Authors Patrick Iber and Karen Paget discuss the Cultural Cold War, the CIA’s attempt to champion left-wing cultural movements and student unions during the Cold War.
During the Cold War, left-wing Latin American artists, writers, and scholars worked as diplomats, advised rulers, opposed dictators, and even led nations. Their competing visions of social democracy and their pursuit of justice, peace, and freedom led them to organizations sponsored by the Soviet-backed World Peace Council, the U.S.-supported Congress for Cultural Freedom, and, after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the homegrown Casa de las Américas.
Neither Peace nor Freedom (Harvard University Press) delves into the entwined histories of these organizations and the aspirations and dilemmas of intellectuals who participated in them, from Diego Rivera and Pablo Neruda to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges. Patrick Ibercorrects the view that such individuals were merely pawns of the competing superpowers.
Iber will be joined by Skype by Karen Paget, author of Patriotic Betrayal (Yale University Press). In this revelatory book, Paget shows how the CIA turned the National Student Association into an intelligence asset during the Cold War, with students used—often wittingly and sometimes unwittingly—as undercover agents inside America and abroad. In 1967, Ramparts magazine exposed the story, prompting the Agency into engineering a successful cover-up.
A cautionary tale, Patriotic Betrayal, says Karl E. Meyer, a former editorial board member of the New York Times and The Washington Post, evokes “the aura of a John le Carré novel with its self-serving rationalizations, its layers of duplicity, and its bureaucratic doubletalk.”
Joel Whitney, author of the forthcoming Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers (OR Books), hosts the discussion.