Tag Archives: deep state

The Ford Foundation New Voices Fellowship

The Ford Foundation was a deep state front in the ’50s and ’60s. What is it up to now? Well, it has something called the ‘New Voices Fellowship’. Here are a few Ford Foundation New Voices Fellows.

1. Christine Ahn (@christineahn), a pro-North Korea propagandist:

Ahn has long led a group called the “Korea Solidarity Committee,” or KSC, which describes itself as “a group of progressive Korean American activists, students and artists” in the San Francisco Bay Area, who were inspired by “a desire to debunk the racist portrayals of North Korea, and present a more critical perspective on the continuing North Korean nuclear crisis.” I don’t know if Ahn calls herself a Communist or not, but she is on sisterly terms with Judith LeBlanc, a former Vice-Chair of the Communist Party, USA, a legacy Stalinist rump faction led for years by Gus Hall. …

Ahn opposed human rights legislation for North Korea that funded broadcasting to North Korea, and that provided for aid and asylum for North Korean refugees, calling it an effort “by hawkish conservatives and Christian fundamentalists with the intention of bringing regime change in North Korea.” (As if that would be a bad thing.) …

On at least two separate occasions, Ahn has referred to North Korea’s “alleged” sinking of the ROKS Cheonan, an attack that killed 44 South Korean sailors, despite the findings of an international investigation team that a North Korean submarine torpedoed the ship. This was almost certainly a nod to a conspiracy industry that grew up in left-wing South Korean circles that were in denial after the attack. If Ahn has ever acknowledged North Korea’s responsibility for the attack, I can’t find where she ever has. (Update: In this tweet, Ahn expressed support for conspiracy theories denying North Korea’s responsibility for the attack.) …

Ahn decries “the assumption that the famine in North Korea was a result of Chief of State Kim Jong Il’s mismanagement of the country,” and assails “attributing the cause of North Korea’s famine to an ‘evil dictator.’” Ahn blames the famine on a combination of the collapse of the U.S.S.R., “droughts and floods that . . . destroyed much of the harvest,” and “economic sanctions led by the U.S. and its refusal to end the 50-year Korean War.” Ahn never acknowledges that throughout much of the famine, the U.S. was the largest donor to food aid programs in North Korea, or that North Korean authorities diverted much of the aid and manipulated aid workers into distributing it on the basis of political caste, rather than humanitarian need. As for the droughts and floods, those have struck North Korea for 25 consecutive years now, hardly ever crossing the DMZ and never causing a famine in South Korea. For some reason.

Whether there is still famine in North Korea on a smaller scale or not, many people there are still malnourished, and the World Food Program is still appealing for aid. In a 2010 op-ed, Ahn again blamed American sanctions, which at the time were narrowly targeted at North Korean entities linked to proliferation, for restricting Pyongyang’s “ability to purchase the materials it needs to meet the basic food, healthcare, sanitation and educational needs of its people.” Yet according to the economist Marcus Noland, North Korea’s food gap “could be closed for something on the order of $8 million to $19 million — less than two-tenths of one percent of national income or one percent of the military budget.”

Meanwhile, under Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s (known) annual spending on luxury goods has skyrocketed to over $600 million a year.

2. Purvi Shah (@leftinmiami)

Purvi Shah is the Bertha Justice Institute Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. As the Director of CCR’s new training institute, her work focuses on deepening the theory and practice of movement lawyering across the United States and the world. Through the Institute, Purvi supports lawyers at every stage in their careers – as students, emerging lawyers, and senior lawyers – to both develop a deeper understanding of the connections between law and social change and to gain the practical skills and expertise to be effective advocates. Purvi’s current projects include designing CCR’s internship and post-graduate fellowship programs, including the Ella Baker Program; publishing educational resources and training materials on the theory and practice of movement lawyering; designing and facilitating national and international conferences, trainings, and CLEs; and building national and international networks to increase collaboration, innovation, and strategic thinking within the progressive legal sector. Most recent, she co-founded the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee—a national network of lawyers working to support the Ferguson movement and the growing national #BlackLivesMatter movement. Prior to coming to the Center for Constitutional Rights, Purvi spent a decade working as a litigator, law professor, and community organizer. At the Community Justice Project at Florida Legal Services – a project she co-founded and started – she litigated on behalf of taxi drivers, tenants, public housing residents, and immigrants in a variety of class actions and affirmative damages litigation. She was an adjunct clinical professor at the University of Miami School of Law, where she co-founded the Community Lawyering Clinic. She graduated from Northwestern University and the Berkeley School of Law at the University of California. Her honors and awards include the Ford Foundation’s New Voices Fellowship, the ACLU of Florida Rodney Thaxton Award for Racial Justice, and the Miami Foundation’s 2009 Miami Fellowship. Her work has been featured on MSNBC and in The Nation.

