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WashPo Editorial: "The CIA funded a culture war against communism. It should do so again."

Discussion in 'The War Room' started by Trotsky, Aug 22, 2018.

  1. Trotsky Steel Belt

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    An opinion and article so asinine and silly that it could only be written by someone with a name like Sonny Bunch, a guy who presumably is so passionate about having shitty political opinions that he bypassed a sure-fire career as a kids cereal mascot.

    It's bad enough that American right-wingers and liberal ideologues want to insist on allowing dark money to surreptitiously fund nonprofits, "grass roots organizations," and think tanks without any public knowledge (@Fawlty take a look at the "One Nation America" nonprofit shilling for Josh Hawley whose financial backing I cannot discover) - but now they're wanting the fucking CIA to dip its dirty dick back into the arts to try to destabilize foreign nations (namely China) with reductive American propaganda.


    Earlier this month, “Sorry to Bother You” director Boots Riley tweeted, “Art for arts [sic] sake is never for arts [sic] sake-it’s for the sake of the status quo. This is why the CIA funded Jackson Pollack [sic].” Set aside the vaguely totalitarian suggestion that art must, by its nature, exist either in support of or opposition to the political establishment. Today, I’d like to focus on the CIA’s involvement in the Cold War’s culture war and think back to a better time, when ideas were taken seriously and art was considered transformative — and keep in mind the ways in which the agency could help artists struggling to break through overseas today.

    Those interested in the CIA’s covert cultural war should check out “Who Paid the Piper?” by Frances Stonor Saunders. Granted, it’s an unrelentingly negative portrayal of the efforts by Michael Josselson, Nicolas Nabokov and others to funnel money from the CIA into the hands of artists and intellectual journals that highlighted the Western world’s commitment to individual freedom. But if you can set aside the author’s biases, you’ll discover a fascinatingly byzantine effort to turn the world to the American way of thinking via pen and paint rather than munitions and murder.

    The CIA at its founding was largely run by Ivy Leaguers, would-be highbrows and intellectuals. It makes sense that they’d have been attracted to the ideas of men like Melvin Lasky, the consummate Cold Warrior who pushed for the founding of a magazine designed to bridge the gap between the West and the rest. According to a postwar memo by Lasky submitted to the U.S. Army, journals like Der Monat would serve “as a demonstration that behind the official representatives of American democracy lies a great and progressive culture, with a richness of achievements in the arts, in literature, in philosophy, in all the aspects of culture which unite the free traditions of Europe and America.”


    Magazines like Der Monat and English-American literary-political journal Encounter were not the only activities supported by nonprofit pass-throughs such as the Farfield Foundation and the Ford Foundation. The CIA-backed Congress for Cultural Freedom brought the Boston Symphony to Europe (at the cost of $166,359.84, according to Saunders) and sprang for publication and distribution of “at least a thousand books,” according to a 1977 report in the New York Times. The books included translations of T.S. Eliot’s poems, Boris Pasternak’s “Doctor Zhivago” and Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” according to Saunders.

    And, yes, there was support for abstract art of the sort championed by Pollock. “On display will be masterpieces that could not have been created nor whose exhibition would be allowed by such totalitarian regimes as Nazi Germany or present-day Soviet Russia and her satellites,” bragged Museum of Modern Art advisory committee member James Johnson Sweeney about an exhibit there. While the Soviets were stuck producing realist works of art dedicated to illustrating the glories of the latest five-year plan, American artists were free to pursue whatever vision they chose — even if that vision was denounced by some conservative legislators as “anti-American.” Amusingly, there was no better demonstration of the West’s commitment to freedom than the fact that members of Congress could condemn abstract art as wicked and do nothing to stop its dissemination.

    The CIA remains fond of abstract art; Carey Dunne highlighted the agency’s Melzac Collection at the George Bush Center for Intelligence two years ago for Hyperallergic. Canvases filled with lines and dots and swirls still hang on the agency’s walls, a testament to triumphs past.


