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Richard Hofstadter and the CIA

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COMMENT: Edi­to­r­i­al and “Op-Ed” pages have long ref­er­enced Richard Hof­s­tadter’s essay “The Para­noid Style in Amer­i­can Pol­i­tics” in order to debunk any notion of con­spir­a­cies bear­ing sig­nif­i­cance for Amer­i­can polit­i­cal sci­ence.

Inter­est­ing­ly, and [per­haps] sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the CIA had much to do with the ampli­fi­ca­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion of Hof­s­tadter’s work.

The ini­tial iter­a­tion of his “Para­noid Style” essay was mint­ed in Novem­ber of 1963.

Use­ful per­spec­tive on the nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­men­t’s financ­ing of intel­lec­tu­al prod­uct was pro­vid­ed in a lit­tle-rec­og­nized por­tion of Pres­i­dent Eisen­how­er’s farewell speech on the role of the “mil­i­tary indus­tri­al com­plex” in Amer­i­can soci­ety:

1. Into the Night­mare: My Search for the Killers of John F. Kennedy and Offi­cer J.D. Tip­pit by Joseph McBride; High­tow­er Press [SC]; Copy­right 2013 by Joseph McBride; ISBN 978–1939795250; p. 188.

. . . . One of the many pre­scient obser­va­tions in Pres­i­dent Eisen­how­er’s 1961 farewell speech warn­ing about the dan­gers of the “mil­i­tary-indus­tri­al com­plex” was that “a gov­ern­ment con­tract becomes vir­tu­al­ly a sub­sti­tute for intel­lec­tu­al curios­i­ty. . . The prospect of dom­i­na­tion of the nation’s schol­ars by fed­er­al employ­ment, project allo­ca­tions, and the pow­er of mon­ey is ever present and is grave­ly to be regard­ed.” . . . .

2. Into the Night­mare: My Search for the Killers of John F. Kennedy and Offi­cer J.D. Tip­pit by Joseph McBride; High­tow­er Press [SC]; Copy­right 2013 by Joseph McBride; ISBN 978–1939795250; pp. 178; 187.

. . . . But in a strange coin­ci­dence, Hof­s­tadter first deliv­ered a ver­sion of the title essay in a talk as the Her­bert Sender Lec­ture at Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty in Novem­ber 1963. . . .

. . . . It may be coin­ci­den­tal, but Hof­s­tadter’s biog­ra­ph­er David S. Brown notes instances in the fifties and six­ties when some of the his­to­ri­an’s work was fund­ed, albeit indi­rect­ly, but the CIA. Copies of his influ­en­tial 1954 essay “The Pseu­do-Con­ser­v­a­tive Revolt,” on the dan­gers of rightwing extrem­ism and its “wide­spread lat­est hos­til­i­ty toward Amer­i­can insti­tu­tions,” and his book The Devel­op­ment of Aca­d­e­m­ic Free­dom in the Unit­ed States (with Wal­ter P. Met­zger, 1955) were dis­trib­uted by a CIA front orga­ni­za­tion, the Fund for the Repub­lic. Hof­s­tadter worked for the Amer­i­can Com­mit­tee for Cul­tur­al Free­dom, “a soci­ety of lib­er­al cold war­riors opposed to inter­na­tion­al com­mu­nism” whose par­ent orga­ni­za­tion, the Con­gress for Cul­tur­al Free­dom, was heav­i­ly fund­ed by the CIA. In the six­ties, Hof­s­tadter also wrote for Daedalus and Encounter, two pub­li­ca­tions par­tial­ly backed by the CIA. . . .


One comment for “Richard Hofstadter and the CIA”

  1. Inter­est­ing con­jec­ture and the pos­si­bil­i­ties seem real giv­en the cap­ture of acad­e­mia by the intel­li­gence net­works of this coun­try, spear­head­ed dur­ing the cold war by the CIA.

    I did want to bring to your atten­tion a book titled:

    Rad­i­cal Begin­nings: Richard Hof­s­tadter and the 1930s by Susan Stout Bak­er.

    Pub­lished in 1986, the book is an intel­lec­tu­al biog­ra­phy which tries to place Hof­s­tadter in Amer­i­can his­to­ri­og­ra­phy.

    Posted by burgerfan | December 24, 2020, 12:22 am

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