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An Unholy Alliance

by Phil Kelly
from The Leveller #52 (1981)


THE POLICE have had great success in the US, and now they've made a down-home 'thank y'all' gesture to the system that has kept the west safe, so far, for free enterprise (including the rock music industry). £50,000 of their hard-earned royalties have been channelled into Encounter magazine, a ponderous right-wing literary journal that has fallen on hard times (and has been appealing for money from its supporters almost as much as The Leveller).

Time was when Encounter had more money than it knew what to do with. These were the heady days of the 1950s and 60s when the CIA could slush funds into cold war European organisations with impunity.

Things have changed since the labour movement in Britain, and elsewhere, realised that all this money wasn't exactly being used to promote policies that most of the left wanted, and since the CIA and its stooges came under a healthy scrutiny even back home.

But now they're changing again. After decade on the losing side, the 'cold war liberals' - in British parlance, 'social democrats' - are able to come out again, thanks to the rightward swing of the consensus on both sides of the Atlantic.

Encounter is not noted as a youth culture paper. For The Police - whose very name was an authoritarian reaction to the anarchic handles of the punk bands - it doesn't directly promote their interest, but indirectly. Perhaps it's just that the group's manager, Miles Copeland, and drummer, his brother Stewart, are sons of a CIA agent, also called Miles Copeland, one who, since retiring, has spoken out about the Agency, though not, regrettably, in the manner of Philip Agee, but for the other side.

The cold war liberals might have lost the Labour Party, but they're still staging a comeback - not just through the Council for Social Democracy, but through the revival of the old CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom, which originally ran Encounter, as the Committee for a Free World. It's a mighty tangled web, the network of right-wingers around the social democrats, but Phil Kelly has a go at sorting it out.

WHEN THE Council for Social Democracy made its Parliamentary debut in the defence debate on February 25, a reporter on Independent Radio News expressed amazement that 'they seemed to the right of the Liberals.'

That's no surprise at all. There's nothing politically new about this clique of centrists. Dress them up with opinion polls or media hype as much as you like, and they're still the same gang of Gaitskellite 'Atlanticists', the American-controlled lobby that channelled foundation-fulls of money into the British labour movement in the 50s and 60s to keep it safe for capital. The input came from that vile alliance of CIA, American labor, the State Department and the right wing of the Democrat Party.

At the same time that Labour was splitting, these cold war ghouls were reviving their Euro front organisation, the Committee for a Free World, launched in London at a press reception in February. Resting their cocktail glasses on rather portlier tummies was the same cast as before. It was like a rerun of a 2O-year-old episode of 'Coronation Street': the faces are more lined, but the lines remain the same.

One of the central characters now distinctly overweight is Stephen Haseler, founder of the Social Democratic Alliance, the vanguard split from Labour, expelled last year for threatening to run candidates against it, a threat now to be fulfilled, in the GLC elections in May. Now that others have 'come out' the SDA hopes to be the organisationa! core of the planned social democrat party.

Haseler works for the US National Strategy Information Center (NSIC) founded in 1962 by William J Casey now appointed by Reagan to head the CIA. NSIC is a pressure group for militant anti-communism and is at the centre of a vast network of front organisations. One of its main activities, Casey told the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on his CIA appointment, has been the buiIding of academic respectability for the practice of intelligence. It has helped to sponsor more than 200 professorial chairs and teaching posts in US universities and colleges devoted to teaching and researching intelligence.

NSIC provided some of the cash used by journalist and CIA contract employee Brian Crosier to transform his news agency foorum World Features, a CIA front organisation into the Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC). Haseler works for the NSIC's 'left face', the Advisory Committee on European Democracy and Security (ACEDS), which published his book, Eurocommunism. Co-author of the work was NSIC's Dr Roy Godson, director of the International Labor Programme at Georgetown University in Washington DC. This institution has been a centre of cold war sentiment among US intellectuals, and many of itsstaff now find themselves in the Reagan administration. According to Haseler and Godson, Eurocommunism is nothing more than a Soviet ploy to detach western Europe from the U.S. without a war.

The same theme articulated by (among others) Henry Kissinger and David Owen, has been faithfully echoed in the Labour and Trade Union Press Service, a duplicated bulletin issued to trade union papers by the Labour Committee for Transatlantic Understanding (LCTU). The press service is 100 percent subsidised by NATO. It was started by a former US Labor Attache in London, Joseph Godson, who also works at Georgetown University and happens to be Roy Godson's dad. Three leading right-wing US trade unionists who are vice-chairmen of the LCTU are also members of the ACEDS. British members of the LCTU include Owen, Rogers, Tom Bradley (another renegade Labour MP) and EEPTU leader Frank Chapple.

The US trade union movement has declined seriously since the second world war - about 25 percent of workers were unionised in 1955 (when the AFL-CIO was founded), but this had dropped to 19 percent by 1977, and only 13 percent were then in unions affiliated to the AFL-CIO, the rough equivalent of the TUC. The decline has been a direct result of the AFL-CIO's anti-communist 'business union' policies, directed towards the destruction of rank and file militancy and relying instead on collaboration with employers and the expansion of the economy through massive military spending. The AFL-CIO has at the same time been one of the principal methods through which successive US governments have imposed their policies abroad, particularly on western and third world labour movements.

