Part 4 – The final stage of the Machiavellian elites’ takeover of America
From Trotsky to Burnham, from Burnham to Machiavelli and Machiavelli to neoconservatism, the circle of British imperialism closes
The recent assertion by the Trump White House that Damascus and Moscow released “false narratives” to mislead the world about the April 4 Sarin gas attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria is a dangerous next step in the “fake news” propaganda war launched in the final days of the Obama administration. It is a step whose deep roots in Communist Trotsky’s Fourth International must be understood before deciding whether American democracy can be reclaimed.
Muddying the waters of accountability in a way not seen since Senator Joe McCarthy at the height of the Red Scare in the 1950s, the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act” signed into law without fanfare by Obama in December 2016 officially authorized a government censorship bureaucracy comparable only to George Orwell’s fictional Ministry of Truth in his novel 1984. Referred to as “The Global Engagement Center,” the official purpose of this new bureaucracy is to “recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.” The real purpose of this Orwellian nightmare is to cook the books on anything that challenges Washington’s neoconservative pro war narrative and to intimidate, harass or jail anyone who tries. As has already been demonstrated by President Trump’s firing of Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian government airbase, it is a recipe for a world war and like it or not, that war has already begun.
This latest attack on Russia’s supposed false narrative takes us right back to 1953 and the beginnings of the cultural war between East and West. Its roots are tied to the Congress for Cultural Freedom, to James Burnham’s pivot from Trotsky’s Fourth International to right-wing conservatism and to the rise of the neoconservative Machiavellians as a political force. As James Burnham’s The Struggle for the World stressed, the Third World War had already begun with the 1944 Communist-led Greek sailors’ revolt. In Burnham’s Manichean thinking the West was under siege. George Kennan’s Cold War policy of containment was no different than Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement. Détente with the Soviet Union amounted to surrender. Peace was only a disguise for war and that war would be fought with politics, subversion, terrorism and psychological warfare. Soviet influence had to be rolled back wherever possible. That meant subverting the Soviet Union and its proxies and when necessary, subverting Western democracies as well.
The true irony of today’s late stage efforts by Washington to monopolize “truth” and attack alternate narratives isn’t just in its blatant contempt for genuine free speech. The real irony is that the entire “Freedom Manifesto” employed by the United States and Britain since World War II was never free at all; but a concoction of the CIA’s Psychological Strategy Board’s (PSB) comprehensive psychological warfare program waged on friend and foe alike.
The CIA would come to view the entire program beginning with the 1950 Berlin conference to be a landmark in the Cold War not just for solidifying the CIA’s control over the non-Communist left and the West’s “free” intellectuals, but for enabling the CIA to secretly disenfranchise Europeans and Americans from their own political culture in such a way they would never really know it.
As historian Christopher Lasch wrote in 1969 of the CIA’s cooptation of the American left, “The modern state… is an engine of propaganda, alternately manufacturing crises and claiming to be the only instrument that can effectively deal with them. This propaganda, in order to be successful, demands the cooperation of writers, teachers, and artists not as paid propagandists or state-censored time-servers but as ‘free’ intellectuals capable of policing their own jurisdictions and of enforcing acceptable standards of responsibility within the various intellectual professions.”
Key to turning these “free” intellectuals against their own interests was the CIA’s doctrinal program for Western cultural transformation contained in the document PSB D-33/2. PSB D-33/2 foretells of a “long-term intellectual movement, to: break down world-wide doctrinaire thought patterns” while “creating confusion, doubt and loss of confidence” in order to “weaken objectively the intellectual appeal of neutralism and to predispose its adherents towards the spirit of the West;” to “predispose local elites to the philosophy held by the planners,” while employing local elites “would help to disguise the American origin of the effort so that it appears to be a native development.”
While declaring itself as an antidote to Communist totalitarianism, one internal critic of the Program, PSB officer Charles Burton Marshall, viewed PSB D-33/2 itself as frighteningly totalitarian, interposing “a wide doctrinal system” that “accepts uniformity as a substitute for diversity,” embracing “all fields of human thought – all fields of intellectual interests, from anthropology and artistic creations to sociology and scientific methodology;” concluding, “That is just about as totalitarian as one can get.”
Burnham’s Machiavellian elitism lurks in every shadow of the document. As recounted in Frances Stoner Saunder’s The Cultural Cold War, “Marshall also took issue with the PSB’s reliance on ‘non-rational social theories’ which emphasized the role of an elite ‘in the manner reminiscent of Pareto, Sorel, Mussolini and so on.’ Weren’t these the models used by James Burnham in his book the Machiavellians? Perhaps there was a copy usefully to hand when PSB D-33/2 was being drafted. More likely, James Burnham himself was usefully to hand.”
