Cold War Propaganda: Radio, Culture, Anti-communism
and the CIA
Cold War and Anti-Communism
Attitudes of US/CIA etc to Communism and Soviet
Union + Satellites
McCarthyism – central or peripheral to
cold war Propaganda system?
Radio Liberty/Free Europe
The opposition: Radio Moscow et al.
Aims of propaganda: Political, Economic, cultural
Culture in democracies and totalitarian systems
Committee for Cultural Freedom (CCF)
The Encounter Affair
Wider sponsorship of anti-communist
culture and the New Left.
The image we have of the US
and moreover their security services from the OSS through to
the founding of the CIA is one of implacable anti-communism. However historically,
idea of the US
as socialism free is variable.
Brief over view of US
rels to anti-leftism:
Indeed the question of why socialism was so weak or had such
a chequered career in the US
had been the subject of books and debate despite various anarchist, socialist
and communist movements from the late19th century onwards
Werner Sombart: Why there is no soc in the S 1906.
“…in the United States is a culture that has emphasized individualism and anti-statism. And the role of government in the society is
much less than it is in European societies, for example.
By the eve of World War I, poor working
and living conditions in American cities helped clear the way for
socialism. In 1912, Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene Debs
won 6 percent of the popular vote. And there were hundreds of Socialist
elected officials in cities and towns across the country. Unlike the
socialists, who were utopian and suspicious of the country's major political
parties, labor unions generally worked with the
Democrats and the Republicans to win higher wages and better living standards.
"In the United States, when labour became a
force, there was no need to struggle for political rights. Labour unions tended
to join the parties that already existed -- the Democratic Party, the
Republican Party and before that, the Whig Party.”
Before the WW1 socialism had been strong within the 3 main
unions: Knights of labour, IWW, American Fed of Lab and the struggles and
strikes for better conditions led to big companies to pressure the authorities
and the police to break strikes and spy on the trouble makers.
The Socialist movement was able to gain strength from its
ties to labour. "The [economic] panic of 1907, as well as the growing
strength of the Socialists, IWW, and trade unions, speeded up the process of
reform." However, corporations sought to protect their profits, and took
steps against unions and strikers. They hired strikebreakers
and pressured the government to call in the national militia when workers
refused to do their jobs. A number of strikes dissolved into violent
In June 1917, President Woodrow Wilson’s Espionage Act which
included a clause providing prison sentences for up to twenty years for
“Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully
cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of
duty… or willfully obstruct the recruiting or
enlistment of service of the United States” The Socialists’s
war-opposition, led to their being the target of persecution Those who struck
in war-related industries were seen as subversives and IWW especially were
prosecuted under the Esp
This combined with Lenin’s invite for the SP to become part
of the 3rd International led to the first real Red Scare in the US
and to Attorney General Palmer’s organising a special anti-communist security
org led by J Edgar Hoover. Hoover
soon amassed a card-catalogue system with information on 150,000 individuals
and 60,000 groups and publications. Palmer and Hoover
both published press releases and circulated anti-Communist propaganda.
Equally immigration fears across the 20s
and 30s of people from Eastern Europe was inevitably linked to the idea of communists entering America.
Also suspicion of left wingery in the hungry 30s and
old-time capitalist free market ideologues who saw Roosevelt
use of the state to create work e.g. Tennessee Valley Authority as state
So the US across the 20th C saw an escalation and
more importantly an embedding of anti-communism in both official as well as
populist circles promoted by the corporate capitalist and the state interests
along with a state run anti-C intelligence gathering operation under the almost
paranoiac anti-C future head of the FBI who held that post from the founding of
the FBI n 1935 to his death in 1972.
Largely the FBI used intelligence gathering and harassment
of leftists from the 30s through to the 60s and beyond. As such propaganda was not their thing - the CIA
went in for that - but the FBI were a backbone of anti-C activity.
But what you had in the 20th C is not only a
struggle to suppress left wing social movements in the US but the rise of an
intellectual struggle between socialism and capitalism that came from the
myriad of organisations, pressure groups, think tanks and parties especially
emergent after the 2nd WW
If left wing ideas were largely emergent from left pol parties and organised labour movements that were
drifting, you got a new-con right that
emerges. As George Nash puts in his classic
“In 1945 no articulate, coordinated, self-consciously
conservative intellectual force existed in the United States. There were, at most, scattered voices of protest,
profoundly pessimistic about the future of their country. Gradually during the
first postwar decade these voices multiplied,
acquired an audience, and began to generate an intellectual movement. In the
beginning one finds not one right-wing renascence but three..
First, there were “classical liberals,” or “libertarians,”
resisting the threat of the ever expanding State to liberty, private
enterprise, and individualism. Convinced that America was rapidly drifting toward statism
(socialism), these intellectuals offered an alternative that achieved some
scholarly and popular influence by the mid-1950s.
Concurrently and independently, a second school of thought
was emerging: the “new conservatism” or “traditionalism” of such men as Richard
Weaver, Peter Viereck, Russell Kirk, and Robert Nisbet. Shocked by totalitarianism, total war, and the
development of secular, rootless, mass society during the 1930s and 1940s, the
urged a return to traditional religions and ethical absolutes and a rejection
of and produced an intolerable vacuum that was filled by demonic ideologies.
