The Demise of the Congress for Cultural Freedom: Transatlantic Intellectual Consensus and "Vital Center" Liberalism, 1950-1967
Kamen, Scott C.
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From the 1950 to 1967, the U.S. government, employing the newly formed CIA, covertly provided the majority of the funding for an international organization comprised primarily of Western non-communist left intellectuals known as the Congress for Cultural Freedom. The Paris-based Congress saw its primary mission as facilitating cooperative networks of non-communist left intellectuals in order to sway the intelligentsia of Western Europe away from its lingering fascination with communism. This thesis explores how the Congress largely succeeded in the 1950s in establishing a cohesive international network of intellectuals by fostering a transatlantic consensus around "vital center" liberalism as a necessary guardian of the Western cultural intellectual tradition in the face of perceived communist threats. By examining the ways in which developments in the 1960s shattered this transatlantic consensus this thesis demonstrates how the Congress suffered an inevitable demise as Western intellectuals became disillusioned with American liberalism of the "vital center."