    But the moving picture remains the most visceral and, perhaps more important, accessible art form. As Saunders notes in her book, the United States has long worked to up the number of films accepted in foreign markets through trade deals. Others have taken a more guerrilla approach to spreading the cinematic gospel; consider efforts by the Human Rights Foundation to raise awareness of the Kim Jong Un-mocking film, “The Interview,” in North Korea via balloon.

    Which brings me to back Riley and “Sorry to Bother You.” The director has in recent weeks complained of not being able to obtain foreign distribution for his entertaining new picture. This is understandable (indies often have such troubles) but unfortunate. The movie’s messages would resonate in China, the world’s second-largest market. After all, “Sorry to Bother You’s” WorryFree corporation — which houses and feeds workers in factories to increase productivity — seems a dead ringer for Foxconn, the “forbidden city” where Chinese workers manufacture Apple devices. The movie’s messages might appeal to people in a nation where poets and artists and activists are imprisoned for bucking the leadership’s diktats.

    If the CIA were looking for a way to have some fun in the cultural space, they could do worse than distributing Riley’s opus: Commission a top-shelf translation for the subtitles, bang out some samizdat DVDs, and upload the film to as many file sharing and streaming services as possible. How better to demonstrate the unfettered freedom artists have in America to criticize the system? “Sorry to Bother You” might even spur Chinese citizens to take action against the Communist Party-backed businesses that dominate commerce in the state.

    Naturally, any efforts by the CIA in such matters should remain quiet; one wouldn’t want to put the artists behind the film in the awkward position of knowingly benefiting from the CIA’s largesse. But a little subterfuge is a small price to pay in service of winning the culture wars.
     
  2. b-hop Green Belt

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    Good, we should fight a totalitarian ideology that killed more than one hundred million person.
     
  3. Trotsky Steel Belt

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    Please describe this "totalitarian ideology." Be specific.

    Then we can tackle your regurgitated "100 million person" talking point.
     
  4. TheGreatA Silver Belt

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    It's laughable to even think that you could somehow subvert China culturally, at this point.

    Whether you respect them or not, they've got their population in a dead-lock.
     
  5. Trotsky Steel Belt

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    Why do you say this? China has a burgeoning middle class that is increasingly gaining exposure to outside information through tourism and the CPC is both posturing for greater interrelations with foreign markets than was the USSR or Maoist China, and it has been shown that the country population is so vast that complete insulation and monitoring is unfeasible.
     
  6. TheGreatA Silver Belt

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    Because they're a communist country that can simply take everything away from the middle class, if they decide to get "problematic", at a whim. You don't own anything, the state owns you, and the people best remember that.

    Technological progress is also enabling them to enforce authoritarianism of thought, to a much further extent than USSR or Mao's China ever could have hoped to. Right now they are investing their billions into creating the most extensive surveillance state that the world has ever seen.
     
  7. Kindacrazy Blue Belt

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    Its an interesting notion and starting point for discussion. I despise both the CIA and Communism. Ironically, largely on the same grounds.

    The CIA's history is a horrific one. But there are two specific traits that I find abhorrent beyond the widespread abuses the organization participated in.

    The first of these traits is their commitment to demoralizing enemy populations. Every culturally homogeneous group deserves the right to select the way in which they will organize. By damaging the interests of foreign nations based upon their ideological structure they are attacking the most inherent of social freedoms in these nations. I don't think the west should interact with nations that don't participate in legitimate democracies but other then that, to each their own.

    Communism just might be worse however. As an ideology, communism is inherently top down. It is an imposed structure, first by deception, then by social manipulation. It is highly dysgenic and collapses rapidly without a wealthy oppressor group to rob. Communists push so many absurd and destructive premises that it is impossible to list them for practical reasons. They are also one of the most dishonest and manipulative groups you will ever encounter. Intellectuals are self serving like most people, but unlike most people they have a tendency to rationalize their self serving nature in order to avoid having to deal with the real moral implications of the policies they demand. This is the real reason for modern identity politics, it is simply a self serving derivative way of pushing the same hollow ideas.

