Swans Commentary » swans.com January 25, 2010  



The Ford Foundation And The Co-option of Dissent


by Michael Barker





(Swans - January 25, 2010)   While most progressive writers have failed to document the power of liberal philanthropy to co-opt the processes of social change, Naomi Klein, in her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Random House, 2007), provides a rare counter example. This historical anomaly -- for her and other radical writers -- revolves around her description of the support that liberal foundations provided for training the intellectual elites that seized the reins of power in both Chile and Indonesia in the 1960s and 1970s. In Chile, she observes how this elitist co-optive project was the brainchild of Albion Patterson, who was director of the local US International Cooperation Administration (which became the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID) and Theodore Schultz, the chairman of the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago. With tuition and expenses paid for by US taxpayers and US foundations, Klein notes how between 1957 and 1970 some one hundred Chilean students pursued advanced degrees at the University of Chicago in an environment "where the professors [like Milton Friedman] agitated for the near-complete dismantling of government with single-minded focus." In 1965 this neoliberal project "was expanded to include students from across Latin America," courtesy of a grant from the Ford Foundation, which "led to the creation of the Center for Latin American Economic Studies at the University of Chicago." Yet despite the best efforts of the Chicago school's "intellectual imperialism," there "was, however, a problem: it wasn't working." (1)

By Chile's historic 1970 elections, the country had moved so far left that all three major political parties were in favour of nationalizing the country's largest source of revenue: the copper mines then controlled by U.S. mining giants. The Chile Project, in other words, was an expensive bust. As ideological warriors waging a peaceful battle of ideas with their left-wing foes, the Chicago Boys had failed in their mission. (p.73)

Here, contrary to other more historically informed analyses, (2) Klein suggests that what subsequently "rescue[d] the Chicago Boys from obscurity" was the rise to power of a Republican administration in the United States, marked by the 1969 election of Richard Nixon. However, as other critical writers have long observed, the US government was already well committed to destabilizing leftist politicians, as shortly "after Chile's closely contested 1958 election in which [Salvador] Allende's (Marxist) party came close to winning, the CIA decided to ensure that this increasingly popular leader was kept out of government." By focusing on Nixon as the saviour of the Chicago Boys, the bipartisan nature of the imperial offensive on Chile is masked: after all, during this period the Ford Foundation was already working hand-in-hand with the CIA. (This of course is well known to Klein, who writes how: "In the 1950s, the Ford Foundation often served as a front organization for the CIA, allowing the agency to channel funds to anti-Marxist academics and artists who did not know where the money was coming from, a process extensively documented in The Cultural Cold War by Frances Stonor Saunders." p.147)

Writing in 1966, James Petras had argued that the Democrats working within Lyndon Johnson's administration were acting to contain "Latin American radicalism -- just like it is doing with the home grown version -- by combining a seductive ability to co-opt indigenous leaders into the establishment with a coercive repression whenever that becomes necessary." (3) He continued:

In reality U.S. policy -- including the Alliance for Progress -- was primarily a plan to stabilize a region in which the U.S. exercised hegemony. Alliance operations were not geared toward structural changes but toward neutralizing or integrating the politically important but socially amorphous "middle class" (professionals, businessmen, public and private employees) into society as a counterweight to lower class pressure for more basic reforms. U.S. policy orientated itself toward "accommodating" this middle class through financing housing construction (for employees), providing credits (for commercial people), and research and foundation grants (for professionals). (pp.49-50)

Grants from liberal foundations were ably utilized to not only promote the Chicago Boys' neoliberal economics, but to simultaneously co-opt progressive and revolutionary elements. In this regard it is important to note that James Petras, whose 1963 Masters thesis was titled "The Chilean Political Process: The Emergence of Working Class Politics," acknowledges in the aforementioned article that he had "recently returned from a year in Chile on a Ford Foundation fellowship." Fortunately though, contrary to many other progressives who have accepted such foundation funding, Petras turned on the hand that once (briefly) fed him, and has been a consistent critic of liberal philanthropy. One notable counterexample to Petras is his former co-author, Maurice Zeitlin. Zeitlin had served as the Latin America editor for Ramparts from 1967 until 1973, and prior to joining Ramparts had benefited from a two-year Ford Foundation fellowship (1965-7) before going on to obtain yet another Ford fellowship in 1970 during his tenure at Ramparts. (4)

In Petras's later work he described the manner by which imperialism was imposed by both brutal dictatorships and liberal philanthropists.

