Farfield Foundation

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The Farfield Foundation, a now defunct CIA front, acted as a philanthropic foundation. The CIA used it as a vehicle for their covert funding of groups and persons that were believed to be effective weapons in a culture war against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

CIA's Direction of Cultural Warfare

CIA employee Tom Braden, who had been the MoMA's managing director from 1947 to 1949 before he began working for the CIA, was initially in charge of the CIA section that oversaw the culure cold war. The section was called the International Organisations Division (IOD). The IOD indirectly, via their fronts and agreeable Foundations, funded prestigous journals, organized conferences, music competitions and art exhibitions.

The rationale behind this covert philanthropy was that American avant-garde culture that was both leftist and anti-communist could be an effective foil against Stalinist Communism's rise in Western Europe, post World War II. It was not just the CIA that directed the flow of money, it was also some very influential and wealthy Americans with names that included Rockefeller, Ford, and Dodge. Although they were not CIA fronts, many other foundations have been implicated as having received CIA monies.

The primary beneficiary of the Farfield Foundation's philanthropy was another CIA front, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and its US Chapter, the American Committee for Cultural Freedom, which in turn funded groups and individuals through themselves. Even early neoconservative thinkers received funding from covert CIA sources for journals and freelance authorship.

The need for secrecy was as much for domestic reasons as foreign. The McCarthy-era federal politicians distrusted modern culture and viewed it as destructive of American Ideals; it is highly unlikely that Norman Rockwell paintings and evangelical-styled Christian missionaries would have been successful in holding Communism's cultural allure at bay in Post-WWII Western Europe.

What's wrong with the CIA covertly funding the export of American Expressionism? It is a true art form. It is a product of America that many have felt an affinity to. Artists have usually required patrons supporting both their physical sustenance, and their psychological well being in a positive recognition of their creative worth. Historically, artists' sponsorship has often been government or religious officials. Communism's spread was viewed as a positive force, or in muted fatalism, an inevitability, amongst many of Western Europe's Post WWII cultural elite. The unbridled individualism of expressionism offered an effective contrast, as well as viable alternative to the stark bleakness of Soviet Realism's portrayal of grayscaled existence within the Stalinist sphere of influence. The Soviet Government had their own arsenal of covert actions too. It would be a great stretch of logic to view the funding of musicians who were virtuosi of Jazz's improvisional spontaneity in the 50's on working trips to Europe as the acts of an evil empire. There is an aura of comical irony swirling about an effective usage of the frequently apolitical lords of American Abstract Art and the drop out Icons of the Beat Generation as the USA's secret Cold War arsenal in cultural warfare. Both American politicians and their Soviet analogs viewed them as part of an American degeneracy that was infecting their country, and causing a decline in domestic morality. Soviet politicians perceived it as an effect of capitalism's excesses, while American politicians viewed it as a creeping red menace.

What is condemnable isn't the act of funding artists in an ideological cultural war, it is the unseen hands of manipulative elitists, who believe they are acting for the greater common good, secretly affecting the World's societies. The overuse of and dependence upon a methodology of opaque actions, and an unyielding faith in the propriety of the use of stealth within an open democratic society is where the malevolence lies. The same mechanisms used for covertly funding and secretly manipulating culture to fight communism were also used to covertly aid undemocratic-but-anti-communist regimes around the world. Instead of just listening to Coltrane, Byrd, Gillespie or Brubeck, while contemplating the artworks of Motherwell, Pollock, Rothko or Kline; reflect also upon "Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc" Duvalier of Haiti, Anastasios Somoza of Nicuragua, Augusto Pinochet of Chile, General Suharto of Indonesia, Hugo Banzer of Bolivia, Jonas Savimbi of South Africa, Lon Nol of Cambodia, Manuel Noriega of Panama, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Raoul Cedras of the Raboteau massacre, Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran, Roberto D'Aubuisson of El Salvador, and do not forget Saddam Hussein. Secrecy surrounding government's foreign policy is all too often used to obfuscate foreign policy that is a destructive force on the receiving end. The target country's citizenry ends up taking the brunt of the force, and the seeds of their democratic will are sown into the wind. Covert action is also used to hide governmental practices that would be viewed negatively by the majority of American citizens if it were not kept secret. It ends up being an antidemocratic government action, ostensibly engaged upon for protecting and expanding liberty and democracy world-wide. This hypocrisy causes the onset of anti-Americanism, leads to blowback, as well as being a primary cause for the disbelieving naiveté Americans often express when confronted with the storm of antagonism resultant from the hidden actions, having awakened just in time to reap its whirlwind.

CIA Funded Foundations

(abridged list alphabetized by first letter in name)

  • Aaron E. Norman Fund, Inc.
  • American Society of African Culture
  • Appalachian Fund
  • Asia Foundation
  • Beacon Fund
  • Borden Trust
  • Catherwood Foundation
  • Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation
  • Committee of Correspondence
  • Congress for Cultural Freedom
  • David, Josephine and Winfield Baird Foundation, Inc.
  • Edsel Fund
  • Edward John Noble Foundation
  • Farfield Foundation
  • Ford Foundation
  • Foundation for Youth and Student Affairs of New York City
  • Free Europe Committee
  • Independence Foundation
  • Independent Research Service
  • International Development Foundation
  • J. Frederick Brown Foundation
  • J.M. Kaplan Fund, Inc.
  • Kentfield Fund
  • Lucius N. Littauer Foundation
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Operations and Policy Research Incorporated
  • Price Fund
  • Rockefeller Foundation
  • Rubicon Foundation
  • San Jacinto Foundation
  • Sidney and Esther Rabb Charitable Foundation of Boston
  • Tower Fund
  • W. Alton Jones Foundation
  • William Benton Foundation

Related SourceWatch Resources

External Sources


Journals and Organization Studies

Articles & Commentary

60's Periodicals

  • Richard Dudman, “The Mongers Return”, The Nation, January 23,1967
  • Sol Stern, “NSA and the CIA”, Ramparts, March 1967
  • Todd Gitlin and Bob Ross, “The CIA at College: Into Twilight and Back”, The Village Voice, July 6, 1967
  • Michael Holcomb, "Student Exchanges Serve U.S. Policy", The Guardian, January 20, 1968
  • Michael Holcomb, "The Pass-Through: How the CIA Bankrolled Private Projects", Newsweek, March 6, 1967
  • Thomas Braden, "I'm Glad the CIA Is 'Immoral'" Saturday Evening Post, May 20, 1967
  • Jason Epstein, "The CIA and the Intellectuals", The New York Review of Books, April 30, 1967
  • Stuart H. Loory, "How CIA Became Involved in NSA", San Francisco Chronicle, February 28, 1967

Intelligence Bibliographical Database

CIA on Campus

The online reference: The CIA on Campus, a project of Public Information Research, Inc., offers a wealth of information. The following links are from a data-scrape (7-2005) of the site arranged semi-chronologically: