The Mask of Pluralism
By Joan Roelofs (2003)
A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances, in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society. To this section belong the economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organizers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind.
- Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto
Antonio Gramsci's theory of hegemony suggests a conceptual framework useful for understanding foundations. Gramsci, an Italian socialist imprisoned by the Fascists, argued that any political system, such as democratic capitalism, is maintained in two ways. The more obvious is the political realm, or "the state," which controls through force and laws. It is complemented by subtle but overarching system maintenance performed by "civil society," or the private realm, which produces consent without the resort to force.
These two levels correspond on the one hand to the function of "hegemony" which the dominant group exercises throughout society and on the other hand to that of "direct domination" or command exercised through the State and "Juridical" government. The functions in question are precisely organisational [sic] and connective.
The intellectuals are the dominant group's "deputies" exercising the subaltern functions of social hegemony and political government. 1
Gramsci's category of "intellectual" is a broad one; he maintained that all men [sic] were intellectuals, although they do not all perform that function in society. Those who did included artists and scholars, the clergy, teachers, journalists, political party and other activists, engineers, administrators, doctors, lawyers, social workers, and professional reformers. Gramsci did not discuss foundations; there were few in the Italy of his day, although there were corporate grants for ameliorative projects. The Catholic Church was the dominant structure in the Italian nongovernmental world.
To elaborate on Gramsci, in the modern foundation we find the domain of intellectuals par excellence. Furthermore, a central group of liberal foundations exerts "hegemonic" power over civil society, including all of these intellectuals and their institutions, and it has a large role in shaping governmental policies. Hegemony now operates on a global scale, facilitating the globalization of both political and civil society.
Gramsci meant by "the dominant group" what is generally called "the ruling class," or the owners of major productive resources. Intellectuals act on their behalf, whether or not they are members of "ruling class" families. System maintenance, according to Robert Michels, requires attractive positions for ruling class scions not needed to direct industry. 2 Political systems are most secure when all educated, artistic, and ambitious people can find interesting, well-rewarded work; the defection of intellectuals is the chief destabilizing factor. 3
Foundations provide an institutional basis for the hegemonic function. They appear distant from their corporate origins and support, so they may claim a neutral image. Unlike universities, they are not hobbled by disciplinary traditions or professional qualifications, so they can include anyone and can fund all kinds of projects.
Incorporation of the restless and cheeky is one function of our vast "third" or nonprofit sector. Michels thought that government employment would do the trick, but nongovernment employment is even better as a stabilizer, for reasons we will see later. Marx and Engels probably never imagined that whether or not reformers fixed anything, capitalism would be solidified by their operations. Nonprofits are a reliable source of employment that does not build up the unsettling pile of surplus manufactured goods.
Hegemonic institutions elicit consent by the production and dissemination of ideology that appears to be merely common sense. Deviations from the central myths are considered "extremism," "paranoia," "utopianism," "self-defeating dogmatism," and the like. Dissent is thereby neutralized, often ridiculed, but dissenters are welcomed and may be transformed. Raymond Williams observed that hegemonic control is so invincible because it is a dynamic process, creatively incorporating emergent trends. 4
Intellectuals are attracted to these institutions because they offer prestige, power, perks, and/or social mobility; access to resources needed for their own creations or the "good work" they are doing; and legitimation. Technological changes have upped the ante for doing most anything, whether artistic, scholarly, or activist; consequently, control of resources becomes even more influential.
We also may understand foundations using the power elite theory of C. Wright Mills, later developed and empirically supported by G. William Domhoff and others. Domhoff argues that the corporate community dominates the federal government, local governments, and all significant policymaking institutions.
The corporate rich and the growth entrepreneurs supplement their small numbers by developing and directing a wide variety of nonprofit organizations, the most important of which are a set of tax-free charitable foundations, think tanks, and policy- discussion groups. These specialized nonprofit groups constitute a policy-formation network at the national level (emphasis in the original). 5
What we will see in the following pages is how corporate-created institutions not only dominate but also tend to supplant governmental ones, local to international. Today there is no replay of the heated debate in our early Republic, when all corporations, including "voluntary associations," often were regarded as a threat to democracy. 6
Domhoff identifies the power elite as the leadership group in society. However, it is not coextensive with the "corporate rich."
The concept of a power elite makes clear that not all members of the upper class are involved in governance; some of them simply enjoy the lifestyle that their great wealth affords them. At the same time, the focus on a leadership group allows for the fact that not all those in the power elite are members of the upper class; many of them are high-level employees in profit and nonprofit organizations controlled by the corporate rich.... The power elite, in other words, is based in both ownership and in organizational positions. 7
My studies also have been guided and inspired by educational theorist Robert Arnove's anthology, Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism, and its contributors. 8 Arnove maintains that
... [F]oundations like Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford have a corrosive influence on a democratic society; they represent relatively unregulated and unaccountable concentrations of power and wealth which buy talent, promote causes, and, in effect, establish an agenda of what merits society's attention. They serve as "cooling out" agencies, delaying and preventing more radical, structural change. 9
The scholars in the Arnove book are sociologists or educational theorists; there are no political scientists. Their research provides detailed evidence for their theories and serves as a fine model for political science scholarship. Yet foundations, and most of the nonprofit sector, are largely ignored by political scientists, except for studies of parties and pressure groups, or the administration of public welfare by private agencies. 10
One prominent political scientist who argues for a "Power elite" interpretation of US. politics is Thomas Dye. 11 From him, I have learned a great deal; his evidence is compelling. However, he is not especially critical of elite dominance and barely discusses the elite's international activities. This is a serious omission, because the "cultural imperialism" described by Amove and others refers both to the hegemony over US. society and the more common understanding of imperialism earth-circling ideas and institutions that facilitate political, economic, and military domination.