Burnham was more than just at hand when it came to secretly implanting a fascist philosophy of extreme elitism into America’s Cold War orthodoxy. With The Machiavellians, Burnham had composed the manual that forged the old Trotskyist left together with a right-wing Anglo/American elite. The political offspring of that volatile union would be called neoconservatism whose overt mission would be to roll back Russian/Soviet influence everywhere. Its covert mission would be to reassert a British cultural dominance over the emerging Anglo/American Empire and maintain it through propaganda.
Hard at work on that task since 1946 was the secret Information Research Department of the British and Commonwealth Foreign Office known as the IRD.
Rarely spoken of in the context of CIA-funded secret operations, the IRD served as a covert anti-Communist propaganda unit from 1946 until 1977. According to Paul Lashmar and James Oliver, authors of Britain’s Secret Propaganda War, “the vast IRD enterprise had one sole aim: To spread its ceaseless propaganda output (i.e. a mixture of outright lies and distorted facts) among top-ranking journalists who worked for major agencies and magazines, including Reuters and the BBC, as well as every other available channel. It worked abroad to discredit communist parties in Western Europe which might gain a share of power by entirely democratic means, and at home to discredit the British Left”.
IRD was to become a self-fulfilling disinformation machine for the far-right-wing of the international intelligence elite, at once offering fabricated and distorted information to “independent” news outlets and then using the laundered story as “proof” of the false story’s validity. One such front enterprise established with CIA money was Forum World Features, operated at one time by Burnham acolyte Brian Rossiter Crozier. Described by Burnham’s biographer Daniel Kelly as a “British political analyst” in reality the legendary Brian Crozier functioned for over fifty years as one of Britain’s top propagandists and secret agents.
If anyone today is shocked by the biased, one-sided, xenophobic rush to judgement alleging Russian influence over the 2016 presidential election, they need look no further than to Brian Crozier’s closet for the blueprints. As we were told outright by an American military officer during the first war in Afghanistan in 1982, the U.S. didn’t need “proof the Soviets used poison gas” and they don’t need proof against Russia now. Crozier might best be described as a daydream believer, a dangerous imperialist who acts out his dreams with open eyes. From the beginning of the Cold War until his death in 2012 Crozier and his protégé Robert Moss propagandized on behalf of military dictators Francisco Franco and Augusto Pinochet, organized private intelligence organizations to destabilize governments in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Africa and worked to delegitimize politicians in Europe and Britain viewed as insufficiently anti-Communist. The mandate of his Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC) set up in 1970 was to expose the supposed KGB campaign of worldwide subversion and put out stories smearing anyone who questioned it as a dupe, a traitor or Communist spy. Crozier regarded The Machiavellians as a major formative influence in his own intellectual development, and wrote in 1976 “indeed it was this book above all others that first taught me how [emphasis Crozier] to think about politics”. The key to Crozier’s thinking was Burnham’s distinction between the “formal” meaning of political speech and the “real”, a concept which was of course grasped only by elites. In a 1976 article Crozier marveled at how Burnham’s understanding of politics had spanned 600 years and how the use of “the formal” to conceal “the real” was no different today than when used by Dante Alighieri’s “presumably enlightened Medieval mind.” “The point is as valid now as it was in ancient times and in the Florentine Middle Ages, or in 1943. Overwhelmingly, political writers and speakers still use Dante’s method. Depending on the degree of obfuscation required (either by circumstances or the person’s character), the divorce between formal and real meaning is more of less absolute.”
But Crozier was more than just a strategic thinker. Crozier was a high level covert political agent who put Burnham’s talent for obfuscation and his Fourth International experience to use to undermine détente and set the stage for rolling back the Soviet Union.
In a secret meeting at a City of London bank in February 1977 he even patented a private sector operational intelligence organization known at the 6th International (6I) to pick up where Burnham left off; politicizing and of course privatizing many of the dirty tricks the CIA and other intelligence services could no longer be caught doing. As he explained in his memoir Free Agent, the name 6I was chosen “Because the Fourth International split. The Fourth International was the Trotskyist one, and when it split, this meant that, on paper there were five Internationals. In the numbers game, we would constitute the Sixth International, or ‘6I’”.
Croziers cooperation with numerous “able and diligent Congressional staffers” as well as “the remarkable General Vernon (‘Dick’) Walters, recently retired as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence,..” cemented the rise of the neoconservatives. When Carter caved in to the Team B and his neoconservative National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s plot to lure the Soviets and into their own Vietnam in Afghanistan it fulfilled Burnham’s mission and delivered the world to the Machiavellians without anyone being the wiser. As George Orwell wrote in his Second Thoughts on James Burnham, “What Burnham is mainly concerned to show [in The Machiavellians] is that a democratic society has never existed and, so far as we can see, never will exist. Society is of its nature oligarchical, and the power of the oligarchy always rests upon force and fraud… Power can sometimes be won and maintained without violence, but never without fraud.”
