Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Long Leash:
Avant-Garde Culture as "Propaganda Asset"

Take a look at this article from The Independent, on the "long leash" of the CIA's Propaganda Assets Inventory.

"It was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world."

Besides confirming that Althusser pegged it with the concept of the "ideological state apparatus," this article is a reminder that:

1) The CIA -- the one that gave us coups, assassinations and torture, as well as Jackson Pollock -- was run by Ivy League-educated liberals, and

2) Much more than we like to think, we are the manipulated subjects of1 a system in which, even when you think you're singing that cool, cutting-edge, outlaw song, you're still dancing to someone else's tune.

Revealed: how the spy agency used unwitting artists such as Pollock and de Kooning in a cultural Cold War 
By Frances Stonor Saunders  The Independent, Sunday 22 October 1995
For decades in art circles it was either a rumour or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art - including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko - as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince - except that it acted secretly - the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years... 

1"Manipulated subject of" is a phrase from Herman Melville's great novella, "Benito Cereno." Phrase and story are perfectly apt here.

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