Historians Barry Karl and Stanley Katz acknowledge and document the vast power of the foundations, both in providing essential services to the polity, such as planning, and in training elites for efficient and enlightened leadership.
The creation of the modem foundation and its legitimation as a national system of social reform -- a privately supported system operating in lieu of a governmental system -- carried the United States through a crucial period of its development the first third of the twentieth century. 12
They generally approve of these interventions and do not probe the contradictions to both "free enterprise" and democratic theory implied by the need for extra-constitutional planners.
Resource mobilization theory has illuminated the fate of social change movements -- why they live, grow, die, or are transformed. Resources are crucial for all forms of political action, far beyond the campaign and lobbying funding emphasized in "money in politics" studies. Sociologist J. Craig Jenkins, who takes particular notice of foundations, states
The foundations have been political "gatekeepers," funding the movement initiatives that were successfully translated into public policy and institutional reforms. In the process, they have also selected the new organizations that became permanent features of the political landscape. 13
This applies as well to foundation funding of political parties, governmental factions, and overthrow movements. Although illegal in the United States, such grants are considered quite proper when foreigners are recipients.
Zbigniew Brzezinski is a political scientist as well as a preeminent figure in our national security establishment. His works are particularly useful in understanding the "globalization of hegemony." He observes that, "Cultural domination has been an underappreciated facet of American global power."" Brzezinski long ago predicted that communism would be defeated not by the force of atomic bombs but by the politics of knowledge (and information technology), which would transform "professional elites," Meanwhile, the We of U. S. mass culture culture would convert all others. 15
As the imitation of American ways gradually pervades the world, it mass a more congenial setting for the exercise of the indirect and seemingly consensual American hegemony. And as in the case of the domestic American system, that hegemony involves a complex structure of interlocking institutions and procedures, designed to generate consensus and obscure asymmetries in power and influence. 16
Of course, Brzezinski believes this hegemony to be an excellent thing, the only alternative to "international anarchy." 16 However, he fears that "America's global power" will not last
A genuinely populist democracy has never before attained international supremacy. The pursuit of power and especially the economic costs and human sacrifice that the exercise of such power often requires are not generally congenial to democratic instincts. Democratization is inimical to imperial mobilization. 18
Whether one views cultural imperialism as salutary or destructive clearly depends on one's value system and/or position in society. There may be broader agreement that at least from a scholarly perspective, the invisible must be made visible.
Social Change Organizations
Mr. Rockefeller could find no better insurance for his hundreds of millions than to invest one of them in subsidizing all agencies that make for social change and progress.
- Frank Walsh, "The Great Foundations"
Philanthropy suggests yet another explanation for the decline of the 1960s' and 1970s' protest movements. Radical activism often was transformed by grants and technical assistance from liberal foundations into fragmented and local organizations subject to elite control. Energies were channeled into safe, legalistic, bureaucratic and, occasionally, profit-making activities. The pluralist view of the U.S. political system maintains that democracy is vindicated through the interest group process. Aggrieved minorities have simply to organize and put pressure on the system through lobbying, influencing public opinion, and electoral work. By forming coalitions and compromising, they most likely will gain some of their demands, at which point they can continue to work for further action.
Critics of the pluralist interpretation of U.S. politics argue that the system is not, as it is claimed, open to all interests, for the powerless rarely organize. They are deterred by lack of resources, the demands of everyday life, the rational calculation of cost and benefits, a culture of passivity, and/or a hegemonic ideology that prevents them from even recognizing their grievances. 1 Furthermore, they may have no way of knowing others similarly situated, as there are no mailing lists of poor defendants or abused children. In the rare cases when organizations of the powerless arise, their demands may never appear on me political agenda; alternatively, their few apparent victories often are "symbolic" only. 2 In the interest group process, as well as all others that contribute to policy determination, elite groups win whenever it is important to them. 3 On the national or local level, "business" is not just another group but part of the governing system. 4
Those who criticize pluralist theory often note that organizations of the disadvantaged are rare and generally weak, yet they assume that such groups are autonomous in origin and development. Studies in resource mobilization theory suggest that, on the contrary, an organization's initiation and destiny are heavily dependent on resources. These may be mustered from membership, conscience constituency, corporations, unions, churches, foundations, and/or government. 5 Nevertheless, most social scientists view both the universe of groups and the universe of patrons in a highly individualistic, atomistic light. [I]t is claimed that much that appears to be "pluralism" often is merely a mask. Citizen and grassroots groups are far less autonomous than is generally assumed and often are subject to elite control in their goals, structure, and activities.
Furthermore, their actual and potential sponsors are not an inde- pendent collection of "banks," each seeking to make an "investment" in a cause for its own idiosyncratic reasons. Support for citizen groups largely has been provided by an interlocking elite group of liberal foundations. Groups may begin with few outside resources, but those that survive tend to seek grants. In recent years, activists also have been supported by religious organizations and "alternative" foundations that attempt to promote radical change; these will be considered in the second half of this chapter. However, the liberal foundations exert strong influence on the entire universe of social movement donors, including not only the radical ones but also conservative and corporate funders.
These foundations and their allies want change to occur. As Progressives, they strive for rationalization, centralization, and bureaucratization in public policies. They have promoted many reforms to reduce threats to capitalism arising from our archaic and local traditions, such as segregation, police brutality, and dumping raw sewage into rivers. Their reformism contrasts with the right wing of the elite, which may stubbornly attempt to prevent all change. Nevertheless this does not put them on the "left," as they do not defer to the democratic process.