The dictatorships of the 1970s initially played a major role in changing Latin America's intellectual world. In the first place, military dictatorships killed or jailed many of the leading intellectuals, particularly those linked with social activists. Those who were jailed (and were fortunate enough to be released), exiled, or expelled from universities lost their principal source of income. Journals were closed; movements, trade unions, and political parties were decimated; and magazines and newspapers were shut down or heavily censored. The intellectual class was politically and economically vulnerable and increasingly disposed to accept external funding as a mode of survival.

So while prior to the 1970s "it was virtually impossible to find a leftist intellectual [in Latin America] willing to accept financing from externally funded foundations, today it is rare to find a researcher connected with any established institute who is not financed by one of the major or minor European or North American foundations." (5)

Returning to Naomi Klein's brief critical foray into the dirty history of a single liberal foundation, after examining the Ford Foundation's antidemocratic exploits in Chile she writes how around the same time it was "Berkeley Mafia who prepared the economic blueprint" for Indonesia's future under Suharto's dictatorship.

The parallels with the Chicago Boys were striking. The Berkeley Mafia had studied in the U.S. as part of a program that began in 1956, funded by the Ford Foundation. They had also returned home to build a faithful copy of a Western-style economics department, theirs at the University of Indonesia's Faculty of Economics. Ford sent American professors to Jakarta to establish the school, just as Chicago profs had gone to help set up the new economics department in Santiago. "Ford felt it was training the guys who would be leading the country when Sukarno got out," John Howard, then director of Ford's International Training and Research Program, bluntly explained.

Ford-funded students became leaders of the campus groups that participated in overthrowing Sukarno, and the Berkeley Mafia worked closely with the military in the lead-up to the coup, developing "contingency plans" should the government suddenly fall. (p.79)

This was not, however, fresh news, as the role that the Ford Foundation played in Indonesia was first documented in 1970 by Ramparts magazine -- the same publication that had carried James Petras's critical reflections in 1965. The article in this case being David Ransom's aptly titled "The Berkeley Mafia and the Indonesian Massacre" (October 1970). Ransom described how following the 1965 coup, which led to the CIA-assisted murder of up to a million Indonesian citizens, the Berkeley Mafia subsequently rose to power.

Sporting PhDs from the University of California and acting as a closely-knit clique in the councils of power, these men shaped the post-nationalist policies of the new regime. Behind their rise to eminence and power lay a saga of international intellectual intrigue, of philanthropoids and university projects, of student Generals and political Deans, and a sophisticated imperial design beyond Cecil Rhodes's wildest dreams.

While Ransom's article provides a wealth of information on the details of the Ford Foundation's creation of Indonesia's "modernizing elite," he highlights the broader priorities of the US philanthropic community.

Ford's interest in Indonesian education began in the early '50s, but it was the Rockefeller Foundation that had pioneered the area. Just before he left the Far East section of the State Department in 1952 to become the Rockefeller Foundation's president, Dean Rusk explained the purpose behind the program. "Communist aggression" required not only that Americans be trained for work in the Far East, but that "we must open our training facilities for increasing numbers of our friends from across the Pacific."

The imperial intentions of liberal foundations were of course no surprise to Ramparts' regular readers, as to this day their three-part series that was published in 1969 as a criticism of liberal philanthropy remains a must read for concerned citizens. (This full series is now online; see "The Foundations: Charity Begins at Home," "Billion Dollar Brains: How Wealth Puts Knowledge in its Pocket," and " Sinews of Empire.") (6)

In 1970, Ramparts again brought their investigative journalism down to bare upon the antidemocratic mechanizations of liberal foundations, providing yet another demonstration of the manner by which they act to contain dissent, but this time at home (in New Mexico). The article's authors, Rees Lloyd and Peter Montague, noted how following...

