Association for Cultural Freedom

Association for Cultural Freedom

The Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) was an anti-communist advocacy group founded in 1950. In 1967, it was revealed (first by Ramparts and later by mainstream news outlets) that the United States Central Intelligence Agency was instrumental in the establishment and funding of the group (through organizations such as the Ford Foundation), and it was subsequently renamed the International Association for Cultural Freedom (IACF). At its height, the CCF/IACF was active in some thirty-five countries and also received significant funding from the Ford Foundation.[1]



The Congress was founded at the Titania Palace in West Berlin on 26 June 1950 to find ways to counter the view that liberal democracy was less compatible with culture than communism. It may have been started in response to a March 1949 peace conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City at which many prominent U.S. leftists and pacifists urged for peace with Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. Some of the leading lights attending the Titania Palace conference included Franz Borkenau, Karl Jaspers, John Dewey, Ignazio Silone, James Burnham, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Bertrand Russell, Ernst Reuter, Raymond Aron, Alfred Ayer, Benedetto Croce, Jacques Maritain, Arthur Koestler, James T. Farrell, Richard Löwenthal, Robert Montgomery, Melvin J. Lasky, Tennessee Williams and Sidney Hook. There were conservatives among the participants, but anti-Stalinist left-wingers were more numerous. "Godfather of Neoconservatism" Irving Kristol was also a member of the Congress.[2]


The Congress managed to obtain enough funding to permit it to operate offices in thirty-five countries,[citation needed] maintain a large staff, sponsor events internationally, and produce numerous publications. In the early 1960s, the CCF mounted a campaign against the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, an ardent communist. The campaign intensified when it appeared that Neruda was a candidate for the Nobel Prize in 1964.

Involvement of the CIA

In 1967, the magazine Ramparts and the Saturday Evening Post reported on the CIA's funding of a number of anti-communist cultural organizations aimed at winning the support of supposedly Soviet-sympathizing liberals worldwide. These reports were lent credence by a statement made by a former CIA covert operations director admitting to CIA financing and operation of the CCF. The CIA web site states that "[t]he Congress for Cultural Freedom is widely considered one of the CIA's more daring and effective Cold War covert operations."[3]

In May 1967 Thomas Braden, head of the CFC's parent body the International Organizations Division, responded to the Ramparts article by publishing an article entitled, I'm Glad the CIA is "Immoral", in the Saturday Evening Post, where he defended the activities of the International Organizations Division unit of the CIA. Braden admitted that for more than 10 years, the CIA had subsidized Encounter through the CFC, which it also funded, and that one of its staff was a CIA agent.[4]

Theories about the Australian arm of the IACF have abounded since 1975, when then Australian Governor-General John Kerr, an IACF member and, according to William Blum, as cited by John Pilger, a member of the executive board of the Australian branch, dismissed the government of then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.

Greenberg freely admits that the CCF was funded through CIA fronts, and singles out for praise the role of Professor Sidney Hook[citation needed], who founded the U.S. predecessor to the CCF, Americans for Intellectual Freedom. Greenberg also notes that at the founding conference of the CCF in Berlin, the honorary chairmen included John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, Benedetto Croce, Karl Jaspers and Jacques Maritain.[citation needed]


Today, records of the International Association for Cultural Freedom and its predecessor the Congress for Cultural Freedom are stored at the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago's Library.

CCF/IACF-funded publications

Some of the Congress publications include:

  • Quadrant - a political publication of the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom
  • Encounter (1953–1990)- published in the United Kingdom for international distribution
  • FORVM (1954-1995) - a political and cultural magazine in Austria, founded by Friederich Torberg and others
  • Solidarity - a cultural, intellectual and literary monthly magazine in the Philippines
  • Preuves - a cultural, intellectual and literary monthly magazine in France
  • Cuadernos del Congreso por la Libertad de la Cultura (1953–1963), published in Paris, edited by Julián Gorkin, assisted by Ignacio Iglesias and Luis Mercier Verga - a cultural quarterly magazine intended for distribution in Latin America that reached 100 issues.[5]
  • Cadernos brasileiros (1959–1970) - a quarterly (until 1963), later bi-monthly, literary magazine published in Brazil[6]
  • Examen (1958–1962) - a cultural magazine published in Mexico.[7]


  • Peter Coleman, The liberal conspiracy. The congress for cultural freedom and the struggle for the mind of postwar Europe, New York 1989 [sound survey]
  • Michael Hochgeschwender, Freiheit in der Offensive? Der Kongreß für kulturelle Freiheit und die Deutschen, München 1998 [comprising academic study on the origins, in German].
  • Saunders, F. S. USA: The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, 2000, The New Press, ISBN 156584596X) [Same book as the preceding, under a different title.]
  • Wellens, Ian (2002). Music on the Frontline: Nicolas Nabokov's Struggle against Communism and Middlebrow Culture. Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-0635-X


  1. ^ Modern Art was CIA 'Weapon'
  2. ^ Saunders, F: The Cultural Cold War, page 419. The New Press,1999.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Thomas Braden
  5. ^ Ruiz Galvete, Marta: Cuadernos del Congreso por la Libertad de la Cultura: anticomunismo y guerra fría en América Latina en "El Argonauta español ", Numéro 3, 2006 - - retrieved 2009/10/19.
  6. ^ Kristine Vanden Berghe: Intelectuales y anticomunismo: la revista "Cuadernos brasileiros" (1959-1970) Leuven University Press, Leuven, 1997 ISBN 90-6186-803-3.
  7. ^ Ocampo, Aurora M. (ed.) Diccionario de escritores mexicanos, Siglo XX, UNAM, Mexico, 2000, (Volume V, p. XVIII)

External links

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