One of the more successful political interventions backed by the NSIC has been the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), a grouping of academics, politicans and retired military and intelligence personnel. Many CPD members have been 'cold war liberals' - mostly Democrats supporting civil rights at home but violently anti-communist everywhere; it's exactly the same formula as that behind the CSD in Britain. The nomination of George McGovern as Democratic Candidate in 1972 on a 'stop the Vietnam war' platform sparked the Democratic right into a counter-attack, which grew into the CPD in 1976.

The CPD had the backing of the right-wing think tanks among them the NSIC. It was one of the central institutions of the 'new right', preaching monetarist economics, aggressive and interventionist foreign policies, and a return to 'traditional moral and social values', all of which contributed to the swing to the right under Carter and set the stage for the election of Reagan.

In particular it helped push the Carter administration righrwards on a whole range of foreign policy issues.and its members were responsible for the change in the official assessments of Soviet military strength and intentions which formed the basis for the US bullying NATO members into increasing military spending by 3 per cent a year.

Now this new right is organising internationally again, through the Committee for a Free World (CFW). Its executive director is Midge Decter, a leading CPD member and the author of the anti-feminist tract, 'The New Chastity and Other Arguments Against Women's Liberation'.

The founding statement of the CFW, released at that London press do (chaired by Lord Chalfont) pledged to spread greater understanding of the policies of the western alliance, for 'the struggle for freedom may not in the end be won or lost on battlefields, but in books, newspapers, broadcasts, classrooms and in all public institutions where the determination to remain free is enhanced or undermined'.

Decter said the idea for the CFW originated at an Isreali government-sponsored conference on terrorism in 1979. Her husband, Norman Podhoretz,also a member of CPD and CFW, is editor of 'Commentary', the organ of the American Jewish community, which, like 'Encounter' was closely associated with the now-defunct Congress for Cultural Freedom,the major US post-war cultural intervention~ The CCF collapsed in 1967 when it was revealed that its main source of income had been the CIA, through dummy foundations.

The editor of 'Encounter', Melvin Lasky, is another director of the CFW. He denies it is a reincarnation of the CCF: the difference, he says, is that the CFW confines its membership to the US, Europe and Israel, while the CCF had sought to attract third world intellectuals, which 'fudged' the organisation's anti-communism. The CFW, he says, is 'a committee for the First World, if you like'.

CFW's British membership is as hoary a catalogue of reactionaries as you could wish not to meet, and the alliance with far-right right-wingers, many of them even off the Thatcherite Tory scale, says a lot about the social democrats' 'moderation. There is Sir James Goldsmith, Professor Julius Gould (author of the two ISC reports on the 'Marxist infiltration of higher education'), Paul Johnson (Thatcher-loving former editor of the 'New Statesman'), Richard Hoggart (recently deposed as chairman of that magazine), Robert Moss (the CIA's Man in the Media, fanatical anti-communist columnist in the 'Daily Telegraph' and Goldsmith's 'Now" contributor to Forum World Features and the ISC, and council member of the Freedom Association, formerly of course the NAFF) and his media colleague Peregrine Worsthorne. Rubbing shoulders with this lot are ...Haseler, SDA co-founder and co-expellee Douglas Eden, renegade Labour MPs Mike Thomas and Neville Sandelson, and, of course, without whom no such list can be complete, Frank Chapple.

ISC director Professor Hugh Seton Watson was a speaker at the launch, and one of the major sources of the CFW's income, apart from rock bands run by the offspring of CIA agents, is the Scaife Foundation, the Gulf Oil family trust headed by Richnrd Mellon Scaife, who had provided the CIA's cover for Forum World Features.

It's a right nasty cesspit the social democrats are in. History is repeating itself; the tragedy of the 50s and 60s was the CCF, for which the late Anthony Crosland, 'ideological mentor' of the new splitters, was a full-time worker, and whose seminars were attended by all the leading right-wingers, including Gaitskell.

When the Labour left persuaded the party conference to support unilateral disarmament in 1960, the right organised the Campaign for Democratic Socialism to reverse the decision, and of course succeeded. The CDS employed full-time organisers to work in constituency parties and the unions. Organising secretary was William Rodgers. To this day he has never satisfactorily answered questions on the sources of the cash.

At the same time the CIA was funding the International Student Conference (another ISC!), and the British National Union of Students was a prominent supporter. The funding was eventually exposed, and the ISC fell apart as third world student unions left in droves The NUS stuck to the last, its executive members denying everything until they could do so no more. Among them were Mike Thomas and Ian Wrigglesworth, both now CSD MPs.

The repeated farce of the 1980s is the CSD. But while the CDS was successful, the CSD is a discredited rump. The Labour Party now is better placed and organised to see through and fight their participation in such covert activity on behalf of US imperialism.


Cold War: Introduction