How so many big name Western intellectuals worked for the CIA

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ikosmos ikosmos's picture
How so many big name Western intellectuals worked for the CIA

The source of this piece is fascinating: The New Republic.(associated with all sorts of neocon and rightist causes)

Quote:
What if the prominence of midcentury intellectuals, the sense that they were engaged in important political and artistic projects, is inseparable from the fact that they were useful to America’s Cold War empire?

Joel Whitney’s Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers insists that past glory and present disappointment are inextricably linked. He wants to show that the distinction some make between a “good,” literary CIA and a “bad” one that toppled leftists and subverted democracy around the globe is an artificial one. Whitney argues that the government “weaponized” culture and helped create a compromised media that still serves, “in part, to encourage support for our interventions.” The term he uses in the title—“finks”—implies that the book’s subjects are disreputable actors, complicit in the crimes of the agency that supported their work...

"An era of heroic thinkers now looks instead like a grubby assortment of operatives, writers who appeared to challenge the establishment without actually being dangerous to it. Jason Epstein was right. The CIA created conditions that subverted the essential task of an intellectual: to cast a critical eye on orthodoxy and received wisdom."

lagatta4

Very odd syntax in the title...

Of course the CIA had very sophisticated "front" operations, including publishers of high-quality art books. And attracted a more "urbane" membership than the FBI.

But the fundamental problem was that it was very difficult indeed in those days to be such an intellectual, especially a radical or revolutionary intellectual, and not fall into one of the Cold War "camps". It meant marginalisation and often facing repression.

 

NDPP
lagatta4

“Modern Art” is considerably older than the CIA, so it is a very poor title. Certainly it goes back as far as the Expressionism and other currents the Nazis denounced as “Degenerate” (Entarte) Art. It would be more accurate to say that the CIA used certain currents of modern art (especially the USian variety of Abstract Expressionism) as weapons.

 

As I pointed out upthread:

 

The connection is not quite as odd as it might appear. At this time the new agency, staffed mainly by Yale and Harvard graduates, many of whom collected art and wrote novels in their spare time, was a haven of liberalism when compared with a political world dominated by McCarthy or with J Edgar Hoover's FBI.

 

Quite a few people have known this for decades. It doesn’t mean that “Modern Art” is a creation of the CIA, but that the sophisticated operatives of this spy agency were able to use it as propaganda. Pity that the Soviet Union no longer allowed the many forms of art, whether avant-garde or more traditional, which had flowered in the early days of the revolution.

6079_Smith_W

I guess Glenn Gould was an agent too.

In case anyone needs a refresher:

http://www.robertfulford.com/gould.html

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I guess Glenn Gould was an agent too.

In case anyone needs a refresher:

http://www.robertfulford.com/gould.html

Why are you trying to derail this thread. It is interesting and fact filled. Is it that you have nothing but sarcasm and cynicism left in you? In the past you occasionally rose above those tendencies and actually posted opinions.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

When one talks about prominent intellectuals Ewen Cameron needs including and highlighting.  The whole field of psychiatry was influenced by his work on mind control on behalf of the CIA.

Quote:

 Ewen Cameron — was a Scottish-born psychiatrist who served as President of the American Psychiatric Association (1952–1953), Canadian Psychiatric Association (1958-1959),[2]American Psychopathological Association (1963),[3] Society of Biological Psychiatry (1965)[4] and World Psychiatric Association (1961-1966).[5]Notwithstanding his high professional reputation, he has been criticized for administering electroshock therapy and experimental drugs to patients without their informed consent. Some of this work took place in the context of the Project MKUltra mind control program.[6]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Ewen_Cameron

Quote:

Naomi Klein opens her book by making a connection between Ewen Cameron's psychiatric shock experiments at the McGill University in the 1950s, with the torture at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. This selection of articles expands on these ideas:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/sep/08/naomiklein1

6079_Smith_W

What are you talking about?

Are you familiar with Gould's Moscow concerts? Or did you read the article?

I seriously doubt he was an agent for anything but great music, but the fact is, the pieces he featured in that performance were by artists who had been banned by a 1948 decree.That was part of the reason why his performances were a sensation.

I posted it in all seriousness, and both the timing of his visit, and the effect he had on Russian music make it completely relevant to this thread.

