Thursday, June 15, 2017

Michael Barker — Why the CIA Cares About Marxism


Mostly a backgrounder on CIA efforts to influence postwar French thought and politics based on a recently declassified CIA report.
In a widely read essay for the Los Angeles Review of Books entitled “The CIA reads French theory: on the intellectual labor of dismantling the cultural left” (February 27, 2017), Gabriel Rockhill spins an intriguing yarn about the CIA and their interest in keeping abreast of French political theory throughout the Cold War. “According to the spy agency itself,” Rockhill observed, “post-Marxist French theory directly contributed to the CIA’s cultural program of coaxing the left toward the right, while discrediting anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism…” Here the professor was making particular reference to a recently declassified CIA report, authored in 1985, that focuses on the intellectual milieu around Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan....
Consortium News
Why the CIA Cares About Marxism
Michael Barker

12 comments:

Magpie said...

Wow. Just wow.

This shit really needs a careful reading.

Tom Hickey said...

@ Magpie

My sentiments exactly.

Magpie said...

A quote from an interview Jorge Semprún (an Spanish writer exiled in France) with the French journal Le Debat:

LD. What is it to be a leftist [intellectual] in France, today?

JS. Today, the touchstone of leftist thought is a critical attitude toward the USRR, of which one of the corollaries is to reject the parties issuing from the Comintern tradition [the PCF] ... The essential question is not the barbarism of Pinochet, nor the demolition of the Lorrain steel manufacture, nor even the imperial redeployment of Reagan. The fundamental question is that of an attitude toward the USSR.

So, fuck the victims of Pinochet, the jobless steel workers from Lorrain, or the people affected by American imperial wars overseas. That may be regrettable, but it's secondary.

What really, really, really, matters is opposition to the USSR.

And the thing is that Semprún was Culture Minister under the PSOE in the Felipe González government. That attitude goes some way into explaining the chaos Spain has been through.

No wonder the CIA was so interested on guys like Semprún.

Matt Franko said...

So what does any of this have to do with today?

Tom Hickey said...

So what does any of this have to do with today?

This incident is only of historical interest now. It's relevance in the present is that it reveals the depth and breadth of CIA infiltration and covert ops. No reason to suspect that this is an isolated incident but rather part of a pattern.

Some may not appreciate the significance of the CIA infiltration of the French intelligentsia but French culture places great emphasis on it and this has political importance. It was an attempt to influence French politics, policy, and elections.

Magpie said...

Matt Franko said...

So what does any of this have to do with today?


Tom Hickey said...

This incident is only of historical interest now.


Not at all. This is not just a matter of historical interest: it has plenty to do with today.

Take the campaign Labour launched against Jeremy Corbyn. Branko Marcetic noticed something very interesting. For all the talk among New Labour types about electibility (actually, about Corbyn's inelectibility), Tony Blair for once was candid: he "wouldn't want to win on an old fashioned leftist platform".

He, like Semprún, considers that opposition to "an old fashioned leftist platform" is the touchstone of leftist thought. If by doing that Labour loses the election, so be it. It's a price he was prepared to pay.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/06/jeremy-corbyn-attacks-media-labour-election-prime-minister

As far as people like Blair are concerned any deviation from the policies they applied in government is verboten. That, for instance, includes as much MMT as it does means of production expropriation.

Bob said...

Gee, I guess these people are not leftists. What a shocker.

Tom Hickey said...

Not at all. This is not just a matter of historical interest: it has plenty to do with today.

That's what I said above, I thought. The details of what happened in France are history, but what happened is indicative of an issue on the left and the CIA's role in exploiting it.

While there is no smoking gun in the present concerning CIA infiltration of the intelligentsia wherever, precedent counts. If it was successful then, it's pretty safe to assume that it is the CIA toolbox for use in the present and future.

With Blair involved in the UK, I would say that there is likely covert intel operating. MI6 and the CIA are joined at the hip, along with the intel services of the rest of "Five Eye," Canada, Australia, and NZ.

Matt Franko said...

But if a lot of the old "labor" has been shifted to Asia can it be today a labor vs. capital type of war any more?

When millennials look at the name of the British "Labour" party they probably don't understand why that name... they never grew up in a country with big labor etc...

Might come back if Trump is successful in re industrial izing the US but that is going to take a while if ever...

Until then it's going to be continued left/right identity politics like we have now... CIA doesn't have a traditional role in that conflict imo...

Matt Franko said...

"What really, really, really, matters is opposition to the USSR."

Of course it would to the defense establishment back then.... why is that a problem? Did you ever consider emigrating to the USSR back then? Nooooooo...

That didn't have anything to do with other domestic policy back then between "labor and capital"...

Matt Franko said...

Today's big defense issue is terrorists so you're going to see CIA helping to foment less terror.... helping to support establish foreign governments that are the most anti terror...

Tom Hickey said...

The CIA is running Al Qaeda and ISIS when it suits what the deep state perceives as US interests — just as it always has, for example, the Latin American death squads. The CIA was created post-WWII, and it recruited former Gestapo in the "battle against the Red Menace." "The end justifies the means," is their real motto.