It sometimes is necessary to create "grassroots" organizations to generate adequate political pressure for change, or to overpower competing initiatives. Earlier Progressives helped destroy mass- based political organizations through city charter revision requiring "at-large" instead of "ward-based" city council elections. In a similar way, today's social engineers promote only the activism that they can control. A Ford Foundation executive has said
[W]e may feel that public policy is neither well formed nor well carried out, in which cases we try to support responsible critics despite the risk that they and the government may perceive each other as adversaries. We sometimes have supported institutions and individuals in an adversary role (especially as they employ litigation and other active means short of lobbying and political campaigning) when we felt the public interest would be served. 6
When an organization such as Ford, with assets of approximately $15 billion, decides to throw its weight behind one cause rather than another, it is no small distortion of democracy. 7 This steering prevents threatening alternatives from appearing on the serious political agenda. Those who see our travails arising from corporate power and wealth gradually are excluded from political discourse; they are labeled "irresponsible," "unrealistic," and "unfundable." The kind of organization favored by foundations, the professional reform organization, is initiated, managed, and supported by elites and approaches "social problems not in terms of a political conflict of interests, but as amenable to the application of social-science knowledge and expertise." 8 A further instrument of control arises from the form that grant making assumes, for example, providing support for specific projects rather than organizational infrastructure.
One way that the liberal foundations can exercise hegemony in the philanthropy world is through peak organizations such as the Council on Foundations and Independent Sector. Alternative funders such as churches, unions, and social change foundations are tempted to join this resource-rich and legitimating mainstream. Co-funding, by alternative and liberal foundations, buys "a piece of the action." 9 For example, the Funding Exchange (a coalition of alternative foundations) received a $95,000 grant from the Ford Foundation for women's travel to the Nairobi United Nations Conference on Women. 10
A relatively new development is corporate foundation sponsorship of activist groups. In the past, corporate philanthropy had been closely tied to either public relations (e.g., donating a skating rink to a city) or the propaganda needs of a particular industry (e.g., health institutes set up by tobacco companies). Today corporations are collaborating with liberal foundations to fund projects designed to save capitalism in general. They give grants to citizen organizations, neighborhood activists, and institutions such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non- Violent Social Change. Frank Koch, a publicist for the Syntex Corporation (birth control pills), stated
An exciting new partnership is waiting to be established -- a partnership among thousands of corporations all over the country and the hundreds of thousands of non-profit organizations, mostly operating on a community level, that have shown energy and initiative in dealing with pressing social problems. 11
He later explained how his company gained influence with organizations concerned with family planning and women's health issues by financing and organizing workshops on women and health and suggesting speakers on birth control and related issues.
As might be expected, large institutions can easily dominate fledgling organizations led by volunteers. A foundation providing only 10 percent of a group's budget can nevertheless exert decisive control (as a minority shareholder of a corporation might), especially if the funds are for new initiatives. "Grassroots" organizations may have a considerable portion of their budget supplied by foundations, sometimes by a single one. Beginning in the late 1960s, both the ACLU and the NAACP-LDEF received crucial support from foundations. 12
Grants are not the only way organizations are controlled; "technical assistance" is provided through centers, conferences, consultants, and publications (all financed by the liberal foundations). Unfunded groups also can be influenced as they design their projects and structure their organizations to qualify for grants. Even if they fail to receive any, groups may nevertheless proceed with other resources. Of course, organizations that do not seek grants may be able to retain their independence as long as they are self-funding.
Sponsors may influence citizen organizations' choice of leaders. The boards of citizen groups sometimes include foundation personnel and, in any case, must be attentive to sponsors' interests. Funding has created and sustained a universe of overlapping and competing social change organizations, resulting in the fragmentation of protest. Multiculturalism as an ideology reinforces this atomization. There is a well-observed tendency in the United States toward a multiplicity of associations; nevertheless, funding practices can encourage or discourage consolidation. In addition, "grassroots" organizations created by foundations add to the confusion. It is to the elite's advantage to be countered by a "mass movement" consisting of fragmented, segmented, local, and nonideological bureaucracies doing good works and, furthermore, being dependent on foundations for support. Diverse organizations emphasize differences among the disadvantaged ethnic, racial, sexual, rural-urban, or age, and they discourage a broad left recognizing common interests.
Why support such organizations at all? Might it not be better if only the elite and its supporters were organized and the disaffected deprived of resources? This is not an optimal solution, for several reasons. First, the disadvantaged might organize anyway using their own resources, thereby making elite control difficult. Second, the existence of poor people's organizations legitimates the political system, even more so as they can obtain both material and symbolic benefits. The "trilateralists" warned that too much participation may stress democracies. 13 On the other hand, political withdrawal where there is considerable discontent can have a destabilizing effect. 14 Third, leaders of these groups, considered former or potential troublemakers, have status, salaried positions, and opportunities to be co-opted into government and private bureaucracies. There develops a mutual interest in the existence of many well-funded organizations. Much time and energy must be devoted to fund-raising and organizational maintenance, while goals both recede and become more aligned with the funders' ideology. Repeated interactions between activists and foundation executives, especially on elegant turf, can in itself create mellowing. Finally, elite sponsors see organizations as containment vessels. They fear violence because of the 1960s' protests and the persistence both in the United States and internationally of the oppressions that ignited them.
