By Charles Shaw
May 03, 2005
Last February United for Peace and Justice, the largest representative coalition within the American “anti-war movement”, emerged from their second annual Assembly with a 2005 “action plan” that effectively caged the “anti-war” debate exclusively within the Iraq conflict to achieve partisan ends on behalf of the pro-war Democratic Party and their Neoliberal corporate benefactors. Their “action plan” refused to address any of the core issues of US Foreign and Defense policy, which are the root causes of a pervading culture of war and militarism that has taken over the nation in the years since WWII.
These decisions are part of a larger pattern of “regulated resistance”, a system by which dissent is carefully managed and constrained by self, overt, or covert censorship; denial-based-psychology; fear of personal or professional criticism and reprisal; and pressure from powers above including elected officials and those establishment foundations which flood millions into the not-for-profit activist sector.
This establishment money, and the access it grants, has caused many ostensible resistance leaders to suddenly and dramatically abandon long-held ideological positions and shift their behavior towards doing what can clearly be seen as the bidding of those in power whose views and values are in direct contravention to the established mores of peace and justice movements throughout history.
These “resistance leaders” of the “Left” act as “Gatekeepers“–influential “progressive” figures who use their resources and visibility to regulate the debate, tactics, and rhetoric of the “anti-war” and other “progressive” movements.
The Gatekeepers of the So-Called “Left”
“The press is the hired agent of a moneyed system, set up for no other reason than to tell us lies where their interests are concerned.” — Henry Adams
In his shocking investigative report “The Left Gatekeepers”, journalist Bob Feldman researched purportedly “Left” activist and media organizations that receive substantial funding from large establishment foundations with known ties to the CIA, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and even the much-maligned Carlyle Group, the arms dealing “investment fund” featured in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, of which GHW Bush, the Saudi royal family, and, at one time, the Bin Laden family, are all equity partners.
The Foundation structure is used by these organizations to funnel corporate and personal wealth into the policy-making process. Foundations are tax-free, and contributions to foundations are deductible from federal corporate and individual income taxes. The Foundations themselves are not subject to federal income taxation, and they control hundreds of billions of dollars of money that would normally go to pay these necessary taxes.
Feldman asks, “Are the interests of the people being served by ‘dissidents’ who are being subsidized by the agencies of the ruling class whom they should be exposing? What does this say about the motivations behind the Left establishment’s ideological warfare against conspiracy researchers, and their adoption of an increasingly watered-down analytical view which fails to look closely at the inner power structures and conspiracies of the ruling elite?”
Many of these “dissidents” Feldman describes are members of the UFPJ Steering Committee, and he specifically cites prominent peace activist Medea Benjamin, and Leslie Cagan, the renowned anti-nuke activist who is now UFPJ’s National Director.
Disproportionate Influence and a Profound Conflict of Interest
Medea Benjamin and Kevin Danaher co-founded the international human rights organization Global Exchange 17 years ago. In that time they have been consistently clear and outspoken with their views on war and Neoliberalism–more commonly known as corporate globalization. Because of their combined intellectual acuity and renowned fearlessness, Benjamin’s media savvy, and the access they have been granted through some of their more prominent benefactors such as the MacArthur Foundation and billionaire financier George Soros, they have come to command a high level of visibility in progressive politics.
Benjamin has fast made a name for herself as a leading figure in the “anti-war movement” with well-publicized media stunts at the Republican and Democratic Conventions, disruptions of FCC and Congressional hearings, and frequent trips to the Middle East to showcase the suffering of the Iraqi and Afghani people. She also benefits from her proximity to well-known “progressive” leaders, celebrities, and journalists. Alongside her Code Pink Women for Peace, and Danaher’s Green Festivals, Global Exchange has come to command a significant market share in the larger peace and justice community, reaping enormous “street cred” within the activist world.
Benjamin also wields a disproportionate amount of weight within the Green Party of the United States, having run for Senator of California on their ticket in 2000, and within the anti-war umbrella group United for Peace and Justice, where she sits on their Steering Committee and is arguably their most influential member. As testament, Benjamin and her Global Exchange/Code Pink cadre were the authors of three of the five proposals passed by UFPJ at the February Assembly.