Today Burnham’s use of Dante’s political Treatise, De Monarchia to explain his Medieval understanding of politics might best be swapped for Dante’s Divine Comedy, a paranoid comedy of errors in which the door to hell swings open to one and all, including the elites regardless of their status. Or as they say in Hell, Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate. Abandon hope all ye who enter here.
Copyright © 2017 Fitzgerald & Gould All rights reserved
The odd, psychologically conflicted and politically divisive ideology referred to as Neoconservatism can claim many godfathers. Irving Kristol, father of William Kristol, Albert Wohlstetter, Daniel Bell, Norman Podhoretz and Sidney Hook come to mind and there are many others. But in both theory and its practice the title of founding-father of the neoconservative agenda of endless warfare that rules the thinking of America’s defense and foreign policies today might best be applied to James Burnham.
His writings in the 1930s provided a refined Oxford intellectual’s gloss to the Socialist Workers party and as a close advisor to Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his Fourth International he learned the tactics and strategies of infiltration and political subversion first hand. Burnham reveled in his role as a “Trotskyist intellectual” pulling dirty tricks on his political foes in competing Marxist movements by turning their loyalties and looting their best talent.
Burnham renounced his allegiance to Trotsky and Marxism in all its forms in1940 but he would take their tactics and strategies for infiltration and subversion with him and would turn their method of dialectical materialism against them. His 1941book The Managerial Revolution would bring him fame and fortune and establish him as an astute, if not exactly accurate political prophet chronicling the rise of a new class of technocratic elite. His next book The Machiavellians would confirm his movement away from Marxist idealism to a very cynical and often cruel realism with his belief in the inevitable failure of democracy and the rise of the oligarch. In 1943 he would put it all to use in a memo for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services the OSS in which his Trotskyist anti-Stalinism would find its way into the agency’s thinking. And in his 1947 book The Struggle for the World, Burnham would expand his confrontational/adversarial dialectic toward the Soviet Union into a permanent, apocalyptic policy of endless war. By 1947 James Burnham’s transformation from Communist radical to New World Order American conservative was complete. His Struggle for the World had done a French Turn on Trotsky’s permanent Communist revolution and turned it into a permanent battle plan for a global American empire. All that was needed to complete Burnham’s dialectic was a permanent enemy and that would require a sophisticated psychological campaign to keep the hatred of Russia alive for generations.
The rise of the Machiavellians
In 1939 Sidney Hook, Burnham’s colleague at NYU and fellow Marxist philosopher had helped to found an anti-Stalinist Committee for Cultural Freedom as part of a campaign against Moscow. During the war Hook too had abandoned Marxism and like Burnham somehow found himself in the warm embrace of the right-wing of America’s intelligence community during and after World War II. Hook was viewed by the Communist Party as a traitor and “counter-revolutionary reptile” for his activities and by 1942 was informing on his fellow comrades to the FBI.
Selling impoverished and dispossessed European elites on the virtues of American culture was essential to building America’s empire after the war and Burnham’s early writings proved the inspiration from which a new counter-culture of “Freedom” would be built. As veterans of internecine Trotskyist warfare both Burnham and Hook were practiced at the arts of infiltration and subversion and with Burnham’s The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom as their blueprint they set out to color anything the Soviets did or said with dark intent.
As Burnham articulated clearly in his Machiavellians, his version of Freedom meant anything but intellectual freedom or those freedoms defined by America’s Constitution. What it really meant was conformity and submission. Burnham’s Freedom only applied to those intellectuals (the Machiavellians) willing to tell people the hard truth about the unpopular political realities they faced. These were the realities that would usher in a brave new world of the managerial class who would set about denying Americans the very democracy they thought they already owned. As Orwell observed about Burnham’s Machiavellian beliefs in his 1946 Second Thoughts, “Power can sometimes be won or maintained without violence, but never without fraud, because it is necessary to use the masses...”
By 1949 the CIA was actively in the business of defrauding the masses by secretly supporting the so called non-Communist left and behaving as if it was just a spontaneous outgrowth of a free society. By turning the left to the service of its expanding empire the CIA was applying a French Turn of its own by picking the best and the brightest and the creation of the National Security State in 1947 institutionalized it. Assisted by Britain’s Information Research Department the IRD, the CIA recruited key former Soviet disinformation agents trained before the war who had managed non-Communist front groups for Moscow and put them to work. As Frances Stoner Saunders writes in her book, The Cultural Cold War, “these former propagandists for the Soviets were recycled, bleached of the stain of Communism, embraced by government strategists who saw in their conversion an irresistible opportunity to sabotage the Soviet propaganda machine which they had once oiled.”