Here is another take on it:

https://bcheritagefairsalumni.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/glenn-gould-and-h...

Seriously. Read it.

Quote:

In 1948, a decree known as the Zhdanov Doctrine disgraced works from composers such as Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Anton Webern and Ernst Krenek and their camp (known as the Second Viennese School) which featured atonal music (music without a central key) as “formalist”. Their works were completely banned and never saw the light of day in Russia. Most musicians and almost the complete majority of the public, especially at the Moscow Conservatory, had not heard something as anti-Russian as the Second Viennese School.

...

Several Soviet officials and young Communist Party informants also were at the lecture. When Gould announced that he would play music by the Second Viennese School, “There was a rather alarming and temporarily uncontrollable murmuring from the audience” as he recalled. Two older professors even led a demonstration against this music by immediately walking out of the hall. Students were undecided as whether to stay and support Western culture or leave and follow their teachers. Most of the hundreds who were there stayed and watched in awe as Gould played Berg’s Sonata, Webern’s Variations and two movements from Krenek’s Third Sonata. The feeling of the lecture, perhaps, can be explained best by Roman Vityuk, a theatre director:

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

What are you talking about?

Are you familiar with Gould's Moscow concerts? Or did you read the article?

I seriously doubt he was an agent for anything but great music, but the fact is, the pieces he featured in that performance were by artists who had been banned by a 1948 decree.That was part of the reason why his performances were a sensation.

I read the article before I commented and since I also seriously doubt that he was a CIA agent how is naming him relevant to a thread about CIA backed intellectuals.

6079_Smith_W

Because what he did in the honest pursuit of music certainly did far more to challenge the system of artistic suppression than any of the CIA's dishonest attempts.

And he did it in a far more direct way, right in the heart of Moscow.

That is how I consider it relevant, kropotkin.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Because what he did in the honest pursuit of music certainly did far more to challenge the system of artistic suppression than any of the CIA's dishonest attempts.

And he did it in a far more direct way, right in the heart of Moscow.

That is how I consider it relevant, kropotkin.

Got it.The Soviets were worse and instead of talking about the CIA let's talk about Moscow.  You and Ikosmos deserve each other. 

6079_Smith_W

Mmmmm... not what I said or meant, but if that's the way you want to spin it, feel free.

As for "derailing" the thread by allegedly turning it onto the subject of the Soviet Union, the very first post is about the cold war, and at least two other posters brought up the Soviet Union directly up before me. Do I need to ask if you read NDPP's article too?

So unless you have a problem with me joining the conversation at all (and I don't care what you think about that) perhaps you should go bark up some other tree about this "don't talk about the Soviets" nonsense.

 

 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

The article makes clear, I think, that, since the liberal intellectual warriors were no longer useful, or necessary to fight the Cold War, their services were no longer required and would not be ... for the forseeable future. So this alleged "golden age" will never return.

It certainly fits with the general dumbing down of intellectual life in the USA - the hegemon, the Empire - the hollowing out of the so-called middle class, and the evisceration of the universities, a free press, and so on. A dominant regime in its time .... produces idiots the like of Dubya, and now Trump, to "lead them" into the future.

A rotting civilizational model, truly. It's paradoxical that the Soviet regime, long gone for 25 years now, had an intellectual culture that constantly predicted the collapse, sometimes imminent, of the blood-soaked Western regimes and their vomit-inducing cultural life.

Their predictions were way ahead of schedule. But not, perhaps, wrong at all.

This American civilization is going to end with a babbling infant on all the channels, uttering nonsense, to a bewildered public that no longer even knows how to use the remote.

"And that's the way it is, this Wednesday, January 4th, 2017. I'm Walter Cronkite. Good night and God bless."

 

lagatta4

Don't you understand that the US is not the only imperialist power?

As for the inflated overblown language, that serves no purpose whatsoever in mobilising people to resist.

Timebandit

lagatta4 wrote:

Don't you understand that the US is not the only imperialist power?

I don't think we can take it as a given that he does.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

lagatta4 wrote:

Don't you understand that the US is not the only imperialist power?

As for the inflated overblown language, that serves no purpose whatsoever in mobilising people to resist.