In 1969, McGeorge Bundy, president of the Ford Foundation, testified at a congressional hearing on foundations. He was asked why Ford supported radical organizations. He replied
[T]here is a very important proposition here that for institutions and organizations which are young and which are not fully shaped as to their direction it can make a great deal of difference as to the degree and way in which they develop if when they have a responsible and constructive proposal they can find support for it. If they cannot find such support, those within the organization who may be tempted to move in paths of disruption, discord and even violence, may be confirmed in their view that American society doesn't care about their needs. On the other hand, if they do have a good project constructively put forward, and they run it responsibly and they get help for it and it works, then those who feel that that kind of activity makes sense may be encouraged. 15
We can see this pattern of patronage in the decline of the New Left and the associated radical protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s. This included the Students for a Democratic Society, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Black Panther Party, Chicano and American Indian militants, the anti-Vietnam War coalition, poor people's organizations, confrontationalstyle neighborhood groups, environmental activists, and radical groups in health care and other professions. Anticapitalist, anti-bureaucratic, and anti-imperialist ideologies were pervasive in these movements, although many activists were nondoctrinaire, and heterodoxy prevailed.
The observers and scholars of these movements have noted the decline in radicalism in general as well as the demise of particular groups. 16 Explanations are legion. Sidney Tarrow indicates that there are "cycles of contention"; here we seek some specific mechanisms. 17 For example, some point out that there were internal contradictions in the goals of the Students for a Democratic Society, and that it was unable to create an alliance with workers. 18 Movements, such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, that sought redemptive goals rather than pragmatic gains found the going rough in the American political system. 19 Many of the activists were students who grew older and moved on to other things; others dropped out when they reached the stage of mortgages and babies. The harassment of activists, infiltration by informers and agents provocateurs, and other repression also took a heavy toll. 20
In order to know what political groups are thinking and doing but also to prevent momentum from developing that would make repression much more costly, the police put people inside, not simply spying, but playing an active role -- disrupting, discrediting, misdirecting, and neutralizing the state's opponents....
FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that, in the 1960s, a bogus Black liberation organization in St. Louis was used to misdirect other Black organizations in the U.S. and, interestingly, to spy on Vietnamese revolutionaries. 21
Some activists were lured into lotus-eating by drugs, wild sex, and the pleasures of consciousness transformation. For others, the conflict between making me revolution and trying to live an ordinary life was wearing. 22 Members of the elite, on the other hand, rarely experience conflict between the demands of daily life and helping to sustain the system. Commentators have emphasized the importance of the media and the availability of outside resources in the rise and decline of protest. 23 Some mention co-optation, and this win be given more attention later.
Another possibility is that the movements died because their objectives were achieved. There were some successes. The anti-war protest had been bolstered by draft opponents; its end may have reduced some activism. The military is now a high-tech opportunity arena, especially for minorities, and there is less dipping in "the big muddy." The Vietnam War ended. South Africa now has a multiracial government. Legal segregation in the United States is gone; middle-class blacks and other minorities participate in the affluent society, and minority politicians hold office on the national and local levels. Public and private institutions now hear the voices of the previously excluded (e.g., student trustees of universities, citizens' advisory boards, interveners in public utilities hearings, etc.). Women are miners, TV news anchors, and national security advisors. Environmental laws have been passed.
Yet how much has really changed? We are intervening against liberation movements and supporting dictatorships throughout the Third World. Current activities in several nations parallel aspects of our intervention in Vietnam; both counterinsurgency and "low intensity democracy" are foreign policy techniques. 24 Worldwide bombing and sanctions cause massive death and destruction and clearly violate treaty obligations, including the United Nations Charter.
Corporations, as well as government, have been shown to have poisoned and maimed workers, consumers, and communities beyond anything suspected by me radicals of the 1960s. Military bases at home, in the lands of our allies, and in our colonies are deserts of toxic pollution. Neighborhoods are being destroyed by neglect or gentrification. Poverty and degradation are rampant in urban and rural ghettos. The "Harvest of Shine" semi-slave conditions of migrant farm workers pervade every agricultural region.
Militarization has spread throughout society by "defense" contracts, the political influence of the military and retirees, limited civilian opportunities for many youths, propaganda use of the space program (especially involving schoolchildren), and the intensification of jingoistic celebrations. Inner-city and suburban youth violence is rampant, fueled by violent electronic media and handy access to guns. "Participatory" democracy and a society based on peace, love, and justice are barely aspirations any more.
The 1960s seem like almost a golden age from today's perspective! Protest activity is not a direct function of deprivation, as many scholars have discovered. 25 A decline in radicalism, in addition to the reasons cited above, may be attributed to elite manipulation and the co-optation of radical movements.
Almost all foundations serve in some way to sustain the system; here we will concentrate on the work of the large liberal foun- dations (principally, Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller) in promoting and channeling reform by funding social change organizations. For example, in its Report of 1949, the Ford Foundation pledged to use its vast resources to promote democracy and fight the challenge of communism, which could find a seedbed in "maladjusted individuals, lack of political participation and intergroup [i.e., racial] hostilities." By the late 1960s, Howard Dressner, secretary of the Ford Foundation, reiterated the role of the elite
American society is being strained a one extreme by those who would destroy what they oppose or do not understand, and at the other by forces that would repress variety and punish dissent. We are in great need of more -- not fewer -- instruments for necessary social change under law, for ready, informed response to deep-seated problems without chaos, for accommodation of a variety of views without deafening anarchy. Foundations have served as such an instrument. 26
The foundations fostered genuine reforms. The Carnegie Corporation sponsored the extensive study of U.S. race relations by Gunnar Myrdal, published as An American Dilemma; many foundations supported civil rights measures and major improvements in the criminal justice system. Policy innovations, as in the earlier period, were proposed by "buffer organizations," such as the Metropolitan Applied Research Center, or litigation firms, such as the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund. This method had the advantage of avoiding mass mobilization while engaging radical leaders in research, managerial, and legalistic activities. Foundation ideology considered radical protests as symptoms of defects in pluralism. Disadvantaged groups, such as blacks, Chicanos, women, children, and the poor, needed help obtaining their rights. Grant money and technical assistance would enable them to participate in the interest group process, and then they would no longer waste their energies in futile, disruptive actions. The poor were considered just another minority group. "Troubles" were not to be linked, and organizations and movements that found systemic causes for poverty, military intervention, racism, and environmental degradation would be ignored, transformed, or destroyed.