    That isn't to say that there aren't communists that are good people, its just to say that most of them don't really understand how the ideology functions in the real world. They want utopia, but utopia can't exist. Utopia is by its very nature the most vulnerable of social structures. Not that the pragmatists are any better overall, but they do tend to end up with fewer deaths.
     
  8. NoDak Banned Banned

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    I both respect and loathe them in equal measure.

    WaPo: Waking Up To China’s Infiltration Of American Colleges
    NYTimes: China's Intellectual Property Theft Must Stop
    Between this here and ghosting hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims into re-education camps, it's actually pretty damn, err... impressive? The PRC doesn't fuck around.

    RFA: China Aims For Near Total Surveillance, Including People's Homes

    By 2020, China will have completed its nationwide facial recognition and surveillance network, achieving near-total surveillance of urban residents, including in their homes via smart TVs and smartphones. According to the official Legal Daily newspaper, the 13th Five Year Plan requires 100 percent surveillance and facial recognition coverage and total unification of its existing databases across the country.

    Authorities in the southwestern province of Sichuan reported in December that they had completed the installation of more than 40,000 surveillance cameras across more than 14,000 villages as part of the "Sharp Eyes" nationwide surveillance network, the paper said. Guangdong-based Bell New Vision Co. is developing the nationwide "Sharp Eyes" platform that can link up public surveillance cameras and those installed in smart devices in the home, to a nationwide network for viewing in real time by anyone who is given access.

    "Sharp Eyes" comes from a ruling Chinese Communist Party slogan, "the people have sharp eyes," which traditionally relied on the eyes and ears of local neighborhood committees to keep tabs on what its people were up to.

    Soon, police and other officials will be able to monitor people's activities in their own homes, wherever there is an internet-connected camera. A Chinese internet user who asked to remain anonymous said the social media platform WeChat has also begun issuing warnings to anyone posting messages that the government deems undesirable.

    "The internet and our smartphones have been under government surveillance for a long time already," the user said. "A friend of mine in Anhui is under surveillance, and he tried to buy a plane ticket to go overseas, but he couldn't leave the country. We can be placed under restriction or persecuted by them, or asked to 'drink tea,' [with state security police], or placed under surveillance, at any time," he said. "Overall, it feels as if we're not free at all."

    'Social Credit' System

    The Sharp Eyes system will be implemented in tandem with a "social credit" system that makes simple actions like buying a train ticket subject to sufficient social credit.

    Under a pilot social credit scheme, people who are considered to be "troublemakers" by the authorities, including those who have tried fare-dodging, smoked on public transport, caused trouble on commercial flights or "spread false information" online will now be prevented from buying train tickets, the government announced earlier this month. Employers who fail to pay social insurance or people who have failed to pay fines will also be on the restricted list, which takes effect on May 1.

    The administration of President’s Xi Jinping is currently building a social credit system allowing government bodies to share information on its citizens’ trustworthiness and assign a "social credit score" to citizens. In early 2017, the country’s Supreme People’s Court said that 6.15 million Chinese citizens had been banned from taking flights for social misdeeds, Reuters reported.
     
  9. TheGreatA Silver Belt

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    They're taking Stalinism to a new era. Got to give them some credit for that, I guess.

    People actually forget that there was once a time when Stalin "opened the markets" for American companies. Once the factories were built, and the blueprints stolen, he kicked them out and nationalized all the industries. Seems to me that China is currently following his example but to an even greater extent.
     
  10. Kaliph of Kush Hashishiyan Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    And its also laughable to expect the film industry to step on the toes of the largest foreign market in exchange for what? CIA chump change?
     
  11. TheGreatA Silver Belt

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    Or to expect any movie that potentially compromises China's political ideology or questions its moral base, to even be shown.

    They literally banned hip-hop/rap music. Just banned it, straight up.
     