By its own admission the CIA’s strategy of promoting the non-Communist left would become the theoretical foundation of the Agency’s political operations against Communism for over the next two decades. But the no holds barred cultural war against Soviet Communism began in earnest in March 1949 when a group of 800 prominent literary and artistic figures gathered at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel for a Soviet sponsored “Cultural and Scientific” conference that would sue for peace. Both Sydney Hook and James Burnham were already actively involved in enlisting recruits to counter Moscow’s Communist Information Bureau’s (Cominform) efforts to influence Western Opinion. But the Waldorf conference gave them an opportunity for dirty tricks they could only have prayed for.
Demonstrators organized by a right-wing coalition of Catholic groups and the American legion heckled the guests as they arrived. Catholic nuns knelt in prayer for the souls of the Communist atheists in attendance. Gathered upstairs in a tenth floor bridal suite a gang of ex-Trotskyists and Communists led by Hook intercepted the conference’s mail, doctored official press releases and published pamphlets challenging speakers to admit their Communist past.
In the end the entire conference became a twisted theatre of the absurd and Hook and Burnham would use it to sell Frank Wisner at the CIA’s Office of Policy Coordination on taking the show on the road.
The Congress for Cultural Freedom: By Hook or by Crook
Drawing on the untapped power of the Fourth International, the coming out party came on June 26, 1950 at the Titania Palace in occupied Berlin. Named for Hook’s 1939 concept for a cultural committee, The Congress for Cultural Freedom’s fourteen-point “Freedom Manifesto” was to identify the West with freedom. And since everything about the West was said to be free, free, free then it went without saying everything about the Soviet Union wasn’t.
Organized by Burnham and Hook, the American delegation represented a who’s who of America’s post war intellectuals. Tickets to Berlin were paid for by Wisner’s Office of Policy Coordination through front organizations as well as the Department of State which helped arrange travel, expenses and publicity. According to CIA Historian Michael Warner the conference’s sponsor’s considered it money well spent with one Defense Department representative calling it “unconventional warfare at its best.”
Burnham functioned as a critical connection between Wisner’s office and the intelligentsia moving from the extreme left to the extreme right with ease. Burnham found the Congress to be a place to inveigh not just against Communism but against the non-communist left as well and left many wondering whether his views weren’t as dangerous to liberal democracy as Communism. According to Frances Stoner Saunders, members of the British delegation found the rhetoric coming out of the Congress to be a deeply troubling sign of things to come. “Hugh Trevor-Roper was appalled by the provocative tone… ‘There was a speech by Franz Borkenau which was very violent and indeed almost hysterical. He spoke in German and I regret to say that as I listened and I heard the baying voices of approval from the huge audiences, I felt, well, these are the same people who seven years ago were probably baying in the same way to similar German denunciations of Communism coming from Dr. Goebbels in the Sports Palast. And I felt, well, what sort of people are we identifying with? That was the greatest shock to me. There was a moment during the Congress when I felt that we were being invited to summon up Beelzebub in order to defeat Stalin.’”
The Congress for Cultural Freedom didn’t need Beelzebub, it already had him in the form of Burnham, Hook and Wisner and by 1952 the party was just getting started. Burnham worked overtime for Wisner legitimizing the Congress as a platform for the Machiavellians alongside ex-Communists and even Nazis, including SS General Reinhard Gehlen and his German Army intelligence unit which had been brought into the CIA after the war, intact. E. Howard Hunt, Watergate “plumber” famous as a CIA dirty trickster remembered Burnham in his memoirs, “Burnham was a consultant to OPC on virtually every subject of interest to our organization... He had extensive contacts in Europe and, by virtue of his Trotskyite background, was something of an authority on domestic and foreign Communist parties and front organizations.”
In 1953 Burnham was called upon again by Wisner to reach beyond Communism to help overthrow the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh in Teheran apparently because Wisner thought the plan needed “a touch of Machiavelli.” But Burnham’s greatest contribution as a Machiavellian was yet to come. His book The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom would become the CIA’s manual for displacing Western culture with an alternative doctrine for endless conflict in a world of oligarchs and in the end open the gates to an Inferno from which there would be no return.
Join us next as we reach beyond Soviet Communism and into the creation of a sophisticated doctrinal campaign that would neutralize any political opposition (Communist or not) to the “planners” designs and make the world safe for the rise of the Machiavellian elite.
Copyright © 2017 Fitzgerald & Gould All rights reserved