Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power

Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power

Inderjeet Parmar

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 0231146299

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Inderjeet Parmar reveals the complex interrelations, shared mindsets, and collaborative efforts of influential public and private organizations in the building of American hegemony. Focusing on the involvement of the Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie foundations in U.S. foreign affairs, Parmar traces the transformation of America from an "isolationist" nation into the world's only superpower, all in the name of benevolent stewardship.

Parmar begins in the 1920s with the establishment of these foundations and their system of top-down, elitist, scientific giving, which focused more on managing social, political, and economic change than on solving modern society's structural problems. Consulting rare documents and other archival materials, he recounts how the American intellectuals, academics, and policy makers affiliated with these organizations institutionalized such elitism, which then bled into the machinery of U.S. foreign policy and became regarded as the essence of modernity.

America hoped to replace Britain in the role of global hegemon and created the necessary political, ideological, military, and institutional capacity to do so, yet far from being objective, the Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie foundations often advanced U.S. interests at the expense of other nations. Incorporating case studies of American philanthropy in Nigeria, Chile, and Indonesia, Parmar boldly exposes the knowledge networks underwriting American dominance in the twentieth century.



















of an institution—it could continue anywhere, just as academic refugees from Europe had managed in the 1930s. Peter Bell summed it up: they were no longer “institution building” but trying to maintain “social science in and of itself.”141 As William Carmichael noted at the end of one conference session, Ford investments in Latin American social science were historically so strong that they would, of themselves, generate new outcomes in regard to postcoup Chile. There were indeed grounds for

1945, Application for funds, W. H. Mallory (CFR) to J. H. Willits (RF), 15 January 1945. 67. The group included the economists Alvin Hansen and Jacob Viner, the historians W. L. Langer and James Shotwell, and the lawyers and businessmen John Foster Dulles and Norman Davis. 68. Shoup and Minter, Imperial Brain Trust, 120–122. 69. W. G. Bundy, The Council on Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs (New York: CFR, 1994), 22. 70. Shoup and Minter, Imperial Brain Trust; G. William Domhoff, The Power

constitute part of a more representative and accountable “pluralistic” global civil society that plugs the “democratic deficit,” a claim challenged by new research. The chapter structure of the book aims systematically to address the issues above: chapter 2 examines the historical origins and aims, sociology, and worldview of the foundations’ leadership groups, considering the case for the foundations being central components of an East Coast foreign policy Establishment. Chapter 3 covers the

Scholarship in the United States, 1850–1975 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008), 26. 24. Mark T. Berger, Under Northern Eyes: Latin American Studies and U.S. Hegemony in the Americas, 1898–1990 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), 2. 25. Delpar, Looking South, ix. 26. Berger, Under Northern Eyes, 173. 27. Delpar, Looking South, ix. 28. Ibid., xi. Between 1945 and 1959, there was a definite lull in federal and foundation interest in Latin America; the Cuban revolution

and ethnic politics and that American planners had exacerbated the tensions of Nigeria through enriching a “new class” of “gatekeepers” that benefitted enormously and disproportionately from Western aid and markets.4 In the long run, American aid and modernization strategies delivered little by way of benefits to the mass of Nigerians but did a great deal to build and maintain pro-American elite networks, mindsets, and agendas—and an economy and polity increasingly undermined by corruption, deep

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