... in the wake of the assault of Reises Tijerina and forces of La Raza against Anglo colonials in the celebrated 1967 Tierra Amarilla "courthouse raid" -- there has been a new invasion of the Southwest. This time it is the Ford Foundation, not the U.S. Army, and it is backed by dollars, not soldiers. But the intent is the same as it has always been: to "benefit" the natives -- this time with a pacification program aimed at heading off the new militancy, creating a poverty-foundation complex, and building up a "safe" leadership for La Raza akin to the NAACP or the Urban League. (7)

The Ford Foundation, however, did not limit itself to grooming moderate leaders, and in Texas they supported the Mexican-American Unity Council in San Antonio, "which in turn financed the small ($8,527) budget of the [radical] Mexican-American Youth Organization." This funding connection brought the wraith of Congressman Henry Gonzales (Democrat-Texas) upon the Ford Foundation, and during the course of his attacks on Ford and the Youth Organization (while on the floor of Congress) he "provided the best articulation to date of the reasons Ford had provided $630,000 for the Southwest Council of La Raza." According to Gonzales:

One thing that surprised the Ford analysts was that the Mexican-American population had no effective organization; there was no equivalent of the NAACP or the Urban League. ... The foundation concluded that one prime requisite for progress was national organization and national leadership; such an organization would define goals toward which the whole group could aspire, and could coordinate the efforts of all groups towards those national goals.

"The Southwest Council of La Raza, said Gonzales, 'would be the new national leadership organization.'" (8) As the Ramparts article continued, the Ford Foundation's largest investment for pacification in the region was a "$1.5 million loan to establish a huge cattle feedlot in La Jara, Colorado." A business that once created "was surreptitiously handed over to the brother-in-law of the same Ford executive who had publicly announced the feedlot as an example of the Foundation's bounty." However, despite the best efforts of the Foundation to co-opt local leaders, their best efforts did not always run to plan. For example, Rees Lloyd and Peter Montague conclude their article by noting how:

In El Centro, a small town north of La Jara in the valley, lettuce pickers went out on strike in June in the first farmworkers' strike there in memory. Support for the strikers was spontaneously mobilized from Raza communities in the valley, and the strikers sought their own leaders from among themselves. Ford's manufactured spokesmen were ignored. When the strikers sought organizational assistance, it was from Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers' Organizing Committee. (p.18)

Yet given the Ford Foundation's evident success in manipulating political arrangements overseas it is a little optimistic for Lloyd and Montague to surmise that "In New Mexico, Ford's million-dollar political fraud is turning into an ['largely impotent'] expensive failure." I say this because sadly -- despite evidently undertaking much successful organizing -- recent revelations have demonstrated that even Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers did not necessarily provide an effective means to protect their members' long-term rights. The Union's deficits no doubt owed much to Chavez's staunch anti-communism and Alinsky-styled focus on organizing rather than theory; on top of the aforementioned external pressures caused by the presence of government and foundation funded social change alternatives for concerned citizens. This is why the release of two books that critique Chavez's activism, the first authored by former Monthly Review editor Michael Yates, and the second by Los Angeles Times reporter Miriam Pawel, are so important to activists intent on learning from past mistakes. (9) That said, criticism of radical organizers like Chavez is not the norm, and even otherwise excellent books like INCITE!'s The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond The Non-Profit Industrial Complex (South End Press, 2007) highlight Chavez's activism as a role model for others. Eric Tang thus writes how when young community/political organizers first come across the legacy of Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and the United Farm Workers (UFW)...

... she or he will learn that it was demanded of all UFW members -- the majority of whom were earning the lowest of wages -- to contribute regular membership dues. From the pages of history, the young organizer will hear Chavez insist, "this is the only way the workers will 'own' the organization." Inevitably, the young organizer takes a hard look at how his or her present-day organization does business and questions the deeper strength of an organization that depends on foundation grants for its survival, that hires a development director to raise funds so that others can turn their attention to the "real" work, and that adopts management systems which are foreign, if not alienating, to the values and skill-sets of the base. (10)

These, of course, are valuable lessons to learn, but it is essential not to romanticise the lives of activists like Cesar Chavez. All individuals are prone to suffer from the inevitable pressures that eventuate when one poses a viable threat to elite power. So it is vital that we recognize how these problems can manifest and detrimentally influence our organizing efforts. In this way we can devise an oppositional politics that cannot be undermined by the co-optive practices of elite powerbrokers.

