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)
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."