The universe of organizations has been influenced in a number of ways. Moderate organizations were generously funded. This gave them legitimacy as well as resources; their constituencies gained benefits, and leaders attained salaried positions. Some generally moderate groups may have had radical factions; by funding certain projects rather than others, donors threw their weight behind the more moderate tendency. Various stipulations, formal and informal, could be attached to the grant. Foundation trustees who were board members of funded organizations could keep a close eye on activities. 27
To ensure that there would be an adequate number of attractive, well-funded moderate organizations enlisted in the appropriate causes, foundations also created organizations that appeared to be of "grassroots" origin. For example, the Ford Foundation started the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Women's Law Fund, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and many others. Sometimes these "Paralleled" radical groups, such as Central American solidarity or nuclear disarmament organizations. In addition, "umbrella" organizations were created (e.g., the Youth Project, the Center for Community Change) that provided integrative services and technical assistance to the frontline groups. They emphasized that with the right managerial or legal techniques, benefits could be gained from the system.
The liberal foundations (and even some corporations) sometimes funded radical organizations as part of a transformative strategy, and they thereby muted the criticisms of the left. When they were criticized by the right for aiding these strange bedfellows, the foundation spokespeople explained how useful it was to have a "piece of the action." Bob Nichol, a consultant to foundations, advised "Prepare your boards.... You're moving into a new funding arena. These are people dealing with social change.... It is buying into a movement," which is "what America is all about." 28
Groups genuinely independent of elite control are to be feared. Consequently, Foundation News articles emphasized how important it was to co-fund projects sponsored by alternative foundations and religious organizations, and that the wildest appearing groups were essentially pragmatic. 29 Ignore their rhetoric; all they want is to obtain benefits or their "rights" from the system. 30
"Leadership training" is another project of foundations that sought to tame radical protests. Here influence was exerted not on specific organizations but on activists and potential leaders. Domestic programs paralleled foundation and CIA Cold War efforts to identify activists in the Third World, preferably at the high school level, and to capture them for our side, through conferences, scholarships, and extended stays in the United States. For example, the CIA channeled $1 million through the Kaplan Fund to an institute training political leaders for the democratic left in Costa Rica and in the Dominican Republic. 31 The Parvin Foundation, which came into the spotlight because of its questionable connection to Justice William Douglas, had a similar mission saving young Latin American activists for capitalism.
A related steering mechanism can be seen in the domestic programs that direct politically conscious young people into the appropriate forms of activity model Congresses, internships in the major parties, and even foundation-funded American Political Science Association programs. Basically, the lure of these programs is that they are well funded; "alternative" service can rarely offer comparable internships, travel, publicity, and the prospect of paid employment.
The turmoil of the 1960s increased the number and sophistication of foundation leadership programs. These sought to identify militants from various ghettos and to persuade them that responsible leadership means giving up the idea that the power structure should be changed. They must instead be taught how to obtain "tools" to improve the quality of life in their domain. Typical was the Leadership Development Program of the Ford Foundation, which spent more than $11 million between 1967 and 1975 to develop new rural leaders. 32 Generous grants allowed 700 fellows to pursue projects of their choice while acquiring the means to function better within the system (e.g., learning how to testify at congressional hearings, to apply for grants, and to use videotape to publicize their cause). Most were tamed, and after leaving the program, they found their personal careers enhanced; in addition, good works with concrete results (e.g., local clinics) did occur.
A useful discovery made by Ford was that middle-class radicals (sometimes involved in the training operations) tended to be intractable and saw "the system" and not merely the lack of tools as the enemy. 33 The program then increased its efforts to concentrate on recruits from poor backgrounds who would be initiated into the ways of the world by solid, system-supportive bureaucrats.
Since 1967, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested by foundations, corporations, and government in "Community Development Corporations" that have as one of their objectives the development of leadership in minority communities. From these programs came models of responsible leadership, demonstrating that the system works. These leaders included W. Wilson Goode, mayor of Philadelphia, Franklin Thomas, president of the Ford Foundation, and Jesse Jackson, presidential candidate. This also relates to the transformation of "black power" into black capitalism, described in chapter 4.
Elite hegemony was exercised through the foundations' technical assistance activities that affect grantees, organizations hoping for grants, and perhaps even those groups that choose to avoid foundation money. Assistance was available through peak organizations, such as the Council on Foundations, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Independent Sector, the Association of Black Foundation Executives, the New York Regional Association of Grant Makers, and Women and Foundations/Corporate Philanthropy; resource centers, such as the Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, the Foundation Center in New York, and foundation libraries located throughout the country; publications, such as Foundation News and Grantsmanship Center News; conferences sponsored by these entities; and satellite organizations created or "adopted" by foundations to aid and guide grantees (e.g., the Southern Regional Council, the Center for Community Change, the National Council of La Raza, and the Youth Project). In addition, individual foundations engage in varying amounts of technical assistance and sponsor conferences intended to be widely influential. Consultants to nonprofit and activist organizations also provide help with long-range goal setting, management, fund-raising, and the facilitation of meetings.
