The editor of the publication to publish the first academic accusations that Mao's Great Leap Forward policies (1958-1960) resulted in the deaths of up to 30 million Chinese recently admitted that the CIA funded his publication, the China Quarterly. Roderick MacFarquhar claims he did not initially realize what was happening in a letter to the London Review of Books.
In our previous review of MacFarquhar,
this is what we said in January 2000:
Professor and department chair Roderick MacFarquhar at Harvard University has long been a key figure in the extension of the U.$. intelligence community known as "area studies" at Harvard housed at the "Center for International Affairs," and laughably abbreviated "CFIA" instead of "CIA." (The infamy has resulted in a change of name to "Weatherhead Center.") Here the most widely parroted "experts" speak on China and, in the bad old days, the "Soviet Union." The Harvard area studies committees typically make no effort to hide their usefulness to U.$. intelligence. In this case, MacFarquhar further justifies this image of Harvard's "Government Department" by being a former member of the British parliament, an MP.
Some of our lazy critics believe MIM Notes throws around charges lightly. In actual fact, we often have more hard evidence of what we are saying than what we release.
The extent of military intelligence's penetration into Amerikan academia poses a quandary for internationalists. On the one hand, without the impetus of these intelligence agents, those going to college would have nothing but McDonalds and Mickey Mouse to study, because area studies in colleges did not exist before military intelligence realized it was losing out to the communists such as Mao and Ho Chi Minh for lack of cultural and historical knowledge. On the other hand, it is rather galling to see covertly CIA-sponsored scholars attack social-fascist China today for having a government-controlled media and academia. So the trick for MIM is to let the public know to some extent what is going on without generating too much cynicism about studying foreign countries.
Thus far, MIM has let it be known that the major names we have seen in the media bashing Stalin and Mao have generally had tight connections with the U.S. Government or British Government. Contrary to our usual practice, this week we also fingered Robert Scalapino, a Berkeley professor for U.S. Air Force funding to spy on Zhou Enlai, but only in the context of a theory article we wrote on the Western exposure of various communist leaders, not as a matter of urgent media priority today. MacFarquhar has now admitted his connection. The original estimates on the Great Leap came from Judith Banister, a government official. Robert Conquest originated with British intelligence. It seems that for the government mouthpieces at Associated Press to notice someone, there has to be CIA approval first, as a Googling of Associated Press and like-minded authors' articles on China will show.
The other galling thing about this is that military intelligence has cut such a huge swath through academia and has so much money that the CIA can discredit just about anyone by funding him or her. A common scholarship in Chinese language originated with intelligence money and the same is probably happening today with Arabic and Urdu. MIM cannot rule out that from time to time, the CIA has internal fighting where it exposes itself as we see with the Cheney-Libby scandal connected to outing CIA agent Valerie Plame.
There has always been a kind of factional struggle in imperialist intelligence agencies between propagandists and realists. Realists have argued that if intelligence believes its own propaganda it is going to lose wars. For example, anyone who believed any nonsense about Chiang Kai-shek was in for a rude awakening. At the moment, the propagandist wing of military intelligence is on the upswing with new appointees taking over and old grudges settled.
Another reason for some air and sunlight is simply time. MacFarquhar now has to set records straight, because his colleague Benjamin Schwartz died in 1999. Old Cold War tricks have to surface before too many people die off.