In September 2015, Shah gave a talk at Harvard:

Come hear Purvi Shah, Director, Bertha Justice Institute, Center for Constitutional Rights, discuss movement lawyering, why lawyers matter and what students can do to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Co-sponsored with BLSA, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Criminal Justice Program of Study, Research and Advocacy, Systemic Justice Project, Criminal Justice Institute, Law and Social Change Program of Study, Students for Inclusion, and Lambda. Non-pizza lunch will be provided.

Purvi Shah is the Bertha Justice Institute Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. As the Director of CCR’s new training institute, her work focuses on deepening the theory and practice of movement lawyering across the United States and the world. Through the Institute, Purvi supports lawyers at every stage in their careers – as students, emerging lawyers, and senior lawyers – to both develop a deeper understanding of the connections between law and social change and to gain the practical skills and expertise to be effective advocates. Purvi’s current projects include designing CCR’s internship and post-graduate fellowship programs, including the Ella Baker Program; publishing educational resources and training materials on the theory and practice of movement lawyering; designing and facilitating national and international conferences, trainings, and CLEs; and building national and international networks to increase collaboration, innovation, and strategic thinking within the progressive legal sector. Most recent, she co-founded the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee—a national network of lawyers working to support the Ferguson movement and the growing national #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Prior to coming to the Center for Constitutional Rights, Purvi spent a decade working as a litigator, law professor, and community organizer. At the Community Justice Project at Florida Legal Services – a project she co-founded and started – she litigated on behalf of taxi drivers, tenants, public housing residents, and immigrants in a variety of class actions and affirmative damages litigation. She was an adjunct clinical professor at the University of Miami School of Law, where she co-founded the Community Lawyering Clinic. She graduated from Northwestern University and the Berkeley School of Law at the University of California. Her honors and awards include the Ford Foundation’s New Voices Fellowship, the ACLU of Florida Rodney Thaxton Award for Racial Justice, and the Miami Foundation’s 2009 Miami Fellowship. Her work has been featured on MSNBC and in The Nation.

3. Christopher Punongbayan, executive director of the San Francisco pressure group Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, former ‘advocacy director’ of Filipinos For Affirmative Action, and (apparently) certified yoga instructor

Instead of hoops and hurdles, what the 12 million undocumented people living in the United States need are fair reforms that recognize the positive contributions millions of immigrants — undocumented or otherwise — have on the United States.

Legalization must be offered equally to immigrants across the board. Employer sanctions, which make it illegal for undocumented immigrants to hold gainful employment, need to be eliminated. And criminalization of immigrants and heavy-handed enforcement measures must be rejected.

When Congress returns from recess, it must get back to work and resolve this debate by passing a legalization program that upholds the rights of all.

Christopher Punongbayan is advocacy director at Filipinos For Affirmative Action, and a current Ford Foundation New Voices Fellow. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

4. Sushma Sheth (@sushmachete)

Sushma Sheth MBA MPA is a manager with Accenture Strategy focused on organizational and talent challenges facing the private and social sectors. Her clients include pharmaceutical firms, consumer product companies, multilateral organizations, and government agencies across the Unites States, Europe, and Latin America. She recently co-authored the publication, “Are you the weakest link? Strengthening you talent supply chain”.

Outside management consulting, Sushma partners with social justice organizations addressing challenges of the evolving digital global economy.  She serves as Organizing Ventures Advisor to New Virginia Majority, representing small business owners, low-wage workers, and immigrant families in Northern Virginia. Sushma also serves as Advisor to Fair Care Labs, the innovation arm of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.  The lab recently launched the Good Work Code, eight values for good work in the online economy featured in Fast Company and CNN Money.

Sushma served on the teaching team for Exercising Leadership: The Politics of Change with Professor Ron Heifetz in 2011 as well as joined Kim Leary PhD MPA and Professor Heifetz for the White House Youth Leadership and Policy Hackathon in the summer of 2015.

Originally from Miami, Florida, Sushma is the first-born daughter of Indian immigrants and grocery store owners. Prior to graduate study, Sushma co-founded the Miami Workers Center and served as Director of Programs from 2001-2008. She was named Miami’s 25 Power Women in 2005, Ford Foundation New Voices Fellow in 2002, Miami Foundation Fellow in 2007, and recipient of Robert Thaxton ACLU Award for Racial Justice in 2008. Sushma holds a MBA from Kellogg School of Management and MPA from Harvard Kennedy School as a Paul and Daisy Soros New American Fellow and Harvard Center for Public Leadership Emerging Leader Dubin Fellow. She earned her BA in Community Development Studies from Brown University in 2001.