The techniques taught include the use of computers; fund-raising strategies; how to participate in legislative, judicial, and administrative processes of government; publicity; and building coalitions. An example of the latter follows
[T]he Ford Foundation will support activities to bring such groups together and to help them identify common concerns around which coalitions and joint efforts can be organized. For example, the Foundation may convene a planning group composed of representatives of civil rights organizations serving blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and women to develop a list of topics for discussion. Later, support may be provided for a series of meetings of these groups to discuss these topics in depth. Possible topics include occu- pational segregation, health care, political participation, and media portrayals of minorities, women, and immigrants. Foundation staff will also work with various coalition- building organizations to strengthen their effectiveness, encourage dissemination of information on common problems and crises, facilitate better coordination, and encourage joint projects. 34
Examples of the transformative process will now be examined in more detail, by looking at civil rights, poor people's, and neighborhood organizations; the process is similar for foreign policy and environmental activism. Excellent detailed studies of the latter have been made by Brian Tokar and Mark Dowie. 35
Civil Rights Organizations
Foundations and corporations have from the outset had a deep interest in the civil rights movement as well as in black higher education. They favored the NAACP, with its concentration on litigation, leadership by an elite, rejection of mass mobilization, and even invested in stocks and bonds. The litigation campaign that led to the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 was aided both by the Carnegie Corporation's underwriting of Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma and by Ford Foundation support of the NAACP.
The growth of mass-based black protest in the postwar period created a problem for the elite, partly because there were communist ideas and organizers in the movement. 36 Activists were relating the liberation of blacks in the United States to the anti-imperialist movements of the Third World. The Communist Party line was that blacks were a "semicolony" in the United States; their deliverance would come not through integration but by joining the revolution spreading throughout the colonial world. These ideas even gained some currency within the NAACP; there were purges and repression during the McCarthy era to extirpate this virus. W. E. B. du Bois was expelled from the NAACP not only for his hostility to its capitalist sponsorship but also for supporting a petition to the United Nations condemning U.S. racism as a threat to international peace. 37
There were close connections between the Rockefeller philanthropies and Martin Luther King Sr., but the rise of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Black Panthers portended movements independent of elite control. In the late 1960s, the combination of militant mobilization, protests, and riots in the ghettos spurred the foundation world into a more active role. The "black power" slogan, which emerged from the SNCC, was perceived as both enormously threatening and capable of deflection into harmless channels. Under the leadership of the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, the National Urban Coalition was created in 1967 to transform "black power" into black capitalism. Foundations donated $15.6 million in 1970 to moderate black organizations, mostly to the National Man League, the NAACP, the NAACP-LDEF, and the Southern Regional Council. 38 In contrast, the total outside support of the SNCC was $25,000, and by 1972, the SNCC had disappeared. There were internal weaknesses; on the other hand, competing, well-funded, rival organizations reduced the pool of potential members.
CORE, an organization with strength in the northern ghettos, was the most radical group to receive significant funding. They endorsed the "black power" slogan; however, CORE leaders were amenable to interpretations that were not threatening to the elite. 39 The Ford Foundation's $175,000 voter registration grant to Cleveland CORE in 1967 helped elect Carl Stokes, the first black mayor of a major Northern city. Stokes then initiated job training programs for dropouts and encouraged black-owned local businesses. "Black power" was becoming increasingly acceptable to major American corporations, which financed black power conferences in Newark in 1967 and in Philadelphia in 1968. 40
The SCLC, founded in 1957, received income both from church contributions and from elite funding, especially through the Rockefeller philanthropies, which had a close connection to M. L. King Sr. Despite its direct action tactics, the SCLC often was regarded as moderate by elites because of its religious connection, its philosophy of nonviolence, and its integrationist goals. The increased militancy and radicalism of M. L. King Jr. in the late 1960s were accompanied by a steady decline in the SCLC's outside income. 41 King had taken the forbidden step of linking the plight of the poor, black and white, with the struggle against unjust economic institutions, the Vietnam War, and the immiseration of people in the Third World.
After King's assassination, elites set about to sanitize his memory. In 1968, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change was established in Atlanta.
Its principal goal is to preserve and advance his unfinished work through teaching, interpreting, advocating, and promoting, nonviolently, the elimination of poverty, racism, violence and war in quest of the Beloved Community. The King Center envisions itself as being an agent for nonviolent social change.
Its responsibilities, therefore, are catalytic in nature and made operational through research, development and testing of model or pilot programs which can impact upon improving the quality of life for all people. As a catalyst, the King Center focuses its resources and capacities on the provision of extensive training and educational services involving the dynamics of interpersonal, intergroup and interracial relations. 42
The Center was financed by the liberal foundations as well as by the corporate foundations of Ford Motor Company (which contributed $1 million for its establishment), Atlantic Richfield, Levi Strauss, Xerox, Amoco, General Motors, John Deere, Heublein, Corning, Mobil, Western Electric, Proctor and Gamble, U.S. Steel, Monsanto, Johnson & Johnson, Morgan Guaranty Trust, Union Pacific, and Johnson~s Wax. 43 It is officially a "complex" that has been declared a national historic district with National Park Service tours. Coretta Scott King, its first president, had a staff of sixty-two and an operating budget of $2 million. The Center maintains the King Library and Archives of the civil rights movement, a conference center, and a gift shop. Programs include a day care center, basic skills training for youth and adults, workshops on conflict resolution, cultural performances, housing rehabilitation, voter education, information on how to celebrate Dr. King's birthday, and similar innocuous fare. "The King Center's approach is to utilize the existing human service delivery systems of government and the private sector in carrying out its mission." 44 Two of its projects reflect a selective memory of King
The King Center works closely with the United States Department of Defense, the Armed Forces Chaplain's Board and others, on a variety of programs including its Chaplain's Program. The Center works directly with military chaplains on interracial, interpersonal, human relations and conflict resolution programs. The Center, through the Chaplain's Program, jointly sponsors King Week Birthday Observance services at hundreds of military installations in the United States and overseas and provides technical support as requested. 45
The King Center co-sponsors with the University of Georgia an annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture Series entitled, "The Free Enterprise System An Agent for Nonviolent Social Change." The series provides representatives of the nation's basic institutions with a platform from which to respond to the needs of a nation undergoing rapid change and a world coming to grips with its destiny. The aim of the series is to translate thought into action and to improve the lives of all members of society. The lecture series began in 1983 and is now entering its second year of presentation. 46
Meanwhile, other civil rights organizations, including the SCLC itself, found themselves in the shade of this dazzling complex. "Much of the criticism within the civil rights movement comes from leaders who say the center has monopolized resources that could have been spread among other organizations. This feeling is particularly strong within the Southern Christian Leadership Conference." 47
Foundations also supported redistricting, voter education, and registration projects to encourage the election of moderate black officials. These often were financed through the Southern Regional Council, which received large grants from the Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie foundations. Political office enabled leaders to distribute genuine benefits to followers (e.g., in public services, jobs, health care, day care centers, etc.). There also were significant nonmaterial benefits, such as more respectful treatment of black citizens. Black officeholders served to legitimate the system while providing a channel for social mobility or national prominence. For many of the less successful, employment was found in crime or the military; for the least successful, in prison industries.