On the contrary, i shall never tire of endlessly mocking the enormous evil that is the US Empire, of savagly kicking it when it's down, and deriving enormous satisfaction from doing so. And I encourage other, like-minded people, to share their own "overblown" language, and mockery, and savage kicks to the Empire, that we might share our enthusiasm for its death - which shall inevitably come, one way or another - and encourage each other, and laugh at its banal evil, and its gross stupidity, and spit in its face, and so on.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

lagatta4 wrote:

Don't you understand that the US is not the only imperialist power?

As for the inflated overblown language, that serves no purpose whatsoever in mobilising people to resist.

How can you inflate or overblow the reality of the millions of people that have been displaced and the hundreds of thousands that have been killed because of US lead machinations to control the planets resources. Russia and China are the only countries capable of standing up to the US hegemony so while I dislike many things about those countries I am thankful that not all countries have fallen under Pax Americana.

IMO lumping them in with the US diminishes the evil that is the Western oligarchy and its NATO enforcement arm. We live in the belly of the beast and to me it is not seemly to point fingers at other regimes while living the privileged lifestyle made possible by the theft of others people's resources. Diminishing the extent of the current Western imperialism by comparing it to second tier national states will certainly not help to mobilize anyone. It seems to be a useful argument for people who want a no-fly zone in Syria and more intervention because as we all know here not only the US but all of Western civilization is exceptional and others should just submit to our oligarchies control over their resources. 

Ikosmos may be rude and crude and prone to posting ridiculous articles but that does not mean his overall assessment of imperialism is wrong.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Perhaps China and Russia can stand up to the US...but should we really see either of those nations as anti-imperialistic?  And would it in any way be a victory for the anti-imperialist cause if either became the dominant global force?

Some of us see the defeat of imperialism as requiring a world in which there are no longer ANY "suiperpowers"...because let's face it, it's not possible to be a superpower without being an empire.  There can't be a superpower whose organizing principle is human liberation.

 

NDPP

Ken Burch wrote:

Perhaps China and Russia can stand up to the US...but should we really see either of those nations as anti-imperialistic?  And would it in any way be a victory for the anti-imperialist cause if either became the dominant global force?

Some of us see the defeat of imperialism as requiring a world in which there are no longer ANY "suiperpowers"...because let's face it, it's not possible to be a superpower without being an empire.  There can't be a superpower whose organizing principle is human liberation.

 

The Myth of "Russian Imperialism': In Defense of Lenin's Analyses

http://rogerannis.com/the-myth-of-russian-imperialism-in-defense-of-leni...

"Is Russia an imperialist power, part of the 'centre' of global capitalism? Or, do its economic, social and politico-military characteristics mark it as part of the global 'periphery' or semi periphery - that is, as one of the majority of countries that to one degree or another are the targets of imperialist bullying and plunder?"

Clearly and obviously, especially now, the latter.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Ken Burch wrote:

Perhaps China and Russia can stand up to the US...but should we really see either of those nations as anti-imperialistic?  And would it in any way be a victory for the anti-imperialist cause if either became the dominant global force?

Some of us see the defeat of imperialism as requiring a world in which there are no longer ANY "suiperpowers"...because let's face it, it's not possible to be a superpower without being an empire.  There can't be a superpower whose organizing principle is human liberation.

Who the fuck has ever said that we need a new dominant global force. Indeed the only way to defeat imperialism is to defeat militarism. In the transition to a none imperialist world it would seem that the only target for a free citizen of a first world democracy would be reducing the US/NATO war machine. After all aren't we the countries that are driven by the public will?  Given that the US outspends every other country on the planet I think there is a long way for them to go to reduce their imperial military without having to worry about being invaded. Bring US/NATO troops home to within their own borders and see what happens. The nuclear deterrent would still be in play. 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

The Duran (English-language Russian media) has an interesting recent piece that covers some of the history of the actions of the various UN Secretary-Generals. The bar has been set, according to the author, by Dag Hammarskjold, who addressed the importance of the independence of the office.

The most recent UN Sec Gen hired two former US State Department ideologues for his key staff positions and was, in all respects, an obsequious boot-licker of the barbarous US regime, and a transmission belt for its wishes. Good riddance to him.

The new guy could not, therefore, be worse. But we'll see.

The part of the article that I found interesting, and relevant to the topic of this thread - especially after all the pro-US regime wailing here - is what a former UN Sec Gen said about the diplomatic efforts of the stinking US regime.

