures all over the world alive. Nikandre Kopcke discusses her inspiration for setting up a pop-up restaurant which showcases the culinary talents and diverse cultural heritages of migrant women in London.

openDemocracy is owned and published through a non-profit foundation.[3] It has been funded by a number of philanthropic organisations, including the Ford Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, as well as a base of individual donors.[4] High profile individual supporters have included Heidi Bergemann, John Cleese, Carl Djerassi, Pamela Raspe, and Reinhard Hesse.[4]

African feminist filmmakers and theorists reflect on the shifting roles of women working at all levels of the film and media industries on the continent, and the task of making films that challenge the existing fictions that misrepresent and distort women’s realities.

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.

According to Balibar, and I share his view, if we adopt a radically relational perspective, the concrete redefinition of statehood in Europe is already bringing with it the material conditions for a redefinition of a collective subject of history. The crisis of Europe is therefore the problem of a collective subject of history – the people – which is beyond the nation state.

It is important to note that once the CIA had officially been established in 1947, John Whitley and Nelson Rockefeller would both cooperate actively with the Agency, serving either as ‘fronts’ for CIA funding, or using their own money to fund initiatives which were useful assets to the Agency. Whitney, who also served on the Psychological Strategy board (PSB) during the early 1950s, made himself useful to the CIA by furnishing financial backing for new companies and business ventures, which he registered under his own name. As Frances Stonor Saunders has pointed out, the Rockefeller Foundation formed ‘an integral component of America’s Cold War machinery’. Although it may not have been an actual CIA conduit, the Foundation did play an important part in shaping US foreign policy, funding the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a major Cold War think-tank, as well as research grants and fellowships. Nelson Rockefeller himself had strong ties to the American intelligence community and used his family’s extensive fortune to promote US foreign policy objectives. In addition to his influential position within the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, he also served as president of the Museum of Modern Art, which played an important role in the CIA’s cultural Cold War. During the 1950s, Rockefeller received briefings on covert activities from both CIA director Allen Dulles and Tom Braden, director of the CIA’s International Organizations Division. In 1954 Rockefeller was appointed chairman of the Planning Coordinating Group, which controlled all National Security Council decisions and cover t operations. In that same year Rockefeller replaced C. D. Jackson as Eisenhower’s special advisor on psychological warfare.

Theorists of gender and sexuality stress the significance of public performance of gender and the role of repetition in consolidating one’s social identity and subjectivity: we are (exist), as gendered and sexual human beings, in relation to our peers and society; our public presence plays a role in this recognition and our social integrations. But we can also constantly become what we aspire to be by challenging social norms and expectations. Narratives of gender and sexuality meet half way – or so they should in a society respecting individual and sub-group rights. In this respect, collecting 12 points from many European countries – amongst them, several with over-active fascist-populist movements – produces a series of controversial discourses: first, European audiences are beginning to accept the Euro-pop consumption of marginalised social identities (homosexual, transvestite, drag and what is known in gender studies as ‘queer’). Second, the artistic elites (Eurovision judges) appear to promote new tolerance agendas that incorporate art into policies of equality (still not harmonised at European level). Finally, popular venues, such as that of Eurovision, can streamline such agendas into global public consciousness in as imperceptive ways as those employed by harmful propaganda machines of old times (e.g. the Third Reich).