There are similar stories to tell of other minority movements. The Ford Foundation created the Mexican-American LDEF, the Native American Rights Fund, and the Puerto Rican LDEF, which like all public interest law activities tend to absorb the energies of activists and focus on incremental legal and bureaucratic remedies. The Southwest Council of La Raza and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) were projects of the Ford Foundation, transforming and containing what were originally militant movements of Chicanos in the Southwest. 48 East Los Angeles was torn by riots, United Farm Workers were agitating, and similar militancy appeared in Colorado and in Texas.
Twenty years later, the grassroots activity consisted of community development activities on the Ford Foundation model housing, local capitalists, and a franchise in McDonald's, financed by Ford, corporations, and government antipoverty programs. On the national level, the NCLR acted as an advocacy organization in the traditional interest group process. It "lacked a constituency, but was supported and validated by the Ford Foundation." 49 In the process, both on the local and national levels, steady rewards were offered to "pragmatic" activists who were acceptable to the minority group as well as to the dominant society. Reasonable people such as Gilbert R. Vasquez, president of the California Board of Accountancy, served as directors. The staff of the NCLR had opportunities to move into government positions and to serve on national task forces with groups such as the League of Women Voters, the American Association of Retired Persons, and the American Bar Association.
Foundations' work with Chicanos is a good example of the promotion of "identity politics." Some have claimed that "Hispanic" identity was a product of elite social engineering
MALDEF won its first major victory on behalf of Hispanics in Serna v. Portales (1972), a case that won Spanish-speaking children in New Mexico the right to bilingual education.
MALDEF's efforts on behalf of bilingualism continued with ts support for the 1974 Supreme Court Case, Lau v. Nichols, which forced school districts to remove language barriers that prohibited linguistic minorities from fully participating in public education. Working with the Court's definition of "linguistic minorities," MALDEF and other Hispanic groups took the final steps to institutionalize an "Hispanic" identity (as opposed to an assimilated Mexican-American one) and to gain recognition for Hispanics as a federally recognized minority by amending the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
As a result of Ford Foundation money and direction, Hispanic activists had achieved the miraculous status as a federal minority that previously hadn't existed. 50
Now Hispanic activists could become absorbed in calculations regarding redistricting and proportionate shares of federal benefit programs. Elite financial activism has similarly channeled other minority groups by supporting or creating factions that focus on benefits and identity politics. The benefits have been considerable; on the other hand, in the process, militant groups have been repressed, defunded, or converted.
Excerpts from Foundations and Public Policy The Mask of Pluralism, by Joan Roelofs, SUNY Press (2003), pp 1-5, 121-134.
Notes from Chapter 1
1. Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks (New York International, 1971), 12.
2. Robert Michels, Political Parties (New York Collier, 1962), 188.
3. Crane Brinton, The Anatomy of Revolution (New York Vintage, 1958), 41.
4. Raymond Williams, "Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory," New Left Review 82 (NovemberDecember 1973) 9.
5. G. William Domhoff, Who Rules America? Power and Politics in the Year 2000, 3rd ed. (Mountain View, Calif Mayfield, 1998), 2.
6. Peter Dobkin Hall, Inventing the Nonprofit Sector (Baltimore Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 26.
7. Domhoff, Who Rules America?, 2.
8. Robert Arnove, ed., Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism (Boston G. K. Hall, 1980).
9. Arnove, Philanthropy, 1.
10. One of the few exceptions is Irene L. Gendzier, Development against Democracy.Manipulating Political Change in the Third World (Hampton, Conn. Tyrone Press, 1995).
11. Thomas R. Dye, Top Down Policymaking (New York Chatham House, 2001).
12. Barry D. Karl and Stanley N. Katz, "The American Private Philanthropic Foundation and the Public Sphere 18901930," Minerva 19 (summer 1981) 243.
13. J. Craig Jenkins, "Foundation Funding of Progressive Social Movements," in The Grant Seekers Guide, 3rd ed., ed. Jill Shellow and Nancy Stella (Mt. Kisco Moyer-Bell, 1980,11.
14. Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard (New York- Basic Books, 1997), 25.
15. Brzezinski, Between Two Ages (New York Viking, 1970), 59.
16. Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, 27.
17. Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, 195.
18. Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, 210.
