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The Cultural Cold War

One problem is that, even for assiduous readers, there is not time to read everything one should. Moreover, articles appear in journals one does not normally see. One such is the International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, published in New York by Plenum. My former student Russell Bartley has sent me a copy of an article by him which has just appeared in the Spring, 2001 issue of the journal, now in its fourteenth volume. The article is entitled "The Piper Played to Us All: Orchestrating the Cultural Cold War in the USA, Europe and Latin America". Extremely well-documented, it represents many years of work. It was inspired by the book on the Congress for Cultural Freedom, Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (London: Granta, 1999) by British author and documentary filmmaker Frances Stoner Saunders, The theme of the book is largely an account of the politics of the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom, showing how grants affected not only the intellectuals who were enlisted in the Congress, but also universities like Stanford. The aims of the Congress were legitimate, but when it was discovered that it was funded by the CIA it was widely viewed as a bastard, the illegitimate child of intellectuals and propaganda money. As Russell documents, this money interfered with the proper operation of universities like Stanford. Similar interference is inevitable in universities. When the government, foundations or even private individuals offer substantial grants, universities, always short of money, will tailor their programs to make a suit to the measurements specified. It is not necessarily a bad thing, since university programs are often frozen by tradition and academic politics, and the grants make them move forward into new, significant fields. This unfortunately was not true of the CIA grants studied here. This, incidentally, is the origin of WAIS. These distortions of academic life so displeased me that I set up WAIS as an independent non-profit organization, beholden only to our own sense of scholarly integrity.

Ronald Hilton - 7/15/01