As always, concerned activists must communicate the problems associated with liberal philanthropy to the broader public, because without their ideological support attempts to resist elite co-option will be near impossible. An anonymous Latin-American workers collective undertook such a communicative effort in 2008 when they gave a presentation at an activist conference titled "Liberal Mayors and Liberal Funders: A Case of Racism, Classism, and Ideological Warfare." With regard the power of liberal philanthropy the report concludes:

The nature of such foundation power and control can be traced to the philanthropic philosophy of "misery reduction," which is all that social service agencies are really supposed to do. The think-tanks and intellectual justification that guide these foundations don't go [to] the root of the problem. They abjure questioning the system or organizing people so there could be a chance for real unity or the possibility of real change. As such they are the firmament of the establishment, and may do more harm than outright conservatives and known racists, because they claim to be helping poor people, but their job is only to hold them down and keep them divided, fearful and weak.

This is great material, but it is interesting that this report also "discusses the philosophical and theoretical concepts of the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire that form the basis of the particular kind of organizing that took place" in their community. Thus while one hardly expects the authors to cover every important matter in their short report, Freire, much like Cesar Chavez, appears to have been an active anti-communist, and despite the celebrity status that he has acquired within progressive circles his pioneering approach to social change has come under criticism. (11) However, this is not to say that we cannot learn valuable lessons from the work of Cesar Chavez, Paul Freire, or the progressive research undertaken by researchers and activists that have received funding from liberal foundations: it just means that we must actively search for, and openly acknowledge, the weaknesses of such work to ensure that we can adopt tactics that provide the most effective challenge to the power of manipulative elites. Second best will not do when faced with such creative and antidemocratic adversaries. Consequently, it should be common sense that any concerted attempt to eradicate capitalism must actively defend itself not only from the powerful right hand of capitalism (that of the free-market), but also from its stealthy and "philanthropic" left hand.


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1.  Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Random House, 2007), p.68, p.69, p.72.

"[T]he Ford Foundation was the primary funder of the University of Chicago's Program of Latin American Economic Research and Training, which churned out hundreds of Latino Chicago Boys. Ford also financed a parallel program at the Catholic University in Santiago, designed to attract undergraduate economics students from neighbouring countries to study under Chile's Chicago Boys. That made the Ford Foundation, intentionally or not, the leading source of funding for the dissemination of the Chicago School ideology throughout Latin America, more significant even than the U.S. government." (p.145)  (back)

2.  James Petras and Morris Morely, The United States and Chile: Imperialism and the Overthrow of the Allende Government (Monthly Review Press, 1975).  (back)

3.  James Petras, "Making South America Safe for U.S. Tourists," Ramparts, December 1966, p.44. Petras writes:

"While in Peru I met with an intellectual who had been a leader in the recent armed revolutionary ferment. He discussed the perspectives of his group: the question of guerrilla warfare, the problems of creating cadres, etc. He spoke as one who had been involved with considerable personal risk in a number of 'actions.' He seemed to be a committed revolutionary. One month later I received word that he had a scholarship and was off to Europe for two years, leaving the organization and the members disorientated by his sudden departure." (p.44)

"Probably the most ironic case of political opportunism occurred with the Chilean sociologist who took credit for exposing the Pentagon-financed Camelot Project (a study whose purpose was to study civil warfare in order to destroy Latin American popular insurgency). This fellow who was so vehement in his denunciation of U.S. academicians as tools of the Pentagon, six months later became the official pollster of the Frei government." (p.46)

As an aside it is noteworthy that a year prior to the publication of the Petras article, Ramparts had printed Robert Scheer and Warren Hinckle's piece titled "The 'Vietnam Lobby'" (July 1965). This is interesting because like Petras, who had received Ford Foundation aid, Scheer (the main author) had "recently completed an 18-month survey of Vietnam for the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions." (p.24) The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions was of course set up in 1959 by the former associate director of the Ford Foundation, Robert Maynard Hutchins. This Ford-funded center was an integral hub for the airing of radical (Marxist) criticisms of the status quo under the guidance of liberal reformers; activities that provided ruling elites with an early warning mechanism for co-opting dissent. For instance, David Armstrong writes in A Trumpet to Arms: Alternative Media in America (South End Press, 1981) that: "The center planned to publish Scheer's findings in a scholarly report, but... Scheer complained, the Center's editors were cutting out 'a lot of the good stuff.' One of the people Scheer confided to was Warren Hinckle, the young editor of Ramparts, an intellectual Catholic magazine Hinckle was in the process of transforming into a muckraking journal. Hinckle jumped at the chance to publish the juicy parts of Scheer's research in Ramparts." (p.100) Later Armstrong observes that "Jessica Mitford, herself a formidable muckraker," suggested that "Robert Scheer's pamphlet on how we got involved in Vietnam triggered the move to end that war." (p.309)

Other support for the type of investigative journalism that helped undermine support for the Vietnam War came from the late Philip Stern, the former deputy assistant secretary of state for public affairs in the Kennedy administration. Having already provided some of the start-up funds to launch the Institute for Policy Studies in 1963, a few years later, in 1969, Stern created the Fund for Investigative Journalism, a philanthropic group whose "first grant [worth $2,250] supported the Pulitzer Prize-winning expose on the My Lai massacre by Seymour Hersh during the Vietnam War." (Hersh's story was then promoted by David Obst's newly formed Dispatch News Service.) Since this initial expose, the Fund for Investigative Journalism has provided strong support for left-leaning-liberal journalism. For example, the editor of The Progressive magazine, Matthew Rothschild, acknowledged that without their support The Progressive "would simply not have been able to publish many of the stories that we are most proud of."

In recent years the Fund for Investigative Journalism has obtained financial support from the Wallace Genetic Foundation, a foundation that distributes their largesse to a variety of agents of ecological imperialism like Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund. Such funding relations certainly help us understand why the long process of the hijacking of civil society by liberal elites has rarely been the target of progressive journalists. (For a detailed examination of the co-option of investigative journalism, see "Investigating the Investigators: A Critical Look at Pro Publica.")

Interestingly, the founder of the Wallace Genetic Foundation, Henry Wallace, had served as the 33rd vice president of the United States (1941-5), and as the presidential nominee of the Progressive Party in the 1948 elections. Wallace's ties to the media were longstanding as his father had owned the progressive farming newspaper, Wallace's Farmer, which had helped Wallace successfully launch the giant of seed corporations, Pioneer Hi-Bred International (in 1926). Moreover, in 1948, a socialist paper known as the National Guardian was created "offer[ing] comprehensive, professionally written news from a left-liberal perspective" to back Wallace's presidential bid. (The newspaper was co-founded by James Aronson, Cecil Belfridge, and James McManus -- see Armstong, A Trumpet to Arms, p.40.) One notable funder of the National Guardian was Anita McCormick Blaine; for further details see Cedric Belfrage and James Aronson, Something to Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian, 1948-1967 (Columbia University Press, 1978). In an online interview, Belfrage observed that the paper was established to back the Progressive Party and aimed to be "politically independent with a left slant," yet when a split occurred in the Party over the war on Korea, with the former peace candidate, Wallace, choosing to support the war, the National Guardian continued campaigning for peaceful coexistence and opposed the war (2.05 min; 7.15 min).

Later, in 1995, Wallace's son Robert set up the Wallace Global Fund, and in 2008 this Fund financed the work of radical media outlets like Democracy Now! ($375,000), and the Institute for Social and Cultural Change (which encompasses the work of South End Press, Z Magazine, Alternative Radio and Speak Out -- the institute received $25,000. With no evident contradiction the Wallace Global Fund simultaneously supports elite groups like the Center for American Progress to "develop the next generation of progressive leaders," Corporate Ethics International ($75,000), and the World Wildlife Fund ($80,000). In addition, in 2008 Project Censored received $25,000 to "research the 'Top 25 Censored Stories of the Year' and publish the Censored 2010 Yearbook." This is noteworthy because Project Censored recently published a report analysing the shortcoming of left-leaning media (like Democracy Now! and Z-Net) titled "Left Progressive Media Inside the Propaganda Model"; however, despite making many valuable points the report failed to scrutinize the influence of liberal philanthropy on progressive journalism.  (back)