Notes from Chapter 8
1. Steven Lukes, Power A Radical View (London Macmillan, 1974).
2. Murray Edelman, The Symbolic Uses of Politics (Urbana University of Illinois Press, 1964).
3. G. William Domhoff, Who Rules America?
4. Charles Lindblom, Politics and Markets (New York Basic, 1977).
5. J. Craig Jenkins, "Resource Mobilization Theory and the Study of Social Movements," Annual Review of Sociology 9 (1983) 527-53; John D. McCarthy and Mayer N. Zald, "Resource Mobilization and Social Movements A Partial Theory," American journal of Sociology 82 (1977) 1212-41; Jack Walker, "Origins and Maintenance of Interest Groups in America," American Political Science Review 77 (1983) 390-406.
6. Magat, The Ford Foundation, 83.
7. As of 9/30/00, Ford's assets were $14,659,683,000. "Top 100 U.S. Foundations by Asset Size," the Foundation Center. Accessed 12/24/01.
8. Joseph Helfgot, Professional Reforming (Lexington Lexington Books, 1981), 108.
9. Roger Williams, "All in the Family (Well Mostly)," Foundation News (July-August 1984) 42-49.
10. Ford Foundation, Letter of October 1, 1985.
11. Frank Koch, The New Corporate Philanthropy (New York Plenum, 1979), 5.
12. Robert McKay, Nine for Equality under Law Civil Rights Litigation (New York Ford Foundation, 1977), 12.
13. Michael Crozier, Samuel Huntington, and Joji Watanuki, The Crisis of Democracy (New York New York University Press, 1975), 9.
14. James Wright, The Dissent of the Governed (New York- Academic Press, 1976), 81.
15. U. S. Congress, House Committee on Ways and Means, Hearings on Tax Reform, 91st Cong. 1st Sess. 1969, 371.
16. Anthony Oberschall, "The Decline of the 1960s Social Movements," Research in Social Movements, Conflicts, and Change 1 (1978) 257-89; Doug McAdam, "The Decline of the Civil Rights Movement," in Waves of Protest Social Movements Since the Sixties, ed. Jo Freeman and Victoria Johnson (Lanham, Md. Rowman and Littlefield, 1999), 325-48; Herbert Marcuse, "The Failure of the New Left," Sociological Quarterly 18 (1979) 3-11.
17. Sidney Tarrow, Power in Movement, 2d ed. (New York Cambridge University Press, 1998), 46.
18. Wini Breines, Community and Organization in the New Left 1962-1968 (New York Praeger, 1982), 133.
19. Emily Stoper, "The SNCC -- Rise and Fall of a Redemptive Organization," Journal of Black Studies 8 (1977) 1334.
20. Oberschall, "Decline," 275; Robert J. Goldstein, Political Repression in Modern America 1870 to the Present (Cambridge, Mass. Schenkman, 1978), xvi.
21. Ken Lawrence, "The New State Repression," Covert Action Information Bulletin (summer 1985) 3-11.
22. Richard Flacks, "Making History vs. Making Life," Working Papers (summer 1974) 56-71.
23. Todd Gitlin, The Whole World Is Watching (Berkeley University of California Press, 1980), 291; Oberschall, "Decline," 281.
24. William 1. Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy Globalization, US. Intervention, and Hegemony (New York Cambridge University Press, 1996), 4.
25. Jenkins, "Resource," 527-53.
26. Howard Dressner, The Search for the Public Interest (New York Ford Foundation, 1969), 47.
27. Mary Anna C. Colwell, "Philanthropic Foundations and Public Policy The Role of Foundations," Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1980.
28. Robert Johnson, "The Community Groups Are Still There, but the Grants Aren't," Foundation News (JanuaryFebruary 1984) 36-39.
29. Roger Williams, "All in the Family (Well, Mostly)," Foundation News (July-August 1984) 42-49.
30. Robert Johnson, "How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Organization," Foundation News (May-June 1984) 33-37.
31. Ben Whitaker, The Foundations (London. Methuen, 1974), 160.
32. David Nevin, Left-handed Fastballers Scouting and Training America's Grass Roots Leaders (New York. Ford Foundation, 1981), 5.
33. Nevin, Left-handed, 66.
34. Ford Foundation, Civil Rights, Social Justice, and Black America (New York Ford Foundation, 1984), 52-53.
35. Brian Tokar, Earth for Sale (Boston South End, 1997); Mark Dowie, Losing Ground- American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century (Cambridge. MIT Press, 1996).
36. Gerald Home, Black and Red- W.E.B. Du Bois and the Afro-American Response to the Cold War, 1944-1963 (Albany State University of New York Press, 1986), 235.
37. Horne, Black and Red, 76.
38. Herbert Haines, "Black Radicalization and the Funding of Civil Rights 1957-1970," Social Problems 32 (1984) 3143.
39. August Meier and Elliot Rudwick, CORE A Study in the Civil Rights Movement 1942-1968 (New Ark Oxford University Press, 1973), 420.
40. Robert Allen, Black Awakening in Capitalist America (Garden City Doubleday, 1969), 133.
41. Haines, "Black Radicalization," 34.
42. Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change, Inc., Profile (Atlanta M. L. King Jr. Center, 1985), 1.
43. Foundation Center, Grants for Public Policy and Political Science (New York- Foundation Center, 1984).
44. M. L. King Jr. Center, Profile, 2.
45. M. L. King Jr. Center, Profile, 6.
46. M. L. King Jr. Center, Profile, 10.
47. John Herbers, "Coretta King Struggles with a Weighty Legacy," New York Times, January 18, 1986, p, 1.
48. Christine Sierra, "The Political Transformation of a Minority OrganizationCouncil of La Raza," Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University, 1983.
49. Sierra, "The Political," 269.
50. Craig L. Hymowitz, "The Birth of a Nation," American Patrol News Accessed 4/6/01.