Books, Magazines, Tell a vision. Radio. Facebook. Twitter. Etc.,
Manipulation via the media- all forms of it has never ended. Including in book reviews, such as this one- where the book reviewer desperately employs the guilt by association logical fallacy to involve Russia. This book is not about Russia. It’s about cultural deceptions/manipulations the CIA used in the past. Present day manipulations, such as the pussy hats march, aren't addressed.
Addressed here at the blog, of course:
A personal indulgence- Perception management, memes and catapulting propaganda
Deception/manipulation in cultural context. I’ll cut to the chase as always:
G&M Arts & Amazon.
“Joel Whitney, in his new book about America’s own insidious control of domestic and foreign journalism, identifies as “the traditional adversarial role of media, a role that at least theoretically checked government power and guarded against overreach.” But what Whitney’s Finks makes astonishingly, harrowingly clear is that such affronts are a matter of course in the United States as well, where intellectuals, editors and self-styled belletrists were employed as CIA stooges during the Cold War. (And still today) Sometimes they have had plausible deniability. But in many more cases, they collaborated all too willingly”
As a central study, Whitney looks in depth at the history of The Paris Review. The quarterly literary magazine was founded in Paris in 1953 by George Plimpton, Harold L. Humes and Peter Matthiessen, an undercover CIA agent. As described by Whitney, such highbrow magazines were devised as part of a larger government initiative to trump up U.S. culture during the Cold War
As he puts it, “Many policymakers felt that Western Europeans were being softened to the horror of Communism thanks to towering Soviet and Russian cultural achievements. Americans, in a word, needed to become boosters of their high culture.”
High Culture? Or degraded culture?
Judging by the Pussy hats, Pussy Riot, Gloria Steinam, Hugh Hefner an over abundace of No Good Organizations- Obfuscating media- including so called edgy stuff like "Vice", the answer would be degraded, profiteering/war making culture
Enter the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an anti-Soviet arts advocacy group underwritten by the CIA. The CCF toured the Boston Symphony Orchestra around Europe and funded abstract expressionist art exhibitions. As Whitney writes of the CIA’s covert funding of seemingly liberal, abstract art, “the paint splashes of Jackson Pollock did not lend themselves to a Marxist or anti-imperialist narrative.”
Jackson Pollocks: “Art”? More like an offence to the senses. As was intended. “meant to be the unmitigated will of a human being, blasted onto a canvas " Really? Perhaps if you’re a human mess?
Reports from former agents acknowledge what was always a tall tale in the art world—that CIA spooks floated pioneering artists like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Robert Motherwell, to drop an aesthetic nuke on Communism. What seemed like natural popularity of certain artists was, in part, actually a deliberate attempt at psychological warfare, backed by the US government.Finks Review Continues...
Where older conservatives might balk at funding and promoting works of art comprised of dribbles and streaks of paint, the CIA and the CCF adopted a more nuanced, “keep your enemies closer” approach. A lighter, diet-pop version of Western-sponsored socialism was ultimately preferable to the looming spectre of whole-hog Sovietism.
When the CIA wasn’t endowing would-be cultural combatants, they were keeping a chary watch of them. Paris Review editor Peter Matthiessen was tasked with spying on American expats living in the French capital.
CIA fronts funded foreign literary publications such as Spain’s Mundo Nuevo, and covertly published Russian-language editions (terribly translated, apparently) of Doctor Zhivago, a novel deemed by Russian publishers as anti-Soviet.
CIA appendages also underwrote (still do to this day) Hollywood films that were censored and rewritten to prune out seemingly anti-U.S. themes – the legendary director John Ford proved a willing collaborator, requesting government propaganda booklets in order to better express the CIA’s cultural mission of “militant liberty.”
Even George Orwell, one of the 20th century’s savviest political writers and outspoken critics of authority, found himself the punchline of a bad CIA joke when the 1954 film adaptation of Animal Farm was revised to serve the Cold War agenda.
Where Orwell’s story ends on a melancholic idea that the capitalists (the humans) and communists (the animals) were ideologically indistinguishable from each other, the movie made the animals seem the clear villains, flattening Orwell’s original satire into plain ol’ pro-capitalist, pro-U.S. propaganda.
Indeed, there’s a depressingly Orwellian tenor to many of the revelations packed into Finks, from doublespeakish concepts such as “militant liberty” to the grander, and seemingly paradoxical, program of “fostering cultural freedom through routine acts of censorship.” Impressive in scope, depth and its marshalling of declassified documents, Whitney’s book proves that sophisticated cultural propaganda campaigns are by no means the exclusive province of looming totalitarian regimes.
Finks also offers a reminder that it’s not one or another government, but the totality of government power itself that proves illegitimate – even if some forms of power seem more illegitimate than others.
You can also read about this type of manipulative activity in the Mighty Wurlitzer- How the CIA Manipulated America This is one of many books that sit in my home library- read it years ago- likely mentioned here at the blog at that time
You might also be interested in this Gnostic Media Presentation?
Yup, I was reading the Mighty Wurlitzer at that time!
Now I am just getting started on the perfect companion book to Laurel Canyon, other then Dave's previous book Programmed to Kill, which by the way is also great. Difficult, but great. The other perfect companion to both these books is 'The Mighty Wurlitzer" Which, as mentioned, I am now reading Phew!