4.  To this day, Maurice Zeitlin remains a well-respected Marxist scholar, presenting an excellent demonstration of the manner by which the Ford Foundation stretches its funds to provide limited support for anti-capitalist researchers (for a related discussion, see "The Russell Sage Foundation and the Manufacture of Reform"). Zeitlin co-authored his first book Cuba: Tragedy in Our Hemisphere (Grove Press, 1963) with Robert Scheer, and he edited his second book with James Petras, which was titled Latin America: Reform or Revolution? A Reader (Fawcett Premier Books, 1968).

Another well-respected Marxist scholar who obtained a grant from the Ford Foundation in the 1960s is Paul Buhle, an individual who in 1967 founded the Students for a Democratic Society's journal Radical America. (He also happens to be a current Swans Commentary contributor.) Buhle received the Ford Foundation grant in 1969, and then the year after completing his Ph.D. in 1975 he obtained another grant from the liberal establishment's American Council of Learned Societies. With regard to liberal philanthropy, albeit of a more radical nature, Buhle recalls how anti-imperialist scholar William Appleman Williams gave a "helping hand" to Radical America when he "successfully lobbied the Rabinowitz Foundation to offer a small grant making continued publication of the journal possible." Paul Buhle and Edward Rice Maximin, The Tragedy of Empire: A Biography of William Appleman Williams (Routledge, 1995), p.163. They describe Radical America as a "successor" to Studies on the Left that was "distinctly drawn to the history of radicalism and labor rather than the history of elites."  (back)

5.  James Petras and Morris Morely, US Hegemony Under Siege: Class Politics and Development in Latin America (Verso, 1990), p.147. Once leftist politics had been dismantled to make way for neoliberalism, "foundations poured new money" into Latin American research institutes "[f]earing a new wave of social unrest and a political challenge to incumbent liberal-conservative regimes (which might terminate debt payments)." Petras and Morely continue: "While the first wave of external funding was directed at criticizing the economic model and human rights violations of the military dictatorships, the second wave focused on the study of new social movements, while the third wave of funding centered on the democratization process and the debt. The studies that emerged form a general pattern: the analyses of dictatorship focused on its politically repressive features and not on its economic and military ties to Western European and North American elites. State violence was analyzed in terms of human rights violations, not as expressions of class domination -- as part of the class struggle, as class violence. The political base that emerged from these studies posed the issue as between contending political conceptions, as a conflict between liberal democracy and military dictatorship. The deliberate dissociation of the class structure from state power was justified by the notion that the political sphere was 'autonomous' from civil society." (p.149)

"At each point the external funders chose topics of particular concern to their foreign policy and corporate decision makers. They sought to create politically acceptable alternatives to the dictatorships, and put in place political forces capable of containing future challenges to Western liberal market hegemony. Their basic goal was to establish ideological hegemony among the Latin American intellectuals, since they serve as a major recruiting ground for the center-left political class." (p.150)  (back)

6.  For other Ramparts articles that critique both liberal philanthropy and the Ford Foundation, see Katherine Barkley and Steve Weissman, "The Eco-Establishment," in: Ramparts (eds.), Eco-Catastrophe (Harper and Row, 1970); Steve Weissman, "Why the Population Bomb is a Rockefeller Baby," in Ramparts (eds.), Eco-Catastrophe (Harper and Row, 1970).  (back)

7.  Rees Lloyd and Peter Montague, "Ford and La Raza: They Stole Our Land and Gave us Powdered Milk," Ramparts, September 1970, pp.10-11.  (back)