Third, there appeared a militant, evangelistic anti- Communism,
shaped decisively by a number of influential ex-radicals of the 1930s,
including Whittaker Chambers, James Burnham, Frank Meyer, and many more. These
former men of the
Left brought to the postwar Right a profound
conviction that the West was engaged in a titanic struggle with an implacable adversary—Communism—which
sought nothing less than conquest of the world.”
Through a proliferating network of journals, books,
organizations, and political alliances, the intellectual Right steadily
approached maturity and recognition— until, in the late 1960s and early 1970s,
it achieved its long-sought breakthrough.” (Nash, The
Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945) and
see here a
critique of Nash that argues that Anti-C
was not the cement that held together a neo-Com movement in the 50s onwards
of these neo-Con organisations that emerged were sponsored or funded by wealthy
businessmen and corporations and small payments from supporters and students
who bought the magazines and pamphlets, especially in the 60s ad 70s.
the odd thing is that the Neo-Cons of the 50s/60s/70s did not seem to be
covertly supported by anti-communist orgs incl CIA.
That was left to the formation of sponsored cultural fronts.
the reason for this was that there were at least three politico-psychological
tendencies in the new right of the post-war years.
intellectual conservative right: somewhat of a European cast of mind, often
from Euro-parentage or university training, or exiles – Leo Struass,
Voegelin, Viereck et al.
Disliked US liberalism, endorsed traditional academic and con social values,
elitists, anti-Lockeian individualism. Cons but very
individualists, isolationists, anti-statists and thus
anti-war radicals, some were anarchists, disagreed with big Govt and this with
the very idea of US as a global anti-commie force. Rothbard,
Chodorov, encouraged by exiled ultra-liberal Austrian
economists – von Mises and Hayek
right – the anti-commie brigade who did see a post-war global America
that needs to protect capitalism and some idea of the American way of life;
sympathetic to corporate US; thought McCarthyism was basically right even if
found McCarthy’s populism an embarrassment. Some were caught up in the middle
of a-c of McCarthyism – Whittaker Chambers (the Alger Hiss affair). Quite a few
were ex Socialists and Communists e.g. Chambers, James Burnham et al and grew
to hate the in-fighting and walked away the Right. Many writers and
pamphleteers who engaged in a lot of rightist a/c propaganda. Many were a/c
populists who disliked the agencies of the state for being liberal east coast
weak on commies. Were even suspicious of CIA!
Again CIA did not really link to these groups.
(William Buckley/Nat Review).
the first two of these types were not really interested in the Cold War
politics of the new post-war globalising order in which America
would the central player. The latter type were but too suspicious of the corporate
liberal state descending into socialism – so wanted hard anti-soviet stance at
same time as did State tax& spend.
in many ways the US
post-war a/c was a domestic biz for a peculiar assortment of writers,
academics, ex-leftists, hard anti-commie cold war warriors, public
intellectuals, pamphleteers, journalists, and serial founders of propagandist
anti-C in Britain
e.g. Brian Crozier’s Institute for the study of
Conflict which was very plainly an anti-commie front had good links to the establishment..and this was
typical of such orgs in the UK
across the 60s and 70s. Fearful of liberalism and the new Left, odd characters
from academia, politics, security services and army intelligence, ex-SAS etc
organised and produced serious semi-academic pamphlets and held well-funded
conferences on their concerns. But they were not notably propagandist in any
large sense of creating widespread public interests. It was always slightly
under-cover. Link to IRD and alter a more open public debating org The Freedom
Association (McWhirter bros) tended to attract
Suspicious or paranoiac?
the 40s you had the FBI on the prowl for evidence of right and left subversion
but of course you had no real US intelligence service other than the Office of
Strategic services that was the forerunner of the CIA. Created
in 1942, reorganised in 1945 turned into CIA 1947.
closeness of the Allied powers mean that OSS spying on what the soviets were up
was problematic yet it was precisely this that let the OSS and then the CIA
get a grip on extensive soviet activities in the US in the late40s and 50s.
would perhaps be a mistake to see the US after the war as cohesively
anti-commie and looking for red under the beds – FBI yes; part of the neo-con movements –
yes; the public yes in terms of a general attitude/feeling, but OSS/CIA not
especially- that took some time to get a grip as a definite ideological
conviction as opposed merely one of operational matters and functions that CIA
Culture, Propaganda and the CIA
many ways the strategy for Cultural propaganda esp
that funded by the CIA was to engage in non-propaganda that is to
say, covertly fund the production and exhibition of cultural works –
literature, music, art, intellectual debate that holds to an art for arts sake
idea the classic liberal position that
distinguishes it from the agit prop view of the
soviets or from Gramsci’s idea of culture as either
being on the side of the hegemony or the counter-hegemony.