Quote:
“Coming from a developing country,” Boutros-Ghali wrote in his memoir, “I was trained extensively in international law and diplomacy and mistakenly assumed that the great powers, especially the United States, also trained their representatives in diplomacy and accepted the value of it. But the Roman Empire had no need of diplomacy. Neither does the United States.

The repulsive US regime is truly in a class by itself. No other country will ever spend the amount of stolen wealth on arms, and killing, and making war on the rest of the planet like that regime does and continues to do. On the basis of wealth alone, other countries simply can't afford it, much less WANT to play that role on Planet Earth. The jackboot US regime actually, e.g., as the quote from Boutros-Ghali noted, doesn't bother to train their mouthpieces - their "voice of Sauron" to use the delicious and very appropriate LOTR expression -  in diplomacy; they simply expect the rest of the planet to obey their orders.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (former UN Secretary General):

"But the Roman Empire had no need of diplomacy. Neither does the United States."

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (former UN Secretary General):

"But the Roman Empire had no need of diplomacy. Neither does the United States." 

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (former UN Secretary General):

"But the Roman Empire had no need of diplomacy. Neither does the United States."

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (former UN Secretary General):

"But the Roman Empire had no need of diplomacy. Neither does the United States."

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (former UN Secretary General):

"But the Roman Empire had no need of diplomacy. Neither does the United States."

 

 

Rev Pesky

6079_Smith_W wrote:

What are you talking about?

Are you familiar with Gould's Moscow concerts? Or did you read the article?

I seriously doubt he was an agent for anything but great music, but the fact is, the pieces he featured in that performance were by artists who had been banned by a 1948 decree.That was part of the reason why his performances were a sensation.

I posted it in all seriousness, and both the timing of his visit, and the effect he had on Russian music make it completely relevant to this thread.

Here is another take on it:

https://bcheritagefairsalumni.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/glenn-gould-and-h...

Seriously. Read it.

Quote:

In 1948, a decree known as the Zhdanov Doctrine...

 

The Zhdanov Doctrine died with Stalin, in 1953, four years before Gould had his concerts. A question you might ask yourself is 'Who arranged for the Gould concerts in the Soviet Union?' Or did they just spring up spontaneously?

Certainly the Soviet authorities, knowing of Gould's interest in the 'anti-Soviet' composers must have tried to prevent his trip, right?

Rev Pesky

For your information, compiled from the SIPRI database

SIPRI

Of a world total of roughly 1.6 trillion dollars (USD), NATO countries spend just under a trillion, or roughly 2/3rds of the world total.

Bearing in mind that the two largest countries in the world, as well as Russia, are not in NATO, and that NATO includes only 28 countries out of a total of roughly 180 countries in the world, there is no doubt who the military aggressor is.

The USA alone spends more than a third of the total world expenditure on the military. If one adds USA client states which are not in NATO, the total becomes even more pronounced. Israel and Saudi Arabia between them spend close to 100 billion.

 

6079_Smith_W

Bottom line rev, some fuddy duddys left the hall, and for the rest it was a sensation. But if you seriously think there were covert machinations on either side kropotkin might be more interested. I already said (a tangent or so ago now) it was a joke.

Seriously for a moment, if some music academics (not the ones who stormed out) suspected that might be the outcome and put in a good word, that's a good thing, right? Things like that did happen. More plausible than the idea that the all knowing  authorities orchestrated it knowing exactly what Gould was going to do. It might have been a tighter ship than ours, but the idea they must have either done it or known it would happen kind of plays into western myths.

Speaking of which, I have an old DDR cassette of T Rex's Cosmic Dancer - the one with Children of the Revolution on it. Now was that co opting western music to serve the revolution, someones secret plan to subvert it with western values, or just popular tunes? Conspiratorial minds want to know.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The strange thing about culture is it can be used by anyone to propagandize any viewpoint they want.  So what do you think about this bizarre take on Back in the USSR?

https://vimeo.com/10338995

6079_Smith_W

Neat. 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

More on the CIA. This time FROM the CIA. 

 

France: Defeat of the Leftist Intellectuals.

This is the url for the above link, fyi. https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP86S00588R00030038000...

Sanitized Copy approved for release in 2011. From ~ 1985. 