8.  Rees Lloyd and Peter Montague, "Ford and La Raza," p.15.

The Southwest Council of La Raza, which was formed in 1968, is now known as the National Council of La Raza. To give an indication of the type of elites that presently manage the affairs of the Council one need only look to Arturo Valenzuela who served as their board member until 2009, and was recently appointed assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the U.S. Department of State. Valenzuela's skills in crossing the divide between the world of antidemocratic elite activism and democratic progressive activism is illustrated by the fact that he presently serves on the editorial boards of two contrasting academic journals: the first is the National Endowment for Democracy's Journal of Democracy, and the second is the well-known Third World Quarterly, where he sits alongside the likes of Noam Chomsky and Walden Bello. The intellectual gap between the two journals is illustrated by William I. Robinson's excellent article "Pushing Polyarchy: The US-Cuba Case and the Third World," which was published in Third World Quarterly in 1995, and provided a comprehensive critique of antidemocratic modus operandi of the National Endowment for Democracy.

Returning to Rees Lloyd and Peter Montague's article, they add that, "In Texas, Ford invested $2.2 million to establish the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, generally known as MALD. Patterned after the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, MALD was intended by Ford to be south-west-wide, and perhaps national in scope. In New Mexico at least, MALD has been conspicuously absent from the more controversial issues." (p.15) Here it is worth pointing out that the former president of MALD, Antonia Hernández, has served as a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation and in 2004 she joined the California Community Foundation as their president and CEO (after retiring from her position at MALD). This is interesting on a number of counts as just prior to Hernández arriving at the California Community Foundation, the Foundation had provided financial support to the controversial Albert Einstein Institution, and in 2007 the Foundation provided more than $1 million to the equally problematic democracy-manipulator, the International Rescue Committee. (The Ramparts article "The 'Vietnam Lobby'" (July 1965) provides one of the first critiques of the International Rescue Committee.)  (back)

9.  The two books that critique Cesar Chavez and his Farm Worker Movement, are Michael Yates, In and Out of the Working Class (AK Press, 2009); and Miriam Pawel, Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez's Farm Worker Movement (Bloomsbury, 2009). For related articles see Michael Yates, "Down in the Valley With Cesar: Power, Paranoia and Purges in the United Farm Workers," MRZine, October 22, 2009; and Miriam Pawel's four-part series "UFW: A Broken Contract," Los Angeles Times, January 8, 2006. Ironically given his vocal opposition to elite foundation funding, in 1973 Chavez received one of the first four Jefferson awards from the American Institute for Public Service: two of the other three awardees were Henry Kissinger and John Gardner (who had served as the president of the Carnegie Corporation from 1955 to 1965).

One example of an influential program that has served to perpetuate the myth of Cesar Chavez is the Public Broadcasting Service's (often nicknamed the Petroleum Broadcasting Service) two-hour documentary The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers' Struggle (1997): a documentary whose production benefited from the financial support of various liberal foundations including the likes of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the California Community Foundation. The documentary was a presentation of the Independent Television Service (ITVS), a body that receives strong support from the Ford Foundation (in 2005 they received $2 million).  (back)

10.  Eric Tang, "Non-profits and the Autonomous Grassroots," In: INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence (eds.) The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond The Non-Profit Industrial Complex (South End Press, 2007), pp.216-7.  (back)

11.  This by no means undermines the significance of the aforementioned report as such omissions simply reflect the faults of the broader progressive community.

As Brian Martin observes in a chapter taken from his book Information Liberation (Freedom Press, 1998) titled Celebrity Intellectuals: "Paulo Freire was a well-known figure in the field of 'critical pedagogy.' He was widely respected and received substantial funding from various government organisations. Blanca Facundo, a supporter of critical pedagogy, wrote a critique of Freire's approach based on years of practical experience with the methods. This critique was well received by grassroots practitioners. Freire responded with a personal attack on Facundo. Freire's followers ignored the critique and continued their largely uncritical support of the master."

Given the history of the US government's pacification schemes in Latin America, it is significant that Blanco Facundo writes: "There is another aspect of Freire's work in Brazil that must be mentioned. We refer to the fact that in 1963 the U.S. AID financed the use of Freire's literacy method in Brazil. Pereira Paiva explains the incidents that led to U.S. AID assistance as an effort by the United States to prevent northeast Brazil from being influenced by the Cuban Revolution."  (back)


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Published January 25, 2010