MacFarquhar offered the following email exchange November 27, 2005:
[Dear Roderick MacFarquhar:]
I am currently writing an article about the Great Leap Forward which involves a review of some of the literature on the subject.In the China Quarterly , edited by yourself, it is stated that it was published by "Information Bulletin Ltd." on behalf of "The Congress For Cultural Freedom." On 13 May 1967, the General Assembly of the Congress for Cultural Freedom issued a press release admitting that it was funded by the CIA. Of course, many of those involved in the CCF did not know about its funding source.By drawing attention to this funding no slight is intended to your professional integrity or character. However, an issue remains. Surely , CIA funding of the CCF meant that on a larger scale those with a negative view of communism had access to a source of funding that others did not, as the CCF did fund a number of journals with an anti-communist slant. This served to skew the debate in favour of the anti-communists. In terms of your own view of Mao's leadership, for example, it seems to be largely a negative view, especially in relation to the Great Leap Forward. While you were working on the China Quarterly you had a state-funded platform for those views that others did not. I would appreciate your comments on this question which I would like to publish in my article, if appropriate. Could you please reply within 3 weeks or email me if you would like more time to answer my query, as I would like to get the article published fairly soon.
Many thanks for your assistance.
I hope the following is helpful.
When I was asked to be the founder editor of the CQ, it was explained to me that the mission of the CCF was to encourage Western intellectuals to form a community committed to the free exchange of ideas. The aim was to provide some kind of an organisational counter to Soviet efforts to attract Western intellectuals into various front organisations. The CCF journals helped to develop a democratic intellectual community obviously by facilitating the exchange of ideas. All I was told about funding was that the CCF was backed by a wide range of foundations, including notably Ford, and the fact that, of these, the Farfield Foundation was a CIA front was not disclosed.
From the very first issue, I tried to ensure that the CQ published the widest possible range of views on China from the Western right to the Western left, e.g. Wittfogel and Schwartz, and later Joseph Alsop and his critics. I didn't mind where the author came from as long as the views expressed were soundly based on the evidence. For instance, I believe that an article by Philippe Desvillers in our special issue on Vietnam was welcomed and widely quoted by radical opponents of the Vietnam War. (I don't have the CQ volumes in my office and so I am having to dredge my memory.) Did I actively seek out somebody to write an article approving of the Great Leap Forward. I don't remember do ing so, and by 1960 when the first issue of the CQ appeared, it was already clear that it was a disaster, even if the full extent was not to be revealed until after Mao's death. (Do you really think it wasn't?) Had a communist like yourself submitted an article defending the GLF, however, I almost certainly would have published it as the basis for a debate, as in the case of Joe Alsop's article on the 'descending spiral.'
But you are concerned with 'skewing the debate' against pro-Maoists. Certainly the CQ was not a Maoist journal, but my objective was not to run an anti-Mao polemical journal either. It was a time when virtually the only people admitted to the PRC were those regarded as friendly (Snow, Greene, Han Suyin) or gullible (Field Marshal Montgomery). Under these conditions, my aim was simply to publish objective analyses of Chinese developments on the basis of whatever evidence could be gleaned from whatever reliable sources. Philip Bridgham of the CIA, for instance, provided some of the best such analyses of the early Cultural Revolution based on the evidence available at the time. Incidentally, I tried to avoid writing for the CQ while I was editor; I think I published only one piece, on the Orientalists Congress in Moscow in 1960.
BTW there were places where pro-GLF or pro-communist views could be published: The New Left Review for instance; and writers and scholars like I saac Deutscher, Joan Robinson had no problem in making themselves heard in print.
MIM will only comment that last we checked the New Left Review of books also has a jaundiced view of Mao and at times has refused pro-Mao articles. We are also chastened for not propagating more of the positive side of the Great Leap Forward instead of always having to rebut the more ridiculous charges about it.
The influence of Amerikan military intelligence is such a large problem it is difficult to handle. We recently criticized a newspaper calling itself revolutionary for publishing one article by CIA agents about Iraq. Ideologically of course it was wrong, but more importantly as policy it raises questions particularly of intimidation. When we see the formerly revolutionary press in Peru publish government documents about peace accords we have to become suspicious who is really speaking. The bottom line is we have to wonder when journalists have backed down in the face of intimidation or when journalistic organizations have had infiltration changing them beyond recognition. We also have to be careful not to throw out the baby of truth with the bath water of government influence and intimidation.
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n02/letters.html (London Review of Books, January 26, 2006)