Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power

Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power

Inderjeet Parmar

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 0231146299

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Inderjeet Parmar reveals the complex interrelations, shared mindsets, and collaborative efforts of influential public and private organizations in the building of American hegemony. Focusing on the involvement of the Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie foundations in U.S. foreign affairs, Parmar traces the transformation of America from an "isolationist" nation into the world's only superpower, all in the name of benevolent stewardship.

Parmar begins in the 1920s with the establishment of these foundations and their system of top-down, elitist, scientific giving, which focused more on managing social, political, and economic change than on solving modern society's structural problems. Consulting rare documents and other archival materials, he recounts how the American intellectuals, academics, and policy makers affiliated with these organizations institutionalized such elitism, which then bled into the machinery of U.S. foreign policy and became regarded as the essence of modernity.

America hoped to replace Britain in the role of global hegemon and created the necessary political, ideological, military, and institutional capacity to do so, yet far from being objective, the Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie foundations often advanced U.S. interests at the expense of other nations. Incorporating case studies of American philanthropy in Nigeria, Chile, and Indonesia, Parmar boldly exposes the knowledge networks underwriting American dominance in the twentieth century.

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polarization.1 One aspect of a new rationale for U.S. power came in the form of promoting democracy, which, especially after the terror attacks of 9/11, objectively “unified” liberal internationalists, conservative nationalists, and neoconservatives. While democracy promotion is an old idea, it gained new impetus in the form of scientifically established “truth”: democratic peace theory (DPT). This represented a fundamental rhetorical shift in the rationales of U.S. national security: the United

102. The Ford Foundation in Indonesia: Ford Foundation Staff Comments on Ramparts Article, October 1970; 012243. 103. John Bresnan (Managing Indonesia, 281) himself argues that without the Western-oriented Ford-funded economists, Indonesia would probably have become much more aligned with “Marxism-Leninist” regimes. 104. Bresnan, At Home Abroad, 121. 105. F. Miller (FF representative, Jakarta), “The Ford Foundation and Indonesia: 1953–1969. Retrospect and Prospect”, 4; 6; 11; 006567. Emphasis

example, Harris wrote in January 1958 that Doyle had openly expressed disquiet about Ford programs, declared them “a dismal failure,” and called on UC to discontinue their involvement. Harris reported that Doyle thought “that California had been an unwitting tool of State Department and [Ford] Foundation foreign policy objectives which he believed to be completely unsound…. Apparently he was not able or did not desire to conceal his views” from anyone, including UI faculty.101 Yet in a dossier

the state. However, a number of international historians have developed the concept of “state-private networks” to conceptualize the interconnections and consensus-building activities between a range of civil-society organizations and the (American) state.47 Such an approach is among several that offer much more persuasive and novel ways of understanding “how power works,” with special reference to philanthropic foundations, at both domestic and global levels, and a number of those

right-wing Chileans, developed a secret plan in 1972 for a postcoup economic strategy, overwhelmingly supported the military coup, joined the Pinochet government, and provided technocratic expertise for the brutal regime. The stated aim of ICA/USAID, Chicago, Ford, and Rockefeller—and the “Chicago Boys” created by these programs—was Chilean economic and social development: instead, Chileans’ freedoms were curtailed, democracy destroyed, and human rights violated. Chilean society became more

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