But during the 2004 Presidential campaign, Benjamin’s message and tone began to shift dramatically into what came to be known as the “ABB” movement–Anybody But Bush. She and eighty fellow prominent leaders who once formed the one hundred-thirteen member “Nader 2000 Citizens Committee” put forth a petition urging anti-war Nader not to run, and instead threw their support behind pro-war Democratic Party candidate John Kerry. At the Green Party National Convention in Milwaukee last June Benjamin campaigned heavily for “safe-state” candidate David Cobb, who was also unabashedly ABB and even initially pledged not to run in swing states, though he now denies it. Benjamin cajoled Greens into neither nominating Nader nor giving him the official endorsement he and running mate Peter Camejo had publicly sought from the party.
The pro and con arguments of ABB have been argued exhaustively, and many do not find the issue relevant any longer. But they are relevant when considering just how UFPJ became ABB and has since found itself embroiled in partisan politics working to attack exclusively the Bush Administration and their competing Neoconservative movement, despite the fact that American war policy is a bipartisan program.
Leslie Cagan’s Pacifica Foundation is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which was recently taken over by what has been described as a “Right Wing coup”), the Rockefeller-funded Working Assets group, and the ubiquitous George Soros. Like PBS, the Pacifica Network recently went through a takeover drama where a cabal of Board members attempted to sell the station off to center-mainstream corporate interests. Cagan is also reportedly connected to the right-wing Ford Foundation, which funnels money to her through a Lesbian advocacy group known as Astraea.
Peace Action, which describes itself as “the nation’s largest grassroots peace group” that “gets results,” is funded in part by a Working Assets grant. Both Peace Action and Working Assets gave UFPJ a combined total of $45,000 for their 2003 operating budget (the last year UFPJ published their financial statements, something they are required by law to do annually). UFPJ also received a $151,000 grant from the Funding Exchange, a network of social justice foundations throughout the United States that gives money to progressive organizations.
What outrages many of those within the activist community who are aware of these funding sources is that these so-called “dissidents” would consent to take money from these foundations given the long and voluminous history they have as part of the war-making establishment.
In his book Trading with the Enemy, Charles Hingham documents how both the Rockefeller and Ford fortunes were enhanced in part through collaboration with Nazi Germany, the Rockefellers by selling the Nazis oil through the Standard Oil Company, and the Fords by selling the Nazis tanks through subsidiary corporations (note: the only industrial infrastructure spared in the Allied bombing of Germany was the Ford Motors plant near Cologne). Both Standard Oil (eventually Amoco) and the Ford Motor Co. made huge profits from Defense contracts following WWII. Since 1950 a Rockefeller has held a prominent leadership position in the Council on Foreign Relations, and David Rockefeller was cofounder of the Trilateral Commission. Both organizations helped craft the “Carter Doctrine” of the late 1970s which stated that the US would heretofore intervene militarily to protect its oil supply from the Middle East.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has been the historical driving force behind such bedrock institutions of corporate globalization as the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Word Trade Organization, and NATO, and which Esquire magazine referred to in 1962 as “that part of the Establishment that guides our destiny as a nation.” In 1950, the Chicago Tribune published a story on the CFR in which they stated, “[the members] have used the prestige that their wealth, their social position, and their education have given them to lead their country towards bankruptcy and military debacle. They should look at their hands. There is blood on them.
Here Shaw wraps up his piercing inquiry into the ongoing dysfunction and self-censorship of the ostensible leaders of the “anti-war left.” Whether dissecting the dark ironic roots of major “progressive” icons’ funding or their blithe “lesser evil” boosting of corporatist Dems, he exposes troubling motives for both their 9/11 phobia and aversion to looking behind the curtain at how the show is really run. Let us hope this brave little home team truthout inspires many more of us to move beyond muzzled leaders and reclaim the power of fearless dissent.