Quote:
Anti-Sovietism, in fact, has become the touchstone of legitimacy in leftist circles, weakening the traditional Anti-Americanism of the leftist intellectuals and allowing American culture - and even political and economic policies - to find new vogue.

iyraste1313

Although you really can`t list McCain as part of any intellectual class, what is instructive is the way that he has been blackmailed to do the bidding of the CIA (Wayne Madsen)...like so many others...blackmail must be considered a key element along with payouts and threats, in the operations of the CIA in USA and Europe to control the outputs of the political and media and intellectual classes...a total process of corruption...how to transform this is beyond my capacity to suggest...but serious attempts to charge such intellectuals and politicals for complicity in war crimes is essential...what is the charge when someone submits to the threats of blackmail to commit crimes of falsification with criminal, war criminal consequences?

 

submitted by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

TechDirt writer Mike Masnick is so disgusted with fake-patriot politicians that he stopped writing about tech dirt and instead wrote about human dirt: Senator John McCain.

 

Masnick took McCain’s statement “President Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence is a grave mistake that I fear will encourage further acts of espionage and undermine military discipline.” and ripped to shreds.

Almost Every Word Of John McCain’s Response To Chelsea Manning’s Sentence Commutation Is Flat Out Wrong says Mike Masnick.

What follows is Masnick’s entire article because every point he makes is an important one.

From the Hypocrites-in-Congress Dept

It’s hardly a surprise that a bunch of people who have been fed a load of bullshit about what Chelsea Manning did years ago are now quite angry over President Obama’s decision to commute Manning’s sentence. But I don’t think any are quite as painstakingly wrong as Senator John McCain. Someone should call up the Guinness World Record folks, because the wrong-per-sentence ratio of McCain’s angry statement might just set a new world record. Let’s dig in.

6079_Smith_W

You think John McCain has been blackmailed by the CIA?

For what? And on what evidence?

 

josh

6079_Smith_W wrote:

You think John McCain has been blackmailed by the CIA?

For what? And on what evidence?

 

They threatened to denigrate his POW status. Oh wait. That was Trump.

Mr. Magoo

They have a very compromising photo of him wincing during a Viet Cong torture session.

 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Meh. To me he's just mentally ill and this illness finds reflection in the strange things he says and does. The simplest explanation is often the best.

josh

Substitute stupidest for simplest and you'd be on to something.

6079_Smith_W

You are a psychiatrist now, ikosmos?

Still waiting to hear about iyraste's blackmail claim.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

I will stick with my own view, already expressed. McCain is mentally ill and it shows.

The end.

6079_Smith_W

Not sure what you are talking about.

Perhaps the fact that McCain did suffer from PTSD and attempted suicide, and had the professionalism and fortitude (and the understanding of other people who suffer from it) to take a difficult line with Donald Trump when he also made offensive and dumb comments about mental illness?

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/mccain-tries-blame-the-media-tru...

Kind of a wierd way of phrasing, but was that it? Or did you mean something else?

Speaking of which, it is interesting that Trump's making fun of a physically disabled person were seen widely, yet his offensive and thoughtless comments about those suffering from mental illness got a lot less coverage.

 

josh

ikosmos wrote:

I will stick with my own view, already expressed. McCain is mentally ill and it shows.

The end.

If anyone is mentally ill, it is Trump. And it clearly shows. But you don't seem to have an opinion on that.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

josh wrote:

ikosmos wrote:

I will stick with my own view, already expressed. McCain is mentally ill and it shows.

The end.

If anyone is mentally ill, it is Trump. And it clearly shows. But you don't seem to have an opinion on that.

So now we should be defending McCain's sanity because he isn't Trump? I personally think that McCain is delusional and Trump is a narcissist. I had to make sure I stated both things because on this board you can be attacked for only condemning one thing at a time. Any singular condemnation shows that one loves everything else that is not condemned.</p>

 

Maybe we should take the judgement on their relative merits from someone who knows them both.

6079_Smith_W

How about we just not make jokes or attacks about mental illness, whether it is real, or just made up?

Is that maybe too simple a solution?

 

Timebandit

I thought that was the ethos of the board, but plenty of other tolerances seem to have shifted so who knows?

Mr. Magoo

"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord make my enemies Schizophrenic.' And God granted it."

-- Voltaire