[DEBATE] : Beyond Both Foreign Foundation Funding and Fundingmentalism

Peter Waterman p.waterman at inter.nl.net
Tue Oct 3 19:35:37 BST 2006

This is a response to the piece below on 'Ford Foundation, Cold War, and 
World Social Forum', originally published by the Communist Party of India 
(Marxist-Leninist) and reproduced by the WSFDiscussList 

1. I welcome this piece in so far as it draws attention to the funding of 
the World Social Forum. This phenomenon is, after all, not simply a 
political and/or cultural event, it also has a political economy (which, as 
a discipline, concerns itself with relationship between power and money 
under capitalism). It is somewhat embarassing for the WSF, its friends and 
even those who critique it, that the evidence and argument below comes from 
Maoists in India. I can only hope that  it will lead the WSF, its friends 
and critics to respond at appropriate length.

2. I have myself previously drawn attention to the problem of such funding 
dependency, both in relation to the WSF itself and to NGOs/civil 
society/social movements in the South more generally.

Funding from great Northern foundations, from state-funded 'development 
cooperation', and even from publicly-funded charities in the North, 
inevitably carries within itself a patron-client (if feminist, a 
matron-client?) relationship. It may present itself as 'solidarity', and 
even be seen by recipients as such, but, if so, it is a one-way, top-down, 
'substitution' solidarity in which the 
rich/powerful/knowing/guilty/responsible party transfers resources to the 
poor/weak/naive/innocent/heroic/responsible party (feel free to choose the 
adjectives). On the Northern Left it has often been accompanied by the Myth 
of the Revolutionary Savage.

I do not for a moment consider that in the absence of such funding there 
would be no new social movements in the South - or more widely. But these 
would clearly be a different kind of such, forced to depend on support from 
below. This was the typical situation of social movements and organisations 
in Europe in the 19th century. It is already some time ago that a Northern 
funding agency officer said to me: 'I don't really think the WSF should be 
relying on bodies like ours: we are here to keep things as they are'.

3. 'Fundingmentalism' is my neologism for the notion that there is a 
totally-determined relationship between the funder and the funded. In the 
common tongue, 'The man who pays the piper, calls the tune'. This is a 
foundational (no pun necessarily intended) or fundamentalist belief. It 
assumes that there is no contradiction - or even free play - at either end 
(or fundingmentalists might allow for a few exceptions that prove the rule).

Even a limited understanding of the dialectical notion of contradiction, or 
even the 'law of unintended circumstances', would however require one to 
carry out an investigation at both ends of the funding relationship. So 
would the notion of hegemony which, I believe, recognises the extent to 
which this is dependent upon popular legitimation (i.e. capitalist hegemony 
would not work if it did not continually adapt itself to anti-capitalist 
consciousness and action; nor would patriarchal hegemony if it did not 
adjust itself to feminist theory and women's protest).

The implication is that one needs to abandon authoritative, simplistic and 
deterministic assumptions in favour of investigation, analysis, argument 
and, of course, dialogue. And not only in this case.

Furthermore, one should apply the second orientation to the 

For example, James Petras - cited below as an intellectual (and who 
certainly considers himself an Organic One of the Rebellious Masses being 
misled by Foreign Funded NGOs), has been, for most of his life, dependent on 
academic institutions that are clearly part of the ideological apparatus of 
the major imperialist state. Did he not benefit, in terms of funding, power 
and prestige, from imperialism?

Now in so far as I am not a fundingmentalist, I am not required to assume 
that there was a one-to-one relationship between the two parties involved. 
Nor that his Marxism-Leninism-Petrasism is an imperialist ideology to 
mislead the Southern masses. I could, for example, simply make the initial 
assumption that he is so attached to his long-held faith, and/or so 
self-righteous, that he cannot adjust these to dramatically new conditions 
of hegemony and resistance. And that it is therefore easier for him to fall 
back (rather, continue) his economic determinism than to investigate to what 
extent, in this case, hegemonic funding determines either popular 
consciousness and action or funded intermediaries.