The ke agency hat was CIA
funded was the Congress for Cultural Freedom which emerged in 1950 holding its
inaugural conference in…West Berlin.
to the idea of the true intellectual rather than one at their party’s call were
the ideas of dependence from politics and commitment to you art so tat it does
not pander to popular taste. Thus elitism and a kind of isolation from the
world sets up a image of the pure artist untainted..
participants in Europe and the US within the CCF were when they realised
untroubled by the propagandistic aims of CCF, the took the position of Gramsci’s traditional intellectual which saw herself as
doing honest work if they were left to express themselves how they wanted.
Schlesinger one of the great post-war US
historians and writer who was aware of CCFs link to
CIA argued that is was right because culture fostered a sense of belonging to
their society in a critical liberal fashion and this opposed the
meaninglessness of obedience to the state found in soviet style socs.
Congress for Cultural Freedom functioned as a clandestine endowment for the
arts that promoted cultural, intellectual, and artistic endeavors
“in the West, for the West, in the name of freedom of expression” (p.
2). The CIA pumped tens of millions of
dollars into the Congress for Cultural Freedom and related projects, making the agency, “America’s
Ministry of Culture” (p. 129). The Congress maintained offices in thirty-five
countries and employed dozens of persons, including writers, poets, artists,
historians, and scientists. It published over twenty prestigious magazines,
held art exhibitions, owned a news and feature service, organized high-profile
international conferences, and sponsored public performances by musicians and
details CIA funding and promotion of a long
list of noted intellectuals,
including Melvin Lasky, Isaiah Berlin,
Sidney Hook, Dwight MacDonald, Hannah Arendt,
Vladimir Nabokov, Arthur Koestler,
Raymond Aron, George Orwell, and many others. Among
the magazines funded by the agency were Survey, Preuves,
Der Monat, Partisan Review,
and the highly respected Encounter. She also shows how the CIA
covertly funded and distributed hundreds of books. For example, the influential
compendium of liberal anti-Stalinist confessions, The God That Failed, “was
as much a product of intelligence as it was a work of the intelligentsia”
also promoted traditional art forms. It subsidized symphonies, art exhibits,
ballet performances, theater groups, operas, and jazz
musicians to undermine the negative stereotypes prevalent in Western
Europe about the cultural barrenness of the United
States. Working in cooperation with the Museum
of Modern Art, the CIA
also promoted Abstract Expressionist painting as a counter to Socialist Realism
and explicitly political art. To fund the cultural Cold War, the CIA
maintained an elaborate
network of dummy foundations, which were created expressly for the purpose of channeling CIA funds
into various covert projects. Many of these foundations existed only on paper.
The Fareld Foundation, for example, was a CIA
front that became the principal conduit for CIA
subsidies to the Congress for Cultural Freedom.
Other foundations that served as conduits for CIA funds included
Ford, Rockefeller, and J. M. Kaplan. CIA money also flowed through Time,
Inc., the Metropolitan Opera, the Museum
of Modern Art, Harper & Row, theModern Languages Association, and the American Council of
the mere act of subsidizing artistic creations the CIA
also worked to influence the content of cultural products shipped overseas. For
example, CIA agent Carleton Alsop worked undercover to introduce specific themes into Hollywood
films and to remove images that might evoke a negative response abroad. In two
examples Alsop convinced casting directors to mute
racial stereotypes in their pictures by including “well dressed negroes” as
part of the American scene. At Alsop’s request,
blacks were planted in crowd scenes in the Jerry Lewis comedy “Caddy.” Saunders
comments sarcastically: “At a time when many ‘negroes’ had as much chance of
getting into a golf club as they had of getting the vote, this seemed
optimistic indeed” . A more blatant case of CIA
manipulation of film content occurred with the animated cartoon film of
Orwell’s Animal Farm. The agency rewrote the ending of the ªlm to mute Orwell’s
symbolic connotation of capitalist exploiters and Stalinist revolutionaries. These
examples aside, the extent of CIA control
over the intellectual freedom of the authors and artists on its payroll is
unclear. The CIA exerted tight political
control over the intellectual agenda of the writers and artists it subsidized,
but she offers scant evidence to support this conclusion. One example of
outright censorship—that of an article submitted by Dwight MacDonald attacking
American mass culture and materialism—though the CIA
intervened to remove founding members Melvin Lasky and
Arthur Koestler from their official positions in the
organization’s leadership. Wisner personally intervened to remove Lasky.
Koestler was sidelined for being too passionate in his
anti-Communism; the CIA believed that a
moderate tone was needed to “win over the waverers”. In general, however, the CIA
mostly provided the funds, not the ideas. The agency preferred to
subsidize ideas rather than censor them. Still, regardless of the degree of
intellectual freedom afforded the artists subsidized by the agency, it is clear
that the CIA operatives who ran the programs
saw themselves as propagandists involved in a war of ideas. CIA
operatives spoke frankly about harnessing the energies of “intellectuals who
were disillusioned, [or] who could be disillusioned” with Communism. The
Congress for Cultural Freedom and numerous other intellectuals, artists, and non-profit
foundations were described by CIA operatives
as “propaganda assets”. Tom Braden, who ran the CIA’s
International Organizations Division, was unapologetically vocal in defending
the agency’s mission to support the non-Communist left—as his 1967 article “I’m
Glad the CIA Is Immoral”