We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lapp√©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Foundation Statesmen

Click here to access article by Daniel Immerwahr from "n+1". 

The author of this article uses a recently published book by Inderjeet Parmar entitled, Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power, as a basis for this essay. The book's author is a professor of government at Manchester University in Britain.

In this essay Immerwahr asks the following questions about the rather dramatic shift of US isolationist policies following WWI to what has developed today.
How such an underdeveloped government became a leader in world affairs is something of a mystery. Where did it gain the capacity and unity of vision to become, if not a global empire, then something very much like it? How did it formulate and then act on a grand geopolitical strategy that required massive aid deployments, substantial foreign expertise, and military interventions throughout the globe?
Immerwahr, with Parmar, traces this change by focusing on the role of foundations, starting from the big three philanthropic foundations--Rockefeller, Ford, and Carnegie--to hundreds of other non-profit think tanks. Their activities were crucial in shaping US foreign policy which, in turn, created today's US Empire.

Although this liberal writer's treatment of the subject is rather muted as to the human suffering caused by their activities, it offers another piece of the puzzle behind who actually exercises power in the US and the organizational forms they use. What he omits is that the people who sit on the boards of these foundations also sit on the boards of major US and transnational corporations to form a ruling class who pursue their interests of power and profit via their Empire. See also this, this, this, and this for other pieces of this puzzle.

The last paragraph is particularly revealing of the interest that this ruling class has in protecting  Wall Street, the nerve center of the Empire. New York City police department is another prime example of their readiness to use hard power when soft power doesn't prove sufficient.
The NYPD is able to draw on funds not only from the city but also from the New York City Police Foundation, a nonprofit that purchases special equipment and supplies counterterrorism training to the police. Its board is a collection of heavyweights in real estate, advertising, finance, publishing, health care, and energy that includes both a former homeland security advisor to George W. Bush and Ivanka Trump. Among its top donors are Barclays, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase, the last of which gave the New York City Police Foundation $4.6 million in money, patrol car laptops, and monitoring software just months before the protests began. “You have a police department that is beholden to a private entity and you end up with a situation where there is absolutely no oversight and no transparency about the funding of government operations,” the associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union observed. Money, as Parmar argues, has its own trajectory.