  12. MasterSeagal Brown Belt

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    The Soviet Union was a closed market. China is open for business. I don't think there is that much incentive to force China to become a liberal democracy.
     
  13. NoDak Banned Banned

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    You taken a gander at this thread? I hope it turns throat-slitting savage tbh. I'm sorry and I have no ill will towards the ordinary citizens of China, but fuck the PRC. Straight up.

    http://forums.sherdog.com/threads/the-u-s-china-trade-war-mega-thread.3810809/

    Even Del? SMH.

     
  14. ocfightfan Steel Belt

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    What could possibly go wrong?
     
  15. Trotsky Steel Belt

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    Well, I don't think that's actually the case in China (which should not frankly be termed as communist, even using the casual definition stipulated for this discussion) since Chinese consumers, citizens, and property owners (or renters from the state, if you will) have more procedural protections than were in place in many a former autocratic society, or even current ones that are starting to unravel, and they are able to move their money outside of state control so that their means of acting upon information isn't fatally preempted. In short, the CPC couldn't just "simply take everything away from" hundreds of millions of people.

    And even with the surveillance innovations that you mentioned, it's hard (for me at least) to conceive that it is now easier for an autocratic government to either insulate from information (that's pretty much been a dud for the past half century in any place other than North Korea) or, though more feasible, to completely foreclose mobilization of ideas or movements.

    Also, just from my own interactions with Chinese persons, I don't get the feeling that they do best remember such a tyrannical confiscatory potential of their government: most have actually laughed when I've asked about the legend of their surveillance/censorship state.

    Anyways, this is beside the point and I don't revel in advocating the upside for CIA subterfuge. Ceteris paribus, are you fine with it?
     
  16. Happy Man Banned Banned

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    Dude, I have some very very left views, communist views, but china is leading the way in monitoring people. It's truly 1984 over there and evil.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-re-education-muslims-ramadan-xinjiang-eat-pork-alcohol-communist-xi-jinping-a8357966.html?amp#ampf=undefined

    http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-china-face-surveillance-2018-story.html?outputType=amp

    The reading students emotions is particularly frightening. The communist party will soon KNOW if you like them. If you don't, off to reeducation camps to brainwash for years until you mentally break


    Edit: did you just mention in the above post that the surveillance state of China is just a legend? What the fuck Man.
     
  17. TheGreatA Silver Belt

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    I've been keeping an eye on it.

    I give Trump and his government credit for having the balls to pull this off. Now, while I'm pretty sure that Obama (not necessarily Clinton) would've also tried to address problem, he would've probably gone about in a more roundabout, indirect way, possibly by seizing trade deals with China's closest allies. That America ended up going "straight for the jugular", was somewhat surprising to me. There's a lot of money at stake and a lot of pissed off investors who are losing money in the short-term, atleast. Usually their lobbying puts an end to any such attempts.

    It's quite far away from my own country and president which recently had China's leader here and praised China for being an "ecological powerhouse". What a laugh. But I suppose that's to be expected when you're a lilliput next to a megalith.
     
  18. TheGreatA Silver Belt

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    To answer your question, absolutely not. We don't need the CIA to fund anything, and if you asked me, America doesn't need to fund CIA, either.

    If you are about to confront somebody, do it head on, not through subversive methods. The West, as far as I'm concerned, has had its fill of "interventions" into other people's affairs.

    The CPC has no need to take everything away from hundreds of millions of people. They'll just make an example of the few, and the rest will fall in line. I believe you severely under-estimate the authoritarian power of the Chinese government, when called upon. But because of its stable social order, there has been no need for them to wave the stick. Except when it comes to a bunch of Muslims that the world doesn't care about.
     
  19. Fawlty Memesy were the borogroves Platinum Member

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    Sounds ineffective as hell and that guy was beating off when he wrote that. No idea why the Washington Post would publish that shit unless conservative thought has slipped so far that their readers would consider that highbrow.
     
  20. curryjunkie mixed marital arts...

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