You’ve got to wonder about an MBA at Accenture Strategy who puts this much effort into posturing as a Maoist.

5. Debanuj DasGupta

Debanuj DasGupta is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the South Asia Studies Initiative at the Ohio State University. His research interests are broadly related to the intensification of neoliberalism and bio-politics in contemporary United States and India. Debanuj’s dissertation is titled “Racial Regulations and Queer Claims to Livable Lives.” His dissertation analyzes immigration regulation related to HIV/AIDS, transgender asylum, and the formation of racialized queer migrant subjectivity within the past two decades in the US. Debanuj maintains a strong secondary research interest in the relationships between Hindutva, neoliberalism, and sexuality politics in India. He currently holds a Graduate Administrative Associate position with the Morrill Scholars Program at the Office of Diversity Inclusion. In this capacity Debanuj is responsible for creating social-justice related academic enrichment programs for the largest diversity leadership program in the country. He is actively engaged in university governance and serves as the Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee for the Council of Graduate Students. Debanuj is the graduate student representative on the University Senate Diversity Committee.

He has worked for over 16 years across two continents in the “civil society sector.” In 1994 Debanuj founded the first HIV prevention program for men-who-have-sex-with-men in Kolkata, India. His work in the US has largely been within the environmental rights, sexual rights and immigrant rights movements. Debanuj has received numerous grants, awards and fellowships notably the Association of American Geographers T.J.Reynolds Award for Disability Studies (2013 & 2012), The Space, Sexualities, and Queer Research Group of the Royal Geographic Society-Institute of British Geographers Scholarship towards attending RGS-IBG ( 2012), Arts & Humanities Graduate Research Small Grant from the Ohio State University (2011), Ford Foundation / Academy for Educational Development funded New Voices Fellowship (2006), The British Department for International Development-West Bengal Sexual Health Project Multi-Year Award (1995-1998), Graduate Research Fellowships from the University of Akron (1996-1998), and The International AIDS Society Fellowships for Emerging Activists (1996). Debanuj holds a B.A. in Sociology (HONS) from Presidency College, Kolkata (now the Presidency Autonomous University), and an MA in Geography & Urban Planning from the University of Akron, OH. Debanuj’s work has been published in the Disability Studies Quarterly, Contemporary South Asia, the Scholar & Feminist Online, South Asian Magazine for Action and Reflection (SAMAR), make/shift, and the WhiteCrane Journal.

Areas of Expertise:
* Global Philanthropy
* Transnational Feminist & Sexuality Studies
* Race & Queer theory
* Space and Subjectivity
* Women of Color Philosophers
* South Asian Languages and Literature
* Activism and the Academy

 

Here’s his academia.edu profile. His shtick is something about “queering immigration”.

 

 

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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.

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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.

Everybody was on the same page

This was a revisionist interpretation of art history, and it had two prongs. The first was the suggestion of actual collusion between MOMA and the C.I.A. The evidence for this has always been largely circumstantial. The man who directed cultural activities at the C.I.A. in the early years of the Cold War, Thomas Braden, had previously been the executive secretary of MOMA. According to Saunders, a number of MOMA trustees were also on the board of the Farfield Foundation, a C.I.A. front. The president of the museum in the nineteen-forties and fifties was Nelson Rockefeller, whose family had supported MOMAfrom the beginning, and who had close ties to the intelligence community and an unabashed commitment to the patriotic uses of art. (It was Nelson who had demanded the removal of Diego Rivera’s murals from the walls of Rockefeller Center, because they depicted Lenin.) During the war, Rockefeller had been the Roosevelt Administration’s coördinator of inter-American affairs; the head of the art section in that office, René d’Harnoncourt, joined MOMA in 1944 and became its director.

What this suggests, though, is simply that the leaders of MOMA, like the leaders of most mainstream institutions in the United States after the war, were anti-Communists. As Saunders acknowledges, there were no explicit arrangements between the government and the museum, and the reason was that there didn’t need to be. Everybody was on the same page. Rockefeller and Alfred Barr, the founding director of MOMA, who, after the war, served as chairman of the painting and sculpture collections, did not have to be encouraged to use American art to promote the nation’s image abroad. They never pretended that they were up to anything else. Barr was a lover of European modernism, but he was on a mission to persuade Americans that theirs was a modern culture—a mission that he pursued by mounting exhibitions on modern architecture and design, and starting the museum’s department of film, headed by the formidable Iris Barry and dedicated to the proposition that Hollywood movies were part of the modern movement in the arts.

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But, you know, it’s still a wacky conspiracy theory to say that everyone was on the same page.

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.

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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.”

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