There is, incidentally, an at least explicit corollary to fundingmentalism - 
that the unfunded or those who refuse funding are the true revolutionaries. 
Maybe yes, maybe no. Petras has contrasted the organic intellectuals in the 
mountains of Latin America in the 1970s with the institutional intellectuals 
of the NGOs in the cities of the 1980s-90s.

However, the absence of Ford Funding does not necessarily a revolutionary 
make. Amongst those who prominently lacked Northern funding have been 
Mahatma Gandhi and Che Guevara, but also the fundamentalist Marxists of the 
Khmer Rouge, the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the self-appointed 
Presidente Gonzalo of the Shining Path in Peru. The latter, indeed, did not, 
like the author of the following piece, or James Petras, CRITICISE the 
foreign-funded, the NGO activists, or those attempting to build a resilient 
and democratic civil society, he simply had them gunned down - in one 
notorious case in front of her own children.

Once again, I welcome Taimur Rahman's argument. I regret both its premises, 
its dismissal of the Karachi WSF, and its aspiration to return the present 
global social movement, foreign funded though it may sometimes be, back to 
an archaic faith. Fortunately, however, life is both richer than doctrine 
and infiinitely more complex. To understand and advance a global wave of 
social protest that owes little or anything to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, I 
think he is going to need an infinitely more sophisticated understanding and 
a lot more evidence.

In the meantime he should feel free to publish this critique in the Maoist 
publication in which it first appeared, and to provide me with his response.

Peter Waterman

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Madhuresh" <madhuresh at cacim.net>
To: "WSFDiscuss List" <WorldSocialForum-Discuss at openspaceforum.net>
Sent: Tuesday, October 03, 2006 6:31 PM
Subject: [WSF-Discuss] Fw: Ford Foundation, Cold War, and World Social Forum

| > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
| > http://www.cpiml.in/061011.htm
| > Ford Foundation, Cold War, and World Social Forum
| > Taimur rahman
| >
| > Most people are of the opinion that the World Social Forum held in 
| > March 2006 was a one-off event. Like most events in the political life 
| > Pakistan , our public has come to expect that two months down the line 
| > one will even care to remember what the fuss was all about. Aside from 
| > fact that such thinking becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, such 
| > historical and political amnesia is obviously also unfavourable to the
| > development of an intellectual tradition built on a degree of 
| > The fact that the organizers of the World Social Forum (WSF) in Karachi
| > are
| > keen to see their efforts continue, itself calls for still greater 
| > on
| > the issue not merely of the WSF but of 'civil society' and NGOs as well.
| >
| > Even before the World Social Forum came to the backwaters of Pakistan ,
| > one
| > had often heard in passing, mostly in an accusatory tone, that the 
| > process was funded by organizations such as the Ford Foundation. Not 
| > to believing gossip, especially political gossip, I decided see for 
| > the veracity of these claims.
| >
| > On the website of the Ford Foundation (http://www.fordfound.org) one can
| > find information about some of the major grants made by the foundation 
| > various organizations around the world and a quick search with respect 
| > the 'World Social Forum' revealed the following results. The Ford
| > Foundation
| > gave a grant of $ 500,000 to the Brazilian Association of NGOs "for the
| > 2003
| > World Social Forum, where civil society organizations develop social and
| > economic alternatives to current patterns of globalization, based on 
| > rights and sustainable development." In the same year the Foundation 
| > a
| > grant of $ 153,000 to Canadian based Internews Interactive, Inc. in 
| > to
| > "bridge Initiative on Globalization", that is the provision of a 
| > means of communication between participants at the WSF and the World
| > Economic Forum. The following year the Foundation gave a grant of $
| > 600,000
| > once again to the Brazilian Association of NGOs "for the International
| > Council of the World Social Forum to develop and implement a learning
| > agenda
| > and evaluation process". And in order to strengthen ".participation of
| > marginalized communities in the World Social Forum process" in 2004, the
| > Ford Foundation gave $ 92,850 to a Thailand-based organization Focus on
| > the
| > Global South. Further, to provide "general support to plan and market 
| > first World Social Forum, create an online virtual forum and develop its
| > institutional infrastructure", the Foundation gave the World Culture 
| > Corporation based in New York a grant of $ 700,000 in 2004. And last, to
| > publish "a collection of essays discussing the eleven thematic terrains 
| > the World Social Forum", the Foundation gave a grant of $ 60,000 in 2005
| > to
| > the Alliance of Independent Publishers based in France . ....... 
| > the expenditures on the polycentric World Social Forum (one of which was
| > held in Karachi) are yet to be published on the foundation's website,
| > given
| > the fact that there is no equivalent organization in Pakistan with the
| > manpower to substitute the funding provided by the Ford Foundation, it 
| > fair to assume that the Forum held in Karachi also received assistance
| > from
| > the Ford Foundation.
| >
| > This incomplete total, which does not include either the expenditures on
| > the
| > last forum nor the vast amount of funds provided by the Ford Foundation 
| > NGOs around the world on a regular basis, alone brings the official 
| > up
| > to $ 2,105,850. Why would the Ford Foundation be interested in spending
| > two
| > million dollars on developing alternatives to capitalist globalization 
| > building "another world"? The answer is provided by intellectuals such 
| > James Petras and Joan Roelofs.
| >
| > Petras alleges that, "The CIA uses philanthropic foundations as the most
| > effective conduit to channel large sums of money to Agency projects
| > without
| > alerting the recipients to their source" (
| > http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/FordFandCIA.html). He contends that 
| > 1976 US Congressional investigation showed that "nearly 50 percent of 
| > 700 grants in the field of international activities by the principal
| > foundations were funded by the CIA" (Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the
| > Cultural Cold War, Frances Stonor Saunders, Granta Books, 1999, pp.
| > 134-135). Richard Bissell, who became President of the Ford Foundation 
| > 1952, had an extremely intimate relationship with the head of the CIA,
| > Allen
| > Dulles. Bissell and Dulles shared the vision of global US hegemony that
| > could only be established in the context of a victory over communist,
| > socialist, and national liberation movements. In fact, in 1954 when
| > Bissell
| > left Ford Foundation, he became a 'special assistant' to Allen Dulles.
| >
| > But Bissell's departure did not mean a severing of ties with the CIA. 
| > next president of Ford Foundation, Mr. John McCloy, was just as much a 
| > of the US establishment. Before joining the Ford Foundation, McCloy had
| > been
| > Assistant Secretary of War, president of the World Bank, High 
| > of occupied Germany , chairman of Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan Bank, 
| > Street attorney for the big seven oil companies and director of numerous
| > corporations. In fact, McCloy institutionalized the relationship between
| > the
| > Ford Foundation and the CIA by creating an 'administrative unit' within
| > the
| > Foundation specifically to deal with the CIA and personally headed a 
| > person consultation committee with the CIA. Whatever the original
| > intentions
| > of the creators of the Ford Foundation, the Cold War had transformed 
| > once purely charitable organization into an organization of the Cold War
| > with the objective of countering the ideological influence of
| > revolutionary
| > movements.
| >
| > Similarly Joan Roelofs in her book Foundations and Public Policy charges
| > the
| > Ford Foundation with having financed the counter-insurgency operation in
| > several countries, most notably in Indonesia , which resulted in 
| > the worst massacre since Hitler. In a much  publicised and ground 
| > article "The NED, NGOs and the Imperial Uses of Philanthropy" (
| > http://www.counterpunch.org/roelofs05132006.html) she contends that 
| > society's 'democratization' always includes ".an open door to foreign
| > capital, labour contracts, resource extraction, and military training."
| > Directly attacking the World Social Forum, which she considers to be 
| > peak of international NGOs", she concludes that global philanthropy is
| > part
| > of the system of ideological hegemony and therefore that the ideals of
| > democracy, justice, or equality are not attainable by such means or
| > through
| > such organizations.
| >
| > Given that the Ford Foundation has an investment portfolio of some $
| > 10.5billion annually, about half of which is given out in grants, and
| > given also
| > the history and deep connections of this organization in Cold War
| > politics,
| > unless the process of the World Social Forum can extricate itself from 
| > enormous network of Western 'philanthropy', its activity is destined
| > merely
| > to reproduce the world that already exists: A world in which three 
| > people live below the international poverty line.
| >
| > [The writer is currently teaching at LUMS]
| >
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